- Software: GIMP or Photoshop
- Level: Intermediate
- Subject: Trees
I had covered this subject casually in other forums on how I paint the trees or bushes. Usually, I notice that when painting trees, beginners tend to render them flat on one hand, or make them too detailed and spend time detailing each and every leaf. Sometime they use way too much texture that it does not match the rest of the artwork. Neither is wrong – but that is when made as a stylisting choice. When that is not the case, and the rest of the subject in the composition is following a different rendering style.
Here, you can see in depth, how you can control the amount of detail you put into the foliage, maintain the volume and hence get a good composition.
Sketching – Trunk, branches, and leaf volume
Even when you are not going to show each and every trunk and branch of the tree, it helps to sketch them full.
You need not be too accurate when drawing the branches. After you are done with the sketching – visualize the volume of leaf. To help visualizing you might even draw the rough boundary in a separate layer as I have done above (blue-gray).
Visualize – Depth And Light
Plan and figure out the depth of each of the set or group of leaf volumes.
Also pick a light direction.
Outline The Leaves
You may choose to do the visualization with out actually putting anything down on the canvas (in a separate layer), but in the beginning it helps. Once you practice, you can imagine it all and start outlining the leaves directly.
Here, I have used the earlier guide to complete the outline of the leaves in the sketch layer. This is where the type of leaf comes into play and you can make it look dense or sparse as you choose.
Now is the time to choose the colors and block out the basic shapes using the mid-tones for each group – in a separate single layer than the sketch layer.
Notice how I have chosen four different mid-tones for leaves from the farthest to nearest. The obvious difference is that variation in value – or how dark it is. The farthest mid-tone is darker, and the nearest one is lighter. Other than that – I have also chosen the farthest one to be more desaturated than the nearest mid-tone. Saturation is nothing but purity of the color. When a color is de-saturated, it has more amount of white (or gray) in it. I painted the different areas with the choice of mid-tone colors in the palette. The highlights and shadows were got by shifting towards the yellow color for each of them. Their darker version became the shadow colors.
I reduced the opacity of the sketch layer, set it on ‘Multiply’ mode and merged it with the color layer.
This point on wards – it is your choice. How much amount of detail do you want to put into the artwork? As you add more detail to artwork, you can put more detail into the trees and bushes. For this particular example, I just wanted to keep a bit of comic feel to it.
I used just a hard brush and used the shadow and highlight colors to render the leaves (or leaf groups). The same was done for the trunk and the grass.
The amount of details and the amount of effort that should go into it should be related to how much of work you put to the rest of the subject. If those are not on the same lines, the artwork looks like a patch work.
If you found this tutorial useful, and would like to be updated when new posts are published, subscribe to KalaaLog.com feeds or use the email subscription.