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Methods of

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

        1.3 Advantages

        - No skills in imagination, colour shading etc. needed
        - Fast output/creation of stuff
        - Strong impact if people don't know its creation process

        1.4 Disadvantages

        - 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

        2.3 Advantages

        - 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

        2.4 Disadvantages

        - 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

        3.3 Advantages

        - You learn a lot as you do most of the picture or do it in a very
          own style
        - 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

        3.4 Disadvantages

        - 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.

        4.3 Advantages 

        - 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

        4.4 Disadvantages

        - 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

5. Conclusion

        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.

Alive 13