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Trying Something New ~ ft. the smudge tool

Amidst all the fun I usually have with commission work, there are also times when I get a little stuck or stressed out. I recently had a couple days when I was feeling particularly frustrated with my work, so I decided to take a break and just paint something in GIMP for fun, and try to get the creative juices flowing again.

The main idea for this little piece of art was, “What if I created a painting using only the smudge tool?”

I almost never use the smudge tool in GIMP, because it gives the painting a very airbrushed, almost artificially smooth look, and I like my paintings to look a little more… well, painterly.

But it is a very versatile brush, and you can get a lot of different effects out of it by changing the rate and opacity.

The first thing I did was split my canvas in half, filling one side with black and the other with white. This gave me something to work with, so I could drag the two tones around and create my painting.

Blocking in the very basic shapes with a large round brush. So far, so good!

Looks a bit like Steve Harvey at this point. But no, that’s not what I was going for. 😝

I was trying to paint Victor Wooten. I’ve recently picked up the bass guitar, so I’ve been watching some of his videos and listening to some of his music and getting inspired.

I think this was around the 1 hour mark. The likeness still isn’t quite right, but I was just trying to get all the basic shapes in before I went into reworking all the little details.

I was starting to think how much easier it would be to grab the airbrush tool and block in my shapes that way, but I had given myself a challenge here and I was determined to stick with it!

Something I really like about this smudging technique is how it captures that bright, glow-y light effect. That wasn’t really planned, but I kind of dig it. 😁

And yes, the smudge tool can look painterly after all! Who would have thunk?

At this point, I used the lasso tool to move things around and get a better likeness. I still don’t think it looks 100% like the reference picture, but my brother said it looks like him, so that was encouraging. 😄

A little over 2 hours in, I made myself stop. My original plan was just to do a 1 hour sketch, and my perfectionist side was already carrying me away. 😝 Oh, well.

I’m trying to teach myself that not everything has to be perfect, and not to be too critical, and trying out the whole quantity-creates-quality mindset, rather than quality-over-quantity. I’m really happy with how it turned out style-wise, and it was definitely a fun experiment/learning experience.

What do you think? Have you ever done digital art? Do you prefer things to look more painterly, or more realistic? Who is your favorite bass player? Which do you think is better, quality or quantity? Let me know in the comments. 😁

Until next time, stay lionhearted, and don’t be afraid to try new things (even things you were previously biased against. 😉).

~ Chalice

P.S. And in case anyone is still wondering who Victor Wooten is, or just needs to be inspired to pick up the bass, I got you. 😎

P.P.S. Oh! And as for the commission work, I will say taking a break definitely helped, and things are going much more smoothly, and progressing much faster now.

(Note to self: take more breaks.)


2 Replies to “Trying Something New ~ ft. the smudge tool”

  1. I love it, Chalice! Now I need to go try this method in GIMP. 😛
    As for the quality vs. quantity question, I heard and artist put it very well one time saying that if you are too focused on quality then it could hold you back and make you scared to try new things, always concerned that the work is never good enough. Whereas if you are a little bit more focused on quantity and just creating art for the passion, then you will learn new things the more you create and automatically you’re art will have more and more quality.
    Anyways, I love your art. And yes, girl, take breaks. 🙂


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