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― Artistic Expression CritiqueImpasto oil paint technique in PS

Non standard photographic editing; collages, manipulations, assemblages, applied textures, double exposures
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minniev
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Re: Impasto oil paint technique in PS

Post by minniev »

As someone who loves the look of traditional art but lacks your skills with "regular" paint and papers, I'm very interested in how you achieve these things and what else may be done with them. I too find that most action based art rendering efforts (whether PS actions or those achieved with automated Topaz or Corel recipes) seem, well, too automated. I always have to go back into the steps and fiddle a lot to get something I like.

Here I like the way the flower came out better than the face. It seems like too much of the texture on the face may be a little off, though whether it is too strong or too weak or has too much black mixed in is something I can't quite pin down. The flower seems darned good.

Question: Do you use a pen tablet? What kind of brush are you using on this one? I ask because I'm trying to learn to use these tools to get a painterly look with certain images. I'd like to know more about your technique.
Duck wrote:
Wed Dec 23, 2020 11:38 pm
Recently I have been experimenting with different ways of getting a more realistic oil paint technique. The one thing I hate about most actions is that the process is too animated and the "brushwork" looks fake. Either because of scale in relation to the image or direction in relation to elements within the image. I think I found a technique that allows a more natural look. Of course it requires a bit more hand work from me but I'm liking the results.

This is an experiment and I left out a few steps from another result that I like. In the next I will be incorporating those steps and I think it will make this so much better. I also used a stock brush I downloaded from somewhere. While it did what I wanted I think I need to create a more customized brush to get the look and feel I actually want. That'll be my next task.

In the meantime, I would love to hear some feedback from the community. Does it look like an impasto oil painting? Is the texture too much? Not enough? Too course? Everything will be taken into account as I refine this technique before I start teaching it. :)


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Post by Duck »

Wow, the responses are fantastic and bringing up some really great and valid points.

I, like many here, have a background in traditional art. I began as a graphic designer, preferring text manipulation and stylized logos over fine art practices of oil and watercolors, though I do have an understanding and appreciation for various mediums (even if I'm not proficient in them all.) Then as a tattoo artist my medium shifted to ink and needles on a living canvas that required control with little room for error. It is this background I feel that influences how I currently approach digital art, both on a conscious and subconscious level. My mind wants to make a connection to something I understand in a more tangible manner. I look to replicate the "watercolor look" and the "oil painting look" because that is what I know and understand. I recognize this in me because whenever I see younger artists who are very adept and proficient with digital art I do not see that need for replicating traditional art. They seem to just embrace the current medium for what it is, its own tool for art creation.

Also, as Minnie mentioned, the 'canned' processing of most "real watercolor look," or "real pencil drawing look" Photoshop actions fail so miserably. My statement and your subsequent reply...
uuglypher wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 12:38 pm
Hi, Duck ,
You said:”As you know, mimicking true impasto digitally is very tricky”
With that statement you vastly overestimate my experience in attempting to mimic other art media with photography.

...was more a blanket statement in that I am aware you understand (and likely sympathize with) the limitations inherent in translating one medium to another, nothing else, however I never really thought about my motivation for trying to replicate traditional media (the impasto look) digitally until you brought it up and it really is an interesting question.

As an artist, I feel we build on past experiences and processes. As I mentioned, I began as a graphic designer before switching over to illustrating on skin. Looking back over the thousands of tattoos I've done over my career I know they all had a very strong graphical influence because of my background in design. There was a process I went through to get to a finished piece and it always involved tangible mediums; pencil roughs, ink comprehensives, stenciled outlines, pigments in a liquid dispersion, etc.

As I explore digital painting I constantly find myself fighting against the muscle memory of the tattooing process as I work with a digital tablet (to answer you question Minnie) that is physically disassociated from the screen through a wire. It's a different kind of hand work. It would be akin to Piet doing an intarsia piece using a CAD machine and robotic arms for assembly all while looking at the process through a computer screen. That kind of disconnect is hard for me to find normal after having put tool to skin with my own hand for so long. Or, as in the case of impasto, the loading of paint and pushing into canvas has a direct tangible and tactile feedback that is completely missing in a digital format.

All the above simply speaks to the mechanical aspect of trying to replicate traditional medium into the digital realm. The other aspect, I feel, has to do with finding different ways of expressing art. Minnie, you use textures in ways I struggle with. Dave, you take a more scientific approach with some of your experimental work (3D conversion for example) that I find interesting to follow and look at but not so motivated to replicate for myself (if that makes sense.) And that's okay because as I said, we bring with us our individual influences. Me, I have a strong desire to get a grasp of digital painting. I'm still in the experimental stages trying to figure out the tools and I think... no, I know I have a bias towards very specific looks. Stopping to think about it here, in this post, I do realize that I might be limiting myself from moving forward more freely if I try to distance myself from those ingrained expectations of "what it should look like" and simply accept that it is a different medium. That'll be an exercise in itself :)

Along the vein of experimentation, there are a lot of crossovers between digital painting and photo manipulation and I do learn a lot from trying to replicate certain looks. In this particular example I played with a technique I have not seen anyone else incorporate in trying to replicate that heavy brush texture look. It was my first attempt and was pretty pleased with the results. By posting that image it did allow for other eyes to evaluate it and I got some great feedback on it that will definitely improve on the technique. Who knows, maybe even lead to an action that will make 'canned processing' seem less 'mechanical'.

Lastly, I'd like to leave with this thought; replicating traditional medium digitally, I feel, is a way of preserving that 'hand work' tradition while also embracing new technologies. No, it will never be the same experience for the artist going through the creation process, but for the viewer... who knows. As with anything else, it's just another tool in the digital toolbox, as they say. Or maybe it really is closer to Piet's sentiments;
PietFrancke wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 1:32 pm
I am slowly coming around to the idea the the media in our experience is mostly the computer monitor as the physical embodiment of the art's presentation.
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Post by Duck »

minniev wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 11:50 pm
Question: Do you use a pen tablet? What kind of brush are you using on this one? I ask because I'm trying to learn to use these tools to get a painterly look with certain images. I'd like to know more about your technique.

To answer your questions, yes, I currently use a Wacom tablet but looking to get into a pen display. I actually have a large pen display but it's to bulky and cumbersome for my current setup. I'm looking at getting a smaller 16" pen display.

As for the brush, it's a simple stock brush with random dots of varying sizes. The brush settings are set to mimic more of a rake than an oil brush. I use that on a frequency separation layer that contains a random noise pattern in the middle grays rather than black and white. The brush then 'rakes' or smudges through that frequency layer to create the textured overlay on the prepared image. While I did not really 'prepare' this image as it was just a test, I normally remove fine details, flatten out color tones and soften certain parts of the image in order to draw attention to the important parts. (I.e. I blur backgrounds and hair, lower parts of the body and retain more clarity in facial features and maybe a hand or other focal feature.)

Depending on your familiarity with PS I think some of what I just explained above might not have been understood. I admit it is a bit geeky. I'm actually doing a workshop on a more 'canned' oil painting technique for my Patreon members tonight (Dec. 28th) that goes into some of what I've been experimenting with here. I'll also be covering how to make a custom PS action as well. I'm recording it and it'll be a private video but I can send you the link once it's up on YouTube. You can take a look at it, play around with the process and then give me your thoughts. I'm sure you'll be able to get something from it.

I know you probably have more questions. Feel free to PM me and I'll be happy to share.

P.S. Diane says "hello" to you and Gene. :)
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Post by minniev »

Duck wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:01 am
minniev wrote:
Sun Dec 27, 2020 11:50 pm
Question: Do you use a pen tablet? What kind of brush are you using on this one? I ask because I'm trying to learn to use these tools to get a painterly look with certain images. I'd like to know more about your technique.

To answer your questions, yes, I currently use a Wacom tablet but looking to get into a pen display. I actually have a large pen display but it's to bulky and cumbersome for my current setup. I'm looking at getting a smaller 16" pen display.

As for the brush, it's a simple stock brush with random dots of varying sizes. The brush settings are set to mimic more of a rake than an oil brush. I use that on a frequency separation layer that contains a random noise pattern in the middle grays rather than black and white. The brush then 'rakes' or smudges through that frequency layer to create the textured overlay on the prepared image. While I did not really 'prepare' this image as it was just a test, I normally remove fine details, flatten out color tones and soften certain parts of the image in order to draw attention to the important parts. (I.e. I blur backgrounds and hair, lower parts of the body and retain more clarity in facial features and maybe a hand or other focal feature.)

Depending on your familiarity with PS I think some of what I just explained above might not have been understood. I admit it is a bit geeky. I'm actually doing a workshop on a more 'canned' oil painting technique for my Patreon members tonight (Dec. 28th) that goes into some of what I've been experimenting with here. I'll also be covering how to make a custom PS action as well. I'm recording it and it'll be a private video but I can send you the link once it's up on YouTube. You can take a look at it, play around with the process and then give me your thoughts. I'm sure you'll be able to get something from it.

I know you probably have more questions. Feel free to PM me and I'll be happy to share.

P.S. Diane says "hello" to you and Gene. :)
Of course I have more questions! Others may too. Is the brush you use one that comes with PS, is obtained elsewhere, or one you made? Are you "painting" on a blank layer above, or on the FS layer, or on a copy of the image? Maybe you could post a screenshot of your layer stack? I understand the need to simplify certain areas to lose excess detail. Would definitely like to see your video.

I recently upgraded from a very old entry level Wacom Intuos to an Intuos pro tablet (wow, the size difference is amazing), and have spent the past few weeks trying to tame the thing, which arrived with a mind of its own. Santa brought me an art pen, which changes everything again, and will take some getting used to. I'm mostly working with a variety of mixer brushes, "painting" on a blank layer above the image layer.

My long term goals with this are probably quite different than yours. I want to use painting techniques to blend different kinds of elements with different origins (photos, open source artworks, textures, scans) into somewhat coherent composites.

And then there is the stuff I do on the iPad, using an apple pen with apps like Photoshop, Adobe Fresco, Icolorama, Procreate, Glaze, etc. Do you use a mobile tablet?

Tell Diane hi for both of us too!
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Post by Duck »

minniev wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:37 pm
Of course I have more questions! Others may too.
Is the brush you use one that comes with PS, is obtained elsewhere, or one you made?
In this example it is a brush I got... somewhere. (?) I picked it up with a tutorial somewhere, just can't remember where. Regardless, it was okay for the test but not quite the effect I was looking for. I started building my own brush for this effect but I still need to fine tune it. It's nothing more than a series of small dots of slightly varying sizes spaced apart. Angle is set to follow the direction of the stroke. Size and opacity is controlled by pen pressure for a more realistic brush effect. I'm still experimenting with the dual brush setting as it adds some tonal variety within the stroke for more realism.
minniev wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:37 pm
Are you "painting" on a blank layer above, or on the FS layer, or on a copy of the image?
It's actually on a High Frequency layer (or High Pass layer really) I custom created for this effect. In essence it is a noise layer with the tonal values crunched into the mid tones. Layer blend is set to Vivid Light. This allows me to smudge the texture around with the custom "rake" brush.
minniev wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:37 pm
Maybe you could post a screenshot of your layer stack? I understand the need to simplify certain areas to lose excess detail.
I will post a tutorial once I get to a point I'm happy with that I feel is ready for prime time :)
As it currently stands there's still too much in the "unanswered questions" area for me to put out anything definitive.
minniev wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:37 pm
Would definitely like to see your video.
The current video is on a very simplified version, more 'canned' version of an oil painting PS action. I just finished uploading it to YouTube for my Patreons. I'll send you the private link via email.
minniev wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:37 pm
[...] Do you use a mobile tablet?
I used to have a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 until it it finally died. I never replaced it, relying mostly on my laptop for any 'mobile' needs. Eventually I'd like to replace it and considering getting a used iPad just for Procreate.
minniev wrote:
Mon Dec 28, 2020 1:37 pm
Tell Diane hi for both of us too!
I will. Thank you.
"If you didn't learn something new today, you wasted a day."
Business Website : Unitas Photography
Join me Monday nights at 6:30pm EST via Zoom to Learn Photography with Duck or,
Watch past episodes on YouTube
Tutorials ⇒ How to critique photos
NOTE: If you would like me specifically to critique your image, please let me know through a private message with a link to your post.

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Post by PietFrancke »

Hey Duck,

Something for you to check out. The software Rebelle, known as a water color painting program mostly, has just upgraded to version 4.0. It now supports painting in oil. The interface is much like the PS interface but I understand the feel of it is more like Painter. The program is not very expensive, 90 bucks or something like that.

They have a demo version. But anyway, it is supposed to be pretty good at dropping down Impasto strokes.
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