Hello guest, and welcome

I'm Wizardmoncita, and you probably don't know me, but if you frequent the Art gallery you may have seen my pictures.

You know, the most frequent question I get (other than "can I has all yur nps plssss??!?!") is "Can you teach me how to draw/paint?" or "Can you give me tips to get accepted in the Art Gallery/Neopian Times?" and since I'm a busy person I always redirected people to other tutorials, until one day in which I decided to make one.

I'll cover all the process, since I start a picture until I finish it, then a little of basic editing and finally Some tips and information about the Art gallery.

Still not convinced?

I tried to make this tutorial fun. So it's full of pictures and lame jokes so you don't get bored while reading (because honestly, it's a lot of reading)

And if you're curious, with this kind of technique I made these pictures that were accepted in the Art Gallery.

(click on them to go to the pertinent page on the AG)

Sections

Home: Returns to this page.
Before you Paint: A small section where I give some tips about creative process, like how to think of poses and backgrounds.
Color Tips:Exactly what it says. Tips to understand how colors work
Let's Paint: The tutorial itself.
Finishing: Tips to Edit your pictures so they're as pretty as they can be
Mini guide to the Art Gallery: Again, exactly what it sounds like, tips to get accepted, types of prices and how to submit
Pages that may help you: Some pages covering themes you may find interesting if this petpage was interesting to you, for example, tutorials to other programs and a guide to the Beauty contest
Credits: Self explanatory, a thank-you list.



Okay, we're ready to start

I don't need tips, let's go to the point pls

Things to know/do before you paint

Maybe this can help you, I don't know

Disclaimer: This is the method that works the best for me, it's not an absolute guide or anything, it's just what I normally do, I won't explain the basics of PhotoShop (PS) because this would take me forever... but I will be explaining what I'm doing and which tool I'm using and whatnot... and If I'm not being clear enough or you have never used Photoshop before you can ask me and I'll gladly solve your doubts/redirect you to a tutorial about that matter.

Okay, Let's start with the basics, the first thing we need is an idea

Holy macaroni!
Of course this doesn't happen everyday either...

I can't really help you with that, sorry, waking up at 3 a.m. works for me, but it also helps to think about the character's story, or if you're working with other pics as reference go with what it looks like...

Let me use two examples...

I see this pet and it's impossible for me not to associate it with the steampunks. I don't know what their personality is, but I know which atmosphere I want to transmit.

'Sup!
How's it goin' bro?

On the other side, I don't know which atmosphere would work best for this baby pet, but I know for a fact what babies do... so I have a good idea of a pose I can use. (also, the description and the following pic are telling me this baby is not a calm tender one)


Whatchu staring at? Of course I'm tender

The idea might take some time to come to you, but I'm sure you'll make it, just try to find something in your model, a singularity, a strange personality, their home place, anything can help you think about a pose

Regardless of the situation it's always good to start your picture with a plain color as background.

I'll explain why on the next page GO GO GO

If you already know and think you can skip the learning step, go ahead

Things to know about colors

Not a very extensive guide, but it may help you...

Do you hear it? It's the color theory approaching *hides*

Okay no, color theory isn't scary at all, or at least mine isn't because it's not an extensive guide, it's just a little something to help you pick colors so they don't clash

The first rule of color theory is do not talk ab... oh forget it, that's another rule. Not a first rule anyways, but a pretty important thing to always have in mind.

Colors are not absolute

Wut?

Like I said, colors are not absolute, look at this, it's kind of a brown yellowish color, right?



No, it's more like a weird dark green-ish grey, but you see it as it was yellow because of the colors at its sides. This also makes some colors look the same when they're not... I.E. this



Actually, it looks very grey if you compare it to the other color, also, sorry for the horrible gif, I'm too lazy to change it now, but the next images will look normal, I promise

When you have white as a background color you don't have a reference, TNT uses white bgs to make their pictures so the colors look more neutral, so they have to saturate the colors a lot... let me compare.


The problem with that is that if you're painting a light character you'll have a hard time picking lighter colors. It works for them, but they are professionals
Also, as colors are not absolute, values aren't either.

The skull looks kind of white in both, right? (I mean, the lightest value in both)


I hope you already guessed it...

If I use dark unsaturated colors in the background, the colors of the foreground will pop and look more vivid and saturated, the same goes in reverse, if you use a very bright and saturated color you can make the foreground look dull and dark, if you notice My picture doesn't look THAAAAT much darker... but the colors are way darker irl

That's why I always start picking a background color that will affect the whole picture. This will give an atmosphere and will place the character in a place... not only floating in a random plain color


But I AM floating in a random color!

But, how do I chose your BG color?

If I don't have any bg in mind I tend to pick a color that's the opposite of the predominant color of the character, then make it dark and sightly saturated.
If I do have a background I just try to pick a dark-ish color that will be my shadow tone on the BG (for example, if I'm thinking about a forest, I'll pick a dark green as a basic bg color, if the character is on the clouds, skyblue should be my best bet)

That's probably all you NEED to know about colors, the rest is pure practice

You know what? I'm very hungry.. wait a second pls


OMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOMNOM
(Remember to eat your vegetables)


We can go to the painting part if you want, I'm already full

I didn't understand anything! let me read it again

Let's Paint, kay?

at least...

Okay, I picked my BG color, now I either sketch something like everyone else would do OR I do a silhouette with a predominant color to give me an idea. I'll start with a normal sketch here, okaaay?


Oh my! What a pretty background! I can't believe I made it myself

Now, I tried to make a lot of poses and they all look really bad...


Fortunately, I already know what to do in this case....

Use references!


That's right, Internet is full of great pictures about basically everything, and if you can't find what you're looking for because it doesn't exist in the real world, like, a Baby Gelert for example you can always look for something that will take you past the anatomy part, then you can find another reference about how does yellow fur reflects the light and so on, possibilities are endless and you'll learn a lot in the proccess, maybe even one day you'll know so much about small dogs and yellow fur that you won't need references anymore, but don't forget them. They're really really important

So, Gelerts are based on dogs, and I have three dogs, but they're not here to act like my models... But I'm a dog fan, so I have a freaking folder with cute pictures... like this.


Most of the pictures I use for references are like this... or worse...

Soo, I have my reference, so I tried to make the sketch again...


Voila!

Then, and here's when my method starts to look weird compared to everybody else's, I start painting it with a dark color in low opacity... Here's how to set variable opacity if you have a pressure controlled tablet. (this is photoshop CS4, and I'm in Windows Vista).


Go here if you don't have the brushes menu active... mine is already active because it has a pretty tick at the side

Here's my menu... just go to "Other Dynamics" (and ignore the number of brushes I have, I use like 4)

Simply select pen pressure on both... Congrats, you have opacity!

If you're using a mouse or a tablet without pressure sensitivity you can get (almost) the same effect if you do this

Change your flow from 100% to 10% or so... you see, it kind of look similar, but without the control the tablet gives you...

Okay, now we're ready to start the painting, and it only took my whole day! YAY ME!! (Good thing I was very bored and this is the best thing I can do to kill the time right now)

I forgot to tell this earlier, but I don't use layers to paint... I know I know... barbaric... but I come from traditional media, oils and stuff, and we didn't have layers there either... (In case you were wondering, I almost don't use ctrl + z)

Sooo, you won't be hearing the typical "make everything separated", but if you feel more confident doing so, I'm not against it either.

So, I'll paint over my sketch with my not-so-opaque brush with the shadow color of her fur. (did that make sense?)



The yellow blob on the side is the lightest color, the brownish blob is the darkest color, the third blob is simply to show that the colors I'll use will be blending with the colors in the bg because of the opacity settings we made.


I try to emphasize the shadows in some areas, leaving others with the greenish bg color... I don't know if everyone thinks this is too over rated to be considered when teaching or normally people don't really notice, but every color affects others irl, just try to put your hands near a reddish thing (when the light is bright) and you'll notice how your hands have now a red glow, the same happens with other colors, sightly, so the background color blended with her fur will help us unify the picture, it will make it look like your character is really in front of whatever that blue-ish thing is, it works the same when you have a more complex background.

And just now I move to paint some light... Now, I normally just made some tricks to make it look like the characters have some volume (yeah, I'm lame like that), but if you're new to that too you should define a light direction first. The most common light we have in our lives is the natural/electric light, and it almost always come from the sky/ceiling/some place higher than you, so unless you're planning a very dramatic scene it's better to stick to that kind of light (with a little direction so it doesn't look like your character is in the desert at 12.00)



Okay, no.



(Make sure you don't abuse the highlights... you can always get darker, but it's tricky to get lighter) Okay! so we now have an unrefined colored sketch... *pats herself in the back*

Now it's time to hide the ugly stuff! With the same brush and the same settings (I barely change anything besides the size) I'll start to pick my colors (press alt and click the color you want) and I paint over my lines, making it look less ugly and more completed.

If you have the time/patience for this, you can also give your brush strokes a direction so it looks even more 3d



It's starting to look more completed... Let me show you some close ups to (hopefully clarify things)

The black lines are the directions I used in my strokes, just fyi

Okay, now we have something "acceptable" if I was simply doing this for the Art gallery or as a character reference I would erase the ugly black lines and submit it as it is... mostly because I'm lazy and I don't get much in exchange

But since this is a tutorial I'll keep working on this...

Now I'll decide If I want this to have lines or not... I normally choose a healthy combination of both...

-Phew, are we done yet?

-No.

Okay, I want to work the less I can, instead of rushing it, I simply work the hardest I can to make something that I will like. That way everyone is happy and I don't have to redo anything.

(Give me a virtual high-five just ignore the awkward stares while you hit your screen... DO IT!)

Remember I spoke about how the color affect each other, blah blah? okay, I made the reflections, so now the bow has a little yellow from the fur and the fur has a little pink from the bow

(It's subtle, but this kind of stuff is what makes me like a picture better than another)

Now I'll try to give the picture some more depth... things tend to be less crisp and lighter/bluer the farther they are, like the mountains!



Yay! mountains!

Irl is almost unnoticeable unless you're talking about BIG BIG distances, but when you're painting you have to exaggerate and use tricks, so the eye feels the sense of distance, so I'll paint with the same color of the bg (because it's my atmosphere for the picture) in a very low opacity the things that aren't close to me... like a pair of her legs and one ear.

Here's how to change opacity

(I used 20% for this kind of stuff)


Ka-ching

It now looks like a decent picture, but there's still a lot to do if you're dedicated.

Okay, I'm dedicated, let's go to the next step

Sorry, I'm bored already, I want to upload my picture to the Art Gallery ASAP.

Editing your picture

Let's make it work

We already have a kind of pretty picture and it's quite acceptable, but it's not enough for me. Now we're going to edit the picture to be the best picture we can make, okay?

I need to be sure there aren't mistakes, like one eye bigger than the other and so on. The problem is, I've been staring at the same picture for a while now, so I'm accustomed to the mistakes

Le Gasp!

But fear not, simply flip the image and you'll start noticing mistakes... (Image// Image Rotation// Flip Canvas Horizontal)


Okay, here's my flipped picture. I doesn't look THAT bad....
The back paw is too low and it looks like it wasn't attached to the leg (solution, repaint it, I'll do that later)
The tail looks like it was closer to the side than in the middle, so I'll give it a little depth (less than the legs and the ear)
The knee should be a little higher and her back is too high. But it's too much of a hassle to paint that over again, so We're going to use my favorite feature from PS.
Liquify!


Go now...


Liquify has tools of their own. But don't ask me about anything besides the finger. Because that's the only one I use, the others are good to mess up with photos and make yourself look thinner, if you want you can experiment with this, it's quite fun
Anyways, FINGER!

That big circle is your finger and you can move stuff with it, try it!

The good thing is, Liquify also has their own number of ctrl+z to go back, or, if you messed everything badly simply cancel everything and it won't do a thing.

Now I did it well and flipped the picture back

Looks a lot better IMO... now it's almost finished.

I normally add a secondary light, but I don't feel it's necessary here, but I do feel necessary to adjust the colors...
When I'm too lazy to correct the colors myself I rely on my computer, auto contrast and auto tone work fine SOMETIMES

Here they are... If they ruin your image and everything looks weird simply go back and try to adjust manually.

If you feel your picture is lacking contrast I like using the level adjuster


Levels, how do they work?
The black triangle at the left controls the darkness, the grey one the middle tones, and of course the white one, the lights. Simply play with them until your picture looks balanced and with a nice contrast.

If your problem is not the contrast but the colors themselves you can try the variations...


(Drag and drop to address bar to see it in full size)

Ahh.. I love variations, they're so intuitive ♥
I'll add some red to my picture...


Okay, what now?

Just finish the details, As you can see I haven't worked much in the nose and eyes, and they're important for the face... I'll give some lights to the nose and the iris, so it separates from the pupil


And a little shiny highlight in the eyes to make them look alive (I do them with the default paint brush, 100% flow, 100% opacity and no "other dynamics")

Finished! (Drag and drop to address bar to see it in full size)

I hope this idiotic tutorial helped a bit... I hope to read you opinions (and corrections to my awful grammar) and If you use this you can link me back to the image to see it

Thanks a lot for reading ♥ (really, you deserve a price for reading all this)


Now let's submit it to the Art gallery!

Art Gallery

Why should I care?

Ok, now we have a pretty picture and you're very proud of it, so proud you want to upload it to Neopets so everyone can see it.

Then your solution is the Art Gallery.

The art gallery unlike the Beauty contest is handpicked by TNT and once they select it, it's there forever for everyone to see it!

Of course not everyone wants to simply display their art. Me for example, I do it for the money.
Yeah, you read it just fine, every time you get a picture accepted in the art gallery you win 10,000nps and a surprise item, You can't choose the item nor is announced like in Lenny Conundrum/Mystery Picture competitions, but that's not too bad, because the selection of items is good.

The most expensive item I've got from the Art Gallery was a Maraquan Paint Brush, it was a long time ago, when they were relatively cheap, but that PB is now worth a lot.
The cheapest item I've got was an Eo Codestone.
But it can be a lot of things... here's a list of stuff I know it gives (I don't know the probabilities of each item and I can't remember the exact items I've gotten, don't ask).

Neopets Paint Brushes
Petpet Paint brushes
Petpets
Codestones
Dubloons
Magical Items

Of course, it's magical when you login to find a Shiny Paint Brush in your inventory, not so magical to find a Codestone.

Ok, what do I do?

Entering a picture to the Art Gallery is quite simple, and you can do it three times per day, just don't submit THE SAME PICTURE three times, that will make TNT staff angry at you and won't increase your chances.

Here's a step by step guide to submitting your work to the Art gallery (I don't think is needed, but it may help).



1.- Upcoming specials: it's a marquee that shows upcoming events according to the Neopian Calendar normally this means TNT will be looking for themed art to be displayed as celebration for the special day, it gives you a better chance to get your art picked than just random art.
Keep in mind that the most popular species get a lot of attention, so it's actually harder to get in because TNT receives a lot of great pictures, so it's more competition for you.

2.- The click here button has info about the submission and selection process, if you're lazy to read everything, here you have the important stuff.
Your picture size must be less than 80kb and should be equal or less than 500px in any direction (and more than 300px in any direction)
Your picture must be done 100% by you, if you submit stolen or traced pictures you'll be frozen
You can sign your picture, but you CAN'T use the Copyright symbol (© or (c)) anywhere in the picture.
Your picture must be related to Neopets.

3.- This is pretty self explanatory, the first box with the browse button is for you to browse your pictures and choose which one you will upload, the second box is for you to write a title for your submission, it can be whatever you want, but keep it simple and under the neopet's rules, the third box is the category... just scroll and find the one that fits the most.

If there's a problem you'll be notified either by a small pop up window or an Oops message, if you're good to go you'll get this:

YOUR ENTRY HAS BEEN ACCEPTED!

And that's all you need to go about the AG.


Click here for the submission form


Teach me to draw again!

I'm bored of you, I want to see other pages

Other pages that may or may not help you


So vague I impress myself

You know, I'm a normal person who just likes to be on neo on her free time, and I happen to have a life too, how strange! So I can't simply write a guide for everything I do

But I have Internet superpowers and I've save a lot of useful petpages on my time here, conveniently linked for you to see and use.


This is actually the best art tutorial that I've found on neopets, it explains basically everything you need to know to make a great picture, if you still feel you need to learn more (or you realized that I really stink at drawing/painting/explaining/life) visit it ASAP.

Great guide to the Beauty contest, covers basically everything, including how to optimize your picture to be in the permited limits

Comic guide, I may eventually do one too, but this is great, includes everything, from character design to lame plot ideas you should avoid

From the same person than the above petpage, a very nice guide to understand copyrights.

A very handy guide for pixel animations and also a paint tutorial, I may do a pixel tutorial one day too, but for now this petpage is quite nice and very explicative

Now this is a petpage I would NEVER do because I'm very bad at it, an integral guide on everything you may want to know... It's under reconstruction and it's not finished ye, but still, it has a lot of great tips on anatomy.

A great site about making great sites, a must read.

A Nettiquette guide, very important if you want to neomail someone asking for something.

Credit

Thanks a lot C:

Template & Coding Base by Idiosyncratic

Characters belong to Neopets inc.

Perilunian, the Steampunk Lutari belongs to Johanna

Sweet_ButterCreme the Baby Gelert (model for the painting tutorial) belongs to sweetesttenshi

The Halloween Hissi belongs to wwlpls

Thanks to the Neopian Adults for the suggestions and critiques to the guide... and for taking their time to actually read it and high-five me

All the content on this page, except from the coding is done by me.

Sitely

Sited that lists this page are here






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are taken seriously.
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