Blog and Updates

OCT/04/09: A whole month to update! The coding filters are out of whack, so it'll be a while until I can find a suitable layout.
I'm going to re-name this site "SPLASH", so please be aware of that!

SEPT/01/09: Added the dithering tutorial. Find out how to blend colours using just pixels! More dithering tutorials to be added soon.

AUG/31/09: Added a Suggestion Box- put forth your ideas!

A new school year is amongst us! For those going back to school, good luck and have a great school year! For the rest of us, cheers. :) Thanks for all of the continued support from all of the visitors! It pleases me to know that this guide/tutorial is of some use!

AUG/30/09: Added a Pixel Art tutorial- create a popsicle! Please check it out. :)

Want to contribute ideas? Screenshots of your own tutorials? Please NeoMail me!

AUG/16/09: My scanner is broken. :/ So until I get a new one, I'll be taking photographs for my coloured pencil and graphite pencil tutorials. Yikes!

Got any ideas for tutorials? How about stuff that you want to include in this guide and tutorial? All credit will be given. :) Send your stuff away by clicking the 'Contact Me' link in the Navigation.

AUG/13/09: New layout has been added! I am currently having trouble with the top banner- please bear with me! Dx I've also added a blog because that seems popular nowadays, and sometimes, it's good to conform. I'm currently in the middle of doing some art requests, so updates on the Water Tutorial will be slow. If you want to see some of my own work, visit: here!

I'm planning on entering my Custard Kau in the Beauty Contest pretty soon, that is, if she doesn't change because of the Lab Ray! :D I'm hoping for another cool colour, preferably specific to the Lab Ray only. Here's hoping!

I'm currently looking for more tutorial ideas, so if you have any, please NeoMail me!

About

So What's The Point?

I use Corel Painter X for my art.
This guide is composed of a basic introduction to colour and design theory, a brief outline of Corel X and it's features, and a digital art guide and tutorial, where I explain how to do different techniques in the art of digitally rendered images!

If you use another program besides Painter X, fear not! There are few main differences between Corel, Adobe Photoshop, OpenCanvas, GIMP, ect.! They all support layers, opacity levels, and other such features.
Enjoy!

So, What IS Corel Painter X?

Corel Painter X is one of 11 Corel Painter series that is truly innovative! It's meant to mimic real world mediums (that's art lingo for different art tools such as paint, charcoal, pencil, ect.) and transform them into an all digital medium. It's really useful for experimenting with things that would normally cause a gigantic mess, such as paint and charcoal! It's a wonderful program that is meant strictly for digital painting and art, but it's also highly versatile in that you can do graphics, photo painting, and movie-making.
Try it out! It won't disappoint.

Click here for an extensive list and in-depth description of all of the popular art and design programs!

Corel Painter X works on both PC, and Mac!


Number of visits since AUG/03/09

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Everything You Need To Know About Art

... and then-some!

Navigation:

Art Theory

Colour Theory
The Colour Wheel

Principles of Design

Elements of Design
Colour Psychology

Corel Painter X Guide/Tutorial:

The Corel Painter X Layout

Tool Explanation

RealBristle Brushes

Applying Paper Texture

Special Effects Tools
Fire
Fairy Dust
Glow
Fur
Other FX

Blenders

Digital Painting Tutorials:

Creating Hair

Creating Eyes

Creating Lips

Creating Moving Water (Rapids)

Traditional Art Tutorial

Tools

Pixel Art Tutorial

Introduction

Pixel Art Tutorials
Create A Popsicle

Shading: Dithering Method

Create A Fish

Coming soon:

Rule of Thirds
-Background Tutorial
-Human Forms
Traditional Art Guide:
-Pencil Softness
-Erasers
-X-Acto Knife
-Introduction to Coloured Pencil
-Animal Forms
-How to draw more facial features
-Drawing teeth
...and so much more!

Other:

Link Back!

Contact Me

Suggestion Box

Flare

Awards

Colour Theory!
Colour theory is very important if you want to make sure your image is properly balanced.
Below is an image that shows colours with their compliment. Meaning, their opposite colour. In the middle is a smudge example of what happens when those colours mix; they cancel out! Yikes! Make sure you watch out for that when blending colours together.

The Colour Wheel

The 12 part colour wheel below is based on the three primary colours (Red, Yellow and Blue) placed evenly around a circle.

The complementary colours exist opposite of each other.
For example, red is opposite to green, yellow to violet, blue to orange, greenish yellow to a pink and so on.

Between the three primaries are the secondary colours (Green, Orange and Violet) which are mixtures of the two primaries they sit between.

The tertiary colours fall between each primary and secondary.
For example between yellow and orange is yellow-orange, between blue and violet is blue-violet and so on.

All of the colours in the colour wheel are called saturated colours. They contain no black, no white and none of their complimentary or opposite colour. In other words, they are pure colours.

Tint: When you add to a colour.
Shade: When you add to a colour.

A compound colour are colours containing a mixture of the three primaries.
All of the browns, khakis and earth colours are compound colours

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Principles of Design

The principles of design is composed of the following principles:
Balance
Rhythm
Proportion
Dominace
Unity
Contrast
Harmony
Gradation

Balance:

It's an equilibrium that results from looking at images and judging them against our ideas of physical structure (mass, gravity, the sides of a page). It is the arrangement of the objects in a given design as it related to their visual weight within a composition. Balance usually comes in two forms: symmetrical and asymmetrical.

Symmetrical
Symmetrical balance occurs when the weight of a composition is evenly distributed around a central vertical or horizontal axis and under normal circumstances it assumes identical forms on both sides of the axis. When symmetry occurs but has similar and not identical forms it is called approximate symmetry.

An example of symmetry against an axis:

Asymmetrical
Asymmetrical balance occurs when the weight of a composition is not evenly distributed around a central axis. It involves arranging objects of different sizes and weights in a composition so that they balance one another with their respective visual weights. Often there is one dominant (bigger) form offset by one or more subordinate (smaller) forms. Asymmetrical compositions tend to have a greater sense of visual tension, and is also known as informal balance.

An example of asymmetrical balance:

Rhythm:

Rhythm is the repetition (repeating) or alternation of elements, usually with defined intervals of space between them. It can create a sense of movement and can establish pattern and texture. There are many different types of rhythm: regular (regular rhythm where the intervals between the elements and the elements themselves are the same size and shape), flowing (imagine waves), progressive (shows a sequence of forms through a progression of steps).

An example of rhythm:

Proportion:

It's the comparison of dimensions/distribution of forms in a composition. Differing proportions within a composition can relate to different kinds of balance and symmetry. Larger elements tend to come to the front, while smaller objects tend to recede in the background. Proportion can help establish visual weight and depth!

Dominance:

Dominance relates to varying degrees of emphasis in design and determines the visual weight, space, and perspective of a composition and often resolves where the eye goes first when looking at a design. There are three stages to this principle: Dominant (the object with the most visual weight), sub-dominant (the object that has secondary emphasis, usually in the middle of the composition), subordinate (the object that has the least visual weight, and is usually in the background of an image).

Example of dominance and it's parts:

Unity:

The concept of unity describes the relationship between individual parts and the whole of a composition, and deals with how the human brain organizes visual information into categories and groups. There are three different types of unity:

Closure:
Closure is the idea that the brain tends to fill in missing information when it perceives an object is missing some of its pieces, and when these pieces are missing, the brain tends to add information about an object to achieve closure.

In the example below, we compulsively fill in the missing information to create shape:

Continuance:
Continuance is the idea that once you begin looking in one direction, you will continue to do so until something more significant catches your attention.

In the example below, your eye is immediately drawn down the center of the road and ending up in the upper right hand corner of the frame. There is no other dominant object to catch your attention!

Similarity, Proximity and Alignment:
Items of similar size and shape and colour tend to be grouped together by the brain. In addition, close proximity to an object or an alignment with an object tend to be grouped in a similar way.

Look how easy it is to group and define the shape of the objects in the upper left hand corner than in the lower right!

Contrast:

Contrast is the juxtaposition of opposing elements. Example: opposite colours on the colour wheel, contrast in tone or value (light and dark), contrast in direction (horizontal and vertical). The major contrast in a painting or image should be located at the center of interest. Too much contrast scattered throughout an image can cause confusion and destroy unity, making the image hard to look at (unless a feeling of chaos and confusion is what you're seeking!).

Harmony:

Harmony in an image is the visually satisfying effect of combining similar, related elements together. For example: adjacent colours on the colour wheel, similar shapes, textures, ect.

Gradation:

Gradation is a slow process of going from bigger to smaller (vice versa), or light to dark (vice versa). Gradation of size and direction produce linear perspective. Gradation of colour from warm to cool (reds to blues) and tone from light to dark produce aerial perspective. Gradation can add interest and movement to a shape. A gradation from dark to light will cause the eye to move along a shape.

An example of a gradation of colour:

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Elements of Design

The elements of design are very important because most of them are used in every single image that is in existence in the whole world! Most likely you were using them without even thinking too much about them!

Line
Line can be considered in two ways: the linear marks made with a pen or brush or the edge created when two shapes meet.

Shape
A shape is a self contained defined area of a geometric or organic form. A positive shape in a painting or image automatically creates a negative shape, negative meaning the 'background' or the space around the object.

Direction
All lines have direction: horizontal, vertical, or oblique (curvy). Horizontal suggests calmness, stability, and tranquility. Vertical gives a feeling of balance, formality, and alertness. Oblique suggests movement and action.

Size
Size is simply relationship of the area occupied by one shape as compared to another. So, big and small!

Texture
Texture is the surface quality of the shape: rough, smooth, soft, hard, glossy, ect. Texture can by physical (tactile) or visual.

Colour
Also called hue. Colour psychology is very important to an image's mood.


Green occupies more space in the visible spectrum than any other colour. Natural greens (forest to lime) are seen as tranquil and refreshing with a natural balance of cool (blue) and warm (yellow) undertones.

Green is:
Soothing
Relaxing
Happy (alleviates depression, nervousness, anxiety)
Luck and wealth
Sense of renewal, self-control, harmony.
Sense of greed and envy.


Blue is the overwhelming favourite colour! It is seen as trustworthy, dependable, and committed. The colour of the sky and oceans, blue is a constant in our lives.

Blue is:
Calming and sedate
Cooling
Moody, cold and somewhat depressing at times


Yellow is optimistic, enlightenment, and happiness. Shades of gold carry the promise of a positive future, and sparks creative thoughts.

Yellow is
Mentally stimulating
Happy and joyful
Hope and liberalism
Illness, decay, or aging


Orange is energy and enthusiasm. Mostly associated to autumn and spring.

Orange is:
Energy
Balance
Heat, fire, flame
Arrogance
Warning, danger
Desire


Red strikes a chord with more cultures as compared to many other colours because of its intensity and passion. Red is the celebration and good luck (China), integrity and purity (India), and mourning (South Africa). When a wide brush is used, red makes whatever its painted on look larger and fuller, and usually dilutes the colours around it. Usually used to accent and hilight objects of importance.

Red is:
Passion
Energy
Strength
Romantic
Arrogance and power
Danger and warning


Purple is usually associated with royalty and wisdom.

Purple is:
Nobility
Envy
Spirituality
Creativity
Pride
Gaudiness


Brown is the colour of dirt, which usually associates it with the Earth and Mother Nature. It gives an earthy environmental quality which is popularly coupled with the colour green. Shades of brown represent the different colours of skin tone and produces a calm, comforting feeling.

Brown is:
Calm
Boldness
Depth
Natural
Boorishness
Dullness


White is the colour that represents purity, neutrality, and youth. It is often associated with cleanliness.

White is:
Modernity
Power
Purity
Lonliness, emptiness, sorrow
Mystery


Gray is somewhere between good (white) and evil (black). It's a neutral colour that is typically, well, boring.

Gray is:
Elegance
Subtelty
Age
Balance
Formaility and nobility.


Black is a multi-dimensional colour that is composed of all of the colours of the rainbow mixed together. It typically symbolizes absence, mystery and evil.

Black is:
Rebellion
Mystery
Seriousness
Darkness and sorrow
Professionalism

Value
Value is the light or dark of a colour/shade. Value is also called tone. Value is very important for defining an image's shape, especially when used with contrast!

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The Corel Painter X Layout:

Drag the image to your address bar to see the full size!

Explanation of the Tools

Note that any tools that were not explained I felt that I needn't include them for the sake that they are mostly for photo-editing. :) If you wish to know more about the tools that are not explained in the following table, feel free to Neomail Punkie92.

Brush Select this to access painting options, such as brush type, size, shape, ect.
Layer Adjuster Select a layer and then select this to move the layer around. You can also use the Rectangular Selection/Circular Selection/Lasso Tool to trace around the part of the image you wish to move and then select the Layer Adjuster.
Rectangular/Circular/Lasso Selection Use this to select all, or a portion of, your image. This also acts not only in part with the Layer Adjuster, but also if you want to keep nice, neat lines around your graphic. For example, if you were painting a graphic onto a small image, such as a button, this tool would be very useful.
Check it out in action:

Magic Wand So you like to use large brushes? That's not a problem, you don't have to worry about staying in the lines with this tool! Use this tool by selecting a layer and then using this tool on the layer. What happens is that anything that is done on that layer will be selected and if you try to go over it with colour, nothing will happen! Wonderful!
Crop Cropping tool does just as it's name implies. Select this tool to crop some, or all, of your image. Just drag and draw across your image, and then click inside the box to crop.
Selection Adjuster So you've used the Magic Wand or the other Selection tools. And you've figured that you don't actually want the selection on those areas. No problem! Use this tool to adjust the selection boxes across your workspace.
Pen Use the pen tool to create nice linear lines. You can also use the pen tool to curve your lines into a nice, fine tip. You know manga? Well, the character's hair is always nice and pointed, yet detailed, right? The pen tool allows for this to happen!
Shape The shape tool allows you to create, well, shapes. Squares, boxes, ovals, free-lance.. you name it! You also have the choice whether or not you want it filled in, outlined, or both!
Text Corel isn't just for painting. It offers a wide variety of fonts, too! Rival even to Photoshop! Choose from any number of fun fonts, from wacky and weird, to regal and traditional. Choose the size, colour, angle, and add on some effects to really make it shine!
Eraser Nice handy tool for erasing. You don't just have to use this eraser, either. If you go and select the Paintbrush tool, you can scroll through the different varieties of erasers that pull off some neat effects, such as lightening or darkening an image. If you have a pen and tablet, you don't have to worry about clicking this tool so much. Just flip over your pen and erase normally. Check out these different types!

Eye Dropper Can't find the exact colour you used on that one part of your image? No worries! Use the eye dropper to select a part of the image that you want to copy- it's colour, I mean! Once you've done that, select the paintbrush tool and continue painting. Voila!
Paint Bucket Fills in the background of a layer. And I mean the whole thing.
Magnifier Zoom in on your image! You can also use your mouse button, the command: Ctrl +/- (PC), or the command: Command +/- (Mac), or you can use your zoom in wheel if you have a tablet that supports such a feature.
Hand Tool/Grabber Moves your canvas around. Perfect if you are working with a very large image. Tip: Hold down the Hand Tool/Grabber button until this new button appears: ! Use this tool to completely rotate your canvas! Anywhere from 12 degrees to a full 360!

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RealBristle Brushes

Click the down arrow from your current brush selection, and scroll through all the different types of brushes. There's a lot, right? Well, I'm going to introduce you to one of my favourites, the RealBristle Brushes! They're just like their name implies, as they mimic the actual brush strokes of paintbrushes in Real Life! Amazing!

Below:As you can see, there are many different types and shapes of RealBristles Brushes.

The different types and shapes of these brushes yield different results, as you can see from the following image.

The types go, from top to bottom, left to right:

Real Fan Short, Real Fan Soft, Real Flat, Real Flat Opaque, Real Oils Short,
Real Oils Smeary, Real Oils Wet, Real Round, Real Round Bristle, Real Tapered Bristle, Real Tapered Flat, Real Tapered Round, Real Tapered Wet Flat.

The Real Blenders are useful for blending colours together while at the same time keeping that realistic bristle effect in your image, as shown below:


When you layer this type of brush, you can control the amount of paint you put on your image!
The first take was just one stroke. The second, more than that. Take a look:

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Special Effects

There are many different types of Special Effects (FX) brushes and tools (as shown in the image below) that you can use to spice up your image! They're very good for graphics and button making!

The Fire Effects Tool

The Fire Effects tool does just as it's name implies: it makes fire! It's very cool, too.
All you do is select this brush and layer the fire pattern over and over until you get your desired effect. This is demonstrated in the following two images:

Fairy Dust

One of my favourites. The Fairy Dust tool creates miniature dust or star-like designs that are repeated with the stroke of your mouse or pen.
You can edit the opacity, size, and jitter (that means how big of a space there is between each dust/star shape) and of course the colour of this tool. Below is an image showing the default size versus a smaller size of brush.

Glow Tool

The glow tool can be used to make objects glow and to give the impression that what you are looking at is a neon light. This brush works best on black (or any other dark background) paper/canvas.

As you can see below, you can change many different aspects of this tool, such as the opacity rate:

Or the 'jitter':

Slight changes to the brush can create dramatic effects.
Use the following variables to adjust the way you want your tool:

Furry Brush

Creates faux fur effects. This tool is alright, but I prefer to use a blender and small brush strokes to make my hair effects. This tool is absolutely fuzzy:

There are many other special effects tools, too..
Such as the gradient tool, graphics brush, light graphics brush, neon tube, and piano keys:

There's also the squeegee, too, which makes the following effect:

Or the shatter tool:

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Blenders

Many different types of blenders
(note that the number beside each blender is a default setting size of the brush.
You can always, always adjust the size of each brush, no matter what kind of tool you use in the Painting Tool option!):

The following image is an example of each of the blenders.
From top to bottom, left to right: Coarse Oily Blender, Coarse Smear, Detail Blender, Flat Grainy Stump,
Water Rake, Grainy Water, Just Add Water, Oily Blender, Pointed Stump, Soft Blender Stump, Round Blender Brush, Runny, Smear, Smudge.

The blenders that were not shown were not included because they did not give a good example.
The blur tool is one of these brushes that was not included.
You can use the blur to soften sharp edges of things if you'd like, or to gently meld colours and shapes together without smearing, smudging, ect.

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Applying Paper Texture

In Corel, you can do many things. One of the special features included is the ability to change the paper texture of your canvas to make it look more realistic. It's fantastic if you want a certain texture on the whole canvas, on a single layer, or on multiple layers with different textures on each!

How to do it: Click 'Window' and go down until you see 'Library Palettes'. Hover your mouse over that option until you see 'Show Papers'. Click on that.

You'll get a mini-window that looks like this:

From this interface, you can choose many different types of paper and canvas textures, from wood grain, linen canvas and small dots, to the traditional basic paper, retro fabric, and French watercolour paper.

Select the paper type you want, and which layer you want the texture to appear on. If you want it to be the entire image, select the canvas. If you only want it on individual layers, select the appropriate layer you want. To do this, go to 'Effects' and click 'Apple Surface Texture...'.

Here's an example of paper texture over the entire image:

Over one layer:

Or over different layers with different textures applied to them:

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Digital Painting Tutorials:

Creating Hair

Creating hair is very simple. All you need is a lot of patience, the ability to create lines, and Corel!

Start off by placing a few lines to guide how long and thick you want your hair. If you already have an image sketched out, great! Use a small brush for this. Size 1.0-1.5 is good. I use a details oil brush at size 1.0 for my hair.
Add the base colour, meaning the main colour you want the hair to be. Branch off from that and add the shadows and hi-lights to the hair. Add some colours that you might not even think of even being in the image. For example, I also added a light and medium orange in my hair (below).

Now, you could keep your hair looking like this, but for me, I like a more realistic look. So, I used a blender. Smear, 'Just Add Water', Smudge and other such blenders would work perfectly with this. Experiment and see which one works for you! When you've done that, the image should look something like this:

Now, you can always go back and add more shadows, hi-lights (subtle or extreme!), different colours, textures (you remember the paper texture application?), and different styles (wavy, short and choppy, braids..)!

Creating Eyes

Drag the image to your address bar so see the complete detail of an image.

So the first step is choosing your paper colour, in this case, a mid-flesh tone. This is to compliment the rest of the image, and it helps with your painting to choose something that's mid-tone so the lights (hi-lights) and darks (shadows) pop out. Sketch your image in a slightly darker tone so you can blend it off easier later on.

Start off by placing hi-lights on the top lid, and shadows on the bottom lid. Don't forget that the eye structure is not just a football shape- many eyes come in many different shapes, and no eye is exactly the same as another eye, even on the same person! Note that skin folds make up most of the eye.

Blend off the colours..

Now add a hi-light on the bone just underneath the eyebrow. Blend that off as well so it's nice and smooth. Make sure that the colour tones you pick are not too orange, or too pink.

Start shaping the area around the eye by adding shadows and hi-lights here and there. I'm focusing more on the eye, so don't mind the eyebrow! Make sure you blend off the areas nicely- we'll add skin texture later. To make blending easier, change the opacity of your paint brush to a very low setting (on Corel, I set mine at about 2%), and build on your colour that way.

Now for the inside of the eye. To choose your colour for the eyeball, don't just stick with plain white. Instead, choose a palette that is slightly beige and gray. An artist trick: use colours that are complimentary. For example, instead of using just a dark black (which looks harsh and muddy when blended), use a dark, almost black, navy. That way your image will look balanced.

Add the iris and pupil, and don't forget the hi-light in the eye! Make sure you know where your light is coming from, and if it helps, draw an arrow on your painting to help you remember. Carefully add a slight navy ring around the iris, and blend it off. Add some definition and shadows around the creases of the eye.

Now time to add some skin texture: work with a small brush at a low opacity and carefully add some small detailing across the skin between the eye and the eyebrow where the light hits the most.

Add some eyelashes across the bottom lid. Remember that the eye is made out of folds, and the eyelashes don't just come out from the bottom of the eye, but rather grow from a little stretch of skin spanning from the eyeball to the roots of the eyelashes. If it helps, examine your own eye in a mirror before starting, or use a reference picture. Also note that eyelashes don't grow just straight down, but in clumps.

Use the same eyelash clumping technique on the top lash. If you're drawing your eye at a different angle, also remember that eyelashes grow the same way they do as on the bottom. Smooth out some of your skin tones, and add some extra shadowing and hi-lights here and there. Keep in mind where your light is! To add more 'life', I added some soft reds to the image instead of keeping it a flat tone. Add some hi-lights on the iris. If you've ever looked at a person's eyes, you'll notice that they're just not one flat colour. Blend off the sharp hi-light (beside the pupil) if you want. And ta-da! You've got yourself an eye. :)

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Creating Lips

Drag an image to your address bar to see it in complete detail.

Just like eyes, lips aren't all the same shape, size, texture, and colour, nor are they made up of outlines. When you draw lips, concentrate on the colour and shadows to form the lips. Avoid sticking with outlines that make your subject look like they've had a bad day with lip-liner!

Each step has detailed instructions with a palette (colour swatch) on the side that you can use if you so wish.


Finished product!

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Creating Moving Water
(Rapids)

Creating rapids is just as easy as creating hair! Use thin brush strokes to create the hi-lights of the water. The 'body' of the water is made up of dark blues, teals, greens, and sometimes hints of purple! Use a flat brush to create this piece. I use Oils Round Oils Size 4.3-7.5! Remember that black doesn't always have to be used- usually a dark navy will suffice for the shadows, that way the image doesn't look as heavy.

Note: Arrows are used in the tutorial to show the direction of the water flow. I don't always use this, but for the sake of convenience and education in this tutorial, I have added them. I encourage that you add your own arrows too if you like.

Click and drag each image from this tutorial to your address bar to see the whole image in complete detail.

Start by blocking in your basic shapes: rocks, different shadows, ect. Don't worry about details, because that will be done in a much later step. Right now, just focus on shaping the water that you are painting. Keep in mind where your light source is and the direction that it is hitting the surface of the water. Don't worry about going outside the lines- you can always erase! Plus, you'll need to cover some rocks with water anyway. :) Have plenty of different blues in your image to really make it shine!

I've started blending a small area of the image already for the sake of this tutorial. :) To keep the whispy effect, I used a RealBristles Brushes RealBlender Round. Keep your brush stoke in mind and make sure you follow the way the water is moving. Lots of movement is key! Remember, you can always change your brush size to make different effects for each rapid and stroke of water!

Here is a zoomed-in portion of the image showing the detail:

The rest is coming soon! Keep checking back!

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Traditional Art

Welcome to the world of traditional art, where everything is possible!
Traditional art includes anything that is, well, not digitally rendered. That includes airbrush, graffiti, sculpting, painting, sketching, and other such mediums. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the rest of this tutorial. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to Neomail Punkie92!

Tools

Traditional art tools include anything you need in order to create an image, so that means that canvas, paper, pencils, coloured pencils, paintbrushes, erasers and so on are included in this definition.

Graphite Pencils:
Graphite pencils are often mistakingly called 'lead pencils', however, there is no lead involved in the making of this pencil. :P There are many types of graphite pencils that are used for a variety of different things, from drafting, to quick sketching, and come in many different pencil hardness levels.

The following image demonstrated these softness/hardness levels, and gives the name of the pencil:

The HB pencil is the most common pencil that is usually found in most office supply stores. The other pencils are not so common, and you might have to go to an art store to purchase these.

H is great for fine tracing, detailing, and drafting. Great for drawing on paper surfaces that are not in a sketchbook.
HB is excellent for every day sketching.
4B is superb for drawing and shading because it is one of the softer leads. It's easier to shade with this one because you do not have to press hard to get the desired contrast. Excellent for sketchbook use!
6B+ are very good for large areas that require shading, but work well on paper surfaces that have larger grain. A regular sketchbook will buckle under these pencils.

Sketchbook:
The sketchbook is very important. You need to pick one that has a good grain, is in excellent condition, and is the proper paper weight. Now, depending on what you are doing, you need different papers. I'm going to introduce you to the 'standard' sketchbook paper weight and grain texture that is excellent for coloured pencil, charcoal, pen and ink, pencil, pastel, and some types of marker.

You can find the paper weight at the very bottom of your sketchbook. A good paper weight would be from 60 lb to at least 70 lb:

Kneadable Eraser/Putty Eraser
Very useful tool, I do not recommend going without this one!
This special eraser can be pulled apart, molded, and squeezed to fit your erasing needs. It's highly prized in an artist's collection because it doesn't just erase your subject, it gently pulls off the colour and lightens the image the way you want it to be. It also does not ruin your paper grain like the hard erasers do. Likewise, if you do want to erase something completely, this eraser can do it, too!

Here is an image of the kneadable eraser in all it's glory:

This eraser is very handy to use when you are doing coloured pencil because you can use it to literally lift away your mistakes!

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Pixel Art
An Introduction

Pixel art is the art of meticulously placing pixels (tiny blocks of colour that make up every single picture, piece of text, ect. on your computer, books, magazines, and other forms of print) next to each other to form a shape, colour, image. It can be as simple as a circle, or as complex as this:
Please note that that image was not drawn by me. Drag to address bar for full size.

As you can see, pixel art can be whatever you want it to be! For this type of art, you do not need an expensive program such as Adobe Photoshop. You can use Microsoft Paint or (I recommend these ones because they are meant for pixel art) ProMotion (PC) or Pixen (Mac). Please check out these programs and see which one is right for you.

Pixel Art Tutorials

I use Pixen for my pixel art- it has crosshairs which help me place my pixels in perfect alignment. It also features layers- it's not just for digital art, you know! ;)

Creating a Popsicle

1) What I like to do in pixel art is to first zoom in on the image. It's easier to work that way, trust me! Use a reference picture if you need something to work from. Start by doing the outline of the image.

2) Much better. You will want to start off by making the top of your ice cream cone's curves, using one pixel on each side to guide where you want to go. It's best to work on both sides at once, as this item is a symmetrical object.

3) Finish the sides, and work on the bottom of the object, finishing the curves at the bottom. To make a really curved object, I like to use the pixel format of 6, 3, 2, 1.

4) Finish the handle on the popsicle. Make sure everything is even!

5) We'll start colouring now, and adding the different sections of ice cream. Remember to work on each side at the same time so everything turns out even.

6) I've decided to choose the traditional triple ice cream flavours for this image. :) Now it's shading time. Shading isn't hard, and you should exploit the tools in your image program as much as you can.
For MS Paint: double click on the colour to open up the colour spectrum. Slide the grayscale slider (to the right) up or down depending on if you want to lighten or darken the colour. Click OK. Add this colour to your image as follows (see the following image)
For Pixen: Double click on the colour and open up the colour selection. Choose the Colour Wheel option, and use the grayscale slider to adjust the colour lightness/darkness. Add this to your image as follows.
For other program users: Use your colour palette option to adjust the colours as per usual.

7)Do the same shading for the rest of the sections:

8) Finish the handle of the popsicle, using the same method of shading:

9) Zoom back out for your finished product! I actually did this tutorial twice, because I forgot to save progress. I hope this introduction to pixel art helped!

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Create A Fish

Creating anything in pixel art requires great patience. It's easier to do a rough sketch of what you're drawing, then going back and erasing all of the clumps. You don't want any pixel to be connected, unless it's a straight vertical or horizontal line. See the image below for more understanding:

1) Start with the outline of the image. Make sure you zoom in and edit out all of the clumps!

As usual, drag to address bar for the full size.

2)After editing:
As you can see, the lines are much cleaner, and everything looks a lot more organized. I changed some things around to make the pixel lines work with each other. Be aware that you might have to do that as well.

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Dithering
Dithering is the process of carefully aligning different colours or shades/tones of pixels to mix a colour or to show shading. True pixel art uses only around 3 colours (red, yellow, and blue) to make the secondary colours in order to make a complete image.

1) We want to blend two colours together in this exercise. However, when we look at the following image, you'll notice that the colours do not blend nicely into each other, in fact, they're just sitting side by side. Let's fix this!

2) To dither, you will want to start by arranging one colour, in this case the orange, in a checker board-like pattern against the purple colour, like so:

3) This is where it becomes a little complicated. Next you have to align your pixels so that they're one pixel width wide between the checker-board row, and, still continuing the pattern, lay down your pixels like so:

4) Continue with another line using the same method:

5) Continue the steps 1-4 on the orange side using the colour purple.

6) Zoom out, and admire your work! Note that there are many different styles of dithering. Practice a style that you are comfortable with. Looking at pixel art by other people will certainly help quite a bit!

More examples of dithering:

and:

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