my-only-flaw-is-nothing said: Hi! I really love your artwork and I just wanted to ask. I've been using photoshop for a while and I just can't seem to get smooth shading. It looks either too rough and sloppy or too fake. I've tried playing with different brushes and practicing with real paint but it's not working out. Any advice?
Firstly, using real paints to practice Photoshop is NOT a good idea, don’t expect to learn much for painting methods in a digital program using real paints. (just a suggestion)
Secondly, we will use a Fiona the Human doodle for this small demonstration.
(Note: All of the things below are just my own opinions)
(I am no professional)
Here I used solely a hard brush to render and try to blend the colors as much as i could. Rendering a painting with hard brushes can be more difficult because it typically ends up looking off and this is because painting the colors accurately or blending can be especially difficult.
Though there are plenty of artists who can make a very rough painting look very appealing by knowing the right colors to use and place, and using various texture brushes and different brush strokes to make the image look very interesting. So it’s not a bad thing to use hard brushes and use little to no blending, but it can be difficult compared to other methods.
The super soft look is easily achieved by using mostly or nothing but the airbrush tool. So the contrast will be lower than usual, but it will look nice and soft and the colors will be no problem to blend of course. But the reason why it look so “fake” is probably because it looks unfinished. I mean, compared to other methods, airbrush painting is so easy its almost lazy. The problem with this method is that (in my opinion) I think no one can make it look decent enough for a finished painting.
I just think it looks uninteresting and it looks like its missing a lot. But it can look interesting just by touching up certain areas or just adding some interesting textures around or something to give it a more finished look.
For my style (recently anyway), I love the soft look to death but like I said it always bothered me how lazy and seemingly unfinished it looks. Later on learning digital painting, I learned that i just need to add contrast and sharp areas in certain places so that it can remain soft and look nice and balanced between contrasts.
I will paint in the the colors and general shading using airbrush then I always use a hard brush to certain sharpen shadows or hard lights (like eye lights or lip lights or rim lighting) and anything in between is typically soft unless its a rough or textured object.
Try to put some balance between the smooth and the rough and see of that helps!