Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Old Master Design III

Value. Tone. Broken into three levels: Light, Middle, and Dark. Not be confused with highlights or contained shadows. These are values of the local color of an object. Remember that black hat? That's a good example of a Dark. A white collar is a Light. A middle, well, you get the idea.

The concept is to see aggregations of levels. For example, in this first exercise we are asked to increase shadows so as to break up the lights. Note on the left how I shaded under the jaw and cheek? See how it broke up that light mass?

In this next exercise, I added highlights to the massive black cloak and inner garments.

In this exercise, this image was overlaid with a transparent sheet and I painted the massive tonal areas.

Here is what I came up with. With this kind of exercise, one must learn to average levels so as to come up with so few levels. This of posterization using Photoshop.

Some thoughts on value levels:

  • Lights are generally cool whites and grays.
  • Darks are generally warm blacks and browns.
  • Try to use a limited range of values within each value level. Keep it simple.
  • Work towards less value distinction in detail.

Create relationships of flat and volumetric shapes. Flat shapes often occur in portraits and are usually black. Think of cloaks or hats.

Extreme values of white and black are often held back to the end of the painting when they can be applied judiciously. Just small amounts can help to make a painting pop.

Be observant of massing--that is, areas of similar tone. Try to link cast and contained shadows.

Controlling values. Two main methods:

Scumbles. Semitransparent layer of opaque white. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it? Thing is, if an opaque pigment is applied thinly enough, it will still have some degree of transparency. A scumble lightens values, decreases chroma, and softens edges. It is a unifying agent. It cools the underlying color.

Glazes. Transparent layer of color. Inherently transparent pigments work best but even opaque pigments can work if thinned enough (like scumbles). A glaze darkens values and creates luminosity.

If this seems like less than a day's activities, it is only because I am awash in information. Without time to reflect properly, I feel that I can't relate enough. And yet, I must present while it's fresh in mind. Distorted reflections! :-)

In the big picture, I am leaning so, so much, having a wonderful time, and getting to know some really great and talented people.

Oh, and one last thing, something that just came to mind that slipped by yesterday. Koo was talking on cast shadows and pointed out how a couple of figures in a painting did not have shadows. Angels. Ethereal beings don't cast shadows. That just got to me...

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