As the world advance forward, the ways to paint a painting gets increasingly numerous! For today's topic, I'll talk about what is traditional painting and what is clone painting... in the digital sense of course
It involves the concept of having physically the drawing medium and the drawing canvas. With a photograph reference by your side or with the whole scenery in front of you, basically you draw with whatever means you can on that canvas. Two main areas to take note of here: (1) Drawing on the "correct" position and (2) Getting the right colours and lightings.
Ever wonder why your painting of a person seems "crooked" in some sense? That's probably because the nose wasn't drawn with respect to the position of the eyes but from the chin. What? The chin was drawn with respect to the shirt? Shirt from the long hair? Hair from the ears and eye brows? And so on. In fact, to achieve a certain standard of likeness of the subject we want to draw, we need to take into account of everything.
Taking portraits as an example, why your painting will look like your subject is probably the size and the location of all the features of a human face is drawn in place. Technically speaking, this means that if the eye brows are of 3cm apart, 2.8cm above the eye, eyes are 3.2 cm wide, 1.1cm apart, etc. When all the calculations are done and readings taken, the face will be drawn with superb likeness, especially if drawn using a grid as a guiding tool. Well, we painter don't do such left-brainer stuff, we feel. From the look of our subject, we try to "feel" where the eyes should be, where the nose should be, where the lips should be, etc. We check the whole picture every now and then to see if we "feel" any awkwardness in our paintings. Any such "feelings" we will quickly find out where or what went wrong and make appropriate amendments. As we gain more experience, we cut down the time spent to wonder what went wrong and also shorten the amount of time needed to correct our "mistakes."
Sometimes we get too engross in the eyes, we draw everything with reference from the eyes and neglect other features' positions or "feel," our paintings will go "awkward."
Another part would be the colours and the lightings. An experienced painter could do wonders with probably just a few tubes of colours because they know how the mixing goes. Again, if we say it in technical terms, we say like 50% yellow and 50% red gives you 100% orange, etc. Do bare in mind that the tubes of oils that a painter buys doesn't always come in with the same red. Different companies come out with their own series of colour codings. Even with the same type of yellow, the yellow oils might come with different qualities and hence results in different tones/shades of the same composition in a particular mixture of paints. Usually, a painter will stick to the same company for years buying the same red, or some will just mix them on the spot and experiment with the outcomes. That'll probably sound more artistic since we get to play with our "feelings."
Similar concept to putting the facial features at the right spot, we also need to put the colours at the right spot. Areas which are closer to the painter/camera will usually be lighter. Things further away will tend to be darker or even less saturate.
Look at the leaf on your hand, the leaf is freshly picked from a tree you passed by just 100 meters away. The green in the leaf is so vibrant and lifely that you could just use a few more seconds to stare at it. You lift up your head to find the source, hoping to catch the same green. Yes, the tree is green alright, but wait! The green in the trees is not as vibrant as the leaf on your hand! What happened? Being amazed at your findings, you look beyond the tree and found a mountain full of the same species far away. This time the green has such low saturation that it's too obvious to lie to yourself. So, what actually happened?
Scientifically, light waves attenuates with distance. It means that lights that are further away will appear dimmer. Okay, I accept the dimmer part, but why is it less saturate then? It's due to the air between the source and our eye. Think of it as a mist, the mist will kind of blur the colours and make it more "whitish" in a sense. Well, for more information kindly proceed to the Internet Deskfront for your cup of hot documentary.
Some artist like to begin their drawing with sketches, some like to begin with blocks of colours. Both means are to find the "correct" position of their subjects to achieve likeness. Likeness in terms of facial features, or it can be in terms of 3D realism of the scenery.
Traditional painting (Digitally)
Alright, digital paintings slightly make the life of a traditional painter easier. All the paint buckets are free. Colours are freeflow. Brushes are needless to wash. There's no setup time, only loading time. There wont be any more mess created after each painting and packing up the paint equipments is just a few clicks away. But the two concepts that I mentioned earlier on remains. Hee i repeat again (1) Drawing the subject details on the right position and (2) Applying the correct colours and lightings for your details.
Don't get me wrong. As an artist, by saying the word "correct" is actually subjective. You might want to paint a tree pink instead of the usual green or brown, that's perfectly fine. So in this case, it's more about the applying the correct tone of colours and the correct level of lightings. Terms like light sources, main source, secondary source, background light, bounce light, diffuse light, shine, etc. might not be so stranger to most of the artists. To understand those things needs time and a lot of practice. For myself, I use portrait paintings of pretty girls as a form of motivation to train my foundations. In the end, with a good foundation within my grasp, I can go on with drawing concepts without much reference. That's my aim. I want to be able to create something great from just an empty canvas.
Digital painting has more benefits like the Undo function, cut and paste, transform, etc. For example, if the left eye was drawn a little too small and to far away from the right eye, I can apply the transform functionality to move and enlarge the eye. As in traditional painting, careful planning has to take place. Digital painters will still have to go through the mixing of colours, picking the right colours and applying the brush strokes onto the canvas. The same person with decent skills who can paint a scenery traditionally for 3 days could probably do the same in 10hours with digital paintings. Well, if you wanna ask those professionally trained artists, some of them could probably come out with a mona lisa within 2hour using digital media (I'm just guessing). Great digital artists like Feng Zhu or Artgerms, they could do a few pretty tight drawings/paintings within a day.
Well, digital paintings have their own benefits but that doesn't outdo the appeals of a traditional painting. Digital and Tradition painter like Jeremy Sutton he did it both ways -- Scan a traditional painting and continue his digital journey or printing out a digital painting and start brushing in his newly bought oils! Isn't it cool!
Okay, so you wanna try out digital painting! Corel has recently launched its all new Painter 12. Its great plus point is to be able to replicate near realistic brushstrokes (This includes water colours, oils, airbrush, etc.). For cheaper alternatives, you can try out Artrage or even GIMP (It's free!)
Clone Painting (Digitally Only)
It is sometimes known as stamp painting or photo painting with the aid of the Stamp Tool in either Photoshop or in Painter. Painting with this tool requires much less skills than the above two kinds of painters. Basically what it does is that for every brush stroke, the photo that is "behind" the canvas will slowly come to life. You don't really have to build much skills about the (1) correct positions or (2) correct colours and lightings because no matter how random your brush strokes are, the picture will eventually come to life. This would be very useful if you want to create speed painting of a person with superb likeness but don't have the skill of a Vinci, this could be heaven for you. Probably what you need to do is to prepare a sketch/trace from the photo that is layered behind the drawing canvas (!WARNING! Photoshop terms are used. For more information about layers in photoshops, kindly Yahoo! or Google it. You might want to give Wiki a try too!) and since the artist is drawing on the picture it self (on a different layer of course), it'll be a lot easier and less time consuming as well. Once the trace is complete, turn off the reference layer, turn on the stamp tool or clone tool and start acting like an artists! Alright, the things that you'll be learning here will be slightly different from a traditional painter. Since you're no longer bounded by the correct position horror and the colour and lightings monsters, what will you be battling against? It's the brush strokes. The trace layer isn't meaningless for this matter. It means a lot for an entirely different reason.
Take a portrait for example, the trace will tell you where is the hair, eye brows, skin, eyes, etc. You wouldn't want to paint in a brush stroke that is perpendicular to the flow of the nice long hair! That's totally rubbish!
Another benefit is that for smoother skin, the artist will use a bigger brush size. For finer details like the eye brows, smaller brush size will be considered. Nonetheless, it's still about the brush strokes!
This article is mainly to inform the public that there exist such tool which require much less time and much less skills to achieve the ultimate awesomeness with just a few weeks of learning versus a 10years experience photorealistic master. For myself, I stay away from the clone tool as far as I can unless it's for photo manipulating projects. Big reason is because I want to study the lightings and positionings of my subjects. It's through this traditional style that I've finally gain so much more insights about art. And I'm aiming for the skills that so many artist is possessing out there!
In my opinion, clone painting can only offer so much knowledge and challenge to aspiring artist. If you ask me, well, I might consider using clone tool to paint but I'll leave that to until I've mastered my foundation first. I strongly advise against skipping the foundation learning. An artist who strongly recommend a high command of the foundation skills is Feng Zhu. Catch his free online YouTube tutorial by searching for his name or FZD or FengZhu Design School. He's opened a Design school in Singapore just recent years. He's a great guy to learn from.
Traditional Painting, Digital Painting with Traditional Skills, or Digital Painting with Clone Tool, it's all up to you. It depends on what you want to achieve and what you want to show to the whole world. For myself, ultimately I do not want to draw from photo references, I want to draw without reference. How would I do it? Catch me on my journal "How to be a Self-Taught Digital Artist?" (Sorry! I'm still working on writing the last few episodes!)
Good luck to your artistic journey!