Humans, creatures, environments, matte painting, science fiction, fantasy, and speed painting. All the bases are covered in the latest release from Focal Press, Digital Painting Techniques. This collaboration of some of the industry’s top artists teaches everything from creating simple brushes to completing a full illustration. Eight different chapters, each with three to seven tutorials covering the chapter subject, teaches separate, unique, and very essential lessons in digital painting.
Each chapter instructs something completely different from the next. The first one covers custom brushes and how they can be applied to a digital illustration with six separate lessons, one is on sampling real life textures while another is making your own brushes from scratch. This ends up being a fairly simple start to what eventually becomes more complex and advanced lessons .
When a lesson is being described it’s accompanied by images of every step being taken. This makes it very easy to follow and understand exactly what the artist was doing in the program to achieve the desired effect. Paired with very precise descriptions, following even the most complex lesson is an easy and fun experience. That is saying a lot since there are art pieces in this book that are large in scale and the artist manages to simplify the process for the reader to follow. Of course with the more advanced art pieces some of the simple steps lack images. For example in Marco Bauriedel’s “Renaissance”, the image jumps from the cleaned up picture of a building interior straight to the altered, destroyed, version of this interior placed in a jungle setting. This is to be expected since only so many images could be used on a page and the steps do not really require explanation since they are described in writing. Each artist only uses imagery during the essential times in the lesson so the reader can understand what is going on.
That isn’t to say that massive and detailed environments are all you will get out of this. Creature design, realistic character painting, and facial features are all covered as well. The simpler tutorials are just as helpful and professional as the others. You will receive a vast amount of knowledge on each subject whether it’s a post apocalyptic setting or how to paint a pretty girl.
The book is 248 pages and for the $49.95 price tag, this is a real steal. I cannot say I’ve ever seen a book try to pack in so much digital painting information before, but the simple layout makes it easy to follow and the knowledge gained is an essential reference for any artist, working professional or hobbyist. I suppose the only real complaint I can have about the book is the choice for the cover image, which is a good piece, but there were certainly many others in the book that looked a whole lot better.