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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Phoenix Painting


With this painting I changed my process some and tried painting on a new surface.  I love painting birds and wildlife, but I did not want to create a standard portrait as I did before.  I wanted to create something a little more dynamic, exciting and not so realistic.


I first created a small thumbnail to give myself a basic idea for the composition.  I also made a small black, white, grey comp so I had an understanding of the overall values the piece would have.  I scanned the thumbnail, changed the lines to a light blue and then printed it out on a sheet of bristol.  I decided to work at 12” x 18” with a quarter inch bleed.



Here are some of the reference photos that I used.  A lot of the drawing I had to make up, particularly the talons and the head of the bird.  The flowers and leaves were just to frame the bird and most of it was drawn from my head.  I have learned that flowers are quite easy to draw and render.  A flower’s proportions can be distorted or stretched and it will still look like a flower.


My drawing was done with a blue col-erase pencil.  I like doing this because the blue lines can be blasted away in photoshop.


I mostly did the inking with a nib and holbein drawing ink.  I also used a few pitt pens as well as a brush pen for the much thicker lines.  After scanning it, getting rid of the blue pencil lines is quite easy.  In photoshop, go to image > adjustments > black & white.  Take the blue and cyan sliders all the way down to get a nice, clean drawing.  You can then use levels or curves to darken the remaining lines and blast away any remaining mess.

I printed out small versions of my inked drawing to do several more black, white, grey comps.  It is important that when you squint your eyes at the painting, that these overall values become apparent. 


The “Y” is something I like to do when I use the color wheel.  Here you can see my overall color theory for the hawk.  Colors toward the middle of the wheel are desaturated while colors on the outside are at their purest.  The saturated blue-green is for the subject of the painting which is the hawk’s eye.


After I studied the color wheel, I then colorized the inked lines in photoshop.  I knew the fire around the bird would be a hot yellow and it would gradually turn to orange followed by magenta.  The background elements are gray so I did not want any of the lines to be black.  I wanted the hawk to pop off the background so I kept those lines black.  I printed the lines on 140 pound cold press watercolor paper.


I did not document the painting this time with day by day photos, but I still followed the same procedure of painting the darkest areas first followed by the lightest areas.  Before I even started painting the hawk, I did a wash of paynes gray over the whole figure so I could trick my brain into painting more dark than I would on a white surface.  The only opaques in this painting are around the subject – the head, beak, eye and some of the feathers on the wings.  The eye has a pure “teal” color which is nice and opaque right out of the tube.


What you see in the previous image is the unaltered scan of the painting.  Warm colors scan perfectly fine but paynes gray hates being scanned – the blues show up way too saturated.  I had to do a color and saturation layer to tone down the blues in the feathers.  I was careful to mask off the background elements.  I did a separate layer to boost the saturation of the teal color in the hawk’s eye.  Finally I did a little bit of levels (since acrylics scan a little dark) to bring back more contrast.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Wolf Acrylic Painting



With this post, you will be able to see a day by day process for my wolf acrylic painting.  Recently, I had to manage my time better since I do not always have the time to work on my art.  What I decided to do is set aside 2 to 4 hours each day to work on my own drawing or painting.  Each image represents 2 to 4 hours of work for that day.  What I’ve noticed is that with a designated time slot, I am more focused and I seem to get more done.


For this wolf painting, I actually had to do a black, white and grey comp first since I was not going with a dark foreground against a light background as I did with previous work.  I knew that the highest contrast would be on the wolf itself with dark areas of fur next to light areas of fur.  I also knew that the background would consist of dark grey and light grey values but no bright whites.  The lightest areas would be reserved for the wolf only.  This particular comp is not the prettiest but it gets the job done.  It is always better to spend a couple of minutes on a comp instead of getting frustrated on the actual painting because you are unsure of overall values or color choices.  I prefer using brush pens when creating these comps since it makes the overall values more clear.




This was the first day of painting and I always start with paynes grey when working on the darkest areas first.  You should notice that I did not do a wash over the wolf since I needed to preserve light areas for the brightest parts of his fur.








Days 1 through 5 are pretty much all with paynes grey.  I like to focus on having a well rendered underpainting before putting down any color.  Again, paint is never as dark as you think it is especially when working on a white surface.  You might end up going over the same areas of your underpainting several times before it is truly dark enough.  



This is when I started throwing down color.  I first put down some dioxazine purple because I did not want the oranges to become too saturated.  I find that painting on top of paynes grey and purple tones makes sure that whatever color you are adding does not become too garish. Painting on top of paynes grey alone never seems to do the trick.  There is something about dioxazine purple that makes it a great neutralizer.  The colors that I added on top were vat orange followed by a little bit of primary yellow.   



In this photo you can see that I deepened the values in the fur and I started adding some color to his eyes.  At this point I was unsure which eye was going to be a little more saturated so at this point, they were pretty equal.  I started painting the background elements using a mixture of primary yellow, primary cyan and primary magenta.   The mixture had a little more cyan in it to move towards a desaturated green.  I used this mixture to make sure I stayed in a grey zone as far as value was concerned.  I knew the mixture I made would not be able to get as dark as paynes grey or dioxazine purple.  




In the eighth and ninth image, the background was starting to get more fleshed out although the overall painting was still not where it needed to be as far as overall values were concerned.  Once I had covered most of the surface in paint, it was possible to see that what I initially believed was dark, was actually more of a medium grey.




So far in these images I had only used transparent pigments.  In the final scan you can see all of the opaques I did which center around the wolf’s eye.  I used pure vat orange and primary yellow on the eye near the right side of the picture plane.  I decided to make that eye the subject and I dulled down the other eye with a little bit of dioxazine purple.  I did some opaques on the background particularly on the mountains and wheat field.  The wheat closest to the wolf I did more opaques on to bring them forward.  The stars in the background I did by splattering an opaque mixture of titanium white and primary cyan with a toothbrush.  After I did most of the opaques on the background, I then intensified the color by doing some washes.  I did a turquoise wash over the stars, a cyan wash over the mountains and a magenta wash over the wheat.  I did a couple more washes of dioxazine purple and primary yellow over the wheat to bring the color to the right level of saturation.  I also deepened the some of the values in the wheat and trees using dioxazine purple.  On some of the wheat closest to the wolf, I used some paynes grey to give them a little more contrast and sharpness.