Friday, May 5, 2017

The Magician Tarot Card Digital Painting

The Magician Digital Painting By Seth Keller
The second digital illustration piece in my series on tarot cards. It is called The Pries or Aaron. In Tarot cards he would simply be called The Magician. The wand is the rod of Aaron which is described in the Bible. The infinity symbol is the urim and thummin which priests were described as wearing in the Old Testament around their necks fastened on chains. The coin represents the Aaronic Priesthood's power  over the earth and temporal things. The sword of truth sits on the table with the cup which is the Spirit of Christ. The rose and lily represent the law of Moses and the new law of consecration respectively in the past and in the future.

For people who understand tarot cards they will recognize many of the symbols that I describe from the actual Magician card, but what I have done is re-purposed some of the symbolism to fit with my interpretation of the The Magician: I believe that it is a representation of Aaron who came out of Egypt with Moses. However, in the tarot card some of the interpretations of the symbols are slightly different.

As a side note for those who are interested in my process: I have found that I paint better pieces in Photoshop if I first sketch out my ideas on paper. Often I will come back and redraw them on tracing paper making corrections or changes I feel are needed. Then I will just take a picture on my phone and import it into Photoshop. Then I'll start painting on the top of it. For anyone who is interested in digital painting using any program I would recommend sketching on paper first. Other people will tell you to just use Photoshop to make your base drawing, which you certainly can do... If you've read some of my other post that is what I've done in the past. But I've found that just seeing the drawing in it's physical form on paper has helped me with the composition of the piece.

Feel free to like, comment, and follow my blog for more of my illustrations. Thank you!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Fool Tarot Card Project Digital Painting in Photoshop

The Fool Tarot Card By Seth Keller

Recently I've been working on a series of pieces based on old Tarot Card. I even went out and purchased a book on interpreting tarot and a very interesting deck of cards for reference. I was interested most of all, in getting the symbolism correct. This card, The Fool, was my first in the series, but some of my later paintings are different in that I focus on my personal interpretation of who and what the tarot card is representing... It is my belief that tarot cards do hold truth in them--perhaps not of any mystical nature--but that they contain truth from religious beliefs that existed before the major spread of Catholicism in the world. And even later, they perhaps contain truth that was not mainstream, or acceptable in mainstream Christianity. It is my belief that tarot cards hold knowledge from this hidden form of Christianity that was in the underground for thousands of years during the dark ages. This knowledge was of course mixed with a variety of different symbols and belief systems from pagan cultures throughout Europe and the middle Middle East.

Note this is just what I suspect, I have not done very much formal research on the subject and I'm not sure if any such research even exists. I just thought it was very interesting how well some of the symbolism correlates from Christianity and pagan cultures in some cases. In my other Photoshop paintings I will point out those correlations. 

The dog in this painting is my dog Mocha she wasn't very cooperative when I tried to take her picture, she was far too excited to sit still. The fool represents freedom to me, but the moral warning is to be cautious not to use your freedom to your detriment. As you can see, The Fool is extraordinarily free but if he or she, is not careful they risk falling over the cliff. In some versions of the card the dog is trying to stop the fool from going too far, but Mocha just doesn't care...

All images in this blog are my intellectual property and are not for commercial or private use, except by my written permission from me, Seth Keller. Thank you for your interest in my art. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Photoshop Painting Lamia Witch in a Tree.

Lamia Witch
Watch out for the Lamia Witch. I had a fun time making this for Halloween. I decided to create this piece in an extreme perspective to add interest to the painting. The parts of the body of this hideous witch appear dramatically closer to the viewer than the feet which appear in the background. The tree that the witch is crawling on is wide at the base but as it continues upward becomes thinner.

As always it is extremely important to start every painting with an under drawing to make everything cohesive and to fix any problems before you get to far into the painting itself.

For this painting I used a very limited pallet of color, because I wanted it to appear very dark I set the layer I was coloring on to Multiply instead of Overlay. Multiply is useful because it has the effect of making everything below it darker, yet it will not completely blot out what you have underneath. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Adding First Layer of Color to Under Drawing in Photoshop Painting

Alice in Wonderland Graphic Novel Page with First layer of Color
For those who have been reading my blog this is Part 2, of the post entitled How to Create an Under Drawing . Follow the link to see the post How to Create an Under Drawing Using Photoshop.

For those of you who may be familiar with traditional oil painting, you know the importance of laying down your first layer of paint. In Photoshop you can do the same thing; however, while laying down your first layer of paint in oil painting is generally just a light wash of a single dark color, in Photoshop I suggest laying out all of the colors that you are going to use for the final piece in detail as seen in the image above. 

After you have created your under drawing simply create a new layer above the under drawing and set the blending mode to Overlay. This will allow you to paint over your lines in the under drawing while maintaining some of the values and line work in your original under drawing. 

The purpose of laying out the colors in this fashion are two-fold:

1) In this stage you get to plan out which colors you are going to use, and see what looks good by blocking in colors. If you don't like the color, it's easy to just repaint over the color because you haven't invested much time into extremely detailed painting. 

2) As in traditional oil painting, it is wise to lay down a base color so that in the final piece no white "canvas" is showing through in the final piece. The same is true in digital painting. Laying down the color also saves you time in the long run because you don't need to paint every pixel of the piece if you already have color filling in all of the spaces. 

To be clear, in this stage of the painting you work generally filling in the biggest shapes rapidly with large brush sizes. Later when you are working on the details you can worry about getting everything perfect. 

After you complete this step the next and final step is to add in all of the fine details with smaller finer brushes.

Thank you for reading, please like this post and leave comments and questions for other artists.

Friday, October 2, 2015

How to create an Anthropomorphic Character, Digital Painting Photoshop

When creating an anthropomorphic character I find it extremely helpful to have a base character to start from. Such as Beauty Smith from the book White Fang by Jack London. As you can see I transformed this character in the book into an alligator person. 

While you may be an excellent artist, it is also always very important to find good source material. That is a reference which you can use to help you create a believable character. I've seen artist try to create their artwork of specific things from memory only, and usually it just doesn't turn out to look believable. 

When creating this digital painting, I actually went online and found real photographs of alligators, I found close up pictures of their scales and their eyes. However, this does not mean that I copied or plagiarized! Every good artist that I know makes sure to use reference material, however none of them copy their work directly. If I wanted to I could have easily just done a photorealistic painting of the same alligator that I found online. Now that would be plagiarism, but I didn't do that, I simply used the image of the alligator to get the form, texture, and shadows correct, everything else is my own invention. I did the same thing for the eyes.

Now some of you may be thinking: "But this isn't a photorealistic piece of artwork..." And that is true, and I take particular pride in that fact, because what good is an artist if the artist is simply creating photorealistic pieces when a camera or machine can do the same thing in mere seconds? The job of true artists is to add beauty and communicate their particular message to their audience, not simply to recreate the world as it is, but perhaps to reform the world into something better, or even as it should be. 

Reality is more malleable than we might tend to think. 

Excerpt from White Fang by Jack London (1876–1916):

This man was called "Beauty" by the other men of the fort. No one knew his first name, and in general he was known in the country as Beauty Smith. But he was anything save a beauty. To antithesis was due his naming. He was pre minently unbeautiful. Nature had been niggardly with him. He was a small man to begin with; and upon his meagre frame was deposited an even more strikingly meagre head. Its apex might be likened to a point. In fact, in his boyhood, before he had been named Beauty by his fellows, he had been called "Pinhead." 

Backward, from the apex, his head slanted down to his neck; and forward, it slanted uncompromisingly to meet a low and remarkably wide forehead. Beginning here, as though regretting her parsimony, Nature had spread his features with a lavish hand. His eyes were large, and between them was the distance of two eyes. His face, in relation to the rest of him, was prodigious. In order to discover the necessary area, Nature had given him an enormous prognathous jaw. It was wide and heavy, and protruded outward and down until it seemed to rest on his chest. Possibly this appearance was due to the weariness of the slender neck, unable properly to support so great a burden. 

This jaw gave the impression of ferocious determination. But something lacked. Perhaps it was from excess. Perhaps the jaw was too large. At any rate, it was a lie. Beauty Smith was known far and wide as the weakest of weak-kneed and snivelling cowards. To complete his description, his teeth were large and yellow, while the two eye-teeth, larger than their fellows, showed under his lean lips like fangs. His eyes were yellow and muddy, as though Nature had run short on pigments and squeezed together the dregs of all her tubes. It was the same with his hair, sparse and irregular of growth, muddy-yellow and dirty-yellow, rising on his head and sprouting out of his face in unexpected tufts and bunches, in appearance like clumped and wind-blown grain. 

In short, Beauty Smith was a monstrosity, and the blame of it lay elsewhere.


Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Create Paper Cut Out Look in Photoshop

Paper Cut Out Look using Photoshop
This post is to help explain how to create a digital piece of artwork using Photoshop that imitates the look of a real paper cut out piece of art.

As with any artwork there are many ways to accomplish the same look and feel.

I suggest creating each element on separate layers, that way you can come back latter and move the individual pieces around to improve the composition and placement of items as you work. So for example, each rock and plant that you see are on different layers. The dark panel behind the mermaid has its own layer and all of the details of the mermaid have their own layers. So keep that in mind as you go, don't create everything on the same layer, it will cause problems for you in the future.

Once you decide what your paper cut out artwork will be, you start creating each element. Remember the goal is to create pieces of "paper" with thin crisp lines. Using the brush tool in Photoshop will not work unless you can draw a perfectly straight line by hand.  There are two different ways that are far superior than using the brush tool: 1) You can use the pen tool in Photoshop to create paths. 2) You can also use other programs such as Flash CC to create lines. I chose to use Flash because I find that creating and editing lines in Flash is much easier than in Photoshop or Illustrator. Once again if you choose to use a different program to create your line work you should keep all of your elements on separate layers.

After you've created your line work, each on their separate layer, its time to use the bucket tool to fill each shape with whatever color your heart desires.

At this point you will start to see your design coming to fruition. However you will notice that the pieces of "paper" look too digital, it basically looks like you used the bucket tool to fill in shapes, which is exactly what you did.

To fix this problem you can go to various sites that provide free texture photographs, or you can take your own photographs. We want to fill each piece with a different texture, so make sure to find enough variety. Import the photo directly above the layer you want to apply the texture to Ctrl+Paste move the photo and use the transform tool (Ctrl+T) to make the photo fit entirely over the color panel that you are trying to apply the texture to, press Enter to exit transform mode. Use the magic wand tool (W) to select the panel of color within in its respective layer, you can make this easier by pushing on the little eyeball icon next to the photograph to make it turn invisible as you are using the wand tool to select the color panel. Once the color is selected, push the eyeball icon next to photo layer again to make the photo visible again. For this next part make sure that the photograph layer is selected. You will notice that whatever shape you have selected with the wand tool remains selected even though you have switched to the photograph layer. This is good. Staying on the photograph layer Select the Inverse, by pressing (Shift+Ctrl+I) you will see now that the dotted line has inverses now, to select every thing outside of the shape you selected. Next press delete, and suddenly you will see that the photograph will be perfectly trimmed to fit the selection. Still on the photograph layer, reduce the opacity of the layer to about 30%-40% and you will see the color of the color panel showing through the photograph. If you want you can merge the photograph layer with the color panel layer.

In my piece I've played around with the effects of the layers as well to give each piece a uniform cast shadow. I've also applied a barely perceptible bevel on each piece of paper so that it looks like paper.

Congratulations you are finished!

I hope you enjoy making your own!!!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to Create an Under Drawing using Photoshop

Alice in Wonderland Graphic Novel Page in Black and White
With every good painting, whether you decided to paint with Photoshop or traditional mediums, you need to start with an excellent under drawing. I created this base drawing using Photoshop and a brush that made my brush strokes look like pencil and paper. I will probably go back and add color into this base drawing, but as you can see this piece can function on its own as a finished piece. 

I think they the trick is to first work very generally by making your brush size huge, say 400-500 width. You use this to roughly block out shadows.

Then you sketch over these shadows, once again very roughly, to get the forms a little more defined. You work roughly at this stage so that you can easily edit the location and size of objects by using the laso tool. 

Then once you have everything in its proper place. You can start perfecting the rough sketch with fine graceful lines on another layer by tracing over the rough sketch. This time adding all the details. 

Next add smooth values to the lines. 

Finally after you have a finished drawing you can set a new layer above your under drawing and set the blending mode to overlay to add color. And another layer above that set to normal, to add fine detail. 

I hope this helps!