Please welcome ChisSweetArt!
In the first of our "Ask the Artist" series, ChisSweetArt shares her thoughts about photomanipulation and answers some questions that you, the community, have sent in.
Community Question: "This is a question from me & my fellow photo-manipulators who doesn't use pen tablets. Oftentimes, We struggle in painting the skin. We use the 'smudge' tool but it doesn't work all the time. Realistic skin is hard to fake because it's both an artistic and a technical challenge. It's artistic because you can almost feel a character's personality through the look of its skin; its wrinkles, colours and beauty spots. Is there any techniques where we can achieve beautiful skin?"
ChisSweetArt: I think every artist has a different way of smoothing out skin. I have numerous ways I do it as well. One way that I do it is I go to filter and then go down to artistic. When I get there I chose paint daubs. I then go to the settings in paint daubs and make the paint brush very low and then push up the sharpness just a little but, not too much to where it's overdone but enough to make the outline crisp. (This is on the actual layer of the skin.) After that I then get my smudge tool and lower the strength to about 15% and then gently smudge away the painted look from paint daubs, and it comes out smooth and gives the smooth skin effect.
Community Question: "Textures are heavily featured in your work. How do you go about adding textures without overdoing it, and how do you layer textures with brushes so successfully?"
ChisSweetArt: With textures it's just how you lay it down and paint over it that makes it work. I know some people don't think about how the texture could work on a image and just stick it wherever. Most of the time I'll go through series of textures and positions just to get it right. Takes a lot of time and consideration to get it right. Best to be patient with your work. As for layer brushes I find the right brush and do the same as the texture. I try numerous different things to see what works and even then I will paint in small details to pull it all together.
Community Question: "The hue of skin is really hard to change convincingly sometimes, but you do a really great job with that. How do you do that? For example, if I want my fairy to be in a green environment, how can I get her green?"
ChisSweetArt: I didn't know I did lol! Just kidding. As far as skin color goes I go through painting on separate layers with different colors and layer adjustments until the color fits with the body and covers everything correctly. I also will go in and add colors to match with different hues that would fit that certain situation. If you have light in one direction how would that light effect the color of the skin and would it brighten it? You have to go through the numerous steps in your head to figure out how the color would work. How the lighting works. How the body holds color. How much blood is in certain areas of the face, etc.
Aeirmid: I don't know about you, but in my nearly 8 years on deviantART, one of the criticisms I used to get, being a photomanipulator, was that my work either wasn't really "mine" or wasn't "art" at all because I was using other people's photographs. Do you ever hear that? How would you answer it?
I think true art is based on imagination and what we feel or think of when we do art. We all use a lot of the same stock photos but a lot are not the same. Some are but there are a lot of different versions that make it your own piece of art. I think the only time you may have a problem in this field is when a artist cuts themselves short and copies another piece. Even then can we really call it copying? How many people in the world have looked at one object and made something close to it because it inspired. We all gather our ideas from something.
Aeirmid: You've recently started using your own photos in your works. How do you think that has improved your artwork, or do you think it has?
I think it's made my art different. I am not using the same stock photos everyone else is using. I also think it helps me get closer to the ideas I want to make my art into. Have I improved from it? I don't know. The artist is the worst critic and we always criticize ourselves the worst from the world. So if I were to give a honest answer I guess it would be maybe slightly... I'd rather see how other people see it.
Aeirmid: We see photomanipulations in our daily lives--in magazines and billboards for example. But, most people do not realize that they are photomanipulations. How would you explain to the average person on the street what a photomanipulation is? How is it different from simply an airbrushed photograph or a computer-generated 3D render?
Photomanipulation is art created by normal pictures and the talent of painting and editing with technology. Photomanipulation in my mind takes a lot more time and precision than a airbrushed photography. When you airbrush a photo you simple retouch that photo. You take away the marks and any blemishes unwanted. You do that in photomanipulation as well but you take it a step further and add a flare of creativity to it. As for 3D render... I think if you're a talented and well developed individual in the field of 3D then it can be a fairly easy trade... but I've tried 3D and it's very difficult and takes a lot of time and patience and honestly I think its more developed than photomanipulation in the way that it's more complex to create. Photomanipulation is more open but it really depends on the person. One person can say photomanip is easy or that airbrush is easy and then the next can say it's really difficult. Depends on the person.
Aeirmid: Let's say that Adobe is planning to make Photoshop CS7 now, and they are going to take away one tool. What is the one feature (OK, aside from selection, crop, brush, colors, and the eyedropper tool) that you absolutely cannot live without? Why?
I would have a hard time without the layer adjustment because it's a big key in photomanipulation for me. You use it when you place textures. You use it when you edit your colors for skin, background, etc. You can also use it for glowing and lighting effects in your artwork. It would be hard to do without.
Aeirmid: A lot of artists these days are using professional filters, like Topaz, to manipulate their photographs or to help blend photos together. Thoughts on this practice?
I've used the filters before and they can be very useful. I think they are great tools for those who are just learning. I wouldn't personally rely on the filters since I like to try different things and different ways to do things. I think if you try all different things you grow more than relying on one tool.
Aeirmid: Is there a tutorial that you absolutely think every new photomanipulator should know about? What is it?
It wasn't a tutorial per se but a actual class. A friend of mine, Istebrak, has done numerous digital painting classes that have helped me a lot. She still does them and I'd suggest looking her up and attending one. I used to not be able to digitally paint at all but she taught me the dynamics, and I actually have painted a few paintings that came out okay. You can take a look at them if you want.
Aeirmid: Want to select 3 photomanipulations from OTHER ARTISTS on dA for us to feature? Please tell us what you like so much about each of them.
I'm a big fan of Marcela. I think her work is unique and different from most people. She does a great job of making things alive and dead at the same time. She pays close attention to detail and color. She makes everything she does a true piece of art. This piece really speaks to me especially with the way she painted the hair and had the branches make her body. It's beautiful and captivating.
This is a simple image but then again not. Nina's work always took me in. This picture definitely does that for me. The emotion between the two woman are just so beautifully done. The way the hair wraps around their face and then almost forms a body for both faces. The hair is almost life for the woman. It's beautiful and well composed. It's eerie and dark almost haunting but it's also comforting with the peaceful faces the women make.
daunhaus' work is amazing. Her work is incredible but simple. She uses a lot of white which makes all the colors in the image scream out at you. Some of her work is rather creepy or strange but it speaks so many words. She makes a woman with no hair beautiful. She takes your attention. She also uses textures in unique and well-devised ways. I've always been a huge fan of hers as well.
All these artists are really great, and you should take a look at their galleries.
Thank you, ChisSweetArt!
ChisSweetArt is an American artist who has been a member of dA for nearly 2 years. She holds an associate's degree in graphic design and strives with every piece to be inspirational and original. Someday she would like to be a fashion photographer.
If you have a photomanipulation question you want answered, please note it to Aeirmid. More of these features will be forthcoming.