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Using Procreate to help you design backgrounds

One of my commercial clients wanted me to create a series of wildlife paintings with background washes. This is not normally something that I do, but I thought that it would be fun to try. So I painted a stag and used the reference photo below to inspire my background.

Photo by Charles Lamb.

But it was a complete disaster! The background was too warm and patchy. It did nothing to enhance the stag. Here is the resultant painting.

So I decided to isolate the stag digitally and import it into Procreate. Procreate is a fabulous app designed for Apple devices. Here is a link to their website

(Alternatively you could do the same in Photoshop if that suits you better.)

I dropped in some cooler colourways to see if it improved the look. The photo below shows my experiment with Procreate.

Once satisfied with the cooler colours, I repainted the stag and then cut round the edge and background with greens and greys. I added some drips and splashes for added expressiveness.

The photo below shows my second attempt at painting the stag with a cooler background.

I still wasn't sure if I should make it busier, so I photographed the painting and imported it into Procreate; both stag and background together this time. I then used the spray can brush tool in Procreate to add a few multi colour red, white and grey splashes.

I sent it to the client for final approval and the good news is that they loved it! I then worked on the real painting adding similar splashes; but this time for real! The final painting is shown below. I was much happier with this result. I have tweeked the colours using my iPhone so they are a little bluer than in real life.

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1 Comment

Fabulous Sarah, such a useful tool !

I love how technology can work to enhance the decision making

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