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  Navigation:   2D Tutorial: Traditional painting with high-tech tools. By Angela Logan.
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Note: Click on any of the images to see the tutorial in depth or simply hold the mouse over them for extra tips, tricks and notes!

Step 1 - This tutorial aims to demonstrate the use of "smudge" and other basic GIMP tools to simulate painting with pastels or other media. While it was written with GIMP users in mind the techniques should also work well with Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro or any other application that supports transparent layers.

ED- I'm curious. How do the techniques you use with GIMP compare to the techniques you use with oilpaints, etc?

Angela says: "Yes, the process is the same for me. I use mainly pencils and pastels, and I approach the Gimp screen exactly as I would a piece of paper. I'm painting with a mouse. It's the only difference. (except that mistakes are much less fuss to undo! Oh for an eraser that cleaned as effectively as ctrl-z!)"
Step 2 - I suppose this part is pretty obvious, but I thought I'd start at the beginning. My canvas size was originally 600X700 pixels; I cropped it at the end. I like having plenty of room to go wild :) I used background, as opposed to transparent or white. The next step is to create a new transparent layer for the clouds.
Step 3 - In the new layer, I rough out my cloud outline. Note the choice of tool and brush. I'm essentially going to be "building" the clouds, starting with those furthest from me and working towards myself. I personally like for my outline to be the highlight color, in this case, pure white.
Step 4 - Now we're adding shadows. Normally, they'd be black, but in this case, this lighter shade suited the tone of the picture.

Step 5 - Smudging...(This is my favorite tool. I know, it's basic, but you can do absolutely amazing things with it!)

When using transparent layers, you have to make sure the shadow color is on pretty solidly. You go to smudging it around, and naturally it gets thin. Depth requires opacity. (note the selected brush)

Step 6 - A little fine detail, trying to acheive a layered effect.

(note use of pencil tool with very small, hard brush -ed)

Step 7 - More smudging. I try not to touch the upper edges of the detail lines, they need to stay somewhat sharp. Next, I erase through to the background (layer), in the places where there are bluer shadows.
Step 8 - Smudging... a note, I smudge in short circular motions. For wispy, windblown clouds one would want to use long straight strokes, compatably with wind direction.

Step 9 - Time to add a new transparent layer. As you get closer to the ground, the clouds gradually darken.

(switching to paintbrush tool, a medium gray color and a small, soft brush - ed)


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Tutorial and images copyright © 2001 Angela Logan

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