Has the brush ever behaved strangely?  It is not working the way you'd expect it to? This video will help you identify some possible problem areas, and give you a checklist for the next time that your brush isn't working smoothly.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Hopefully by now you're familiar with Blending Modes.  What if I told you there was a totally different way to create a texture overlay? In this video we'll explore an often overlooked feature called "Blend-If", in which the opacity of a layer is dependent on it's grayscale value.  Sound confusing?  Don't worry.  Though this seems a bit more abstract than other painting techniques, as long as you know about grayscale values and the Histogram, you'll do just fine. Due to the technical nature of this video, I'd recommend following along in your own photoshop document.   You'll need two texture images, and here are links to the two I used from cgTexture.com: the Base metal, and a Rust overlay.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Many Ctrl+Paint videos encourage using photo-texture overlays... but what photos are best to use? Utilizing textural overlays is much easier if you're working from high quality images. I like to use 'base texture photos' created by texture artists. These videogame artists use photos which seem very boring by photography standards: uniformly lit and without engaging camera angles. Though they won't win any photography contests, they serve as great raw materials for textural overlays. Google image search often doesn't return useful images for this process, so knowing where to find them is essential. In this video I talk about cgTextures.com, as well as the characteristics to look for in a good photo-overlay.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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This video takes a look at the power of Sketchup Components, and how they can speed up your design process. The upcoming Vehicle Design Start to Finish utilizes Sketchup, but due to time constraints I decided to emphasize the other aspects of the process. As a result, I want to elaborate on Components in this free video - because the system is just too cool to pass up. If you've never used Sketchup, make sure to download it today (it's free!), and start playing around!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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The entire process of design is filled with refinement: make a variety of options (thumbnails, color palettes, etc.) - and choose the best one. What if you could automate some of that? This video shows a technique to multiply your color roughs when making a character design in order to dramatically increase the total output. It's a bit messy, but you'll save a ton of time. If you want to see a similar process with thumbnails, make sure to watch this older Ctrl+Paint video.

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Illustrators often shy away from some of the more technical seeming aspects of Photoshop, but it's good to be familiar with the Histogram. This video will introduce the basics of how to use it, as well as a specific case where it comes in handy overlaying texture onto a painting. Note: In the video I fail to mention that the histogram is set to the "Luminosity" channel, not the default RGB channel. This ensures that you're measuring the value distribution, not the amount of R G and B.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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If you've spent much time working in perspective, you know that drawing a good grid is one way to save tons of time.  These grids, though, aren't much fun to draw. This video introduces you to some free software created by Epic Games which will make the experience much more pleasant. I'd only recommend using this software once you're able to draw grids manually, but it's free and offers a huge time savings. Thanks Warren Marshal, you've made my life a lot easier! Here's a link to the official page and download at Epic Games.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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In this video we'll apply the concepts from Pt.1 in an actual illustration. The idea here is exactly the same as in our black and white film colorizing, but the raw material is your own painting. One of the best aspects of working digitally is the ability to be flexible and fluidly manipulating colors. If you know the underlying properties of skin, the gradient map command can save you tons of time. In case you missed them, here is a link to Part 1, and an older video about the Gradient Map command.  Enjoy!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Skin is a tricky thing to paint.  A great first step is research and observation, and this video presents a fun exercise to help you practice. It's common for us to think of skin as a color, but it's strongly affected by the current lighting and never ends up looking like those "skin color" crayons made for children. To make things even more difficult, skin has a way of changing its hue as it passes from light into shadow. All of this tends to trip up beginners, and it's common to have your skin tones look lifeless and cold.

I encourage you to try the exercise I mention in the video, and Cinema Squid is a great place to find high resolution screenshots.  Have fun!

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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One of the best qualities of working digitally is the flexibility - and no tool showcases this better than the "Puppet Warp". It's a tool I've avoided showing in a video so far because it's relatively new to Photoshop. Additionally, it's very specialized and doesn't transfer well to traditional drawing. But if you need to slightly change the pose of your character, and you've already painted tons of details... there's nothing better than a quick puppet warp.

If you're not familiar with the warp tool that I mention in the video, you might like watching these two videos: Applying decals and thumbnail chop and warp.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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For some, a standard keyboard is plenty... But have you considered going further? This video showcases my personal hardware setup and how I use it for painting. Before you go out and spend lots of money on USB devices I want to be very clear: none of this is essential. However, as I state in the video, if you often spend long stretches on the computer you might want to give this a thought. Additionally, your hardware solution will be different than mine.  The best part about going down this road is that each artist has different needs and workflows, so each setup will take a different form.

1)  Cintiq 21UX by Wacom (currently replaced with newer models) This is the ultimate painting tool.  I was using standard USB tablets for 10 years before I got one of these, but I might have trouble going back at this point.  Very expensive, but wonderful for painting.

2)  SpaceExplorer USB by 3Dconnexion If you do much 3D modeling, you might like one of these.  I use this exclusively for Sketchup, and it allows me to use my right hand for sculpting, while my left hand stays on the SpaceExplorer controlling the camera and issuing hotkeys.  Though it's not cheap, it has dramatically changed the process of 3D modeling for me.   If you want to see this in action, watch this video -- it's a great demonstration, and essentially sold me on the device.

3)  Shuttle Pro 2 by Contour (available on Amazon) This is the heart of my painting interface.  I like the prominent knob for changing my brush size, and the overall ergonomic layout.  If you were to get one piece of custom hardware, this might be a good pick.

4)  Multi-function Gaming Panel (MFP) by CH products  (see pictures here) (available at @ Buy.com) This is a platform with buttons that you position and then bind to keyboard shortcuts or macros.  Very cool, but also very expensive.  If you want total ergonomic control, this is as flexible as it gets.  Want to see it in action?  This video from E3  2009 should help explain it.

5)  X-Keys 24 Programmable Keypad by PI Engineering These are my lowest priority buttons such as media controls, opening specific folders with a single press, etc.  A variety of things that I couldn't easily hard-bind my standard keyboard to do.  Besides.. you can always use a few more buttons, right?

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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To finish up the mini-series on advanced masking, this video introduces the concept of "selection building". Though this is not an official title, it's a process by which you make the job of creating complex selections easier and less frustrating. This technique is especially useful if you're adding graphic or pattern overlays on to your characters. If this seems abstract or challenging make sure to give it a try for yourself -- like other types of masking, it's much easier once you've had a hands-on experience.

If you're not familiar with masking, these are good videos to watch first: Masking 101 pt.1, Masking 101 pt. 2, Masking 101 pt. 3

To follow along with the video, here's the robot PSD for download.

And to learn about applying 2D decals using the warp tool watch this video: Warp Tool

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Edge control is often the key to efficient painting. As you've seen in Advanced Masking pt 1, nesting masks adds a high level of flexibility to the painting process. This video will continue the idea of nesting masks by exploring complex selections. Even if these ideas may seem abstract at first, they are worth learning. In my experience, once you begin to utilize methods like these you're able to approach Photoshop from an entirely different angle --- and will find yourself problem solving in a whole new way.

If you're not familiar with masking, these are good videos to watch first: Masking 101 pt.1Masking 101 pt. 2Masking 101 pt. 3

If you want to experiment with the PSD file from the lesson, here is the robot for download.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Are you using masks to their full potential?  Do you even know what masks are?  If you answered no to either of those questions, get ready to have your mind blown.   Masking is one of the most abstract concepts in Photoshop painting, but in my opinion it's the secret for truly efficient workflows.  Though it doesn't feel like a traditional painter's process, it's a skill no digital painter should live without.  This video focuses on painting textural overlays and the concept of 'nested masking' for maximum versatility.

If you're not familiar with masking, these are good videos to watch first: Masking 101 pt.1Masking 101 pt. 2Masking 101 pt. 3

If you want to experiment with the PSD file from the lesson, here is the robot for download.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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Photoshop's versatility is a great asset.  One moment you might be penciling a comic page, and the next you're laying in colors.  Do you change your workspace along with the task? This video introduces the 'workspace' feature which keeps your palettes organized. Since each task requires a different set of tools and information onscreen, it's nice to save preset workspaces to reflect each one. Like many user interface features this may seem simple and uninteresting - but once you begin using Photoshop for long sessions you'll understand its importance.

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AuthorMatt Kohr
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To get the most out of digital painting you'll need to let the computer do some of the work for you. Repeated objects are a great opportunity for Photoshop to shine, and this video shows how you can do real-time design using the 'smart objects' command.  Unike traditional painting where you work from the beginning sketch to a finished painting, the digital process operates in a less linear way.  If you can wrap your head around the possibilities, you'll end up saving time and achieving fantastic results!
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Sometimes the basic hard round brush leaves your lines feeling... flat.  If you want to throw in some quick pencil texture at the end of a digital sketch, Photoshop makes it easy! This video is not a replacement for custom brushes, but it works well in a pinch.  

Note:  In the video I use the 'Multiply" blending mode, though sometimes others are more effective.  Overlay is a nice alternative depending on the value range of your texture image.  

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