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Is Speed Painting a Sport? Learning Digital Content Creation by Watching

Okay, so maybe it isn't really a full-blown sport, but if the proliferation of these videos of digital artwork screen-captured during the creation process is any indication, it's fast becoming a popular spectator event in any case.

If the NFL lock-out actually happens and we really have no pro-football next fall, don’t worry-there is a new spectator sport that is a lot cooler to watch, less dangerous, and even more instructive from an artist's standpoint: speed painting.

Okay, so maybe it isn't really a full-blown sport, but if the proliferation of these videos of digital artwork screen-captured during the creation process is any indication, it's fast becoming a popular spectator event in any case.

Justin Lassen, a composer and digital art connoisseur, tweeted this one a few weeks back:

This was created by artist Alex Ruiz and shows his process for the creation of his incredible work Convergence.

Artists like Ruiz, Nico di Mattia (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieXwQGRWhhU&feature=related), and Martin Missfeldt (http://www.5min.com/Video/SPIDERMAN---Photoshop-Speed-Painting-by-Missfeldt-29124285) seem to produce these fantastical pieces at a rate commensurate with the time-lapsed works themselves.

What makes these works fascinating and so incredibly valuable is not the speed at which the screen-capture is time-lapsed, but the window these videos open to the actual creation process and tools these modern-day masters employ.

One wonders what would have been possible had there been similar recordings of Rembrandt or Michelangelo at work. 

It’s great to see how the speed painters tackle one of the biggest problems in computer-generated imagery: CGI’s unnaturally pristine nature. Digitally created scenes tend to look a little too clean for good reason-anything that shows up in CG art has to be built or layered in with textures. In the real world, nature has a way of getting everything dusty, rusted, covered with grime, or lit by reflections of things both near and far. If you ignore all that natural chaos when building a “believable” scene digitally, your scene will die.

Admittedly it’s a bigger challenge in 3D work than in 2D, which is the main realm of speed painting, but there is a lesson to be learned for all digital artists in just how much “plain stuff” many of the speed painters throw onto a digital canvas as they work. Though much of this seemingly unrelated imagery may wind up hidden in the finished piece, small bits come through to give that extra spark, scar, blemish, or shadow that makes the viewer think, “Yeah, that world makes sense to me; it lives.”

So if you’ve ever been stymied by a blank digital canvas and didn’t know where to start, if you’re wondering about the importance of creating your own brushes in Photoshop, or even if you’re just looking for a bit of inspiration, run a quick search for speed painting and prepare to let a few hours pass. Your time will be well spent.

-  Pitz

And, of course, along with searching out speed painting, make sure you check out www.intel.com/software/visualadrenaline and www.intel.com/software/artist to learn about new Intel technologies and how they figure into creating today’s digital content.

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