Exploring Texture in Fingerpainting

Mia Robinson

Mia Robinson gives us an overview of textures in Fingerpaintings, and shows us how you need to set your painting apps to yield them.

"Worry Walt" by Matthew Connors

Most of us have found our way with this new art form.  No one sat any of us down and gave us rules — we don’t necessarily have some historic book we can use as reference, “Modern Digital Art — The Fingerpainters’ Movement”.  In other words, most of us creative people are left to our own tools and devices — our own internal expertise — creative interests and whatever else that motivates us to do art. Experimentalists, at best–you see, we do what we do because we’re at a phase where we are trying to understand the medium — trying to feel it out, test it — PUSH the limits and see just how far we can take it.

And we all have different paths — some of us expore lines, for instance — how can one simulate a natural line when you’re dealing with a medium that does not respond to pressure–or pen position. Some of us explore color, blending, achieving what many refer to as a “painterly effect”.  And then — there are those who play with texture.  I’ve loosely dubbed them as “texturalist“, and there are quite a few of them in the fingerpainting world these days.

With the newest Brushes update — we find ourselves with more and more choices around texture — being able to render paintings and drawings with 3 dimensional effects that go beyond light and shadows, contours and shapes.
We can now control the spacing and brushes and build images with more sandy or blurred effects — one that looks rough or soft … aged images … whatever we fancy.  These new features allow for a more “expressionistic” results in painting.
And then there are those fingerpainters who push further and attempt to recreate more classic textures — you know, like the natural effects of thicker and gelatinous mediums, like oils and acrylics. Or the grainy characteristics of charcoal, and pastels.  The limitations imposed by having a medium that does not easily allow us to mix brushstroke with surfaces are challenging…but are by no means definite.

"Woodland Brushed" by Mike Ryon

"Daryl and Sky" by Mia Robinson

Since we are all left to our own devices (smile), we must be resourceful.
How do we adjust?  Well, for now, we improvise, making use of all the available features offered within the apps.

Here are just a few creative tips for enhancing the textural qualities of your work:

Brush Spacing — use the spacing options, particularly on your bristle brushes.  This simple task can add a range of brush effects to your work, from the regular dry brush to sponge.  The spacing feature is offered in both Brushes and Sketchbook Mobile.

Layers — the layering features can allow for more expressive textures and can be used as a means to blend brushstrokes with a textured base.  Brushes, Layers and Sketchbook Mobile offer traditional layering tools for the digital medium.  However, many apps, like photofx and justaposer now offer a varying layer tools.

Multi app mix-up — Using multiple apps can help to develop unique consistencies in your fingerpaintings.  You can import your painted or sketched images to novelty apps like NPTR, Artist Touch or TypeDrawing to add texture and then export them back to your main drawing app for additional development.
These strategies merged with your own unique point of view can produce remarkable results.  The whole idea is to be creative.  Use your growing knowledge of the apps and be experimental. Recognize that all sorts of textures can be achieved in your work, you just have to be resourceful.  And remember, at the end of the day, there’s always “undo”. 🙂

Watch out for part two where Mia will portrait Fingerpainter Mike Ryon for you.


6 Responses to “Exploring Texture in Fingerpainting”

  • Michael Ives Says:

    Another well written article Mia. I’ll be checking out some of these tips/techniques soon.

  • suzi54241 Says:

    Mia, I agree another wonderful article, you are as good at writing as you are at painting, a wonderful double whammy! As far as I am concerned experiments are practical necessities. A solution that works for one piece may not work for another. I am so happy that the apps continue to grow and mature so we can keep pushing the limits. And I love your, so true, last sentence, there’s always undo. It’s the greatest reason to use an app as opposed to real paper and pencil! Keep the articles coming.

  • Mia Robinson Says:

    Thanks so much Michael and Susan. Was fun to work on these—especially with all the snow!!! Kept me quite busy! Michael, if you dxperiment with some of these ideas, feel free to post your results here. I’m eager to see how folks incorporate them into their own work.

    haha, Susan…when I wrote that “undo” comment…I thought of you. You were the one who reminded me of that. 🙂

  • Greg Durrett Says:

    Great article Mia – I’ve always admired your skill with texture and am glad to get these insights from you.

  • Textures: tutoriels « nxurb – notes d'atelier Says:

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  • Lorraine Young (aka Raine) Says:

    I always enjoy reading your articles Mia (and seeing your work!), and I learn something new every time. And that’s my job as a growing artist – to learn, always. Experiment! Grow! Thanks for a great article!

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