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    Some time ago I included an old tree and a field of flowers in a piece of digital art. I have received several letters asking me to explain just how this was done. So, today, I will attempt to go though this process step-by-step for you. It is a simple process and I am sure that if you follow along you will have no difficulty in obtaining the results you desire.
    The most important thing when attempting to depict nature is to have a reasonable amount of discipline. That is, enough tenacity to take your time and add elements that you may well eventually overpaint. Attention to detail will also be of great assistance. Your viewer may not be another artist but remember that everyone is accustomed to seeing nature. If something is amiss they will know it. They may not know WHAT is wrong but they will know that something isn't right.
    So, with that in mind, let us begin. AND, remember, have fun!

    I make the assumption that you know how to open the program and how to get a blank canvas. If you are new to the series, you might wish to review Lesson#1 for information about the program we are using. You may make your canvas as large or as small as you wish. In an effort to conserve space on the web I have made my canvas rather small.
First, let us consider the old tree. Using the darkest brown, lay in a tree trunk. Then, using the third largest brush size, and the Paintbrush Tool, lay in some major branches. Pay particular attention to the area where the branches hook onto the trunk. Each major branch must be reinforced where they connect to the trunk. Always think of the amount of weight they will be asked to support. Everything must make sense. A limb could not support the weight of smaller branches and foliage unless they are larger where they connect to the main trunk. Next, using the SMALLEST brush size, add auxiliary branches. Here is the place for some of the discipline we talked about. We know that we will be adding foliage to these limbs and many of them will not show. However, unless you are a far better painter than I, you have no idea just which of these limbs may show through. Take your time and add MANY, MANY branches. Again, be careful that everything makes sense. If you are adding lots of branches off of these auxiliary branches then you must strengthen the area where they hook to the main branches. Avoid straight lines! Shake your mouse as you draw these branches. If you get a straight line, go to edit and click "undo" at once!

Now, using light brown, light reds and darker reds, lay in some highlights on your tree trunk. Here I have the light striking the tree in the center. You may wish to have light on the right or left side. It doesn't matter so long as the rest of your painting adheres to this established light direction. This process is one which does not lend itself to instruction. You will need to experiment in order to get the look you desire. I first lay in the colors with the Paintbrush Tool then move them around with the Smudge Tool. I have added an old knot to my tree to help with the look. You may, of course, add anything you wish. Just don't make the trunk look too busy!
Now for some fun! First select the Airbrush Tool and choose the darkest green from the Swatches Tab. Then look in the box above the brush size box and you will see a pull down panel that will say "normal". Pull that box down and choose "Dissolve". Also in that box you will see a sliding scale that is labeled "Pressure". Set that at about 70 percent. Next go down to the brush size box and choose the first size in the third row which is marked as "35". Now take this tool and move to your tree. Determine where you want foliage on your tree and depress your mouse ONCE for each position you wish to have leaves. If you depress your mouse more than once the area will become darker. You may wish to do this in places but be careful to maintain the "splattered" look. Remember, this is simply dark in order to show light. This is background music!
Now, using your same Airbrush Tool, select a color for your leaves. Here I am using a yellow-green you may use any color you wish. Go to your "Pressure" setting and slide it back to about 35 percent. This will keep you from overpowering your dark under color. Don't destroy all of the dark you have laid in, it is your friend and will help to show depth. Hold the tool over each area and add color by clicking your mouse. Have fun but remember not to wipe out all of the dark! Of course, here I am showing you a close-up of just a section of the tree. Just carry this process out to complete the tree.
The field of wild flowers at the base of the tree were added in the same way. Choose the Airbrush Tool, then "Dissolve" then a brush size from the SECOND row of choices. Add any colors you like and have some fun!
Here I have thrown together a little example of how you might wish to incorporate your new found knowledge into a painting. Have fun and let me know if there are elements that you would like to see covered in this series. Remember, everything here is done inside the computer with the Photoshop program.