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A glow. Coming from deep within the ocean. Inside a long-lost ancient meeting place where giant sea-horses gather to discuss the affairs of the ocean.

Now, this would be a pretty complex scene to paint. First you’ve got seahorses, so you’re going to have to find some image references to draw them accurately. Then there’s the light from the day as it gently meanders its way from the ocean surface to the deep. All topped off by a secondary light source coming from the glow of the meeting of the seahorses, whatever that might look like. While these kinds of imaginative story fragments may be clear in our minds eye, when we begin to put pencil to paper, or brush to canvas, we learn quickly that what was once clear is not as easy to put down when it begins to take concrete form. While anything can be rendered with paint with enough practice, there are certain scenes that lend themselves more to using digital tools than traditional. Digital painting would have an advantage for creating an imaginative scene like the one described above, for example, due to the complex light effects.

Every artist has their intuition to guide them to the drawing or painting medium that suits them the best, and for most, digital painting takes away from the freedom of simply making marks on a page. There are too many inhibiting steps and no obvious upside to creating art digitally. These are my favourite students to have! Whether you’re working digitally or traditionally, you should want a medium that doesn’t inhibit your creativity. This is precisely why I’ve made this course: to demonstrate how making art digitally can actually broaden your creativity, not limit it.

While intuition is a great guide in terms of finding what “feels right” to you, it can also prevent you from trying things like Photoshop because of its first impression of complexity. However far digital art has come, it still seem exclusive to those who are highly technical. The minute that you open Adobe Photoshop, you see the same kinds of toolbars and drop-down menus in something like Microsoft Excel - hardly the inspiring environment from which Michelangelo would have felt comfortable painting the Sistine Chapel. However, with this course I’m determined to change your mind about this. I’ll also tell you right off the bat that when I am digitally painting, I use about 5-10% of all the tools and options that Adobe Photoshop provides. After having wrestled with it for several years, it no longer intimidates me, and I hope I can help it make more sense to you too. This course is for artists and painters of any skill level, not for techies. You bring the creativity, I’ll bring the digital paint brushes.

In this course, I’ve distilled many years of both struggle and joy with using what I now regard as an incredibly powerful art medium. Even if you leave the course feeling like traditional painting is still the best for you, I guarantee that you will find the skills you learn invaluable to create and test many various painting concepts before beginning the physical painting process. You can explore different colour schemes, compositions, values, and subjects in an incredibly quick and versatile way. The sky’s the limit with what you’re able to make the program do. I hope I’ve wet your artistic appetite, and that you feel excited to begin!


Week 1 - Intro to Photoshop and Master Studies

Both black and white and colour studies with an eye for composition, value, colour, and form. Using the most basic Photoshop brushes to complete the assignment.

Week 2 - Photo Studies

Further working and experimenting with Photoshop's painting tools, and continuing to develop our eye for strong composition. Will work from both black and white, and colour photos. Will be up to the students what aspects of the photos they wish to focus on.

Week 3 - Film Composition Studies

Using freeze frames from films to create simple compositional studies from. As before, good examples of films will be provided. This week will allow us to deepen our understanding of creating an accurate sense of mood and atmosphere, as inspired by the subjective reality of the film lens.

Week 4 - Beginning Your Own Compositions

Now that we've had three weeks of practicing from the existing compositions of artists, photographers, and filmmakers, it's time for you to take the reins and begin learning the art of the thumbnail, an incredibly important stage of the process of working from abstraction first and gradually developing order.

In this week, we will talk extensively about the whole process of teasing out ideas, and how we develop them from seeds to full grown compositions.

Part of the process is also to define what the goals of your artwork for this course will be. Would you like to focus on still lifes? Figures? Landscapes? Imaginative or realism? All of these questions are up to you and your artistic goals.

Week 5 - Refining Thumbnails

This week we will pick the best of the previous week's thumbnails, and begin drawing more concrete forms into the different marks and shapes of your thumbnails.

We will continue to discuss the different phases of the ideation process. For those who didn't enjoy working with abstract thumbnails as a basis, we will try the opposite, to start with concrete sketches of forms, and then developing them into compositions this way. This way, you'll have the flexibility of working from either method in the future.

Week 6 - "Tonals"

Tonals are the term applied to the process of developing your lights and darks of your composition, and it's also a process of further developing your forms to a point that is far more recognizeable to the average viewer.

We will be using all of our previous skills in composition and values to ensure that our compositions are working for us, not against us.

Week 7 - Colour / Mood Sketches

Now that we've developed the overall values, as well as solidifed our compositions, we will movie into developing our colour palette for the image, and Garth will provide a variety of different ways of doing so.

Colour theory can be one of the most daunting tasks for the beginner artist, so some different ways of approaching this will be demonstrated.

Week 8 - Final Painting

As we come to our final week, we will be developing our colour sketch into a full-fledged painting! Now we will be discussing the process of detail, or lack thereof, depending on what is most important for the image to be successful. The careful balance of visual attention will be considered in order to maintain consistantcy with the original composition sketches.

Although this is the week of developing details, it is a common error to get lost in them, and so Garth will demonstrate some different ways of developing a final digital painting without losing your artistic spirit to the dread "paralysis by analysis"!

As we come to an end, Garth will also share various resources for moving forward with your digital and traditional painting skills.

You’ll leave this course with:

  • Knowledge of how to use the digital tools of art-making to allow you to paint more freely

  • Greater understanding of the artistic methodology of the entertainment / media industry (TV, movies, games, books)

  • Several ways in which to use the software to study and improve your overall artistic ability

  • Recognizing the differences and similarities with painting digitally and traditionally

  • A great, thorough way of approaching rendering realistic or stylized forms

  • A list of new resources and artists to look into afterwards to inspire and encourage your artistic path

  • Some systematic order and confidence in the way that you begin your future artwork

There are only 12 spots available in this course! And the early bird sale will be on until April 30th 2019!

How will the course work? What materials will I need?

This is an 8-week online course, so all you’ll need is a computer that is capable of digital painting (desktop or laptop), a drawing tablet (like a Wacom, not an iPad kind of tablet) with pressure sensitivity to allow you to paint, Photoshop or some equivalent to paint in, and an internet connection to receive the course content.

The course consists of 8 extensive video lectures demonstrating each week’s assignment, and then a live online meet up where I’ll critique the work handed in by email. At this critique, just like in an art school like Sheridan College, you’ll have the opportunity to ask me questions.

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Digital Painting 8-Week Class
270.00 300.00
  • Starting Monday Oct 7th this class will run for 8 weeks, ending on December 2th

  • Group meet-up at 7-8 pm beginning after first week, on May 8th

  • Online forum to discuss course content with peers

  • Will leave course with finished digital paintings

  • $40 is non-refundable, but the rest is

  • Save $30 on 2 classes with promo code 2CLASS, and $60 on 3 classes with promo code 3CLASS!

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