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Thread: Ambient Lighting and Colour Temperature

  1. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Chow View Post
    EDIT: Elwell's above post has a point. I have no need to drag this onwards because it's a much bigger problem than I may have anticipated. Thanks everyone and until next time! I'm going to have to do more studying on this before I make myself look worse.
    Alex, you don't have anything to apologize for, and you certainly don't look bad. "No such thing as a dumb question," etc.


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    Thanks Elwell. I'm glad my sort-of-confusing question opened such an awesome discussion. I learned a lot about the whole "cool and warm" situation just by reading. I figured I would stay out of it because it was going so well.

    If anybody cares, if there's one thing I will have to change, it's that to be more specific than just saying "warm" or "cool" a colour. If I wasn't very clear, part of my confusion came off my recent reading of Schmid's Alla Prima book. To quote: "...we still identify cool pigments as those that lean toward blue, and warm pigments as leaning to red or yellow. Mixtures that have white in them are also considered to be cooled." (Schmid 123)

    The term "cool" completely confused me and it might have been easier to understand if he hadn't used a single term to describe two things. I did not realize it can mean hue shift or chroma shift. As Briggs suggested, it would be much clearer if he separated into "making a hue cooler/lean towards blue" and "using white to make a colour more neutral".

    I do not understand the significance of having cool mean two things. Could it be the way light works, or is it related to the application of paint? Either way, I doubt it's incredibly important... or is it?

    This thread, echoing cdejong, is what makes CA so great . It's a shame I have nothing knowledgeable to contribute beyond the initiation of the discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Chow View Post
    It's a shame I have nothing knowledgeable to contribute beyond the initiation of the discussion.
    By contributing your questions - you've helped create something others will learn from (I know I already have learned from reading this topic). I see no shame there

    Lets face it, these things can be confusing for A LOT of folks.

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    Alex,

    To answer your question about using the term cool. When you tell someone to cool something, you are trying to turn the form if it is an object or you are trying to recede an area within the pictorial plane. If you are using warm light as your primary source, you are turning the object away and if you are using cool light you are turn it towards you. This follows the rule warm light cool shadow and cool light warm shadow. A shift in saturation with value and hue staying the same offers a shallower effect than a hue shift and usually the value shift is the greatest effect on turning the form.

    In atmospheric perspective you are pushing the regions back into the distance by cooling the middle and backgrounds in comparison to the foreground elements, these elements will still have warm and cool sides to them but the warms will be cooler than the foreground warms and the shadows will be cooler than the foreground shadows.

    In atmospheric perspective as objects recede it is genreally understood that under most conditions objects lose saturation and shift toward the blue violet end of the spectrum. This is true for all colors except, white; white actually gets redder as it recedes if the distance is great enough. This is observable in clouds when painting outdoors as they recede towards the horizon.

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    One more thing worth noting. When talking about atmospheric perspective, things will lighten in value slightly. This effect depends not only on distance but also on angle of light and type of atmosphere. Here in VA, I can see the value shift within a few hundred yards in the summer when the humidity is at its peak, but I have also painted in the High Sierras and Rockies above ten thousand feet where the values can hold for a mile or more in the thinner atmosphere. Those experiences from life will lend a believability to work that paintings made in the studio will lack without them IMO.

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    Dpaint and JeffX99

    Fantastic, guys. No question that students differ in their inclinations and capabilities, and that different genres of painting require different levels of understanding and control of colour. It's so easy to assume that what works for us in our own focus of interest applies to painting as a whole, and that's where the trouble starts.

    On the question of keeping it simple, I'd just like to say that what is unfamiliar tends to look complicated, and that historically we are at a point where a lot of very basic things about colour are pretty generally unfamiliar. Of course you CAN just paint what you see without understanding colour and light, just like you could (I suppose) draw a complex interior without understanding perspective, by just copying accurately every single line, but it's just so much easier to get it right if you understand what you're seeing. I figure if I can boil it all down to something about the size of a book, like other people generally manage to do for say artistic anatomy or perspective, then that's probably about right.


    Alex

    Welcome back! Glad you agree that mixing up hue differences with chroma differences is confusing. Personally, I find trying to analyse lighting situations in terms of warm and cool a bit like trying to perform surgery wearing boxing gloves. Compare the account of atmospheric perspective here:
    http://www.conceptart.org/forums/sho...81&postcount=8

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    Thanks, dpaint and Briggs.

    So let's say we were to analyze artwork based on a) "warm/cool" hue differences (relative to the temperature of the lights to shadows) and b) chroma differences instead of using warm/cool for both things at once.

    Below are four paintings (first two by Diego Velazquez, third done by Sargent, last by Rembrandt). Please tell me if I am wrong.

    1) a. Warm, candle-fire light, cool purplish shadow.
    b. Lights are more neutral than shadows. Shadows are more saturated.

    2) a. Cool hue daylight, warm hue (of some sort) shadow.
    b. Lights are more neutral than shadows...?

    3) a. Warm hue light, cool purplish shadow
    b. This one stumped me. If it's warm hue lit, why does his blue jacket look so brilliantly saturated? Why is his face so desaturated in a warm hue light?

    4) a. The light is slightly cooler in hue than the shadows.
    b. Lights are more neutral than shadows.

    I would say the chroma differences are confusing me. It shifts around but, for some reason, it still works. If there are any other people interested in analyzing these works, I would love to know what aspects of their colours (hue, value, chroma shifts between light and shadow) make the lighting believable. I envy the masters for being able to make things look in a certain environment...

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    Last edited by Alex Chow; December 21st, 2009 at 09:58 PM.
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    I would say the chroma differences are confusing me. It shifts around but, for some reason, it still works.
    In my noobish opinion , they work because the values are spot on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alex Chow View Post
    Below are four paintings (first two by Diego Velazquez, third done by Sargent, last by Rembrandt).
    It's really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, REALLY hard to make judgments like this based on reproductions, especially jpegs. They tend to be more contrasty and far more saturated than the originals, and the color can be all over the place. Flake's right about the values, though. If the basic value structure of a painting is sound, then it can withstand all sorts of indignities in reproduction and still fundamentally "read."
    Also, remember that if you're reading digital color information, brightness is not the same as value, and saturation is not the same as chroma.


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    Hmm,

    I guess we are going to get serious. Okay, the reason these paintings look the way they do has as much to do with the time they were painted, as it does ideas about color theory. All are before Munsell theory. There is two hundred years between the Rembrandt/Velasquez and the Sargent. The Velasquez and Rembrandt would have been influenced by Alberti's four color scale-yellow, green, blue and red, and the pigments available at the time. They were missing many modern colors. I believe Velasquez only painted with white, red, yellow and two blacks.

    The Sargent ( which is not the best Sargent around) Was painted with Goethe and Chevreul's influence on color and modern pigments, not a good comparison. They work because color doesn't matter as much as value as has already been said; form reqires value shifts, it is possible to be quite liberal with your color decisions and as long as you organize your values well, the painting will read correctly. This is why impressionist paintings look flat in black and white, they traded value for color and their paintings sufferedmany times IMO. That is why my favorite painters are are academically trained impressionist who manipulate color over a solid value scale.

    A modern example would be John Asaro another Reilly student, Check out his website and see what he is doing with his figure project and how solid those figures are, even though the colors are exagerated.

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    I have no further questions. This thread solved many conundrums which were lingering in my mind for awhile and I'm glad something amazing came out of them. I'm already doing a lot of small still-lifes, in lighting of various temperature and strengths, to make sure I don't overexaggerate ambient/secondary lighting (On a side note, I haven't found anything that contradicts the theory Briggs has written on his website. It's just that I see many master artworks which does contradict my studies and his theory, but that has been taken care of.) and I'm hoping to get better with colours. The whole warm/cool dilemma has been solved.

    Another fine day at CA, eh?

    Thank you everyone! Till next time

    EDIT: *the post below this one* Good call, Briggs. I'll keep that in mind.

    Last edited by Alex Chow; December 22nd, 2009 at 01:03 AM.
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    Also it isn't just a matter of changing one word for another. If you think in terms of the dimensions of colour, you can describe how the main, secondary and reflected lights vary from place to place in hue (or lack of hue), saturation and brightness, and understand how these changes are affecting the hue, chroma and lightness of the image in each place.

    Edit: Sorry, Alex - cross-posted.

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    So glad I can come on here and learn this stuff that's tearing my brain while I'm doing still lifes. And huevaluechroma.com, thanks for that man!!

    dpaint said
    There is two hundred years between the Rembrandt/Velasquez and the Sargent. The Velasquez and Rembrandt would have been influenced by Alberti's four color scale-yellow, green, blue and red, and the pigments available at the time. They were missing many modern colors. I believe Velasquez only painted with white, red, yellow and two blacks.


    This is so interesting to me, you compare the best digital works nowadays to old masters and it seems that back then, with the highly restrictive colors, they were able to 'get' more out of them, than many people now with complete control and all colors.

    And this is great, sums up what I dig the most as well,
    "That is why my favorite painters are are academically trained impressionist who manipulate color over a solid value scale."

    Also, in practical terms when we talk about subtle shifts to a neutral color or warmer, we are talking tiny shifts right? Changes as subtle as a few percent right? I'm discovering in my quick color studies (all digital and I don't know how that hinders or effects my color sense) that once the basic values are right and as chris bennet said the image is 'locking in and feeling right', the most subtle shifts in color have astounding effects to my eye.

    The difference between a desaturated blue area as it is and how it looks after even just a 20% red stroke over it will be astounding. This subtleness only really happens or seems to be present after the values, shapes, and everything is solid.

    I'm wondering if this subtleness is where my understanding of hue and chroma really come into play. Basically am I doing it right? haha.

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