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Speed painting a cyberpunk city

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Date Added: 2nd January 2018
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Concept artist Amir Zand breaks down his process for creating a cyberpunk city speed painting, offering helpful tips and techniques to speed up your workflow...


I'm going to show you the progress of illustrating a cyberpunk city atmosphere using my speed painting techniques. As we get into each step of painting I will also focus on the mindset, discipline, composition and smart ways of managing your time and your speed painting techniques.

Quick thumbnails

Having a small sketchbook for doodling is a smart move for an artist, you can do quick sketches, doodles and thumbnails and it helps you to develop and create new ideas. You don't need to design something massive. It's not even for drawing, it's just meant for exploration. When the time comes that you think you ran out of ideas, or you don't have the time to think of what to do next, you can always go back to your sketchbook and grab what you need for your next painting!

On the other hand, it's a handy tool for creating quick thumbnails to define your composition and values quickly, just like I did for this tutorial. I already knew I would like to do something with a cyberpunk city atmosphere. What I did was to create some very quick composition thumbnails. I didn't spend too much time for drawing here. These quick sketches are going to take almost 2-5 minute each, and they lead me to where I need to start my paintings from, these are the guidelines.


Where it all begins!
Now that I have some quick thoughts about my composition, it's time to start my illustration by working on a grayscale tone, focusing on the values and the whole composition first and adding the color to it and then putting more details later. This is not the only way, but this is my way for the fastest approach. There are many other speed painting techniques and means for getting from A to B, tons of ways and they are all meant to be a fast process.

But keep in mind that every artist needs to find his or her own way of doing it fast, because my way of doing something speedy may be slow for someone else, so you must keep doing it and trying different approaches until you finally find the fastest way that is suitable for you. In this case, the very first thing I want to do is to get rid of the white blank page and quickly paint my platforms with a simple square brush.


Shaping it up

As I continue painting my image, I add more details to my main structure, ship and buildings in the distance. Now you'll have a better understanding of the artwork. You can see the perspective, light source, and an overall composition.

The most important thing for me is to work on the whole image at once as I make progress. This is a speed painting and you don't want to focus too much on one area (polishing it and adding too much details), while neglecting the other parts, which will ruin your composition and your judgment.

I make progress on the whole artwork, applying the same level of details to every part and that's why I keep my zoom at 100% all the time so I can be aware of every change in my frame. Doing things like this and having an eye for your Navigator will help you to always keep track of your composition.


Find your confidence

As you can see in the image below, I use the same technique and brush work to add more details and make progress. I just quickly add some textured brush work on the buildings to make it look more detailed, as well as some touches on the ship. Lastly I add a soldier on that platform just to bring in some sense of scale.

You may have noticed by now that the way I'm painting is not very detailed and polished, or let's say it's not really clean and it won't be. In the speed painting process I won't bother myself with these things, I take it easy and let my work just flow while I'm doing speed painting. As you do paintings more often, you will find your way of starting a painting, making progress and finishing it, grow with confidence, and it really effects the whole painting process.

I get this question all the time: "What is your brush?" As if the brush is doing the magic, when it doesn't! These are just tools and it's the way we use them that makes the difference. Even if you get some cool new tools and brushes, you still need to make some time for it, explore it and do some work with it to finally get used to it. So try to create some pipeline for your workflow, spend hours until you find out the way you're more confident to start and use them. Keep doing that and you'll see how easy it will get for you.


continued on next page >

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
Paul Gray on Mon, 08 January 2018 4:02pm
This is one of the best tutorials I have seen! I hope to see more from you! Thanks!
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