This is a painting by Leng Jun. His art is considered the most realistic in the whole world.

Boring? Yeah, that's an understandable opinion, it's not an art i'm personally interested in pursuing myself, but I do have a hell of a respect of what goes into it after learning more about it. It's not just as simple as copying, because you can't just... copy an object from the third dimension into the second dimension. That is mathematically impossible. But you can create an illusion of it.

Think of it as the art of illusionism. Our brains have evolved entirely to perceive and understand a 3d world. Canvases are inherently 2d, and always will be. To draw an image of a 3d thing, you are basically tricking your brain into creating an illusion of a 3d form on a 2d surface -- something that will always be 2d and never 3d -- but your brain will perceive as 3d due to the illusion you created.

This is why learning to draw is so hard, you're not copying what you see in real life -- you're translating 3d space into a 2d space and making it look 3d entirely via illusion.

Then, once you get past that, you need to learn how light works, how it refracts, reflects. How colors effect the perception of colors around it, because colors in certain lighting environments are perceived entirely differently. You can't just paint an apple 100% red in a scene with specific lighting settings, you need to dull the colors of the red you're going to use, with blues and purples, to fit into the shadows and the surrounds of the environment.

Then there's faces, bodies, fabric. Fabrics fall in very specific, predictable patterns when they bunch up, fold, etc. They fold at specific parts of the body when we bend, and in different ways. And the fact has various undertones that isn't all one color, we usually have more blues and purples around our lips and eyes due to blood flow, and this is subtly visible -- so visible in fact, that we don't pick it up consciously, but without it, a painting of a face would look absolutely dead to us.

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