A straightforward approach for learning color.


still life screenshot.jpg

Making the leap to digital color is intimidating.  For many, grayscale offers managable challenge - but color is shrouded in a veil of mystery.  The Color Starter Kit aims to simplify this challenge with a classic strategy: observational painting.  Instead of starting with color theory and color schemes, we'll focus on learning to paint what we see.  Even though the goal is to illustrate fantastic imaginary scenes, I argue that still life painting is the best place to start.  The videos combine classic ideas and digital techniques, with no shortage of drills and lessons to practice.  Along with the videos, you'll find a collection of high quality still life reference photos, as well as .PSD files and worksheets.  

Note: The "Grayscale to Color" included in this collection replaces the 2011 series of same name.  It's much improved, and covers different subjects.

Total Runtime:  365 Minutes

Filesize: a combined 1.76GB (6 .zip files)  

Includes:
Observed Color (Video Series)
Grayscale to Color  (Video Series)
Direct Color (Video Series)
Refined Color (Video Series)
Imaginary Color (Video Series)
Costume Design - Portfolio Builder (Video Series)  

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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The sampling ring is a familiar circle for Photoshop users.  Starting with CC, it's the default behavior for the eyedropper tool.  In this video I explain what it does, and why painters might not need the assistance.  What are your thoughts on the sampling ring?

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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The more you learn about digital painting, the more you'll begin to find tool synthesis.  These are techniques that require the overlap of two or more simple tools.  The combo described in this video is one of my favorite: hard and soft.   

The Ctrl+Paint Library is full of videos that explain individual tools.  If any of the concepts in this demonstration are unfamiliar to you, make sure to check out the free videos linked to the right.

Videos Mentioned in this Demonstration

Spring Loaded Tools
Temp Layers

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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What is "Design"?  In the creative industries, the term has grown to mean many things - which is confusing for beginners.  On Ctrl+Paint I tend to mean one thing when I use the word Design, so let's take a deeper look in this short video.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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The user interface can be a valuable tool for your perception of color - are you taking full advantage?  This short video explains how you can.

Bonus points for reader Federico Rivarola:  " the hoykey are SHIFT+F1 for darker interface, and SHIFT+F2 for lighter interface".  Nice find, Federico!    

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Want to know what tablet to buy?  Confused about the options?  Over the years I've had a lot of different hardware, and my experience might help answer your question.  This video is a bit longer than normal, but I think it's important to hear the pros/cons of various options.

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3D is an amazing tool for 2D artists.  Ask those that use it in their process, and they'll have no shortage of reasons why.  The problem is that many of the reasons aren't obvious to painters.  In fact, I'd argue that many of the most powerful reasons to learn 3D only become clear once you start learning 3D.  Clearly this is an issue.  

Though it's impossible to list the reasons why you should start learning 3D software, this video is one neat example.   If you'd like to know more about 3D software, my new "3D paintover starter kit" is a great roadmap -- and it's all from a 2D artist's perspective.  Check it out!

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Learn 3D software from an Illustrator's perspective.


Adding 3d software into your process offers huge potential, but comes with a steep learning curve.  My goal with this collection is to show what's possible with 3d, and how to get there.  It doesn't go into exhaustive detail on individual topics, focusing instead on essential principles.  The collection starts with very basic possibilities, and slowly increases the complexity.  Regardless of your current experience, you'll leave with a solid foundation of 3d essentials.  I demonstrate a variety of 3d software, but all of the concepts are possible in with the free Blender 3d and Sketchup Make.  

Total Runtime:  374 Minutes

Filesize: a combined ~3GB (6 .zip files)  
Includes:

  • 3D For Illustrators 01: First Steps (Video Series)
  • 3D For Illustrators 02: What's Possible (Video Series)
  • 3D For Illustrators 03: Modeling Basics (Video Series)
  • 3D For Illustrators 04: Texturing (Video Series)
  • 3D For Illustrators 05: Modular Design (Video Series)
  • 3D For Illustrators 06 *: Paintover Demo (Video Series)  
  •  
  • *Exclusive to this bundle
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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Give your environment skills a competitive edge.


Runtime: 65 Minutes   (685 MB .zip Digital Download)

Portfolio builders are a great way to apply your new skills.  You're given a homework prompt, a timeline, and guidance to complete your own take on the assignment.  In Arena Design you'll make a portfolio piece that not only looks cool, but that meets the challenges of competitive online games.  The videos explore both theory and technique, focusing on the thought process that goes into developing a game level.  

Unlike previous portfolio builders, Arena Design makes extensive use of 3D software.  Free options such as Sketchup or Blender are great options!  If you're not comfortable with 3D software, I encourage you to check out the 3D Paintover Starter Kit.

Note: These assignments are for personal development only. I don't assign grades, give credit, or offer feedback.  And even though I'd love to, portfolio reviews are impossible for such a large audience.

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AuthorMatt Kohr

It's been over 5 years since I released the original digital painting 101 videos... I'm overdue for an update!  I've taken time to consider the most crucial info for new painters, and have collected it into a new page called "Getting Started".  I recognize the skills won't be new info for you long-time Ctrl+Paint fans.. but it might still be fun to check out a new take on old materials.  Whether you're new to the site, or have been coming for years, I invite you to check out the new section!  

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Half of the painting process is time spent making selections.  The lasso tool, marquee tool, pen tool - these are all ways to isolate part of your image from the rest.  Curved selections are especially tricky, and often slow down the creative process.  In this video I'll demonstrate a quick way to achieve accurate, curved, selections.

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Layers are one feature that sets digital painting apart from traditional art.  Everyone has different uses for them, but 'temp layers' is a concept you'll hear me reference in dozens of Ctrl+Paint videos.  It's a simple idea, but makes clean edges and smooth transitions much easier.  

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AuthorMatt Kohr

Do you find it hard to achieve 100% pressure with your Wacom?  Is you art getting tired while painting?  There's a solution.  In this video I demonstrate a way to significantly reduce the force required to achieve 100% opacity on a Wacom tablet.  This is personally important to me, because I've narrowly avoided a repetitive stress injury (think carpal tunnel) due to long hours in Photoshop.  If you're getting tired or sore by using your tablet, it's time to fix the problem.  You're not being a noble artist by suffering through the pain.

"Half pressure" is personal preference.  You could experiment with 1/3 pressure or even less to see how it feels.  To achieve this, just use lower numbers for the first item of each pair.  500 is roughly half of 1024, but I could have entered '200' for a very aggressive reduction. 

It's worth mentioning that this technique only works for Wacom tablets on the PC.  If you know a way to make this same change on a Mac, please let us know in the comments!

I'm aware that this is 'possible' within the official Wacom properties (Customize Tip Feel Graph) - but it only allows for a 30% reduction in pressure.  I desire a 50% reduction, and I could imagine others preferring even more aggressive settings.  As an ironic side-note, the Wacom properties graph will actually display the results of the text-document fix --- it just won't let you create the change.  So it's clearly one line of code in the config software that they're unwilling to change.

Important details mentioned in the video

Preferences file path (PC):
...Users / (your name) / AppData / Roaming  / WTablet

File name:
Wacom_Tablet.Dat

Search for this text string:
PressureCurveControlPoint

Numbers to modify:
<stuff> 81  0  1023  1023  2047  2047 </stuff>

Task Manager / Services: 
Ctrl+Shift+Escape  
(Don't forget to stop the service before modifying the text file)

Free text editor - Notepad ++

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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So far we've seen channels created with lassos, the pen tool, and shape layers.  Though these are the most common methods, some tricky shapes require an entirely different strategy: channels.  This video shows how to use alpha channels to create complex selections.  I'll be the first to admit that channels are confusing, and don't immediately appeal to illustrators.  Hopefully this short video will change your opinion!

If you find this topic interesting, make sure to check out Edge Control to learn more advanced techniques!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Selections help you isolate one portion of the image from the rest - enabling you to 'paint inside the lines'.  So far, in this mini series, creating selections has looked a lot like careful outline tracing.  In this video I'll explore an alternate approach to creating complex selections: selection 'building'.  

If you find this topic interesting, make sure to check out Edge Control to learn more advanced techniques!

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AuthorMatt Kohr