The Heron and the Depth Experiment


This week I worked on a watercolour painting of a Heron and digital painting experiment.

First the heron.  This was tricky because I wanted to try to capture the light that you get at sunset where everything seems to be touched with gold.  At the same time I wanted the coming darkness to be there in the picture too.

Here’s my attempt to capture this feeling…


Now for the digital experiment.  Although I don’t paint seriously with digital tools I often use the computer to try out ideas and play with new techniques I’m developing.  It frees me from the fear of wasting materials and allows me to change direction and even go back a few steps, so it’s an excellent tool for trying things out.  It’s also insanely quick.  I did the whole of this painting in about 15 minutes while I was waiting for Blizzard to update my World of Warcraft game!

I wanted to see if I could use blending in a way which would give the viewer a sense of depth of field when they see a picture.  My aim was to blend the background a lot and as we get into the foreground blend less and less until, with the main foreground subject, I use no blending at all – just direct paint.

I based this experiment on a photo I took over ten years ago when we were walking in the South Downs just north of Brighton…


I started by sketching out the basic colours of the picture in Manga Studio 5…

Then I blended all of that…

The blending effects in Manga Studio were excellent and felt a lot like working in oils.  I was really struck by how like real painting this was.  (I also use a graphics tablet so I am able to draw directly into my PC.  Mine is a relatively cheap Wacom Intuos)

Next I put in some of the background detail…


Then I began work on the foreground…

There was a lot of detail here so it took a few minutes to get this done…

I used very little blending in this closer scenery – just brushed lightly over some of it.

Finally I painted my main subject and it was done…

I used some artistic licence to change the exact configuration of the foreground plants to something which felt right to me but generally tried to be fairly true to my original photo.

I think it worked to an extent.  I also used less saturated colours as I went towards the horizon which also tends to help.

I might try a landscape oil painting soon to see how it looks with real paints!


7 thoughts on “The Heron and the Depth Experiment

  1. Wow! Your “artistically licensed” 😁 digital version of the landscape is way, way better than the source photo, which at least on my tiny phone screen looked kind of flat and monotone. The “golden light” heron headed into darkness is also very lovely. You definitely succeeded in your purpose!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank-you – I was just thinking the same thing about your recipes. They are a revelation. Each time I do a major food shop now I’m adding new things because of your excellent food ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

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