Introductory Digital Painting Part 1
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Introductory Digital Painting Part 1

This article is the first part of an interview with Josh Meehan, a digital painter and illustrator. It is an overview of digital painting compared to traditional art and provides general advice on the steps to take in order to create a digital painting.

To help explore a topic that I have only practiced for a year, I called on up-and-coming painter, illustrator and concept artist Josh Meehan (www.jatari.deviantart.com). Josh is well-versed in digital painting, which is a field that is quickly coming to dominate the design, illustration, animation and concept art world. Now is the time to try your hand at it. In this first half of the interview, we discussed the reasons to try digital painting, as well as the steps it takes to complete a piece of art from inception through the final execution.

What are the advantages of digital versus wet media. How do the two inform one another?

When it comes to digital media vs. wet media, the only difference in my opinion other than the outcome is the way in which the medium handles. Wet media can, at times, be unpredictable and messy, other times it can create amazing textures and happy mistakes without much effort. While digital media on the other hand is much more precise, and won't do anything you don't tell it to do, which can be good and bad. Each one is a separate art form in its own right but each follows the same principles of design and by doing either wet or digital media you will still be learning about each!

Can you explain your process from beginning to end?

I learned traditionally, through painting and drawing the world around us, this enabled me to gain a firm foundation of the process which is interchangeable with digital and traditional media. When it comes to sketching, I do it all the time. On the bus, during classes, in between classes, during meals, I always have my sketch book out, thinking and crafting something new. It's through good quality 10-15 minute sketches that I am able to quickly solve any major issues with composition and the design of whatever concept I'm working on. After sketches it becomes just like painting by working general to specific, blocking out shapes and slowing building up to detail. I also find it more effective to work in a grisaille (monochrome in shades of gray) painting technique, focusing on the form and how light plays with the forms in black and white gradations. Then I use layers to apply washes of transparent color, having all the separate colors on separate layers. The time it takes to complete a digital or traditional painting can take anywhere from 3-4 hours all the way to 20 hours on a single piece depending on the amount of revisions, visual details, and unsolved issues that can arise. But it is all good fun while I'm doing it.

In part two of this interview we address specifics of technique, equipment and style.

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