Lesson 1 - Light, Shadow, and Half-Tones
We will start off in this first lesson with some overall thoughts on light and shadow. We will take a broad look at values and shapes and some of the ideas that make them work to our advantage as artists. We will emphasize the importance of making choices between what is light and dark, forcing a graphic clarity that will help preserve organization as our image is refined.
Lesson 2 - Two Approaches to Value
In this lesson, we will look at two exact opposite approaches to starting a painting: first, we start with the extremes of value -- black and white -- and introducing half-tones. Then we will do an extended demo showing the opposite method: by starting from a middle gray tone and moving toward light and dark more gradually. Both can be used for beginning a painting that you can take to finish. The clarity of the graphic approach will help prevent the subtle approach from being too formless and vague.
Lesson 3 - Basic Types of Lighting
This lesson looks at a rough progression of lighting through history, from the darker and more contrasting Renaissance through the 19th century, Impressionist lighting, to more recent developments of modern high dynamic range lighting. We will apply these lighting styles to photographic examples. Understanding these types of lighting can be of great help in making creative decisions about value. We need to have the skill to paint in any key and not just default to what is comfortable.
Lesson 4 - Color, Value, and Saturation
You might think it is obvious that color, value, and saturation are separate things but in this lesson we really try to understand what this means so that we can manipulate them separately as independent variables. We will also discuss the principles of warm light and cool shadows, and cool light and warm shadows. Once we fully grasp these concepts, many creative possibilities open up.
Lesson 5 - Edges
This lesson explores my take on edges, which might be a little non-traditional. Edges can be powerful and beautiful, but only if other more important aspects are solid. We will examine numerous examples showing the different variables that can cause edge quality to vary. We will also discuss exceptions to the rule, such as in graphic painting, Impressionist painting, and compare the same image painted with mostly hard edges vs. mostly soft edges. There are principles about edges but no absolute rules per se. Once you come to terms with that, you will find edges to be a powerful tool for suppressing or heightening aspects of an image both technically and stylistically.
Lesson 6 - Checking, Troubleshooting, and Tightening the Screws
Rarely does a painting glide out of our minds and onto our computer screens without a fuss; just about every painting that is worth doing fights back at some point, it happens to the best of us. In this lesson, I use a student's image (which is already working pretty well) and instead of adding more detail and subdivision of form, I go back to the beginning and rethink what the basic assumptions were about the form, lighting, and perspective. This can and should be done over and over until your image is working in the simplest terms. This way, when you go ahead with detail, you will do so with much greater effect.
Lesson 7 - Loose Threads
In this lesson, we cover some things that don't merit their own separate lessons. We will take the value separation approach much further and refine it to 5 values. I will show you how I use value shapes as a mask and add texture in order to paint structural objects quickly. Other thoughts include the abuse of black and atmospheric perspective in concept art, and a Photoshop trick for tightening up a loose shape without being too mechanical.
Lesson 8 - Applying Principles of Digital Painting
Now let's bring it all together: this lesson is an extended demo in which I will narrate my thought process while painting from a reference photo using all the techniques and principles that we have covered in this course up to this point. The source is high contrast, so the shapes are already quite definite. The procedure is not as formal as some of the previous exercises; my intention is to show you a more sensible, realistic way to go about doing an actual painting.
Lesson 9 - Refinement and Advanced Techniques
Many lessons up to this point emphasize the importance of the beginning stages of a painting. So how do we move on from there? This lesson shows that refinement and fine-tuning is really the same process, just at a finer scale -- it is the same analysis of form, perspective, and lighting, just applied to smaller forms. You can increase the resolution of your canvas and render down to the level of skin pores if you want, but conceptually it is the same idea.