Wanting to Learn Digital Painting?
I took Noah's art camp course in November 2013. At the time I wanted to get into the gaming industry and make use of my creativity and artistic abilities by becoming and concept artist/ digital illustrator to one day become an art director, since then my goals have changed and I am on a similar yet different path. You may now be on a path that requires you to learn digital painting or you simply want to improve or learn digital painting. I will share with you, my experience and results and then you can decide whether its is for you or not.
Digital Painting Timelapse
Benefits of Digital Painting
Digital painting is more than a simple hobby and more importantly what you end up learning through the course gives you transferable creative learning skills and habits that I found very useful. If you are studying animation, film production, architecture or some other form of design discipline that requires conceptualizing and drawing. This program will help you understand and improve the process. However, it's main focus seems to be for those that want to improve their skills that would then allow them to work as concept artists and digital illustrators.
At the time when I took the course, there was only one Art Camp package costing $250 USD. The course came with a private Facebook group that allowed students to interact, share and give help. We would go into sub-groups based on our location, goals and objectives which allowed us to socialize and share our weekly homework on those individual groups. Today Art Camp has grown and has two additional courses costing the same amount with a private forum for the students. To be honest, I never used the forums but I have access to them and they seem very well designed and structured and are active. The main Facebook is still active too and people seem to be using both.
The course was twelve weeks long and consisted of the following weekly themes:
(note these descriptions are taken directly from the course outline)
Week 1: Studying from the masters. Learn how to steal their secrets and do focused master studies.
Week 2 - Sketching from imagination. Too many people lose sight of how to apply the knowledge they learn. That's why we're starting with imaginative painting so early. Education without application is useless.
Week 3 - Still life. One of the best ways to practice technique and learn to render objects. They have the advantage of never moving and giving you unlimited time to refine and study.
Week 4 - Self-portraits. Learning to paint a face requires painting a lot of faces. One of the easiest ways to do this is self-portraits, as you never have to worry about finding a willing model.
Week 5 - Plein air drawing & painting. Getting outside to work is a wonderful way to study both people as well as the natural world. Let's get into the habit of leaving our studios.
Week 6 - Learning from photos. Photos are easily available but can cause extremely harmful habits if used incorrectly. I'll show you how to learn from photo reference without harming your skills.
Week 7 - Materials & edges. There are many different types of materials in the world—things like cloth, silk, metal, rock, flesh, etc.—and all of them require slightly different treatments. We'll learn how light affects them differently and how to use edges to convey texture.
Week 8 - Drawing & painting figures. The human form is one of the most beautiful and challenging subjects that we can paint. This week we'll go over useful exercises, approaches, and resources for drawing & painting figures.
Week 9 - Concept art & ideation. We'll go over the basics of developing original concepts in our work. Even if you want to pursue another field, the ability to come up with unique concepts and ideas is critical in art.
Week 10 - Thumbnails & composition. This week we will learn how to create striking, dynamic compositions as we begin to develop a finished portfolio piece to wrap up the course.
Week 11 - Color & light. Using the portfolio piece we are creating as a base, we will explore the world of color & light and learn how to use them to convey emotion.
Week 12 - Learning to finish. Many of us struggle with finishing work. We can start a piece, but have no idea how to finish our work. This week I'll go over the techniques and approach I take in finishing my work.
The Beginning Was Painful
Prior to signing up for the course, I had purchased a Wacom bamboo which I had barely used. I really sucked and it was very painful to go through the exercises. Noah would basically give you a huge amount of homework which normally required 3-4 hours of work per day. Above is my first assignment piece, look at how bad it is! haha
The weekly assignments consisted of a two-hour video demo of Noah working and explaining the work process and the weekly assignments which I found very helpful. I would enjoy watching him work and see his process (especially since it was directly related to that week's homework). However, at times I felt that the videos went for too long and Noah's voice was generally pretty monotone even though he was a good teacher and knew what he was talking about.
Example Video: Week 1 - Master Studies
An Example of a Weekly Assignment:
This is what the weekly assignments were like. At the time there was no tiers and generally the assignments were somewhere in them middle with optional homework for the advanced or super driven students.
- 10x 3-value compositional master studies
- 10x color studies
- 1x full-color finished master studies
- 30x 3-value compositional master studies
- 30x color studies
- 2x full-color finished master studies
- 50x 3-value compositional master studies
- 50x color studies
- 3x full-color finished master studies
This stuff was both enjoyable and very painful, it required us to really remain focused on the task and use our time wisely. It taught me patience which is a rare thing today and also the level of dedication and commitment required of a concept artist, digital illustrator or the traditional artist to master their craft.
In addition, there was a healthy level of competition which forced me to keep working and grinding through the pain and suffering of hugely sucking. It was very inspiring seeing the work of many of the students who had previously taken the course and were retaking it due to the huge progress that they had previously made. This was social proof to me and the other noobies that the course works and the present pain is worth it.
At the time Noah would go through our homework and critic and provide improvements through a live video stream which was also saved as video. It was really helpful seeing everyone's work being improved upon and my own work came through on a few occasions which gave things a bit more of a personal touch. I can still remember the joy and anxiety that came through me as I saw my work coming onto the screen for the first time.
Art Camp has grown since and now contains two additional modules:
Art Camp 2 which is a complementary course to Art Camp 1
Art Camp: Environment Concept Design
In the end even though I slacked at times or didn't get through all of the homework I had made a very noticeable improvement in my work. It also allowed me to see which aspects of the process I enjoyed and what my strengths and weaknesses were. The course allowed me to see the profession or skill set for what it was and also taught me to embrace the pain and work through the process and not give up. This lesson is something that I am still using today and have applied to learning basic programming, web technologies (such as html5 and css) and writing better, which is my main focus currently.
The great thing is that you are given a lifetime access to the program. So I actually plan on going back to the course once I have a bit more time to redo the coursework and to further improve. My main focus this time would be to improve on weeks Week 9 - Concept art & ideation, week 10 - Thumbnails & composition and week 11 - Color & light. Because I feel that it would really help me with story boarding and communicating my visual ideas to others.
One other thing that I forgot to mention is that through the process of the course my most important ake away was learning how to study as a artist or a designer. Which I continue to apply today.
Would I Recommend it?
I would. Because even though I no longer wish to be a concept artist/art director, I have no buyers remorse and can see value in the program and the lessons that I gained whilst going through it. If you want affordable art education and a have real desire to understand the process and are willing to work hard and are willing to push yourself and go through the initial grind and pain, then this course is definitely for you.