The struggles of a (wannabe) digital artist

Published by Joanna Vu on

The struggles of a (wannabe) digital artist

Hey everyone! Happy March and happy spring! I couldn’t have started spring with a darker and moodier piece! Done on an iPad Pro, with an Apple Pencil, in Procreate app.

Painting a Night Elf from WOW - final
Painting a Night Elf from WOW – final

I began making a font the other day, based on the 2014 “Warcraft” movie logo. For no particular reason I decided to pair it with a matching artwork. Naturally I painted the night elf from “Warcraft “ game!!! And I am in a mood to talk. Oh what a surprise. I mean more than normally. 

Drawing from imagination?

To be clear: I LOVE fantasy! Fantasy movies, fantasy worlds (Disneyland!) fantasy art! My dream is to create wow fantasy art (no pun was ntended!) from imagination. The problem is that I’ve been doing realism art for so long, I feel insecure to take the next step. But I’m determined to do so! 

Anyways, here I tried to change my usual style a bit. Small steps at a time. My painting process, however, was the same as always. 

Blocking basic shapes first. When I paint digitally I am normally all over the place! No initial sketch, no (serious) guidelines, but I like it that way, it gives me (obviously not enough) freedom to change the subject at will and explore my own style. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. C’est la vie. 

Painting a Night Elf from WOW - blocking shapes
Painting a Night Elf from WOW – blocking shapes
Painting a Night Elf - details and basic shading
Painting a Night Elf – details and basic shading

What about color?

Choosing my color palette is the toughest thing for me. Maybe because I never had any “formal” color training, maybe because I am not used to drawing from imagination (see previous paragraph!). Eventually most of the times i end up color picking my reference. 

Color palette
Painting a Night Elf from WOW – Color palette

Bonus info: When I took a random photo of the finished artwork, I looooved the colors! Tried to replicate them in the actual painting and failed! So much to learn…

Painting a Night Elf from WOW - random shot
Painting a Night Elf from WOW – random shot

Composition? 

As a traditional realism artist, I never thought about composition much. Once the sketch is done, it is not mpossibe to make any alterations,change the size, place the subject elsewhere etc. It is not like that when painting digitally, where I constantly try to remember about composition, placing the subject on canvas, rule of thirds, Fibonacci spiral, focal points and whatever other crazy theory I came across. When I finish working on my pad, I have a headache. I always thought it is because of looking at the screen for too long, but now that I think of it… XD

To brush or not to brush?

Another debate, which I won’t go in depth now, (because I have been working on my iPad too long already!!!) is whether using custom brushes is considered “cheating”. Well, it is possible to create almost everything with a pixel-wide plain brush (believe me, as a pencil artist I know!) but why bother with digital art then? The whole point of it is to take the artist one step further, allow us to do all the things we cannot do with traditional art. So yes, I use custom brushes, to speed things up among others, but I try to use them sparingly. I normally use a plain hard airbrush for about 90% of the piece, and then finalize it with fancy brushes to create effects, textures, etc. 

Finalizing - Custom Brushes
Finalizing – Custom Brushes

Final thoughts

Digital art is tough but rewarding at the same time. Nothing worth having is easy guys! Keep creating! 


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