I worked on this because I wanted to try out some “new” techniques I saw in a video by west coast artist Shaddy Safadi about how to begin a digital landscape painting. I chose this picture because it had a very strong light-shadow pattern. Being a portrait instead of a landscape, the video didn't exactly apply, but it did help me see a new way of setting up a digital painting. I put new in quotes above, because somewhat ironically this the same way landscape painters have been starting out for a long, long time.
So let's get to that. The big idea is to start with the obvious shadow pattern, this is the traditional part, and then the digital twist is put that on one layer, and then use additional layers for the highlight and mid-tone areas. (Note, this is an enormous simplification of Safadi's technique in the video. Go to http://www.shaddyconceptart.com/category/blogs/art-blog to learn more and to see his amazing landscapes.)
Why do it this way? For me, it was the desire to speed up my process. So I could knock out a painting in a few hours instead of a few days. But, in addition, I need lots of practice in seeing the value pattern in a scene.
Today I'm going to try a landscape and strictly limit myself to two hours.
After my friend Richard saw a watercolor self-portrait I did a few weeks ago, he asked me to do his portrait and sent me some photographs to work from. He probably expected a watercolor, but this is the result, done using Procreate on my iPad. There's a lot more smoothing in this picture than I'm used to doing, but I felt it was necessary for a portrait. I like the result, but feel like I'm in transition regarding what technique to use.
Halfway through working on the picture, I watched some online videos by a west coast artist, Shaddy Safadi, that got me thinking about the set of brushes I was using, among other things. Even though he was talking about Photoshop, his videos helped me get a better understanding of Procreate's brushes, and I made a few of my own by imitating his brush set. The new brushes in turn helped me with smoothing and edges. It's great that there are people on the Web who are so generous with their knowledge and experience.
This is a half-hour traditional-media pencil and gouache sketch in my 5 x 8 Moleskin, with a little digital finish thrown in. In the original, the model's left arm didn't read right. So for the first time ever, I took a picture of the painting with my iPad camera, imported the image into the Procreate app I use for drawing, and touched up the arm. Okay, the arm's still a little too big (now that we're dissecting), but it does read better now as a complete arm, imho. Here's the original, so you can see if you agree.
Now for the real fun—I hope. After all those squares à la Josef Albers, this exercise is more along the lines of a real picture (exercises are from David Hornung's book, “Color: A Workshop for Artists and Designers”—see previous posts). The parameters are to use 6 or more colors, each twice, in order to get the maximum color variety possible. I interpret this to mean use each color twice so that it looks like two colors. I don't think I did such a great job with the example above, but in my defense, there's a lot more to think about besides just color, i.e., shape, 2D space, and 3D space—which objects overlap others. I found it a real problem to get colors far enough away from each other to make them look different. The gray squiggle in the middle worked the best, partly because the green dot helps fool you into thinking it's green too. Also, size matters. I think the orange at the top right looks darker than bottom right because the square is so small.
Bored with using charcoal when I got to the last half hour of the evening open studio at the Palette and Chisel, I decided to do this small (10 x 8) gouache sketch in a new Moleskin sketchbook. It's messy, but it was fun to do. I had trouble with the sketchbook paper because it's apparently so heavily sized that it doesn't take the paint, which just lays on the surface and beads up. I got to use my little Altoids box palette, which was pretty cool (see earlier post on how to make one).
Yesterday was my first day trip to Chicago after being laid up with sciatica for almost three months. Luckily those were the winter months. Yesterday was a gorgeous spring day and it was great to be back in the city.
I deliberately took the photos with my phone so I wouldn’t get too hung-up copying the photos, but just have them for shapes and color.
Here’s a map in case you want to check out the spot:
After doing color studies to make one color look like two based on value, then on hue, then saturation, and finally all three, I came to the final exercise in this section of David Hornung's book, “Color: A Workshop for Artists and Designers” (see previous posts). In this exercise, he asks you to make two colors look like one. Above is my version of the example he gives in the book. Yes, believe it or not the two small squares are two different colors. Here's the proof:
Trust me, the square on the left is the same as the small square above on the left and the right square is the same as the right one above. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't done it myself!