As time relentlessly marches on, innovations with technology and expansion of our understanding of how the world works are bound to conflict with the time-tried traditional practices our parents and their ancestors have known. This is especially true in the universe of Art. People these days become divided into two schools of thought. One side swears by the old master techniques and the classical approaches, striving to perfect the styles of the greats to utilize as their own. On the other bench is the rejection of the past for the incorporation of digital media through photo manipulation, digital matte painting and 3D modeling to express artistic vision. What gets lost in this polarization of views is that, art is the end goal. I strongly believe that both styles have a valid application to creating art. In the end they are merely tools and how deftly they are used is up to the skill of the hand that wields.
One way I utilize the two disciplines is by first creating my images with a 0.5mm mechanical pencil that has blue lead or non-photo blue lead. I find this type of lead has an advantage; if you sketch the preliminary lines very lightly, they will disappear to the eye as the drawing proceeds into the darker lines and values. As a result, I erase less than I normally would when I finish the drawing.
Since I decided not to traditionally ink the image, I color scan the rendered drawing into Photoshop. I like my pencil lines and I create a black and white adjustment layer and adjust the color channels to give me a stark black and white drawing. Next I create a mid-grey tone layer set on multiply so that way I can see the original line drawing. The next layer is set on multiply and using my favorite chalk brush I start applying the shadows. Afterwards I start working on the highlight/brights on a new layer set on screen mode. The rest of the work is spent alternating between these layers to tighten up the values until I get it tweaked right where I want it.
Once the grey-scale drawing is completed, I flatten the image into a jpg file. I would recommend flattening once you get the values down for the advantage of a smaller file size. I create a new layer set on color mode. Color mode is essentially the equivalent of glazing. Wherever the color goes, it will be tinted in relation to whatever grey value was beneath it. Its a fast way to lay in colors without manually doing all of the tinting for every color. I usually take the time to figure out what my color palette is in the upper corner of the picture on its own layer so I can refer back to it later if I forget what I used.
What the best path might be is determined by what best communicates your vision. The end goal of art is to express something: a story, an emotion or a concept. Whatever is used to manifest the art, to manifest whats in your head, is only going to be as successful as how happy you are with the final piece. Using only a paintbrush or working only with Photoshop does not guarantee success, only the act of creating art will.
Phil, Fine Art Department