developing a Picture
The reason for the creation of this article lies buried deep
within myself and years of joy and frustration. So what's it all
about ? I started doing gfx about 1994/5 on the Falcon. And ever
since, I tried to improve my skills and pictures. I was still
far from the edge of the demoscene graphicians but that was no
problem, until I found more and graphics men were not developing
their own creations. Many pictures looked so realistic, like
photos, others where so fantastic in style and colours.
Even though I practised more and more and collected every tiny
bit of information about creating art I still wasn't able to
reach this quality. Were my skills not evolved enough? Indeed
that was part of my problem, but only one part of it.
Slowly I discovered that I was far away from knowing all methods
you can use to create images on computers.
But after mourning about unfairness etc. for some time I
suddenly started to learn that there is a better way to get
along with these methods.
And at that point I was aware that each method had advantages
and disadvantages for the one creating an image depending on
what you would like to achieve.
Now I will try to summarize the methods and their pros and cons.
1. Converting a Picture
1.1 What you need
- Patience to find a cool picture to use, sometimes a scanner
- Basic drawing skills
- Some drawing techniques for 4 bit you can learn within the
1.2 Working Process
You have to look for a picture you want to use in the real world
or the internet. If it's in the real world, you need a scanner
to get it on your computer.
Depending on the platform you want to use the picture you have
to resize it and convert it an file format you can use there.
Programs deliver you a nice palette and good rescale algorithm
to have an already nice picture.
But to avoid the impression of a scan you need to fill in some
dithering, preferable some shown on Amiga for some time with
little symbols etc.
Maybe you also adjust the palette a bit to get the look to one
or the other direction.
That's it, no more has to be done here, a new masterpiece is
- No skills in imagination, colour shading etc. needed
- Fast output/creation of stuff
- Strong impact if people don't know its creation process
- Very low progress in developing your own stuff, the list of
stuff you do not learn is nearly endless
- Not very much prestige if people know how it was done
- Maybe not quite satisfying for the creator
2. Copying a Picture
2.1 What you need
- Patience to find a good picture
- Some knowledge of colour
- Advanced drawing skills
- Some knowledge of shading
2.2 Working Process
After you found your picture you have to find a way you can have
it beside you to do a 1:1 copy of it, because the picture
dictates everything, the proportions, the style the colours.
It's quite a big help to use a grid that has got the same
dimension on your copy and the original. Then you copy sector by
sector the lines then the colour and shading.
This may sound easy, but can be quite tricky. The main problem
is to really do a exact copy, which needs a high discipline to
- You can concentrate on your drawing, there is no need to think
about light spots and shadows etc.
- You learn from the other artist how to use colours and shading
if you keep an eye on that
- You improve your drawing skills
- Often looks great and improves you prestige if people are not
aware of the original
- You do not learn to do a basic concept of a picture
- Can be time consuming
- Still leaves you with the feeling "not having it really done"
(at least it should)
3. Using References
3.1 What you need
- A good idea for the whole picture
- Picture of what you like to include
- You need to be able to plan a picture / sketch an idea
- Knowledge of colour, shading, from and space
3.2 Working Process
There are several ways to use a reference. The first is to copy
a whole picture like in section 2., but this time with your own
expression, like impressionists did it with landscapes for
The second is very common among artists. You use a reference for
a certain part of the picture or to get to know how a certain
pose would look.
That means e.g. you want to do a scene with a female knight. She
is ready to fight with the viewer of the pictures and stands in
front of a closed door in a castle surrounding.
So you already know how to do the background with the walls and
doors and candles. You also know the mood of the scene will be
dark and dangerous, but you don't have an idea how a female
knight would look like in such a pose. Where to put the left
arm, what will the legs look like?
So you search for a photo of a female having exact that gesture
or you get you girlfriend to pose for a photo. Now you can
finish your whole picture, as you can copy the pose of the main
- You learn a lot as you do most of the picture or do it in a very
- Feels great to finish a picture where almost all is done by you.
- Increases your ability to plan/construct own independent
- Leads to pictures other people copy
- Hard school for beginners
- Needs skills that usually take some time to develop
- Risk of not being recognized by the masses if style/skill is
not good enough
- Takes much time and heart
- Can hurt if it's being criticized
4. Creating a Picture from scratch
4.1 What you need
- A good idea for a picture
- Some thoughts about the scene and what's shown
- Good imagination
- Good to high skills in all aspects of drawing/painting
4.2 Working Process
After you have an idea what you like to paint you sketch e.g.
the main character, parts you are not sure of how they could
look like and develop a scene step by step considering rules of
creating a picture. After the sketching is done and you are sure
about the scene and what's in it you transfer it to your canvas.
Usually you already decided about the light direction and
colours of most things and can start covering the canvas with
your colours, maybe also some shadows etc.
So actually it's almost like copying, just you copy your own
sketches & ideas.
- If you can handle this it's the ultimate freedom as you do all
yourself. Only you imagination is you limit.
- You grow your skills very fast at a certain point
- With a certain quality your pictures become those to be copied
- Very satisfying work
- Very hard to do for beginners
- Takes usually very long time to reach
- Needs good ideas to be really original
- High risk to fail to get prestige
- Might hurt much to be criticized
All in all you see it depends very much on what you want to
Fast results and competition winner can be done by converting
and copying pictures.
Flexibility and independent art can be reached if you work hard
on your skills to develop pictures of your own. There are no
secrets in this; you just have to work on it.
So this article helped me to overcome some anger i had for some
time and maybe it helps non graphicians to judge pictures more
If you want to discuss this article with me, feel free to write
Zweckform for Alive, 2006-08-10
Thanks to cube/TRM for some help with my English.