Monday, January 10, 2011

The joy of painting happy little trees

Ossu! Shiro Ninja desu! (^o^)/

Lately I've been trying to learn how to paint backgrounds in Photoshop. I was kind of intimidated at first because, a) I've never painted that much before (what can I say... I'm an animator... I like drawing people!) and, b) computers freak me out! But I figured if we're going to make animations with a skeleton crew, then I'd better start figuring out how to paint trees and clouds and stuff.

When I tried to paint things from my own imagination, the colors didn't seem to work, and the paintings just looked weird. I decided to try something out. My homework assignment to myself is to take a bunch of screen captures from anime and try my best to replicate the backgrounds. So here's homework assignment #1: a scene from "Full Metal Alchemist-Brotherhood."

This is the original shot:
I started by painting the sky:
Next, I painted the trees:
Then, I added the hedges.
The base of the fountain came next:

I'm about to start on the final step, which is the water. I'll post the final painting when it's done. It's been an interesting and surprisingly fun process trying to get familiar with painting and with Photoshop. I discovered that there are a bunch of different types of brushes you can use in the program, and all are customizable... for me, it's still a matter of figuring out the right kind of brush to achieve the look I'm going for.
There are lots of Photoshop tutorials for painting, but I find that a lot of them assume that you've already mastered Photoshop and its millions of tools. So for a total beginner like me, these online tutorials were really helpful:

And of course, I watched some good old Bob Ross videos! Because "there are no such things as mistakes... just happy accidents."

Nin, nin!

-Shiro Ninja-

Update:  for the completed version of this painting click here


  1. great job Caroline! you pretty much nailed it here, its a lot softer and painterly which is more suited for what it is, instead of that filtery original you were copying.

    I guess the next step is trying to paint backgrounds that have more contrast in the details so you don't end up having all your paintings look to painterly and soft.

    overall very nice work!

  2. Thanks for the tip Don! I'll definitely try to mix it up.

  3. I like your trees better than the original.