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posted
Okay screw doing a formal tutorial over PS, I'm doing this on a post.


Partially adapted from a dead forum guide I made/was making, ver 1.01

So you wanna be a GFX artist, huh? You really like the art that the people on this subforum make, yeah? You've already got your version of Photoshop not gonna ask how, your business is your own and ready to download pictures of cute girls?

Alright hang on hang on hang on hang on hang on that's jumping the gun a little bit on the GFX. It might look easy to get Photoshop and start arting (and it sort of is to a certain extent), but like any other art form, it takes some time to make some half-decent GFX. I'mma say this once in this entire guide/tutorial thing: GFX is not centered around making cute girls look cuter or to-die-for guys look hotter with some random effects that you liked. That's only part of the goal. GFX is about making a coherent, aesthetically pleasing picture that compliments your subject without drawing much away from said subject using the basics and skills you've learned and honed. I know that's not exactly a completely different thing from what I just said, but the point is the question of making GFX goes from "is what I did cute/cool" to "is what I did good?".

Let's make an important distinction before we move on to the real point of making this post: "personal likes" do not necessarily equal "good". The difference in "personal likes" versus "good" is something like art style versus the anatomy of a human. For example, you might not like photo realistic art, but the art itself has top-notch coloring or shading or composition, whatever it may be. Conversely, you might like cell shading, but the art itself might have super unrealistic proportions or the artist themselves just aren't experienced enough to pull off dynamic compositions or literally whatever else. This is also the important difference between opinion and criticism, though I admit there's a slight gray area between the two.

What I've said here are things that you might want to keep in mind before reading the rest of the tutorial, as my ideas of GFX may be vastly different from the ones here (and they likely are, since I've "studied" GFX from various forums, not just this one), but I'm sharing them because I want to. A bit of a disclaimer before I start: my word on GFX is not absolute and I don't believe it to be absolute, neither should you believe it to be an end-all-be-all guide to GFX. If you want to learn more, there are a bunch of other guides on deviantart.

...Okay that was way longer than I anticipated. NOW let's get started.
Basic Terms


Some of these words are jargon I'm going to be using in this post, but all of them are common jargon used in all sorts of GFX communities. You might be familiar with it and if you are, great! If not, you might wanna read some of this. Some of these words are concepts that I'll be exploring in depth, which I'll bold.

  1. Signature - An image made from a stock or render to create something new. Often used interchangeably with the word "tag".
  2. CnC - Constructive criticism. Incredibly vital towards the improvement of your GFX. Never ignore CnC unless the person giving it is a huge douchebag and only lists what they don't like about it.
  3. C4D - This is actually an abbreviated term for the program "Cinema 4D", but colloquially means a 3D model that was created in said program. Very useful resources to start with.
  4. Render - A cut out image of a character, person, animal, or object. They look something like this.
  5. Stock - An image left alone. Most images that haven't be rendered are in this category, but if you need a reference, they look like this or this.
  6. Focal - Or focal point, whatever. Subject of your GFX, or the thing your eyes are drawn to. Probably one of the most important parts of the GFX process.
  7. Lighting - Interaction of light with any other object in GFX.
  8. Flow - Direction of your GFX.
  9. Color - Color scheme of your GFX. There's already sort of a guide for this in this thread, I don't think I need to go over it.
  10. Depth - How 3D your GFX is.
  11. Text/Typography - the text in your GFX. Arguably one of the hardest aspects of GFX (and the original tutorial I was going to make instead of this one).
Lighting


Lighting is the same thing as it is in making digital/traditional art except slightly backwards. What I mean by that is instead of putting down where your shadows and highlights are based on your light source, you're establishing a light source based on the art's or photo's shadows and highlights. (Note: there is a way to do both in GFX, but I absolutely commend the artists that can do that) It's actually pretty straightforward, you just have to look at your render/stock and put a light source. There are a couple ways of going about lighting:



All of which can make full use of blend modes. If you haven't caught on, all three examples use the third lighting option, the C4D effect and fractals. If you haven't been resource hunting and you're a proper GFX artist then WHAT ARE YOU DOING *shakes your monitor*, fractals are special lighting effects that go with pretty much everything. The most popular ones out there are the ones by greentunic. Like any GFX resource, these can be very easily spammed, so use them wisely.
Flow


Flow doesn't really get more complicated than the general direction of the GFX. Your eyes naturally follow the direction of a line and anything in nature that resembles lines. General direction doesn't just mean things like "everything in the photo is heading to the right" or something similar, it can be used to draw attention to your focal. Take this tag for example.



There's no visible flow that goes from the left side of the tag to the right side, but all of the lines are going from the focal to the edges of the tag. For the most part, this method of flow was to compensate for the lack of flow the render offers. Honestly, I don't prefer this way very much. It's got a feel that makes it sort of easy to distract the viewer's eyes, which is sort of bad unless you absolutely know what you're doing. Tags like this are more my speed. (The lines are already drawn on it because I was still actively using my dev twitter.)



The lines closer to the focal represent the flow of focal and how the artist drew the girl, while the lines farther away from the focal represent the flow I made with my vectors. Overall, the goal of the vectors was supposed to compliment the render and while I realize now that this is not one of my best works, the goal of a good flow was still met.
Depth


This is probably one of my favorite aspects of GFX. Like flow, it doesn't get much more complicated than its definition in Basic Terms, but unlike flow, there aren't exceptions to the definition.

So to create depth, you go one or two ways: you use the blur tool (grouped with the Smudge and Sharpen tools) or you use Gaussian Blur. You can do both, but I typically like using Gaussian Blur because I like separating stuff by layers and groups and it doesn't get as messy and laggy as Blur tool. Likely just my computer.

Now your standard GFX tag consists of a couple things at the beginning: the rule of thirds, a focal, and a background. Your focal and your background are almost always two separate layers, and you'll find when you look up tags on deviantart that a lot of tags tend to use photos as backgrounds. Using photos is an easy way to get your depth, but what makes depth my favorite is what you can do to artificially create depth. This tag for example.



Normally all the bubbles in this tag would be like the bubbles to the closest of the left side of the render. However, I've duplicated the bubble layers and blurred the ones that aren't as close to the render. Thus, this creates a sort of artificial space between the bubbles and render and makes it feel like there's more substance to the tag. On the other hand, you could also blur a layer that's directly in front of your focal (I don't have an example of my own to show off, unfortunately), and it'd create the same effect.
Focal/Focal Point


As I said before, the focal point is the subject of your GFX and one of the more important parts of the GFX process. Normally if this were any other place, I'd place this very first before the last three topics I typed up, but this is directly relevant to what I'm about to type next/last. So I said at some point that the focal is the thing your eyes are drawn to first, no? Stay with the focal until you feel like you're finished. The focal is the most important thing in the GFX piece.

I admit that I don't entirely know the reason why you should stay with the focal, but I can say why you shouldn't stray from the focal: it makes the entire GFX piece messy. It creates a feeling of "what is this person trying to do?" and a state of confusion. For a lot of people, this state of confusion is more a lack of understanding and filling in the lack of understanding with "wow this looks cool". It's been a while since I've had this experience, but I remember my first few months of learning GFX and over time the GFX tags that I liked went from "wow this is cool" to "oh, this is how you make this, is it really so simple?" because after looking at the same resources over and over, you learn to understand what people are using and how they're using those resources. Or that's how it was for me.

But enough about me, here's something useful that'll help with your focal placement. It's called the rule of thirds. In Photoshop, this is done with Edit > Preferences > Guides, Grids and Slices > Gridline Every: 33.33, then View > Show > Grid. You'll get something that looks like this:



All the lines that connect are points that you should be putting your focal on or near, but which connecting point depends on what focal you're using. Here I'm using a human in an upright sitting position, which means I should use the upper left or the upper right points of intersection (I'm going to call them points from now on). This is what I get when I move the focal more to the right.



Sure this might look normal if it were any other GFX artist on this subforum, but there's a lot of unnecessary space that I'm definitely not going to be using for text, which I'll discuss later. What I have now is very unbalanced compared to my rule of thirds example, and thus should be placed near the upper left point.
Text/Typography


Oh boy, this one. I might just stop trying to condense stuff.

I'm going to be frank, my typography skills aren't the best, but that's totally okay because that's the case for a lot of GFX artists. There's a reason why text is arguably one of the hardest aspects of GFX. Recall that I said the focal is the most important thing in the GFX piece. The reason why text is so hard is because text naturally grabs attention away from your focal, which is something you don't want. Which means absolutely avoid things like this unless you know what you're doing.



Let's break this down by number.

  • 1) All of the resources used in GFX piece are supposed to be in some way subtle to compliment your focal. Placing the text in the corner ruins the subtlety.
    2) Doesn't go with the color scheme of the tag and pops out way too much.
    3) In the original version of this tag, there's a bit of space that's occupied only by a vector. Text is not meant to fill space!


As I said before, GFX compliments your focal, and the above examples do none of that. They all detract from the focal in some way and they all emcompass most of the problems that an aspiring GFX artist will face. No matter how much you try to make things pretty or cute, if the basic purpose of text was to occupy space without meaning or detracts from the focal when it's not supposed to, there's definitely a problem with the GFX. Here are some tips that I've learned about text.


  1. Don't underestimate the fonts that come with your computer. They're more helpful than you think and help to keep subtlety in your GFX.
  2. Experiment with different combinations of fonts.
  3. Think simple. Some of the best typography out there don't have much editing on their layers and stick to things like drop shadow, stroke, and gradients.
  4. Avoid fonts like these. They detract too much attention from the focal regardless of size or position and you'd probably be better off stacking effects on regular ol' fonts when you're almost done anyway.


Here are some examples of mine that I've been told by other GFX artists that have good text.



Notice how they're both very subtle and fit in with the tag. The one labeled ninfia goes with the basic flow of the tag thanks to the white drop shadow and the one with Zoroark follows the viewer's eye movement. There's not much I can say beyond that, but again, simple is best.
Closing Thoughts


Initially I wasn't planning on writing so much, but it seems to have turned out that way. In the end, I can't dictate what any of you do, but what I've typed is something I hope could build a strong foundation for future GFX, as it seemed like there lacked one after observing the subforum for some time. I wrote this specifically for this forum, but if it helps someone outside of the forum, then all the better. Of course if you have any questions, the thread is absolutely free discussion.

All GFX used in this guide are made by me, not as a sign of arrogance, but as a way of showing courtesy to the GFX artists that don't want their own GFX used for this sort of purpose.
1/18/2017: Added new definitions to Basic Terms, rewording some of the stuff in there as well.
posted
I was gonna ask something then it turns out to be "GFX" more than "Art", OP can you rename this please? It's very misleading.
posted
I think that this thread can be about art. It is a general discussion, and GFX is a very prominent topic and skill in this subforum.
You just need to present the art topic. What's up?
posted
@Reunilu : wow, that's great, i will add it to the first page later! :D
posted

Flannel wrote:

I think that this thread can be about art. It is a general discussion, and GFX is a very prominent topic and skill in this subforum.
You just need to present the art topic. What's up?
Not really sure, this thread really looks like it is emphasized on GFX.
posted

Rilene wrote:

Yeah 'art', all stuff in this thread is about GFX but not general art that includes GFX.
Well, I suppose the "Art" in the thread title refers more to the Art subforum as a whole. Seeing as the majority of this area does revolve around GFX, it does mean that the main topic is likely to relate to GFX.

As Flannel said:
I think that this thread can be about art. It is a general discussion, and GFX is a very prominent topic and skill in this subforum.
You just need to present the art topic.
Although GFX is the main topic, if you present an alternative topic related to the art subforum, even artwork and photography (just taking examples from the "Post your ----") could be discussed.
posted
Oh then, even if title and topic is correct in this case as you said, it seems that the content like tutorials and some tips is related to GFX which somehow misleads me and possibly other.

Wow, you quoted my old post when I haven't thinked properly, now I'm portrayed as a dick.
posted
http://e-shuushuu.net/ a good site for images
posted

Nissanwarrior69 wrote:

http://e-shuushuu.net/ a good site for images
hmm, I haven't heard of this site. Looks a little messy in all honesty

http://www.zerochan.net
http://safebooru.org
http://pixiv.net

Here are some more. Even deviantart can be decent if you filter through the dodgy stuff.
posted

Tae wrote:

Nissanwarrior69 wrote:

http://e-shuushuu.net/ a good site for images
hmm, I haven't heard of this site. Looks a little messy in all honesty

http://www.zerochan.net
http://safebooru.org
http://pixiv.net

Here are some more. Even deviantart can be decent if you filter through the dodgy stuff.
yeah and thx defently gonna check those out
posted
http://www.pixivision.net/en/a/2156
15 Hand Poses Sheets
http://www.pixivision.net/en/a/2122
Reference for Composition in Art. Poses
http://www.pixivision.net/en/a/1636
Basic Drawing Lessons for Beginners ~Let’s Practice with Human Figures~

Let have some skill of drawing,not just GFX related
posted

-[Jess]- wrote:

http://www.pixivision.net/en/a/2156
15 Hand Poses Sheets
http://www.pixivision.net/en/a/2122
Reference for Composition in Art. Poses
http://www.pixivision.net/en/a/1636
Basic Drawing Lessons for Beginners ~Let’s Practice with Human Figures~

Let have some skill of drawing,not just GFX related
Thanks Jess, including the other sections of the Art subforum is always good! :)

I haven't done any drawing for a while because I've been busy with other things, but I'll have a look at this stuff when I get back into it.
posted
Since Jess started it and I need to get rid of some of the tabs on my browser:

http://artist-refs.tumblr.com/human
Compendium post for overall human stuff.

http://kitasite.net/b/musmob/hand/
Anatomy refs...? Or what I've browsed so far. I know the url says "hand", but there's more ref links at the bottom.

http://www.drawabox.com/
Overall just starting out stuff. I don't remember where I found this. Probably reddit.
posted
it's on the 2nd page already, need to revive it
posted

Shiv wrote:

it's on the 2nd page already, need to revive it
No need, it's now stickied!
Keep adding in more useful information :)

Though it needs a better title.
posted
I think I'll write another thing on GFX. This time it applies to all customers wanting to order from a shop and I deeply apologize if I generalize some of this. I realize that at the moment I'm probably not (heck, likely not) going to be heard because it's not a post about opening a shop, but this is absolutely, positively important.

Even if you read the OPs of the artists that are open, GFX artists are people. They have lives just like any of you, they might be studying for finals in high school or university, just like any of you. They might have mental breakdowns and moments where they feel happy, just like any of you. Most importantly, they have feelings, just like any of you. A GFX artist makes a choice whether to open a shop and they may or may not take it. They fact that they decide on opening a shop means they are willing to offer their skills to you and they have every right not to deny you of your request provided they are being fair.

They are not robots. They are people behind the screen they're typing on and they get tired and need a break every once in a while. Sometimes they can't magically make something that you want and that's fine. That's called an art block and that stuff comes with the price of creativity. Some of them have dedicated months or even years to doing GFX, but you know how frustrating it is to have a request canceled just because it wasn't done at x amount of time without telling the artist? How would you feel if people canceled on you in a week without a deadline to fulfill or a sorry to replace it? How would you feel if you saw someone order the exact same request at another shop and you worked hard on that request?

How would you feel if you felt like you were being thrown away after being used?

Just some food for thought.
posted
I figured this was the best place to ask this, as it's been something I've been considering for awhile.

What does everyone think of the idea of a series of GFX tutorials specifically geared for Osu-related art (Ranging from avatar/banner/sig/overlay/etc. as well as skinning/rendering)?

Let me elaborate my reason.
I've had many people ask me, "how do I do that effect?" or "how did you make that border?", also "What resources/brushes do you use?" and so on. So there's definitely a place for something like this I feel. I think it could be a useful resource for people to use as a tool to either learn from, pick up little tidbits, or even just seeing a stylistic thought process different than theirs. Now I know there is the skinning tutorial thread but I feel like more fundamental/broader tutorials covering the other aspects that go into GFX/skinning other than the general process and components.

If this is a silly idea or is already done (could very well be, haven't been around much until recent) then let me know.
posted

SAOnline wrote:

I figured this was the best place to ask this, as it's been something I've been considering for awhile.

What does everyone think of the idea of a series of GFX tutorials specifically geared for Osu-related art (Ranging from avatar/banner/sig/overlay/etc. as well as skinning/rendering)?

Let me elaborate my reason.
I've had many people ask me, "how do I do that effect?" or "how did you make that border?", also "What resources/brushes do you use?" and so on. So there's definitely a place for something like this I feel. I think it could be a useful resource for people to use as a tool to either learn from, pick up little tidbits, or even just seeing a stylistic thought process different than theirs. Now I know there is the skinning tutorial thread but I feel like more fundamental/broader tutorials covering the other aspects that go into GFX/skinning other than the general process and components.

If this is a silly idea or is already done (could very well be, haven't been around much until recent) then let me know.
It's a nice proposal. I've definitely seen some, but I don't think there's ever been an in-depth version the pays attention to the finer details.
That's one of the purposes of this thread iirc, yet it's kinda lacking in detailed tutorials. Of course, not completely lacking; there're certainly some helpful guides in this thread like this one by Reunilu.

But yeah, I'm all in on the idea of more tutorials geared towards users here.
posted

a1l2d3r4e5d6 wrote:

It's a nice proposal. I've definitely seen some, but I don't think there's ever been an in-depth version the pays attention to the finer details.
That's one of the purposes of this thread iirc, yet it's kinda lacking in detailed tutorials. Of course, not completely lacking; there're certainly some helpful guides in this thread like this one by Reunilu.

But yeah, I'm all in on the idea of more tutorials geared towards users here.

One thing I forgot to add was that if people think it is worth it, I am willing to do step-by-step video/image tutorials to help visualize it more.
posted
Sorry for bump, but could you please add Google Fonts as a font source?
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