Even digital doesn’t go as planned

I’ve realized that, sometimes a painting done with physical paint just doesn’t turn out as planned. It can be for many reasons, poor color choice,  bad brush work or just overall lack of skill. The latter seems to be my biggest hurdle, but even the forgiving digital painting can go south very quickly. Fortunately we just delete that layer and start again all that’s lost is time. With physical media it’s more involved, wasted paint canvas and so, but it’s all a learning experience. Trial and error have been teaching me that careful planning is key to completing a decent painting no matter what media you use. Sometimes that means a deviation from a reference photo, what looks good in a photo might not look so go in paint digital or otherwise. This next painting I’m going to share started with an apple on the counter top, my color choices for the background didn’t really help the subject at all, and I didn’t ever nail the lighting. Overall I hated the apple, so I deleted it and put something else in its place, I didn’t plan it as you’ll see from the terrible composition. The background was painted around an apple, and I left it as is after I removed the apple. I like this better but it isn’t very attractive and was roughly thrown together out of frustration. 

Free Custom brushes for ArtRage 5

I posted this previously but due to some feedback on the Artrage Forums I changed the settings up a bit on one of the brushes in this pack. The brush was previously named smoke, the head was square which made the brush pretty blocky. I changed it to use a round head. All of the other brushes are the same, at some point I’m going to make a page with the different textures so would be downloaders can see what they’re getting before hand. Until then you’ll just have to download and see for yourself. Here is the download link: JM’s

In color

Since I’ve been attempting to develop some artistic skill, finally after aforementioned years of procrastination I’ve also been trying out some acrylic paints as well. I must say I find the digital alternative to be much more forgiving and easy to pick up on. The undo shortcut helps me tremendously! While I’ve been doing some painting I’ve realized that color is a deep subject and mixing color with actual paint can be frustrating given pigment limitations and so forth. I’ve spent the last several hours working on an apple trying to mix a yellow that was acceptable for what I was attempting. I never actually hit the mark but I did learn quite a bit in any event so it wasn’t a total loss. I’ll keep fumbling my way through and hopefully I’ll eventually end up with what I’m after. In the mean time I look forward to opening up ArtRage where my undo button and color picker awaits me. 

I painted one other landscape style painting in ArtRage while I was still learning some of the basic features, I like landscape paintings but so far I haven’t been able to paint one that I actually like. Here’s the best I’ve managed to do, a far cry from the landscape paintings that I admire,  for sure! 

Wet shaving techniques 

A couple of years ago I decided to try out wet shaving with a straight razor, I began with a straight razor that took disposable blades it was okay but I wanted a real straight razor. So I bought one and started using it to shave, haven’t used any other kind of razor since then. Like all other hobbies straight razor shaving though not exactly a hobby comes with quite a few extra accessories. You need a scuttle, brush, cream or soap, and at minimum a strop to keep your edge keen for as long as possible. A strop is just a piece of leather to run the razor across, but on top of that you need some way to sharpen the razor once the edge is sufficiently dull that the strop no longer restores it. 
You can use natural whetstones or synthetics to sharpen your razors, synthetics are cheaper and more predictable, but there is no substitute for a natural stone as far as I’m concerned when it comes to shave quality. So I’ve ended up with quite a few stones and razors as buying vintage razors on eBay is a little bit addictive. I really like the look of a straight razor so I decided to try painting one in ArtRage, it didn’t come out as well as I would have liked but not bad for a first try I’ll make another attempt at some point. I highly recommend wet shaving with a straight razor if you hate shaving in general, it takes more work but is much more enjoyable! 


As I said in my first post I’ve been dabbling with the custom brush designer in ArtRage 5. I ended up making 18 different brushes, none of which are really categorized nor would I venture a guess as to their strengths or weaknesses. I don’t have enough experience in the software yet to really nail anything down. However I do like to take a shot in the dark at times and just to learn the interface and the package creation system I decided I’d tinker with them and release them here and maybe get some feedback. I personally haven’t painted anything with any of them yet though I think I’ll make that my next project,  there are a couple of them that I think will serve as go to brushes for general use. I hope these will be useful to you and would like to hear feedback and see what you create with them.

As usual I’ll close with a painting I’ve done in ArtRage I was attempting a landscape of sorts and experimenting with some of the features of the software. This looks nothing like my reference photo, I kept it because I thought it was interesting at least. 

Value and Hue

So we’re going to time jump here a little, I’ve done several other paintings with ArtRage in the last month or so and as I’ve been on my quest for a more painterly look I’ve been reading quite a bit about color choice etc. It seems that color is a much more in depth subject than I’d ever considered it to be with complimentary colors,  primaries and so on, I remember some of this stuff from grade school but never gave it the respect or attention it deserved.

One of my tendencies is to use transparent  washes of black to darken a given color in an image to achieve the shadow or blending I’m looking for. Little did I know that black has one characteristic that isn’t altogether desirable, that is, it mutes the vibrancy of most colors. So I decided I’d have to learn to do without black which means I need more hues of a particular color, fortunately thanks to the Scaps in ArtRage I’m able to mix my own colors in a pretty traditional media way even though I’ve never actually done it with physical paint. The color picker would also work for this I assume by adjusting the hue slider though I didn’t try it out. My goal was to take titanium white and one other color and paint a picture of an apple using just various hues of said color without using any black. I was only partially successful because I ended up using black for the stem of the apple because I couldn’t get it to look how I wanted without it. This whole painting was very educational as it taught me a lot about value, I intend to do several more like it of different subjects. 

I also used more of a painterly approach to this one resisting the urge to use the pallette knife to smooth things out. I used the square canvas 2 custom brush that comes standard with ArtRage 5 and is simply a delight to work with. Kudos to its creator I bought his other brush packs based on the usefulness of that brush alone. 

In darkness light

As I’ve been exploring my limited creative potential,  I’ve discovered at this point I’m pretty much limited to still life with a single subject. I’ve also discovered that I need to stick with simple subjects, my sketching abilities aren’t too polished as I’ve really never put the time in to bring them up to par. It’s been quite educational so far and I’m thankful that digital media is fairly forgiving of mistakes, mine is a very trial and error approach.

 I started with Artrage lite but almost immediately decided it was an excellent program and I might as well get the full version with custom brush support and the other extras, one should definitely support developers of such a program. As I said before I’ve barely scratched the surface of features and I’m primarily working with the oil brush and custom brushes, I use the pallette knife quite a bit at this point as well. Color blending can be a little hit and miss if you get two darker colors together and don’t know one has some yellow in it for instance, I’ve found that color sampling from a reference photo doesn’t really work for me. I haven’t really developed a painterly style yet so I tend to over use the pallette knife for smoothing and cleaning brush strokes. Hopefully at some point I’ll be able to paint with brush strokes and achieve the look I’m after until then all my work will resemble my second digital painting.