How Digital Painting Changed the Way I Approach Design

As a creative, I find so much inspiration in all kinds of mediums. I find other’s art a great source of motivation that has the potential to translate into my own work. It is because of this that I challenged myself to discover the new medium of digital painting.

Concept Art is known as a form of illustrations to convey mood, genre, and direction to potential stakeholders. As an artist I was instantly attracted to the way creatives utilized this medium to express emotions. I also knew, however, it would take more than just understanding the tools to create the best work. Therefore, I took it upon myself to learn the fundamentals of drawing.

Original Image by Brandon Tran @brandontranphoto
Adding subjects and using the tonal values to create a B+W image

Few interesting things I learned:

1. There’s a side of me that kills creativity.

It has been researched and well accepted that our brains are separated into two hemispheres: left brain – responsible for the logistical processes and right brain – responsible for creative processes (2013).

Nielson (2013)

When we attempt to draw things from memory, our left side of our brain draws from our own experiences to guesstimate what it is we are drawing. This isn’t a big deal when it comes to drawing memorable shapes such as a 2D house but becomes problematic when trying to convey 3D elements.

Apartment Reference

Essentially I learned that my left side brain was “auto-correcting” my illustrations and therefore messing with my perspective and leading to some very questionable results.

Maybe it was the fact that the last time I have ever picked up a brush to sketch anything or the lack of actual experience with perspective but I found trying to imitate concepts more difficult.

Instead of viewing buildings, I broke it down into simple shapes I was seeing and how it’s individual place inside the composition.

Once I had a general idea of the type of large shapes that were going to represent these buildings, I immediately thought of a sci-fi space theme for two reasons.

One, because you can’t really fault how a building looks if its a completely made up style of Zorgops, and two, I have always been inspired by the use of color certain environment paintings and wanted to emulate the moody style a lot of them possess.

Digital Sketch #1 – 07.24.20 

2. Approaching Creativity the RIGHT way.

There is an exercise when learning to first draw where you are tasked with recreating a drawing upside down by sections. This forces you to focus less on the overall picture and instead on individual shapes.

Learning this fundamental principle of drawing has given me a different perspective in contrast to how we usually approach design.

From designing systems in the grand scheme of things to the minuscule details that make up the big picture.

I found when I allowed myself, or my left-brain for that matter, to ease up and draw shapes that did not make much sense, I found myself more creative in the sense that anything could be anything.

Upside down Sketch #1 – 07.21.20

3. Allow yourself to get lost in the process.

When I allowed things to just be what they could be I found much more creative and overall invested in the process.

Understanding that there are also biological factors that I face in terms of resistance is huge. Being more comfortable with the unknown is the best way to create. The main thing is you get out of your own way and solve problems when they come up not before.

Original Image Taken by Brandon Tran @brandontranphoto
Compositing more layers on top + color grading
Final Weather + Lighting Effects
Source: Nielsen JA, Zielinski BA, Ferguson MA, Lainhart JE, Anderson JS (2013) An Evaluation of the Left-Brain vs. Right-Brain Hypothesis with Resting State Functional Connectivity Magnetic Resonance Imaging. PLoS ONE 8(8): e71275.

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