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Review: Digital Painting Techniques Volume 4

Friday, October 12th, 2012 | Posted by Fernando Caire

All the books in 3DTotal’s Digital Painting Techniques series offer an impressive combination of inspiration and advice, but Volume 4 is the best yet, says Fernando Caire.

When we reviewed Digital Painting Techniques Volume 3, we were impressed by the wide range of tips and tricks the book had to offer, and the diversity of art styles on display. It’s a feat that publisher 3DTotal has pulled off once more in Volume 4 of the series.

As soon as I opened the book, I could tell I would have no problem finding specific techniques. Each of its four chapters covers a specific type of image, further broken into sub-chapters covering a specific theme or style of art.

For example, Chapter One, Subjects, is broken up into four different sections covering Tribal Warriors, Droids, Vehicles, and Environments, while Chapter Two is broken up into three: Pin-ups, Comic Art, and Manga. In all, there are ten categories, comprising 36 different tutorials from 29 different artists.

Each tutorial explains the process leading up to a final image. The artist explains their techniques in detail, accompanied by high-resolution screenshots of the image as it moves from sketch to finished piece. As an added bonus, you can download the brushes and some files used from 3DTotal’s website. Each artist offers in-depth descriptions of their techniques, but also some personal preferences for you to consider.

Learning from other art styles
The range of art on show is impressive, but the book is organized in such a way that it never becomes overwhelming. Even if some of the tutorials cover subject matter you don’t usually tackle, there is a plethora of digital painting information here, and just because you don’t paint in, say, a manga style, doesn’t mean that the techniques in that section won’t prove useful to you.

My own favorite section of the book would have to be the one on pin-ups, since all four tutorials are done by Serge Birault. I’ve followed his art for years, and have always loved his stylized take on realism. To see his working methods explained step by step was a pleasant surprise.

Other personal highlights were Blaž Porenta and Tuomas Korpi. Each and every artist featured in the book is impressive, but for me, these alone would justify a purchase.

A range of key techniques
As well as a wide range of subject matter – including characters, environments and vehicles – Digital Painting Techniques Volume 4 covers core art skills. Reflection, refraction, rendering, basic composition, use of color, and the process of creating custom brushes are all explored in detail. There really is something for everyone.

For me, this is easily the best book in the Digital Painting Techniques series so far. In an annual series of titles, keeping each one fresh can be a difficult task, but with Digital Painting Techniques Volume 4, 3DTotal has risen to the challenge once again. Whether you are a novice or a professional, these well-structured tutorials will help increase your skill level in ways you might not even expect.

Buy Digital Painting Techniques Volume 4 from 3DTotal (£29.99)
Includes a complete interactive preview of the book

Buy Digital Painting Techniques Volume 4 on Amazon.com (RRP: $49.99)

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