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I watched the Prince of Persia speedpaint at Gametrailers and I noticed that they sort of put in sort of a black background on the canvas before actually painting in the character. I browsed around some of the artworks in the Critiques section and some also suggested that if you're working on a white or lighter background, that you darken it so as to produce a tighter picture.
Now, how I've always worked is I go from light to dark, i.e., put in the lightest value and then darken it according to shadows and tones. Suggestions I've read said otherwise. Can anyone tell me the principle behind this? Is this the reason why most of my finished works seem "bland"? Can you give me more tips on achieving a more cohesive and tight painting?
Thanks very much.
Simply put, shadow defines form. Knowing how shadows behave adds that extra "pop" to your images. Of course your images are bland, you're using a degree of white + another color to derive your tones from. Then, you kind of add a shade of that same color. Objects and people vary in color. Also, shadow doesn't mean go straight to black.
You should really read through this http://huevaluechroma.com/ and look at the color theory topics around here. They're very helpful. You might also wanna take a look at an e-book http://www.conceptart.org/forums/showthread.php?t=94571.
I can only say that much, maybe this information will guide you towards your goal.
please don't used colored text. It's unbearably obnoxious to read.
The reason they darken the background is because when you have the white canvas blaring into your eye, your values and colors become skewed in your perception, so that as soon as that character moves off of a white background, they appear much different than you intend. When you put a 50% gray BG, you are making things easier on your eyes and putting it in a pretty "average" value environment. Also, common practice in traditional painting involves "toning" the canvas or palette. Many artists like to "tone" their picture so that the colors/saturation stay more consistent. Like was said, many people put shadows down first because they define form in a much more straight forward fashion than light. No way is any "better" than others, but alot of people find putting shadows in first the most efficient and delivers the desired result. Your images are 'bland' simply because you haven't learned how to put together an image yet. It might be color, it might be composition, or perspective; but it's hardly ever just "one thing" wrong, and the best thing you can do is draw/paint/study your butt off until you can focus more on the design of an image than the local values or composition or whatever.