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How to Paint Like Bobby Chiu

Bobby Chiu is a Canadian artist who works in both natural media and digital.
He now works predominantly in digital though, typically producing digital paintings of somewhat cartoony fantasy creatures.
These digi-paintings resemble oils or acrylics and are pitched to amuse, sometimes presenting a joke, sometimes simply aiming to charm.

His creatures are usually cute and colourful with a slight edginess, though always family friendly

They're mostly very dark on top with very pale undersides, this is common in nature and is known as Countershading.

The line running between the upper and lower halves of the creatures usually arches to connect to the corners of the mouth.
The creatures sometimes have horned snouts and often crooked, upward pointing teeth jut from the lower jaw.
There is occasionally a certain level of wrinkled, porridgy lumpiness to the hides of these creatures, especially on the undersides.

There are often depth of field effects in the digital painting versions of these creatures, for the most part restricted to the use of blurry, rough backgrounds, generally of outdoors environments.

He pays close attention to modelling of form, using a few simple methods and a couple of tricks to render lighting and shading in a far more realist manner than one might expect of what is essentially a cartoon.

The lighting is logical and consistent- he often draws 3D arrows on an overlaying layer to remind him where the light sources are.

There are very few brushes used.
The two main brushes used are a simple "Sfumato" brush and a fur brush, made with a sampled tip of just a few (4-12) random dots.
You might also like to try the lovely Bobby Chiu sketching brush that he uses for both his online tutorials and "single brush" pieces.
Head over to the Resources page, where it's under Photoshop ... Tools or click this link.
It should open a window showing the file or at least download it to your computer.

After basic blocking in, the tonal values that produce the modelling of the form are built up with great care, in alternating passes of light and dark.
While doing this he keeps a balance between two predefined extremes of tone.
He'll often copy a merged version of the whole painting to an overlaying layer, brighten it, then add a layer mask to it. He'll then fill the whole mask with black.
Now, when he paints white areas in to the mask, the brightened copy of the whole image is revealed, creating a quite convincing kind of lighting.

He deploys a couple of final effects at the very end of the painting process, for instance:
He adds a glow to the lighting at the end by blurring a merged version of it and setting this layer's blending mode to Screen.
He then adds a mask to it and paints in the mask to produce hazy glows around some of the more strongly lit areas.
He'll then also typically finishes off with a 2.5% noise filter.

Further Reading: Bobby Chiu's online education business.

Big Bad Bunny Eater painting tutorial PDF Download (15.2Mb!)

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