Sunday 26 April 2015


Some drawings I did from earlier in the year:

Foot studies

After the poor job I did of the hands and feet in my last painting, I spent a day studying the feet. Here are some quick studies.

Friday 17 April 2015

Female nude

Well, it’s not quite a nude.

I painted this using the techniques from Matt Kohr’s basic rendering tutorial. However I rushed the initial sketch so the  posture and some of the proportions are wrong. Her chest is way too big and her weight should be over right leg more. Also I didn’t spend enough time drawing the hands and feet.

Although I’m really pleased with the rendering, I don’t like the style of painting much. It looks far too airbrushed. I think this is due to using a large soft brush to achieve the value gradients. In my next painting, I’m going to make more use of a hard, round brush.

A couple of things I learnt from painting this:

  • Get in all the value information before the blending stage. I had started blending before realising I had missed a lot of different values in the face. Trying to pull the values from other parts of the image did not work.
  • Second, put major shifts in value on new layers (Matt Kohr calls them temp layers). You can then paint in big blocks of value using clipping masks to make sure you don’t paint outside the lines and within those blocks, use a soft brush and the eraser to create the subtler shifts in value, all without mucking up your contour.

Friday 10 April 2015

Still life

So this was my first digital painting since deciding to pursue a career in illustration. I painted it a few weeks ago. It based on Matt Kohr’s basic rendering tutorial. It took my the whole day to complete, but that’s including going back and forth between the painting and the tutorial videos. I think I could knock out something similar a bit quicker now.

I’m pretty happy with the result, although now I’ve uploaded it some of the values look a little too dark (mostly the occlusion shadows around the base of the jug). Also I think I was a little heavy-handed with some of the post-processing effects Matt recommended.

Thursday 9 April 2015

And now for something completely different

Hello there! My name’s James Nicholls and this is my first blog post. I recently decided to change career from mediocre web developer to world-renowned illustrator (hopefully; mediocre illustrator would probably be okay as well). I’m going to use this blog as a way to track my progress and gather feedback from others.

I used to sketch all the time when I was young but haven’t had much time for it in the last few years. And the digital painting thing is pretty new to me. Right now I'm just trying to develop my painting skills by reading as many online tutorials as I can get my hands on and painting from photo references. I’ve already learnt a lot from Matthew Archambault and Matt Kohr, who is the first person to explain digital painting in a way I really understand. If you’re interested in learning to draw and paint, I’d really recommend checking out their websites.

In my next post, I’ll post up my first few paintings from the exercises and tutorials on Matt Kohr’s website.