Tutorial - Airbrushing the landscape "Desirable thirst"
Welcome to my tutorial on how I painted the landscape/waterscape Desirable thirst.
The tutorial works like a walkthrough/step-by-step guide. I will not explain in detail
how you should paint the different parts in the painting. But instead try to show
one way on how to work.

This painting took approximately 36 hours to complete, it was painted in Adobe
Photoshop using a Wacom Intuios A4 (digital drawing board). I did a preliminary
sketch on paper first. Actually the first sketch was on a tissue and it where an ugly
dick :| But I scribbled over it and it became the rocks in the left/lower part :)
Btw, don't ask...

Click here to see the FINAL PAINTING called "Desirable thirst".

(Click on the picture to see full view)


This is my first tutorial, I have 5 more step-by-step tutorials in progress.
And I'm planning a series of 15 different tutorials explaining in detail
different techniques and paintings. I would love some input and feedback
on these tutorials so please don't hesitate to comment on my portfolio
or mail me at nicklas@nalf.it - portfolio: http://www.nalf.se/paintings



 

Step 01 - Sketch
 
Step 01 - Sketch
 
      After i have done a quick sketch on paper I start Photoshop and create a new canvas. For this painting I started with 1024x768.

• Background layer.
It's good practice not to choose white back--ground, a grey color or a color which reflects the mood of the painting is better. This is because it can be hard to get started with a blank canvas. Also white is so bright that your eye will make surrounding colors darker.
Choosing correct values can then be a bitch.

• Created a new layer with a transparent back-ground. I then drew my sketch again using a hard 3 pixel brush. Mainly thinking composition and not on specific details at this stage.
 

Step 02 - Base coloring
 
Step 02 - Base coloring
 
Click here to see big version. (640x480)
     

Next thing to do is to do the base coloring. This step is just as important as the sketch. Choosing colors and values can dramatically change the whole painting in mood and theme.
I wanted something very painterly, rich and warm colors to convey paradise. This part is always very relaxing and fun, at least I think so... I feel like a children painting in a color book :)

• I created a new layer and ordered it below the layer with the sketch. Then I paint with a hard brush (no soft edges on the brush).
Those with a digital drawing board should set the brush to change the size of the brush according to pen pressure, good for painting smaller regions without having to change size of the brush.
I started painting the objects that is in the background and far away from the viewer; in this case it's the sky.


Tip 001 - Learn the keyboard shortcuts.
Improve your skill in Adobe Photoshop(tm), with keyboard shortcuts you can increase speed and efficiency. I have written a tutorial and I will try to give you detailed overview on the most common shortcuts and functions used by artists.
Click here to read Tutorial 002.

• After painting the base color of the sky I create a new layer adding it before the sky layer but still below the sketch layer. Then using same brush settings I painted the foreground forest.
I used 2 layers so that I can edit the sky more easily after I started working on the foreground.
 


Step 03 - DPI and The background
 
Step 03 - DPI and The background
 
     

Until now I have worked with a small canvas, making it easy to paint big areas. But I want this to be printable in high resolution. So what we need to do now is to increase the canvas.

• In Adobe Photoshop 7.0 I choose in the Image menu "Image size". Photoshop now opens a new window where I can specify new size.
In the "Document size" section enter following:


         Printscren from Adobe Photoshop 7.0 ©Adobe Photoshop.



This will make the painting huge and increase the file size to 50 mb. Be aware that the memory and CPU usage will increase. Old computers should not be used for making printable paintings.


Info 001 - DPI.
DPI stands for DOTS PER INCH.
In other words, how many pixels that's printed /displayed on every inch. For screen / internet usage 72 in DPI is enough. For newspaper use 100-150 DPI. For high resolution prints use 250-300 DPI.



• I almost always start painting in the background because it can be really difficult to paint it after we have added details to the foreground. Also the skies color will be reflected on the foreground.
Making sure that the layer with the base color for the sky is active I start adding details. I use a soft airbrush pencil. Because of the change of the canvas size we must work with large brushes.


Tip 002 - Shortcut for eyedropper when painting
I use the keyboard shortcut for the "eyedropper" when using the brush tool. It's the "ALT" key on pc. So that way when I'm painting I can easily pick up colors that I want to use by holding "ALT" and pressing on a color.


I don't do too much detail, rather try to
give the sky a texture that I'm satisfied with.

More information about my technique when I'm painting clouds will be in another tutorial. Please notify me if such tutorial is wanted.

 


Step 04 - Texturing the background
 
Step 04 - Texturing the background
 
     

We go a step ahead against the viewer but still working in the background. The objects in the far background are usually very light or very dark. And details are not visible to the viewer. Although this rule is not often applied in my own paintings, i prefer details everywhere...

• New layer or choose the base foreground color layer. I used a brush that where small enough to make single lines (note: they are still quite large because of the huge canvas size). Adding base texture to the background trees.
I try to use different values and hues of the main color of the are where I'm painting. In this case i use different values of green. But dark and desaturated values. If i where to paint with the brightest green that we see in the foreground it had broken the depth.


Info 002 - Saturation / Desaturation.
Saturation expresses how much gray your color is mixed with. Desaturated images contain a large amount of grey. Example of artists using de-saturated colors is Linda Bergkvist (Enayla) and Socar Myles. I myself often use saturated colors.


 


Step 05 - Volcano
 
Step 05 - Volcano

Click here to see details.
   
      More texturing, started working on the volcano.
I hadn't painted the sky everywhere (left the part of the volcano smoke). It took a while to repaint the sky so it covered the whole background.
Then I started adding details to the volcano.



Link tips:

Handprint - Basics of perspective
Handprint - Format proportions

Step 06 - Getting closer
 
Step 06 - Getting clooser
 
      More basic texturing, going forward against the viewer. I started on the tree that comes in front of the volcano. Worked on the first waterfall with texturing and detailing.

Step 07 - Trying to fix composition
 
Step 07 - Trying to fix composition

Click here to see details.

 
     

More details on the volcano. Felt that the volcano had some composition problems. Just having so bright red colors there ruins the mood. But by adding more of the same colors around making a transition between the colors somewhat fix it.

So I added some lava or magma running down.
Also added some more details to the trees.



Info 003 - Composition.
One of the most important issues in paintings is the composition. If a painting has a bad comp-osition it can ruin everything.
It helps coming from a design and movie back-ground. Imagine this painting here to the left without the volcano... everything falls to the left.
Annoying and disturbs the mood that I wanted.
Composition can be learned by reading some design books and tutorials.
 


Step 08 - The foreground
 
Step 08 - The foreground
 
      Not much to say... Worked on the foreground Adding basic textures. Using brighter colors than i used in the background. More details added with a smaller pencil using a hard brush.


Step 09 - More textures
 
Step 09 - More textures
 
      I prefer working from left to right in my paintings. Now when I have finished the basic texturing on the foreground I continue on parts that have been neglected. Tried to give depth to the forest by painting with dark colors first and add brighter colors above.

• The composition was still falling so I added some mountains in the background to keep it from slipping away. You can easily see that it helps.



Tip 003 - 100% Black
It's not often I paint with 100% black, nothing is really black. Try instead to paint with a very dark value of the color in the surroundings.

Step 10 - Adding details
 
Step 10 - Adding details

Click here to see details.

   
      Finally.
Everything has a basic texture. Now begins the slow but fun process of adding details. Using a small brush and shift the opacity and colors a lot i go trough the painting. In a dark textured part i paint with a brighter and more saturated color in the same color or something that stands out. This pushes the details forward and they will "pop" out. Same technique in bright areas, just add dark details and they will stand out.

At this point i have some perspective errors...
My biggest weakness, Itried to fix it by removing
one of the waterfalls. This also improved the mood and calmness of the painting. But there remain a couple of perspective problems.

Step 11 - Details again...
 
Step 11 - Details again...

Click here to see details.
   
     

Darkening parts so that I can use the above technique and add things that stands out. Adding more details again...

On a side note, water has no color of its own, it's based on the material, environment and with the lightning. The main source of color for water in this painting is the sky and the forest.
I'm adding reflections on the water further down.


Step 12 - Realistic
 
Step 12 - Realistic
 
      Reality change, volcanoes often tend to change the atmosphere and color the sky red. So I had to repaint the sky. Adding red and purple, enough so that I could do a nice fade to the blue. I darkened several areas, added stars to the darkest parts of the sky. Made minor color changes to the water to reflect the sky change.


Quote 001 - Socar Myles about realism
"However, knowing HOW to paint the pillar (or whatever you've got in your background) realistically is important. Before you get too stylized, you've got to have some foundation in realism. Looking at reference pictures so you at least understand the forms you are painting before you get too crazy with the artistic license is wise." - Socar Myles
 

Step 13 - Details...
 
Step 13 - Details...
 
      More details, darker, better mood. Added some shading in the water. Removed some stuff on the left part that destroys the composition.

Step 14 - Waterfall
 
Step 14 - Waterfall
 
      I love painting waterfalls... Adding a lot of white and bright blue values to the foreground. Really pushing the background back and gives the painting good depth and mood.

I'm still trying to fix the perspective error. This time by modifying the beach and darken some parts.

Step 15 - Fixing stuff
 
Step 15 - Fixing stuff
 
      The volcano had to go, it was ugly and the red lava/magma didn't fit in the color scheme. It was too outstanding and made the mood eerie.

• Added a moon :)


Quote 002 - Fred Flick Stone about coloring
"From all the artists I have learned from, the one thing most of them say is keep the image simple, keep the values simple, no more than 5, no less than 3. Less than three, the image becomes a graphic representation, go more than 5, and chaos ensues. This does not mean your image cannot have many colors. It can have all the color in the world so long as the value makes up of the image remains in tact. " - Sijun

Step 16 - Composition fixed
 
Step 16 - Composition fixed
 
      Finally fixed the composition, adding a tree on the left that is quite high saved my day. I also merged the two stones, and added a third. I removed the beach in the foreground. They bright colors of the water and beach destroyed the mood. Much better this way.

• I darkened the middle forest a lot, making better depth. Added more details everywhere.

Step 17 - Details
 
Step 17 - Details
 
      In the previous step I darkened the forest so now I added single strands of leaves and bushes that are in a brighter value. Added more splash and details to the waterfall.

• I added reflections to the water. I copied the painting above the water into a new layer. This layer I resized and twisted using the shortcut "CTRL+T". I then mirror the layer and changing the opacity so that the water still is visible.
Next step was to erase the reflection on all places where there shouldn't be any reflection.

Step 18 - Details
 
Step 18 - Details
 
     

More details, this time focusing on the
foreground tree. Adding leaves and grass.


Step 19 - Almost done...
 
Step 19 - Almost done..
 
      Almost final. After this step I go trough the painting adding FX details, such as sunrays, glowing fairies. Darkening parts. Adding some flowers that stand out in color and much more.

Then when finished I add a signature, save the original and smaller versions for internet use.




Click here to see
the FINAL PAINTING called "Desirable thirst".

(Click on the picture to see full view)

 
 

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last 20 comments
2003.07.15 - 05:59 by Lachlan
What a well detailed, easy to follow tutorial.
 
 
 
2003.07.24 - 18:06 by Probus
really nice tutorial, i m gonna try painting trees like that. little funny detail i noticed were the two eyes just above the rock in the waterfall, and the stairs and RIP sign on the left.
 
 
 
2003.07.28 - 14:37 by gops
it's Excellent!!!
gopal

 
 
 
2003.08.04 - 18:03 by Alegis
beautiful!!
 
 
 
2003.08.08 - 15:13 by dhruvsm....dhruvsm@yahoo.com
very impressive and effective original artwork through CG-medium!!!...keep it up!!!
 
 
 
2003.09.03 - 22:09 by Matthew
Your tutorials are great! Possibly the best I have seen. There just aren t many good tutorials around. I am just a beginner, with a good grasp of photoshop, but I had no clue where to start with painting. You helped a lot. It would be nice if the tutorials showed exactly what you did, however it does help to find out for yourself. Please continue to make more tutorials. Thanks!
 
 
 
2003.12.07 - 08:24 by GoldCoin
Have just found your site..thanks for taking the time and effort to help us, that are just beginning to learn.
Am looking forward to seeing the other promised tutorial, clouds would be great. Will check back..

 
 
 
2004.04.10 - 19:54 by reeny
holyyyyyyy it looks so real! its beautifullll
 
 
 
2004.05.28 - 08:34 by Shoglic
Nice stuff, have u found out how to use the special characters in your first tutorial on a swedish keyboard, casuse i have got the same problem, it just wont work!
[ ] , . wont do anything on my keyboard.

 
 
 
2004.07.12 - 10:04 by Slamet Riyanto
Fantastic ! Really nice tutorial
 
 
 
2004.08.01 - 12:42 by Vitun
superb tutorial with great explation
 
 
 
2004.10.09 - 21:12 by Iulia
Very nice end picture. Just beautiful. I wish I could paint like you. I ve just started learning photoshop. Could you recommend some other online tutorials or related articles that could help me? If you re not to busy! Thkan you!

www..nistrei@gmail.com

 
 
 
2005.02.02 - 03:40 by lka
Hi-- Just came across your tutorial and your shortcuts. This was very helpful.. believe it or not, there are a few things that still weren t clear to me, a real beginner, but you were very kind to spend the time, step by step, showing all of this. Many thanks.
 
 
 
2005.02.08 - 11:05 by ANAND INDIA
REALLY GOOD
 
 
 
2005.02.24 - 16:34 by Sakis
You must be very proud for your work
 
 
 
2005.05.03 - 11:21 by good even very good
u did good work at realy stage . and cogratulation on the fabules work .
i am also new like u and i just wand ur help.
if u could do so. plz my
email is foolcool1000@hotmail.com

 
 
 
2005.07.05 - 19:58 by freakmean
its just a great tuttorial, a great aid in we the slow learners
 
 
 
2005.08.05 - 01:11 by Rericsso
Reallu great work! , you should write more tutorials.
 
 
 
2005.12.19 - 19:58 by Metal
Beautiful finish, detailed tut, very nice work.
 
 
 
All paintings are protected by copyright laws. 2002-2003, Nicklas Forsberg - NALF
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