Sometimes you just need to recharge your creative batteries. I’ve spent the last year working on an unannounced game, challenging myself to expand my tools and techniques, and discovering fun new resources. With renewed excitement, I’ve got a long list of topics to share with you - and tons of new free videos on the way!

The “Designed To Work” series of free videos will explore the act of design: Where ideas come, how to create with intention, and how to beat ‘creative block’. Additionally, it’s my first opportunity to offer a peek into the life of a video game concept artist - creating artwork for a fake video game to demonstrate these techniques.

Lastly, I want to thank the longtime community. You’ve been a huge motivator for me to leap back into video-making. Thanks for your patience and support! Let’s have fun painting.

After some creative recharging, I’m so happy to be back.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Let's hone those gray-scale skills.


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To my surprise, some of the most memorable assignments from art school were humble warm-ups and drills.  In the spirit of this discipline, I've created a set of digital painting exercises called 'Skill Drills'.  Here I'll walk you through series of homework assignments designed to simplify black & white photo studies. 

Each of the 4 drills target your focus on specific aspects of photo studies.  Instead of trying to make a general 'copy', you'll be limiting yourself to stroke economy, narrow values, or other useful exercises.  These drills ramp up in difficulty, building on one another as you improve your disciplined visual foundation. 

Though these assignments are appropriate for any skill level, they work best when accompanied by the Basic Rendering series.  These drills assume a basic understanding of painting in black and white.  

If you're ready to improve your rendering skills, let's get to work!

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Welcome back! After laying out the ‘elevator pitch’, now it’s time to map out some more of the important details for the game’s setting. Taking the time to plan upfront will help avoid heartache down the road. In this episode we’ll talk about theme, setting, and goals.

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AuthorMatt Kohr

Designed to Work is an ongoing free series where I’ll show design in action by creating concept art for a fake videogame, one week at a time.

When it comes to art, technique and Design are equally important. Technique is what Ctrl+Paint spends most of its time exploring: Photoshop, brushwork, texture overlays, etc. But in my day-to-day work, a significant amount of time is spent answering the question ‘why?’. Why should a vehicle have 6 wheels instead of 4? What color should the villain’s costume be? How tall should a fortress rise above the battlefield? These questions drive the end result as much one’s technical ability in Photoshop or with a paintbrush.

Finally, expect this series to differ from the standard Ctrl+Paint format. Unlike my other videos, this series will sometimes wander in unexpected directions. In the real world, art is hard to plan, and often takes unpredictable turns due to unforeseen factors. Instead of overly planning this video series, my intention is to let the direction play out organically. Stay tuned!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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This video continues our quick look into the (often overlooked) info tool in Photoshop.  Make sure to watch the previous video if you haven't already!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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When using Photoshop,  have you ever encountered a small crosshair on your canvas?  Perhaps you noticed this crosshair, and then couldn't figure out how to get rid of it.  This is called the '"info tool" - and it's more useful that you might realize.  Let's see what it does!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Free transform is an essential tool for digital painting.  Snapping is an important aspect of this tool, but many artists don't know how to control the effect.  In this short video, we'll explore 'snapping' in the free transform tool.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Today's video wrestles with the question "when painting, is it cheating to include photos in your image?"  Every artist has a different answer, but many contemporary digital painters have fully embraced photos as part of the painting process.  In this video I'll show a variety of tools (including photos) that lead to one of my paintings.  

Thanks to reader Dante who asked a great question in the comments to last week's video.  I know he's not the only who feels conflicted, so let's talk about it!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Photographs can be a great addition to the painting process.  In other videos I've talked about photos in the context of 'reference', but what about using them right in your painting?  The trick is knowing how to properly integrate them, so it's impossible to see where your brushstrokes end and the photo begins.  The tools are tricky and take time to learn, but it's a worthwhile process.  If you'd like to know more about this process, I encourage you to check out my bundle "Digital Realism".

 

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What is the difference between 8 and 16 bit color?  Does it make a difference for illustrations?  In this short video I explain the basics.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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You've probably heard the terms 'Destructive' and 'Non-Destructive'.  When it comes to digital painting, what do they mean?  This brief video explains the difference, and my recommendation for successful illustration. 

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AuthorMatt Kohr

Using reference photos is a crucial aspect of the painting process.  In this video I give a quick overview of my process - focusing on how photos can play unexpected roles.  

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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In this video I wrap up a short mini-series on the tricky balance of precision and dynamism.  Instead of focusing on individual tools, this time we'll look the importance of keyboard shortcuts.  Make sure to watch parts one and two!

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AuthorMatt Kohr

Painting balances two crucial factors: control and fluidity.  Some of Photoshop's tools encourage fluidity, and many encourage control - but they're often in conflict.  You'll see this while watching youtube videos from other artists: some work very loose and fast, while others work very tight and slow.  In this video I demonstrate how the 'lock transparent pixels' checkbox helps you balance both approaches. 

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Practical steps for adding polish and detail to your paintings.

Once you have a clear grasp of basic painting techniques, it can be tricky knowing how to proceed.  How are those other artists making such realistic paintings?  In many cases, you're seeing digital paintings subtly layered with photographic elements.  The methods of adding detail might not feel much like traditional painting, but they offer huge potential.   This collection helps you get started.  The 6 included series have a total runtime of 367 minutes. 

Note: This is an intermediate level course, and is designed as a followup to the Digital Painting and Color starter kits.


Video Previews

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Learning to critique and improve your own work is hard.  Finding issues with your own creations is hard.  In this video I recommend a different approach to help get the ball rolling.  And if you haven't checked it out yet, make sure to watch the related "Fix List" videos to guide your improvements.  Have fun!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Want to improve your polish?  Don't rush.  This video explores the importance of preparation and patience - using some of my old work as a cautionary tale.  Learn from my mistakes: it isn't cool to work fast.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Sometimes Photoshop brushes don't work right.  Or at least it seems that way.  This video is an answer to one of the common questions I'm asked: "why is my brush broken?".  It might not solve every problem, but it's a hidden setting that you might never discover on your own.  I hope it helps!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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