Can you walk us through the typical way you approach creating an image? As a 2D artist I'm going to go out on a limb and guess you use Photoshop? Are there any particular tricks or processes you like to use?
Yep, I use Photoshop. I also use Painter, Artrage and traditional methods (watercolors). They've all got their pros and cons of course.
Photoshop is the best at layer management, selecting and transforming and is predictable. It's the most reliable for productions since everyone uses it, is pretty familiar with it, and it crashes very rarely.
Painter is as close to traditional as I can get digitally. The brushes are an excellent blend of control and traditional unpredictability. Unfortunately it's not as stable as Photoshop.
Artrage is great for oil clumped textures of course, but it's also quite versatile for sketching, with excellent pencils.
When working traditionally, the connection with the art you are producing is second to none; it's just you, the paint and the canvas/paper/napkin/wall/cheek. The downside is that it has none of the convenience of digital art ("undo", layers, etc.,) but the lack of all those things has the upside of demanding a level of focus from me that I never quite achieve when working digitally.
Recently, more so than ever, I've been striving to bridge the gap between digital and traditional by using "undo" less, less layers and less resource textures in my personal art (not a very good idea in production art though, where revisions are constant). I want to achieve that level of focus I get working with real watercolors, where there is only a negligible safety net and also the digital convenience of not having to clean up spilled paint, or rush out before the art store closes for that extra $38.00, 37ml tube of W&N cadmium red.
You know, if I use Corel Painter's real Watercolors I can come pretty darn close. Still though, it's bloody tempting to spring a new layer every once in awhile and try something offbeat for a change.
That's an interesting perspective because it does seem that digital art opens the door to constantly correcting/changing things, throwing layers around like confetti and generally scrambling towards a finished piece. We see it as a wonderful innovation, but do you think this ability to right any wrong at the click of a button is perhaps having a negative effect and causing artists to become lazy?
Yeah, most definitely. I catch it in myself all the time. Lack of foresight and preparation, relying too much on the computer to solve problems you can't figure out on your own, e.g: perspective, proper lighting, textures, etc.
Besides the computer reliance, the rest of the issues also exist in the traditional realm, but I don't think they are as prolific amongst traditional artists who work in the entertainment field simply because traditional mediums aren't as forgiving. Usually you have to have a clear idea of what you want to paint before you mix the oils.
The issue isn't in using the tools; it's becoming reliant on the tools to cover up your shortcomings. If you're a concept artist and have ridiculous deadlines, you don't have the time to paint textures or countless tree branches. Instead you have to rely on photos and specific brushes, and this is how I feel the tools should be used.
On the other hand, when you are doing a personal piece and have no deadline, but continue to use all of the same shortcuts simply because you can't be bothered to learn how to paint those elements, then I do feel the artist is stunting his own artistic development. Shortcuts exist to save time, not to represent the best you can do.