In the interest of Improvement™ I’ve been warming up with little forest studies on the mornings that I’m working digitally. For one thing I was getting bored and frustrated with quick sketching human figures, and for another Wyrdhope has a lot of forest backgrounds, and I wanted to expand my mental library of woodland to make drawing them more interesting.
All of these were done in about 20-25 minutes, using my own vast library of Blurry And Poorly Lit Photographs of English Forests as reference. Some were done manually choosing colours, more were done by colour picking from the photograph. This process both gave me a bigger palette to work from in the future when painting forests, and also allowed me to focus on the act of painting, rather than agonising over getting the correct colours first.
What I’m looking for in each one is the quickest way to transfer what I see and feel from the photograph into a painting. I have a tendency, as pretty much anyone would agree, to overthink things. And painting forests is a nightmare for this – I look and can’t see the proverbial wood for the linguistical trees. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed with thoughts like ‘There are how many leaves in this photo?’ and ‘I didn’t know that many shades of green and greenish brown even existed’. Doing these studies has forced me to loosen up and look for ways to speed up the process. Most of which has been getting to grips with the many brushes I have installed in photoshop that I avoid using because I have my favourites, dammit, and I like my comfort zone. But using a mix of pre-made leaf and tree brushes, alongside my faourite Kyle T Webster chunky chalk and soft watercolour, has really turned out some results I’m quite happy with.
The top four in this post are my earlier studies, the lower four more recent – the one I chose to feature is one I painted yesterday, and I think shows how much just these few minutes a day have helped me improve. Doing these has made me excited for the time when I get to paint forests again in Wyrdhope (for the unaware, the most recent pages have all been set inside, which is a nightmare and I hate it, even though it’s forcing me to get better at drawing interiors.)
So the forest warmups will continue, at least until I get bored and frustrated and switch to something else!