Exclusive: A Digital Painting Tutorial with Gilles Beloeil

You’ve asked, and we’re listening. Digital painting is a relatively new way to create art, and it’s only going to continue to gain momentum as technology advances and artists explore digital art tools and techniques. The November issue of The Artist’s Magazine features an article on the breathtaking work of Gilles Beloeil.

Get your copy of The Artist’s Magazine at North Light Shop, where today you save more when you spend more (up to $20 off your order). It’s a great time to stock up on back issues you may have missed, workshop DVDs, and books.

And, make sure you scroll down for a step-by-step digital painting demonstration by Gilles, where he shares how he created Le Retour.

Tutorial digital painting, Gilles Beloeil | ArtistsNetwork.com

Assassin’s Creed 3 Concept Art (digital media) by Gilles Beloeil © 2014 Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. Assassin’s Creed, Ubisoft and the Ubisoft logo are trademarks of Ubisoft Entertainment in the U.S. and/or other countries. This credit applies to all of Beloeil’s images unless otherwise noted.

An Unscripted Masterpiece in Digital Art by Michael Woodson

Gilles Beloeil remembers his childlike astonishment when seeing a painting for the first time as if it were yesterday, for he still engages with art as if that initial experience were happening again and anew. “I’m moved by traditional painters such as Diego Velázquez and Claude Monet, but also contemporary painters like Richard Schmid and David Leffel,” he says. “When I’m inspired, I feel a sense of admiration and happiness–like when your jaw drops in front of a great landscape in real life. I try to recreate these sensations in my own work.”

Gilles’s interest in visual art has followed him throughout his life. “I was passionate about comic books,” he says, remembering his childhood ambition to become a comic book artist. “During my adolescence, film interested me even more, but I kept drawing comic books on the side.” It wasn’t until the mid-1990s when the Internet was more easily accessed that he discovered Adobe Photoshop, which led him to a job as a Web designer. In 2007, the video game company Ubisoft hired him to work in its cinematic department. “In 2008, the Assassin’s Creed video game franchise needed some concept art and I took the chance,” he says. “I haven’t left the brand since.”

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Concept art functions as a blueprint for illustrators to communicate ideas for film, video games, animation, comic books and other media. Concept artists, illustrators and matte painters work almost exclusively digitally and mostly with Photoshop, Gilles says. “Digital software is only a tool. Painting is painting. If a person knows how to paint, to draw, knows values, understands design and composition, working digitally is just a matter of taking the time to learn a new medium.” ~M.W.

Read more, including a profile on the stunning work of digital media artist Lauren Airriess, who has created work for Walt Disney Animation Studios, in The Artist’s Magazine (November 2015). Find Gilles’s step-by-step tutorial below, and click here today to visit North Light Shop for the “Bounty of Savings” special offer.

Also, have you entered the Richeson Easel Extravaganza yet? Jack Richeson & Co. is giving away an easel a day through November 15–don’t miss out! Enter here, then tell a friend!

Keep creating,
Cherie

Cherie Haas, online editor
**Free download! Learn How to Make Digital Art with “Digital Art Techniques for Beginners: A Free Tutorial”
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Digital Painting Tutorial: From Inception to Conception by Gilles Beloeil

Gilles Beloeil walks us through his process for concept art, beginning with a preliminary sketch that combines traditional media with digital media. See his website, gillesbeloeil.com, for more of his work.

1. Drawing: I began with a drawing on my Wacom tablet with a thin Photoshop brush, my focus mainly on composition, perspective and organizing all the elements. I inverted the drawing (white on black) to use as a reference point throughout the entire process.

How to paint digitally, Gilles Beloeil | ArtistsNetwork.com

2. Blocking: Using the lines of the drawing as a reference on a separate layer, I began a block-in. A layer is like a transparent paper you put on your image, but digital. I “paint” in Photoshop very fast and constantly make different artistic decisions to see what looks best. I picked colors from different references, photos or paintings; I changed the values, the hue, the saturation, etc.

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Digital painting for beginners, Gilles Beloeil | ArtistsNetwork.com

3. Details: I refined everything before starting the more time-consuming stage: the details. I more precisely created every shape using the lasso tool and big brushes in Photoshop. I know where the piece is headed, and I’m satisfied, but not yet excited. What if it were moodier?

Digital painting tutorial, Gilles Beloeil | ArtistsNetwork.com

4. Values: Here I changed the entire value relationship of my painting, making everything except the sky and the path darker. I digitally pasted a photograph of the sky for a more dramatic effect.

Digital paint tutorial, Gilles Beloeil | ArtistsNetwork.com

5. Environment: I focused on the background and gave bright colors to the cloaked figure (the king). I painted over my photo of the sky to make it more dramatic. The movement of the clouds helps guide the viewer’s eye to the main figure. I reworked the silhouetting of the background, playing with the fog with an airbrush or a cloud brush, and perfected the opacity of the layer. The castle now has more character, thanks to the fog mass at the bottom, which also helps separate the king’s head from the background.

How to make digital art, Gilles Beloeil | ArtistsNetwork.com

6. Redesign: I realized the foreground figure wasn’t interesting enough and changed him. A soldier is more convincing and gives more insight into the era—it makes sense that a king would be escorted by his army. With digital art this is easy, because I can paint endlessly on the same image without adding thickness. I changed the silhouette of the castle too, trying to represent a variety of shapes.

Digital painting tutorials for beginners, Gilles Beloeil | ArtistsNetwork.com

7. Adjustments: At this point I found the color palette too cool, so I added more yellows and reds with adjustment layers. I readjusted the drawing of the top of the tower on the right, curving it a bit more. I also changed the value of the sea and castle, making them brighter and darker, respectively, using adjustment layers. I highlighted the sea behind the castle to increase depth and to define the overall castle shape.

How to draw digital art, Gilles Beloeil | ArtistsNetwork.com

Le Retour (digital media) © Provided by Gilles Beloeil from his personal collection

Finishing Touches: I added more fog at the bottom of the castle and changed the shape to add more variety. I painted textures on the rocks to the right with textured brushes and made sure that the scale of all the rocks diminished with the distance. I added the figure on the top right and some birds. Lastly, I chose to motion blur the foreground figure with a special filter in Photoshop so he wouldn’t compete with the main figure.

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