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Digital Sky Paintings

Digital Sky Painting, Jordan McCracken-Foster
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Prompt

Create digital paintings of different skies. 

Core Ideas

Color, Shape, Value

Supplies

Digital Drawing Tablet: Cintiq, Wacom, iPad Pro + Apple PencilPhotoshop/Gimp/Paint Tool SAI

Recommended Tutorials

Process

1.
On site, shoot photos of the sky at different times of day.  Try to capture unique cloud formations &  vibrant colors.

2.
Choose 3 photos to be reference images for your digital paintings.

Digital Sky Painting, Photo Reference

3.
Paint the biggest, most basic shapes first. 

Consider the focal point and how line, value, shape, and color are used to draw the eye.

Digital Sky Painting, Amelia Rozear

4.
Block in the sky color. Paint in the different cloud shapes.

Digital Painting, Amelia Rozear

5.
Build up your painting with a range of colors and values.

6.
Analyze your image and give each area a number between 1-10 that corresponds with the value, with 1 representing white and 10 representing black, with a variety of grays in between.

7.
Add strong highlights and highly saturated colors to make the painting pop.

Digital Painting, Amelia Rozear
Digital Sky Painting, Jordan McCracken-Foster
Digital Sky Painting, Jordan McCracken-Foster

Examples

Rachel Shin

“Digital art has been one of my favorite mediums most recently. I’m very interested in visual development so playing with color and scenery has been something that has been on the top of my list of things to do.

I have done a few sky paintings before but I wanted to explore something with more vibrancy and color. I wanted to visually represent a sky that is not reliant on realism but rather organic and geometric forms. That’s what was so exciting about this piece. I played with the shapes in creating a sky without it being smooth and blended like a sky usually is. This was a more playful response to a digital sky painting and was a very fun way to paint without trying to make things feel accurate.”

“I’ve been painting digitally for a while now, however landscapes and backgrounds are not my specialty or my favorite subject matter. It was interesting though, because as I worked through each piece I started seeing relationships between the process of painting a landscape and a human face– which is something I paint quite often. They each involve laying out basic shapes, blending, using a mix of brushes, and rendering/adding details at the end.

By my third sky painting, I realized how excited I was to be working on it, which has never before happened to me when it comes to scenery. I also tried to let loose and treat each sky as a stylistic painting vs. an overly-smooth copy of a photograph. In the end, I incorporated hatching and other brushes I haven’t tried before into each piece, and was pretty happy with the result! This was very fun to explore, and definitely has made me less afraid of tacking environments in art.”

Ro Antia

Ro Antia
Intern

“Digital painting is not one of my strengths, but this project helped me work on my drawing skills When I started thinking about this project, I really began noticing the shapes, colors, and textures of clouds for a few days. I also took pictures of the sky whenever I saw a cloud. I think taking the time to look at real clouds and study them was helpful to see beyond what the camera captures.

I have barely used Photoshop for drawing, so I began with using the circle brush because it seemed the simplest to me. Beginning with the background was very helpful because the sky is almost always more than one color, however these colors are quite flat. I started by drawing the most simple cloud that I had recently seen.

On each of my pieces, I ended up having multiple attempts at drawing the clouds, making a new layer whenever I wasn’t satisfied with where I was going. On the more complex cloud formations that I drew, I also would map out the cloudless areas before going in and starting to get into the actual formations.”

Starting on my second drawing, I started to try out different Photoshop blending modes to change how the colors interacted with the layers below which helped change the colors and helped my textures even though I was still using the flat circle airbrush. On my last piece, I tried out a more textured brush which was really great for adding texture more easily to my clouds.”

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