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Workshops Marta Dahlig COUNTRY: Poland Born in EXPAND YOUR CREATIVITY Warsaw in 1985, Marta is
Workshops
Marta Dahlig
COUNTRY: Poland
Born in
EXPAND YOUR
CREATIVITY
Warsaw in
1985, Marta is
a young and
talented
artist, and an expert in
custom brushes.
Marta Dahlig shows you how to quickly generate creative
ideas and overcome artist’s block with a simple exercise
www.marta-dahlig.com
DVD Assets
The files and photo
you need are on
Y
your DVD, in the Marta
ou simply cannot overestimate
the role that creativity plays in
every artist’s life. After all, it’s
Dahlig folder in the
Workshops section.
SOFTWARE: Painter X,
Photoshop CS3 (demos)
our ability to generate original
ideas that determines our style, and thus
our artistic identity. We all know how
amazing it feels when we’re soaring on
the wings of inspiration – and how
frustrating it is to lose that spark, left to
wallow in the misery of artistic block.
The main purpose of this workshop is
to let you in on a trusty exercise that I do
whenever I need to boost my creativity or
overcome an artistic frustration. The
exercise is simple: based on a stock
photograph, I sketch three original,
distinctive ideas, not taking more than
10 minutes per sketch.
While the first part of the workshop (in
issue 31 – turn to page 91 to get your
hands on a copy) covered the use of an
environmental stock photo, this part is
devoted to placing an object within a
painting, making it the centre of your
creative attention. I find this exercise does
wonders, even if only done occasionally,
but the best results come from daily
as they might come in useful later,
particularly when you are searching for a
subject to become a full-blown painting.
While a lot of this might seem
theoretical, I’ll also be sharing some
practical tips concerning the technical
execution of particular elements. To get
the best out of the workshop, it’s a good
idea to own an advanced painting
program such as Photoshop or Painter
(demos are available on the DVD), and
to work with a tablet. The stock photo
shown in the early steps of the workshop
practice. Remember to save your sketches,
can be found on the DVD, too.
Finding the stock photo
1
The first thing to do is find a stock photo. It’s tempting to spend a lot of time
searching for the perfect image, but the point of the exercise is to use as plain and
common images as possible. We want inspiration from everyday objects, so you should
never spend more than five minutes searching for a photograph. As you only have 10
minutes to complete a sketch, don’t bother repainting the stock photo, just paste it into
the image – for now it’s only a source of
inspiration, not a reference. I chose the first
thing that came to mind, a bureau.
2
The golden rule of
creative thinking
Before beginning to sketch, I always decide
what I intend the distinctive quality of my
painting to be. There are many factors that
can make a painting special – lighting,
colouring and subject, for example. The most
important thing is to know from the very
beginning what you want to achieve – it’s
often too late to incorporate an attention
grabber once you are past your mid-
colouring phase. Personally, I prefer to plan
my images precisely to achieve the effect I
desire, but sometimes it’s worthwhile just to
go with the flow. For this exercise, try to
keep the object stock photo as the main
focal point of the image, as it can be all to
easy to let yourself get carried away
Sketch 1: Lighting
3
Firstly, I decide to be creative with
mystic lighting. I change the colours of
the photo to some darker, bluish tones
and choose a contrasting yellow for effect.
I
add the glow coming out of the drawers
with my Stars custom brush, but an
Airbrush could be used to similar effect.
After sketching the room, I decide to add
a
narrative element, so I quickly paint a
little girl peeking into the drawer, giving
the image a Narnia-like feel. The sketch
took about nine minutes in total.
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a Narnia-like feel. The sketch took about nine minutes in total. 76 July 2008 UNI32.tut_creative 76
a Narnia-like feel. The sketch took about nine minutes in total. 76 July 2008 UNI32.tut_creative 76
a Narnia-like feel. The sketch took about nine minutes in total. 76 July 2008 UNI32.tut_creative 76
a Narnia-like feel. The sketch took about nine minutes in total. 76 July 2008 UNI32.tut_creative 76

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In depth Expand your creativity 77 July 2008
In depth Expand your creativity
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In depth Expand your creativity 77 July 2008 UNI32.tut_creative 77 16/5/08 6:31:30 pm
In depth Expand your creativity 77 July 2008 UNI32.tut_creative 77 16/5/08 6:31:30 pm
In depth Expand your creativity 77 July 2008 UNI32.tut_creative 77 16/5/08 6:31:30 pm
In depth Expand your creativity 77 July 2008 UNI32.tut_creative 77 16/5/08 6:31:30 pm

16/5/08

6:31:30 pm
6:31:30 pm
Workshops 4 Sketch 2: Colour and content contrasts Sketch redesign 6 For a bit of
Workshops
4 Sketch 2: Colour and
content contrasts
Sketch redesign
6
For a bit of a change, I make my next
sketch modern. I messily block in black
and white blobs to simulate a junkyard,
then run the Median filter over them to
clean them up. In the far distance, I add
ruined buildings and power lines. I block
in some black blobs in the background
and use a Motion Blur filter to make them
look like flying crows. This image is all
about colour contrast, so my bureau was
placed in the centre with some green
leaves growing out of it. The image ends
up slightly surrealistic and, when
polished, might look quite interesting.
This sketch took about seven minutes.
Now I’ve got my idea, I take some time to think my chosen
sketch through. The drawer isn’t subtle enough, so I replace it with a
‘cup’ formed by the character’s hands. To avoid a portrait feel, I decide
to push the character further back into the image; adding a swing
seems the perfect way to do this. I block in the shapes with my Hard
Ragged Round brush and sketch shaping lines on top of the blocks.
Find your style
If you can’t define your
Sketch 3: Surrealistic contrasts
style, do a dozen
5
spontaneous sketches.
Characters are my favourite subject to paint, so I decide to sketch something
character-centric. The idea came to me quickly – instead of painting the bureau beside
my female character, I'll make it a part of her. Where seems obvious to me, so I place a
drawer in the character’s chest. To give the sketch some early narrative elements and a
context for interpretation, I add some butterflies flying out of the drawer. The full
process takes about seven minutes. I decide this is the sketch with the most potential.
You can depict anything
but differ the ideas and
spend only 20-30
minutes on each.
Afterwards, compare the
sketches and you’ll find
common themes in your
work. Analyse what you
spend most time on, and
Defining the character
find out what your
7
favourite perspective,
subject or colour palette
is. It’s often best to
analyse such sketches
over paintings, as the
extra time can distort
I want my character to look young
– about 15 years old, as I have just come
up with an idea for a title: Adolescence.
Using the Hard Round brush I define her
facial anatomy, block in dress folds and
your original direction.
soften the colour transitions on the arms.
This Colour
Balance
Ctrl/Cmd+B
shortcut
enables you to
quickly access the ever-
useful
in Colour
Balance tool
Photoshop.
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In depth Expand your creativity Inspirational details 11 11 Character detailing To prepare the butterflies,
In depth Expand your creativity
Inspirational details
11
11
Character detailing
To prepare the butterflies, I block
in some basic shapes with the Hard
Round brush and, as usual, blur them
with Median and Gaussian Blur tools.
I don’t want the butterflies to be too
detailed, so I aim to merely hint at the
detail instead of painting every single bit.
8
I shade the dress further with the Hard Round brush, then blend in the colour
blocks in Painter with the Blender tool. This produces crisp colour transitions and a
solid feel to the fabric. I quickly design a flowery pattern to decorate the plain dress.
I
don’t want the pattern to feature any particular details, so I simply place in a few
airbrushed blobs then play around with Copy/Paste and flipping them around, to form
a
colourful hem at the dress edges. Last, I merge the hem with the dress, using the
Median filter to unify the airbrushed blobs with the crisper feel of the dress material.
Colour pick
Alt/Option+Click
Quickly
pick
the clicked in
colour,
without
switching
Eye
Dropper
to the tool
Photoshop.
9
Defining the
facial expression
Enriching content
10
10
The character’s expression is one of the
most important elements of the whole
image. Therefore, after painting in a
neutral, cloudy background, I proceeded
to define the features of the young girl.
To underline her adolescence I add some
freckles and add a healthy pink blush. I
round the face and smooth the colour
transitions for an extra soft effect.
I decide the simple cloud plus
wheatfield base are a bit too sugary for my
taste, so I introduce some darker energy to
the artwork by adding a dry, gnarled tree.
This way the painting gains much more
edge and character, taking on elements of
my personal style. Next, I prepare the
base to paint my main focal point (the
butterflies) on, by finishing up the details
of the dress and rope swing.
Final image
12
12
To finish the image, I copy and paste the butterflies around,
lightening them with the Dodge tool and altering colours with Colour
Balance and Hue/Saturation in Photoshop. To avoid the copy-paste
look, I take an orange Airbrush and, on a separate layer, run over the
butterflies with it, with the layer’s mode as Hard Light. I then duplicate
the butterfly layer, setting the layer mode to Hard Light at 70 per cent
Opacity and reducing the layer below down to 20 per cent Opacity.
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