Young Woman Drawing by Marie-Denise Villers.
In the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Click “Fullscreen” under the image and use zoom or download arrow.
Long before the relatively recent advent of the iPad and the digital painting apps for it that have ushered in a new wave of “digital plein air painting”, some artists, myself included, were painting digitally from life using laptop computers and pressure sensitive tablets.
Most of these artists had backgrounds in other types of digital art — digital comics creation in my case, but for the majority of those of which I was aware, concept art, for which digital painting has become the standard medium. Examples would include, Nicholas “sparth” Bouvier, Robh Ruppel and Nick Pugh. (Many artists work on both digital platforms, and/or also work in plein air with traditional media, such as Erik Tiemens.)
Even now, despite the prevalence of ever more sophisticated iPad painting apps and styli (Apple’s insistence on showing artists doing iPad painting with their fingers is just marketing BS, it’s possible, but pointless), there are still many advantages to working on laptop with a tablet, as clunky as the setup may seem compared to the sleeker, lighter, all-in-one device.
For one thing the digital painting software for laptop and desktop computers is much more advanced than any iPad app, having had over 15 years to mature into professional level tools.
For another, the use of pressure sensitive tablets is a distinct advantage both in terms of the more natural drawing and painting application they provide and a degree of accuracy beyond that of the relatively clunky finger-sized iPad styli. (Whether the recent introduction of the Jot Touch pressure sensitive iPad stylus will change that remains to be seen.)
Another, often overlooked advantage is the two handed approach to digital painting and drawing available on a laptop — in which the non-drawing hand is free to simultaneously work modifier keys to switch tools, make adjustments, zoom and of course, undo, all of which requires stopping and tapping on the tablet.
It’s a matter of trade-offs then, lightness and ease of portability of the tablet vs. the stronger set of tools available for the laptop/pressure sensitive tablet combination.
A case in point for the latter is the personal work of concept artist Patrick Faulwetter, who I profiled in his professional capacity yesterday, and whose set of digital plein air paintings, done on an Apple laptop with a Wacom Bamboo pressure sensitive tablet, left me impressed enough to make them the subject of a separate post.
In addition to doing digital paintings on location in various places around his home in California, Faulwetter takes his digital painting tools on his travels to places like China, Istanbul and Greece, as well as other areas of the U.S.
His digital location sketches are striking in their handling of color, value and atmosphere. He also takes superb advantage of one of the strengths of digital location painting — the ability to work on location in low light conditions or at night, in situations that would be prohibitively awkward with traditional painting media, capturing nuances of twilight and nighttime color and light effects that a camera would easily miss.
Faulwetter also has a wonderful eye for the value and colors contrasts of dappled sunlight and the horizontal light of early morning or late afternoon.
Among his subjects, Faulwetter demonstrates the fondness for cars, ships, planes and related tech that was part of what drew him to concept art originally. In these, as well as his portrayals of city streets, highways overpasses, rock formations, parks and harbor scenes, you can see his economy of rendering, due in part to the speed of rendering made possible by the digital tools (one of which is a palette that never runs dry and always contains every color you’ve used in your current piece in the form of the eyedropper tool).
You can see a photo of Faulwetter sketching with his laptop and Bamboo tablet in a photo from his blog (image above, bottom).
Unfortunately, his blog is in one of those widgety Blogger templates that can be viewed in half a dozen ways, all of which, though graphically nice looking, are usability disasters. I found it easiest to use the “Classic” view, even though it’s one of those script driven arrangements that keeps loading more content in one long continous scroll, within which it is impossible to bookmark and return to a specific place (does anybody actually think these are a good idea?). Anyway, the interface issues are well worth dealing with for the delightful range and variety of Faulwetter’s sketches.
Those who are less familiar with digital painting may be tempted to think there is some digital “magic” that makes digital painting easier, but other than some of the advantages I’ve mentioned (for which there are also tradeoffs such as the lack of tactile feedback, etc.), I think you’ll find that most digital painters work in an approach similar to the preferred medium of many concept artists and illustrators prior to digital tools — gouache.
Originally from Germany, Patrick Faulwetter is a concept artist who started with an interest in architecture that then then shifted into automotive design and led him to work with the Volkswagen and Audi Design Center in California.
He later moved into concept design for the entertainment industry, and his film credits include Priest, GI Joe 2: Retaliation and Bryan Singer’s Jack and the Giant Killer and his clients include Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Rythm and Hues and Imagi.
His website showcases his professional work and is divided into sections for Design, Environments, Concept and design challenges. The Environments section is the one in which you will find the most images (note the small link below the thumbnails to the second page).
Faulwetter has a wonderful faculty for conveying scale and atmospheric perspective, as well as superb control of limited palettes and dramatic lighting.
Faulwetter also maintains a blog called Sketchpat, on which he has posted some concept sketches, but his most recent posts, and the majority of the images on the blog, are digital location paintings, painted en plein on a laptop computer with a small pressure sensitive tablet.
I was going to include someof his digital location sketches here, but I was so impressed with them that I decided to make them the subject of a separate post.
19th Scottish century painter and printmaker David Roberts was known primarily as an orientalist, producing richly detailed paintings and a large number of finely executed lithographs of Egypt andt the near east, using as reference sketches made during several extended trips to the region.
Roberts began his career as a designer and painter of stage scenery. For a time he pursued his gallery art on the side. Reportedly, J.M.W. Turner convinced Roberts to devote himself to gallery painting full time and Roberts eventually was much in demand for his exotic subjects and fine renderings, and was elected to the Royal Academy.
In particular, Roberts excelled in capturing the imposing scale, detailed surfaces and dramatic grandeur of the monuments and architectural wonders that were the subject of most of his works.
If there are contemporary concept artists who are not aware of his work, I think they would find it a compelling study of striking environments.
Roberts also painted landmark views of his native Scotland, as well as key locations in Italy.
As far as I can tell, Italian illustrator , cartoonist and gallery artist Franco Matticchio doesn’t have a dedicated web presence, but his friend, designer Laura Ottina, has been regularly been posting examples of his wonderful illustrations on her blog, Animalarium (link is a general search for posts related to Matticchio).
In addition, Ottina maintains a Flickr set of Matticchio’s work.
Matticchio has worked for numerous publications and, in 1994, produced the storyboards and final drawings for the opening credits of Roberto Benigni’s film Il Monstro (The Monster, French version of credits on YouTube).
Matticchio illustrations are wonderfully drawn, delightfully whimsical and have the kind of thought provoking twists often associated with New Yorker covers, though as far as I know he only done one of those.
There are several collections of his drawings, Dreams and drawings, Pflip and Trilogy of Mr. Ouch, and a number of books for which he has provided illustrations.
[VIa Twitter from BibliOdyssey]