Digital Painting Capstone

Welcome to the grand finale of this series of posts on digital artwork! In the first post, I discussed my past struggle with digital art and resurgent interest due to a new tablet purchase (Samsung Galaxy Tab S4). In the second, I talked a bit more about the app I have been using (Autodesk Sketchbook) and my improvements in technique. This post essentially serves as a capstone to my recent tablet learning experience.

Before I get into the actual digital art for this post, I wanted to mention sources of inspiration. In the first post, the sources were pretty obvious – one was just me, the other was from a photo of my sister’s cat. The second post though, which included a portrait of Not-Quite-Cate-Blanchett, I don’t actually know where the original image came from. I should have mentioned that before, but I forgot. Essentially, I had the image sitting in a big folder of artwork ideas. It looks like some promotional head-shot or something, but I don’t know where it originated – my apologies to the photographer.

For this portrait, fortunately I do know who to credit! I’ve discussed Unsplash images before, and this one came from an Unsplash photographer named Humphrey Muleba (user @good_citizen). If you aren’t familiar with Unsplash, it’s basically a collection of images available for any use for free (including commercial use!). It’s a bit controversial to some people, particularly professional photographers. But it’s a cool site to be familiar with for someone looking for practice ideas.

Anyhow, let’s get to the portrait. Here is the final version:

Guy with glasses laughing. Derived from a photograph by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash.

As I’ve said, I think this one is my best digital drawing/painting yet. My favorite aspect I think is the depth of color I used. I did a much better job here selecting appropriate colors to convey shadow, and I think that part even rivals some of my real pencil shading. I also think I did a surprisingly good job on the teeth. That’s a weird thing to be proud of, but traditionally I have struggled with teeth and usually leave them too white.

As with anything, there are flaws in hindsight. Obviously there are areas that ended up unfinished, like his shirt and in some ways the hair. Although I tried to show lots of light reflection on the glasses, that white light ended up also looking possibly unfinished rather than reflective. And the guy is driving, and I didn’t do anything about his seat belt.

Since I’m not traveling anymore in the near term, I’m glad I’ll be able to return to normal pencil drawing. I do miss it when I don’t get a chance to practice with good ol’ paper. And I’ve got a couple projects on tap that I think will be pretty engaging. But the digital experiment was a success this time overall, which was a great surprise considering the last experience I had. Although I may not do it much when I’m home, it is very convenient now to pop the pen out and sketch while just sitting around. A low barrier of entry is a big deal!


  • This has been very interesting to read, though I must admit I’ve worked backwards through your posts on it.

    You may have noticed my recent foray into digital drawing. I’m also an Android guy really but a deal came up on an iPad with iPencil so I ended up with that – and the same application though I’ve more recently been playing with Procreate which seems to be ‘The Tool For The Job’ when it comes to Apple.

    It’s not overly easy is it? I must admit that whilst I bought it for drawing I’ve spent probably twenty times the hours on Netflix rather than drawing.

    I find it so much more rewarding on real paper, and not just because I’m lousy digitally. I think it’s the feeling of drawing on glass with a biro possibly, no tactility to it 🙄

    Anyways, this is a great portrait above. It’s better for the ‘unfinished’ bits, delete that bit of the write up and make out it’s artistic license. I think in terms of style, your self portrait was instantly recognisable as being one of yours.

    This is good stuff, I feel more inspired to shut down the Netflix distraction and get busy with the pen again.

    • Hey Steve! So, it looks like I’ve missed a ton of new posts on your site. I’m not sure if I lost my subscription or something during your transition to a new host, but it looks like I’m good to go now. A silver lining to missing those is I have lots of good material to catch up on now.

      Definitely have to agree with you about digital art. It’s a major learning experience, with all new rules to figure out. And that’s something I didn’t really consider either – with the tablet, it’s so easy to waste time browsing or watching Netflix instead of opening that drawing app! Distractions seem to multiply when they’re easy to access, don’t they?

      I don’t think digital art could ever replace paper for me. As you said, there’s just a special tactile feeling to paper that can’t be beat!

  • I like the “unfinished” bits, as well, because it leaves some space for the viewer.

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