Tag Archives: digital painting

Making a 5 point perspective grid


From the department for weird stuff you never learned in school comes this monstrosity. A 5 point perspective is basically a fisheye-lens type view. I was curious if I could accurately construct one (most people seem to just wing it with the curved lines). Turns out it’s not really possible on paper because the radii get too big but in Mypaint or Gimp, it’s quite possible to do it with the ellipse tools pretty accurately.

You can actually see the five vanishing points here because so many lines cross there 🙂

In reality, this is really just a 1 point perspective (the center vanishing point) with curved verticals / horizontals. This is apparently pretty close to how the human eye sees things.

What’s it good for? Use as an overlay in a drawing software to create fisheye-lens effects in your (concept) art.

New Mypaint checkout


I pulled the latest mypaint from git today and did a build, just to see what was new.

The flood fill tool is very good now, with variable sensitivity and option to sample from all layers, as you can see it produces nice results. There is also a tool to draw clean lines and directly manipulate them afterwards similar to a Path tool or bezier curves. For those obsessive compulsive people, probably (I hear there are a few of those among artists), if you want 100% control of your lines! This is for you. Another thing I noticed was a new (to me) history tab showing recent colours and brushes. Nifty. Finally, there is a fullscreen mode that hides all controls, in case someone wants to only use hotkeys and maximize screen space.

I got into perspective construction again for a bit (still have to finish that Scott Robertson book) and mypaint has everything you need for that, too: Fine control over line angles (snapping at 15 degree increments) and ellipse shapes (also snapping.)

Together with the proven solid and flexible brush engine, the awesome brush sets available, many layer related functions and a lot of usability features this makes for a hell of a digital drawing package. I’m still impressed with the software.

Mypaint doesn’t do selections or snap-to-grid, nor does it provide effect brushes and image filters. It’s just the basics, everything needed for e.g. concept art or comics, no bullshit and nothing in the way. It exchanges .ora format with the GIMP seamlessly if you want to use that for postprocessing. The “one-two punch” of free and open source image editing.

Excellent work by the authors.



I’m practicing this way of doing environment sketches… just values, then sketchy ink, then more values. I don’t like this look a terrible lot, it’s too comicky for my taste, but I haven’t quite found something better than the ink. I’ll have to create my own brushes.

The above thumbnail sketch is of the Fortress level in Scout’s Journey, which originated from Remake Quake (e1m5) but changed a lot since then.


I think I did this one in GIMP to check out some different brushes. I’m really preferring GIMP Paint Studio to Mypaint for painting now, because Mypaint can’t use textured brushes and GIMP has selection and masking tools, which do come in handy once in a while. Mypaint has some very cool semi-realistic markers that I’m using a lot, though (Concept Design set.)


This one was done in Mypaint, I’m pretty sure.

I’m reading “How to Draw” by Scott Robertson, which is a pretty crazy book. It teaches you how to construct things in perspective and a number of other things. Specifically I like his way of sketching, so I tried to do somethng similar.

I even cracked open my art box and found some old gouache and acrylic paint tubes, and played around with those and a few other media. It was fun. Paper allows you to work so much more precisely… digital painting always includes some amount of fudgery.

It is true that you can get a lot of good advice from Youtube tutorials, but certain top-level art books can probably teach you more, IMHO. I had mixed feelings about the Scott Robertson book initially from the Amazon reviews, but man, this book is a bringer. Some sentences or examples took me several minutes to understand, but it does all make perfect sense. It’s like geometry class in school, only a lot more weird and your teacher is a monster artist.

Don’t think you can get all knowledge from youtube, books still are the best medium to teach really deep stuff, and sometimes there’s no way around that.

Twitter art dump: Ears


Some results of my practice. There was more drawing on paper between these digital ones, of course. You can see how they get better from one attempt to the next. It’s magic! I wonder what years of practice would do!

All of these got the anatomy roughly correct (it’s actually not hard once you know how), but some have weird angles or the proportions are off. Quite often, I didn’t pay enough attention to which parts are in shadow, and finally I used too few midtones in the shading. I’m quite fine with #5, which seems to get a lot of things right.

In character concepts, nothing will be this detailed of course, not even in portraits. I still like to learn the fundamentals well though.

All drawn from memory, no reference images. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t stare at people’s eyes and ears all the time, though. I also read in “Drawing on the right side of the brain” quite a lot. It’s such an amazing book. Thanks again to the person who gifted it to me!

I also realize only now how fortunate I was to have great art teachers in school. I was taught in 3rd grade how to draw perspective and complementary colours, in 5th grade I had a teacher who was not afraid to let his students paint a profile portrait(!), slightly later others were asking me to paint hands for them (there was a line), and in 11th-13th grade I had a very good art historian as a teacher who taught us everything from pencil drawing to classical architecture to printing techniques to all the famous painters of the last 200 years. That guy was incredible (also notoriously gay) and I never noticed it back then, although art class was one of those I rarely missed so it must have been good. I know a lot of people stop drawing when they hit puberty. I was lucky to have these teachers, because I might have dropped art and never looked back if it hadn’t been for them. These guys motivated me to draw well into my 20s at an OK level.



I’ve been checking out the recent git version of MyPaint (the free digital painting app.) There’s a bunch of new stuff – a dark theme, new icons, and the layer etc. windows now automatically dock into a neat sidebar. There’s a new panel at the bottom of the window that relates some additional information, including possible keyboard shortcuts (zoom, rotate canvas, pick colour etc.) The colour swatches on the bottom left are kinda useful – you can use the left swatch to pick a different value of your current colour (lighter/darker) with the stylus which is nice. Of course there are also various colour pickers and a scratchpad.

MyPaint currently has an experimental branch with support for layer groups and, finally, layer masks. So these features are coming. There is also a new bucket fill tool, and I spotted a lock-transparent-pixels feature which is implemented as a blend mode on the brushes. Very handy for masking operations. There are also many new layer blend modes – the list seems to be nearly complete now.

The line/curve/ellipse tools are more visible in the toolbar and related keyboard shortcuts (turn a line into a curve, rotate an ellipse etc) are better explained. The brush settings window has been redesigned, so creating your own brushes should be simpler. A pretty nice new brush package has been included.


The major thing MyPaint is missing are selections. So I’m not sure why there is a bucket fill tool now, which would typically be used to fill a selection. Oh well. They aren’t indispensable for concept art with a plain background anyway, since it’s possible to just paint yourself a mask like I did here (the white) and there is also alpha lock for quick “masking.” Or you could just use temporary layers.

I believe I mentioned the HCY colour wheel (hue chroma luma), the support for loading and creating Gimp palettes, and the very cool gamut mask feature in an earlier post. This is pro stuff and a joy to work with. The colour picker that displays a realtime preview swatch while you move the stylus over the image is pretty cool as well. And last but not least, the git version now supports vector layers(!) which a lot of people will like.

Current git version is still a bit crashy, but I hope for a stable version 1.2 soon.

Ubuntu (and Arch) users have it easy – they can just install the mypaint-testing package to get a very stable git version; Windows users will have to jump through a few hoops unfortunately. The stable Windows version is ancient.

I did a comparison between MyPaint and Krita as well, and while the latter does bring selections and a text tool (which will please comic artists) there is no doubt in my mind that MyPaint still takes the cake for concept art and illustration because it’s smaller, leaner, faster and more user friendly. MyPaint seems to put more of a focus on its core drawing/painting/brush engine functionality.

Krita failed to support pressure sensitivity with my Ubuntu and Wacom tablet, while MyPaint does this out of the box. Krita’s UI is comparatively cluttered and seems overloaded with features. I’m not sure why e.g. special effects filters are necessary at all for digital painting. Something that really bugged me about Krita was having to go through a fullscreen “New file” dialog after every lengthy startup. By comparison, MyPaint simply displays its default endless canvas after an instantaneous startup.

For open source digital painting, the combination of MyPaint and GIMP Paint Studio still looks unbeatable – for what MyPaint can’t do (marquee selections, copy merged, free transform, text, gradients), you can depend on the heavy artillery of GIMP. The two apps interact perfectly via the Open Raster format (meaning layers etc. stay intact) and GIMP can read/export PSD files.

Still, options are great – I’m glad to see the Krita kickstarter was very successful. Free digital painting has come a long way. The only major Photoshop features still missing from GIMP/MyPaint, as far as I’m aware, are clipping masks (though Krita has those), adjustment layers, and an easy way to record macros (Krita does those, I think.) The various dev teams are also talking to each other – for example, MyPaint’s (excellent) brush engine can be loaded into Krita and is scheduled for inclusion in future GIMP versions. 16 bit colour support is also coming to GIMP.

Good times for free painting.

Bonus: I was recently made aware of this outstanding digital painting tutorial playlist. I can’t recommend this enough. Best of all, it is free.