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Why doing a one hour speed painting everyday is an efficient way to learn digital painting.

Digital painting can be an awkward experience at first because the mind and body are not necessarily used to the coordination that it requires. In my personal experience it was quite a struggle at first because I thought it would be similar to drawing or painting in real life. The problem is that the medium is virtual in a sense, a simulation of what real painting and drawing are like. An immediate way in which we can differentiate the two is that with digital painting, the canvas is completely editable, and the art piece that is being produced can be changed completely. This is hardly the case with traditional mediums, in which whatever brushstroke we make on the canvas, there is more of a commitment to it since we cannot undo a brushstroke that we make on the surface.

Digital painting allows the artist to explore the medium of creating illustrations in a more liberated sense because the artist does not have to commit to a brushstroke that is done on the canvas. A simple “command+Z or control+Z” depending on which computer is being used is all that has to be done to undo an undesired mark on the canvas. This is largely a reason why the artist should not be afraid to make mistakes and get to producing many quick studies called “speed paintings” to grow a larger visual library in the mind.

The practice of making almost everyday a quick one hour study has allowed me to get a better grasp of the digital painting medium, and make more precise brushstrokes that represent what I intend them to. The way I conduct the practice is by taking a screenshot from a YouTube video of some movie scene that I find inspiring to study as a quick painting practice. The idea of this practice is not that the painting is a beautiful piece, but that it allows me to loosen up my brushstrokes and be prepared for a portfolio piece I might want to work on later, which requires more attention to detail and is more time consuming.

The examples that I include below are of speed paintings from the movie Toy Story 4, which is a movie that was very oriented towards high detail and detailed lighting. Both of these studies were done in one hour time, with the goal in mind to get as much detail within the canvas as possible with the time limit in place. Since it is impossible to get all the details of the scene in within just one hour of time, the intention is to grasp with the brushstrokes done the mood and composition of the scene as much as possible.

It is a practice that breaks with the idea of first finding the details, with instead the goal of finding the right colors and composition from the get-go, and then if there is spare time finding as many details as possible in the composition.

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