Paintovers are pathetic

As you maybe know I like to use this blog not only for posting my artworks but also for sharing resources and talking about various topics that are connected to illustration; that’s why I wanted to spend some minutes talking about a topic that always bothered me, and that’s paintovers. There is only one thing that is more pathetic than a paintover: the person that did “paint it”.

Painting over an image is not a bad thing per se; it’s actually a common task when you have to work with a render as a base, for instance. It’s a bad thing if you do it as a way for making people believe you are an amazingly skilled painter, though; this happens when you are not saying that you painted over a photo, and you are therefore letting people believe you are actually capable of photorealistic painting.

“Artists” doing paintovers and hiding the fact are usually frustrated people in need of fame or at least general appreciation, but they don’t want to spend time learning and so they go for a shortcut. Painting and drawing realistic faces is not impossible and it’s something that can be learned with efforts, passion and time. But the lamer has no wish of spending time on all that, since he/she is only interested on what comes with it: comments, fame, sense of importance. Things that he/she probably doesn’t have in real life where cheating is not possible, but that can be achieved in the net.

Lamers doing paintovers are doing bad to themselves and somewhat to the other artists too, since they are choosing not to improve and they are also making the mass believe that painting a realistic human is actually a trivial task. Which is not. And on this topic, I’d like to make you notice that the subject of lame paintovers is almost always the human figure. Dramatic portraits, complex poses, everything is wonderfully easy for the lamer doing a paintover: they just need a good reference and a smudge tool, then hurry up! get fast to deviantART or some other place, to have people with no art education shouting at you that you are too good to be true. And indeed you are not true. You are a fake. To paint and draw the human figure and face and achieve realistic results requires years of studies. It’s also interesting to notice that such “artists” are often showcasing an amusing range of quality in their galleries, going from the photoreal portrait to the terribly wrong anatomy of some images made with no tricks. That is: a painting showing a complete understanding of lighting, values, hue shifts, anatomy and so on, side by side with something that lacks even the basics.

Spotting a paintover is actually quite easy most of the times: being the lamer “artist” so lazy and stupid, he/she will probably pick a photo from the net and paint on it with few to no changes. Just use a reverse image search engine like TinEye to find the source, and then go cover that “artist” with shame if you like. Try asking them if they can paint that same portrait in a different angle, or if they can change the lighting on that body pose, etc. Then sit and read the pathetic excuses they will find.

I did spot many paintovers in the past and it’s amazing the answers you get from those “artists”. Some are denying it even if the images are almost a 100% match when overlayed in an image editor, others are answering something like “hey c’mon I know, it’s all a joke”, but no one of them ever added to the image description the fact that it was based on a photo, as I suggested. Of course they won’t: they need people to go and comment and make them feel good. Now, if this is not pathetic, then I don’t know what it is.

A useful painting exercise

There is a nice exercise that I do as a warmup before starting painting sessions, and I would like to share it with you. I basically take a painting or drawing I like and admire and I copy it, giving me a maximum of 20 minutes for copy. If I’m fast enough I can do two in 30-40 minutes and it’s amazing me everytime how much this simple exercise helps me getting the feeling with the tablet, the software, values comparing and more!

To make things easier and faster I use to choose the pieces to copy in advance, I bring them in Gimp and there I double the width of the canvas, so that I have a free space on the right of the image where I can paint the copy. Here is a sample to explain what I mean:

(that beautiful painting is not signed and I forgot who did it; I found it surfing the web and if you happen to know the name of the artist please tell me, so I can give him/her the due credit)

That particular copy took ~20 minutes in MyPaint and even if it’s full of not accurate parts it still was a very useful exercise. I used MyPaint because it starts instantly and has features for rotating and flipping the canvas. You can use the software you prefer though, even better if it’s the one you’ll use for work. If you want to give this method a try I have some advices for you:

  1. prepare a lot of images in advance, so that you can start you exercises without losing time
  2. set a time limit and respect it: if you’re not done with the painting when you reach the limit, leave it as it is. If you really care about that painting, try doing better the next time. That’s because…
  3. …the goal of the exercise is to train your eye to deal with values, strokes quality, brushes choice, palette issues and all the other stuff that artist put into his/her painting. Your goal is not to create a faithful copy of someone else’s artwork!
  4. don’t bother showing your copies to the world and don’t feel you have to prove anything to anyone: this is a personal research that you are doing for improving yourself and/or warming up your skills before starting working
  5. if a particular painting is making you have questions, try to contact the author and ask: industry professionals are usually very busy but they could answer you and give you some answers
  6. keep flipping and rotating the canvas to spot issues, it’ll vastly improve your chances of understanding what’s going around

A last note about copies:a lot of artists are copying famous ones as a way for becoming poupular and creating something interesting fast. This method has nothing to do with that lame bahavior: this is all about learning and warming up, and what you create is only for yourself.

That’s all! I hope this tip was useful for you as much as it is for me.

My point of view on online art communities

If you’re into art then it’s very probable you joined at least one online community; places like CGHub, CGSociety, DeviantArt, GFXArtist, etc are very popular and they gather the best artists around plus a huge number of wannabe artists. These communities are requiring you to register, they usually won’t let you delete your account ever (using some arbitrary excuses and without saying this before you join them…) but on the other hand c’mon, they let you show your art to the world and receive precious feedback,  get in contact with companies that are waiting for you to give you a job, and they also have hundreds of master artists that are there only for the sake of helping you learn and improve so that you can steal their job as soon as possible. That was all quite ironic, as you can guess. This is a lenghty post and I could edit it for making it shorter, in a distant future. Prepare for a long rant after the break!

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Character speed painting and workflow


A character speed painting made with Blender, MyPaint and Gimp.

Please download it to see it in full resolution (2496×1800)!

I wrote about its creation workflow in a pdf, here it is: A FOSS Concept Art Workflow [1,54MB]

Note: please link to the posts and not directly to the pdf, because I often update them, rename them and move them around my dropbox, so your links could become dead. Thanks!

Blender sculpt test


It’s been a while since I played with Blender’s sculpt tools, and I’ve to say they became much better and they’re probably already good enough for production. I spent 30 minutes sculpting this doodle and the results are quite interesting, too bad I started with a sphere and so the topology is far from being harmonic and balanced, next time I’ll start from a rough low poly model and I’m sure the results will be far better. Well done, Blender devs!

Another MyPaint test


As the title says, just another speedy for playing a bit with MyPaint. I also used Gimp in the final stage for some cleaning, resizing, levels tuning and so on, all things that aren’t possible with MyPaint.

At this stage my opinion about MyPaint is becoming more defined and I’ll soon be able of posting about it in detail. Thanks for watching!

My usual 3D work-flow


I was actually going to do an infographic for explaining this, but I then realized I don’t like inforgraphics, so here we go with a simple post. The subject is not complicated either so a post will just do — with plenty of links scattered around and opening in a new window.

When I work with 3D I have a work-flow that is more common than the others; it’s not my only 3D work-flow but it’s the one I use the most. It involves using SketchUp, Blender, Gimp, Octane and some file formats: .skp .dae .blend .obj .mtl .png

Read more for seeing the steps I usually follow :

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