Tuesday, November 30, 2010

More on the 5 areas of light

yesterday I spoke briefly about light and how it affect the values of the object in your scene.  below is a still life I painted today from life. accompanying it is the ref shot and a shot of my palette after the painting was completed(I did not wipe it at all so all the colors in the painting are here) 

Looking at my palette you will see two dividing black lines and although they are reinforced post production digitally they were physically drawn in on my glass palette with a sharpie marker.  This is actually the firt time I did this and I am please with the results.   The point of these lines are to separate my tone into the corresponding groups as i mix.  This helps the painting process because I can clearly see whether my mixtures belong to the light or shadow and then judge all new mixtures according to what I have already.  This tight organization with translate into your painting.  Using a 9 value scale I have limited myself on what values can be used in each group (fig. 1.) the tones used in each group can vary depending on what is in your painting but the driagram below illustrates a general plan for subject matter that has a full range of values in it.  By full range of value I mean it contains  something that is near black eg.  a shadow on a dark object, some source of light eg a secondary light source or spectacular highlights and everything in between.

Notice how few mixes are needed to make a painting

Using this scale is easy, the lightest tones in the groups represent "white" and they gradient towards "black" at the other end of each group.  so the first value in group 1 is a spectacular high light on a white object, the first value in group 2 is a area in the light on a white object, and the first value in group 3 is the area in the shadow of a white object.  Similarly the second value in group one, the fourth value in group 2 and the third value in group 3 might represent a object who´s local value is a mid-tone. 

 fig 1.

Monday, November 29, 2010

the five areas of light

most sources I´ve read divide light and shadow into 3 separate areas, those being - light, halftone and shadow.   In my opinion this isn't clear enough and could lead to confusion.  It is better in my mind to divide it into 3 groups consisting of 5 values altogether.  They are as follows:
Group 1. highlights
Group 2. Areas in light
Group 3. Areas in shadow

above are some examples of the tones, the third one is white and the forth one is black, notice how the shadow tone of the white is only a 5.5 value

Group one is the spectacular highlights and light sources  ONLY,  this never includes light tones such as the light areas on a dull object such as cloth.  group 1 is the only group when any of values of any object can approach white, this applies no matter what the local value of the object is.  Spectacular highlights and light sources have to be at least 1 value lighter than the areas in the light and will almost never drop below a 4 value in brightness.

Group 2 consists of 2 closely bunched tones the lightest one being the highlight or full light areas of an object and the slightly darker halftone value of the object. It will never be lighter in value than a 2 value on the scale (allowing room for spectular highlights) but surprisingly it can go as dark as a 7.5 on the value scale for very dark objects.  so a black object in full light could be a 7.5 value on the scale whereas a white object in that same light would be a 2 value. 

In group 3 we have shadow areas and dark accents.  Shadow areas are any area no receiving light from  the main light source (contrary to what many people say they are certainly not areas that receive no light)  this includes refleced light.  A note on reflected light here, there is rarely a change in value in the reflected light( a percievable one at any rate)  reflected light should be shown using only color temperature.  Dark accets are the areas that recieve very little of the main light source or the reflected light.  Such areas include the dark area where a object touches another, cracks and other small areas.  accents ae small, reflected light tends to get everywhere, making the accents to big or using to many will destroy the picture.

breaking this code of separation is the surest way of ruining your painting. check out the example above showing areas in a digital still life done from life, not a photo.

It gets me every time....

because I do alot of painting on the computer (using painter 11 and artrage)  as well as traditional oil paintings, i´ve come to realize my biggest sticking point.... VALUES.  The differnce in the range of values you can produce on a computer and with oil paint is incredible.  I  have no way to judge this of course but in my humble opinion it seems to be about half in paint compared to digital.

This means where I´m used to working with my 9 value scale in painter (and to which I´ve become quite fond) when working in paint its more like using values 4 to 9 (white being 1)  i seem to always key my painting wrong because of this, especially when working from photos (which I view digitally on my pc, as I´ve no printer)

Sometimes I remember and put in my lightest light very early and key the painting to that but when i forget I end up wasting time going back and changing all the values in the painting, what a waste of time and paint.

An interesting note on keying your paintings and values, the darker your overall image the less change in value of dark tones is needed to have significant contrast. the same is also true of light paintings only this time concerning light tones.  hmmm is that confusing...it´s diagram time!

In the above diagram we have three 9 value scales one on mid grey one on black and one on white.  now notice something strange about this, The number 2 value on the middle scale seems to be much darker than the 2 value on the top scale.  This is because all values seem darker against a light background, the scale seems bunched to one side as if most of your values are in the lights and all the darks are very close together. knowing this means you can change one prodominate value in a painting and effectively change the whole image with this effect (in theory, im too tired to root out an example right now, maybe tomorrow i´ll follow this up)

so pay close attention to all your values they the most important part of the painting in my opinion.

Wacom intuos4

well Im very happy with myself, for today I purchased a wacom intuos4 large (demo) with an art pen.

To be honest I don´t care that it´s the latest model wacom tablet on  the market, what matters to me is the art pen.... 360 degree barrel rotation baby!!! I´m pretty sure this will make painting in painter 11 alot faster and easier.  now the long wait before it arrives and I can try it out :)

 image from wacom website

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Over emphasis on materials

When I look around on some of the painting fourms on the web i´ve noticed a pattern in how novices approach painting.   Not everyone gets tripped up by this but a very high number of people, including myself  waste or have wasted countless hours and money attempting to get their hands on certain materials.  By this i mean certain brands of oil paint (very expensive ones) , brushes, pencils, papers.  There is an idea floating around that either A)  better materials make better art,  B) by using the same materials as a certain artist you will be able to paint like them, or C)  if you just had that brush (or paint or pencil, ect.)  you would be a great artist.  the same applys to the digital world the main one being " what brush did you use?"   The materials you use to paint matter as much as the colour of your car affects the  speed of the said car.

The reason I know this to be true is that I have suffered this first hand.   I spent  wads of money on fancy pencils and paints to no avail.  In reality buying the expensive materials made me worse as I treated them as "precious".    Currently I would consider myself at an intermediate stage, I am no novice but I have a long way to go and I currenty use both expensive materials and cheap ones depending on what I'm working on. For example I use Old Holland oil paint (most expensive paint you can get) and winsor and newton "winton" oil paints (very cheap paint)   Are my paintings with the Old Holland paints better than with the cheap paint? no!!!!   as expensive as they are they are not made of magic and are basicly the same as the cheap paint.  

Image taken from internet
So whats my point?  resisist the temptation to ask other artists what materials tey used, it will not help you in any way, instead try to see how you can use the materials you have to recreate the effect that you see in their work.  If you are unable to do thisit is more than likely a promlem with your technique rather than the materials and it would be a much better investment to spend your hard earned cash on books or videos about painting than chasing specific materials that cannot help you.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First post.........

Well it´s about time i started a blog, not only to document my progress and to share what little knoledge i´ve acculmulated over the years but also it will serve as handy reminder to myself , after all there is much to learn and it is easy to forget stuff if you don´t look back over your notes.

I will be posting everything i can here, even the turkeys so don´t expect too much polish.  well we will see how this goes....................