Question on what Richard Schmid wrote in Alla Prima

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    Question on what Richard Schmid wrote in Alla Prima

    In Alla Prima, Richard wrote (and im paraphrasing)....."a 40 degree change in form can be shown with a simple color change rather than a value change." Why? Because we have more colors at our disposal than values..." So my question is: Any subtle changes in value within lights, halftones and darks can be indicated with just a shift in hue of the same value? I did notice it is extremely hard to capture many values with paint as opposed to a B+W medium like charcoal or graphite.

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    That's interesting.

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    Yeah i found that interesting too. I think I can finally just stick to no more than 5 values rather than trying to capture all 255 greys...lol

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    yer, i think as long as there is a perceived change in the subject it kind of pieces together. Implying more subtlety in the values. It's really to simplify your values to make a stronger composition. Also i think the hue change probably works best shifting towards the hue of the shadows.

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    If you look at most master paintings the values are limited to four or five steps so the way you turn the form in the lights or in the shadows is with hue or saturation shifts, saving the value shifts for big divisions between light and shadow

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    but within those 4/5 steps (many master paintings as we know are very detailed) any other subtle value changes (assuming no glazing is done) are done by hue/temperature shift right? Oh wait just reread your post dpaint. ok i get it.

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    ok i get it.

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    Its not about details. Look at them in black and white and see how many places in the painting are the same Values. Good paintings start with good value plans color doesn't matter.

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    I'd love to know if it is literally true that it is possible to make a form turn effectively without a value change. This notion also came up recently at Rational Painting, where the idea met with scepticism, despite being apparently promoted by David Leffel and Nelson Shanks as well as Schmid. In Schmid's (rather gorgeous) paintings the details of the form are actually obtained by fine tonal modelling, as far as I can see (see attachments).

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    Here is an example of what I mean. These paintings are by John Asaro
    When you see them in gray scale there is nothing off about them. But look at the color choices he made are not natural at all except in the values

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    So the point is that a good value plan will carry the painting and you can shift your color to almost anything you want as long as the underlying values are sound. So the color of a cape on a figure or their skin color doesn't matter and your choices can now have more impact then using natural color. Where people go wrong is they focus on the other aspects of color like hue and saturation but the values are off and that detracts from the strength of a painting usually.
    Velasquez painted with red yellow and two blacks and white , Ansders Zorn, red yellow black and white. Corot painted landscapes without the benefit of modern greens and blues. Those paintings strengths come from accurate drawing and strong value plans they manipulate reality to conform to the artists vision.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    So the point is that a good value plan will carry the painting and you can shift your color to almost anything you want as long as the underlying values are sound. So the color of a cape on a figure or their skin color doesn't matter and your choices can now have more impact then using natural color. Where people go wrong is they focus on the other aspects of color like hue and saturation but the values are off and that detracts from the strength of a painting usually.
    That's true. When painting digitally I'll often arrange my colours by value, then quickly pick dependant on value alone (broadly speaking). The hue variance combined with underlying values then produces a more painterly effect. Of course it doesn't work so well with wildly differing saturated hues if you're aiming for realistic rendering but for mild variances I find it improves the output.

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    AHHHH..... Briggsy.....it seems that Scmid uses more than just 4-5 values as he claims. I see more in those b+w conversions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andymania View Post
    In Alla Prima, Richard wrote (and im paraphrasing)....."a 40 degree change in form can be shown with a simple color change rather than a value change." Why? Because we have more colors at our disposal than values..."
    I'd like to know the direct quote rather than your paraphrase, to see if that's actually what he says. The other thing is that, while it's a very good book, Schmid isn't always very precise in his color terminology. The fact is, changing "color" (that is to say, hue and/or chroma) without also changing value is very hard to do with an open palette like Schmid uses.


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    The values are much closer when you show them in grayscale. I just copied your image and changed the mode

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    andymania and dpaint

    I used a grayscale conversion plus some automatic segmentation software to make it easier to see where the tonal gradients are occurring. The gradients are there but the number of steps is arbitrary. The segmentation software also seems to have increased the absolute contrast, although much less than you might possibly think from close up - try looking at the last image from more than ten feet away.

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    Elwell here is the exact quote:

    "It is uneccessary to use all values in a subject. Color changes can frequently be used instead. This substitution of color for value is often not only more pleasing, but also makes more sense. Why? Because we have many more colors at our disposal, so using a color saves a value. Superb examples of that use of color are found in the paintings of Mary Cassatt. She had the uncanny ability to portray form with almost no perceptible darkening-a feat impossible without color."

    -I kind of question the last sentence...convey form without any darkening??? How is that possible?

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    So lets say we have a pair of tits (oYo). The closer the surface depth-wise to your eye, the lighter it would be. Say we make the tits yellow... According to Schmid i would be able to use orange of exactly the same value for the surface that is rounding itself into cleavage and make it look depthy without actually making anything darker?.. Hmm, makes logical sense.. Orange seems 'darker' than yellow, i guess...

    Also, is it possible to perceive form through our perception of depth alone, or does our depth perception solely depends on light bouncing..

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    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    andymania and dpaint

    I used a grayscale conversion plus some automatic segmentation software to make it easier to see where the tonal gradients are occurring. The gradients are there but the number of steps is arbitrary. The segmentation software also seems to have increased the absolute contrast, although much less than you might possibly think from close up - try looking at the last image from more than ten feet away.
    I am interested in that "automatic segmentation" software, can you tell me name of it?

    Thanks in advance

    M

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    So lets say we have a pair of tits (oYo). The closer the surface depth-wise to your eye, the lighter it would be.
    Value changes depend on the angle of light as in relation to the angle of the surface and the viewing angle.
    Distance between viewer and surface only becomes valid at large distances as the light loses brightness trough the atmosphere.


    Say we make the tits yellow... According to Schmid i would be able to use orange of exactly the same value for the surface that is rounding itself into cleavage and make it look depthy without actually making anything darker?.. Hmm, makes logical sense.. Orange seems 'darker' than yellow, i guess...
    If it seems darker, it is darker.
    In the computer world there a differences in 'brightness', 'lightness' and 'value' (hsb, hsl, hsv)
    High chroma orange is darker then high chroma yellow. This is because colors reach their maximum saturation at different values. So you cannot say that you're going to use orange of the same value that looks darker, value in paintings has to be determined empirically.


    Also, is it possible to perceive form through our perception of depth alone, or does our depth perception solely depends on light bouncing..
    It could be done with atmospheric perspective, linear perspective, stacked perspective, (etc), edges, line-thickness, stereoscopic images...

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    Guessing that it's Image > adjustments > Posterize in Photoshop

    Slider lets you choose how many levels.

    You may get better results by converting to grayscale and doing any contrast adjustments before you go to 2 or 3 levels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MatejaPetkovic View Post
    I am interested in that "automatic segmentation" software, can you tell me name of it?

    Thanks in advance

    M
    Posterize does something quite similar, but I used an ancient Photoshop plugin called Mask Warrior.

    http://www.imagiam.com/index.php?opt...d=21&Itemid=58
    http://www.imagiam.com/index.php?opt...1&limitstart=1

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    What Schmid is suggesting is that you can look at color alteration as another tool to your arsenal, in your attempt to create volume. There are instances where you look at something and you realise that that large, for example, forehead, is one grey tone, yet you see it curve. Instead of going for a solution via tone (and in cases of subjects that are a big 'grey' thing, it's tough to render the halftone), you can use color temperature or change the color completely. It's a way to create contrast.

    An excersice I had done that opened my eyes to this (before getting Schmid's excellent book) was to paint a cast, that was literally washed with soft lights. With the exception of some deep indentations, the whole thing looked like a grey spot, against and equally lit and grey spot (the wall behind it). I was using a complementary color scheme. I managed to paint it by using the change in hue/temperature and suggest volume even in areas that were the same tone. I'm no master at it, but as a first attempt, it was an eye opener and showed me that there is more to painting than adding white or black.

    Try it and see for yourself, then Schmid's suggestion will make sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elwell View Post
    I'd like to know the direct quote rather than your paraphrase, to see if that's actually what he says. The other thing is that, while it's a very good book, Schmid isn't always very precise in his color terminology. The fact is, changing "color" (that is to say, hue and/or chroma) without also changing value is very hard to do with an open palette like Schmid uses.
    From the Values chapter, page 85-87:

    "Conservation of Values
    The Masters who maintained simple value patterns in their paintings seldom used more than five values (except in the transition zones and soft edged between shapes). You can see this dramatically in black and white reproductions of works by Howard Pyle, Serov, Vandyke, and others. They were stingy with the number of tones they used and never employed more than were necessary. In many of his portraits, Sargent usually employed only three values in the light, two in the darks, and then added some incidental highlights and dark accents.

    This economy or conservation of values is based on two ideas. The first is that a few clear-cut values in a painting will yield a more powerful visual effect (though not necessarily a more "artistic" one) than a profusion of small values. This is why Impressionistic painting, which as a rule pays little attention to strong value patterns, is not as effective in monochrome reproduction as it is in full color (Impressionism by its nature is concerned with other effects.)

    The second idea is that it is unnecessary to use all values in a subject. Color changes can frequently be used instead. This substitution of color for value is often not only more pleasing, but also makes better sense. Why? Because we have many more colors than values at our disposal, so using a color instead saves us a value. Superb examples of that use of color are found in the paintings of Mary Cassatt. She had the uncanny ability to portray form with almost no perceptible darkening-a feat impossible without color.

    Manet and Berthe Morisot were also good at that. They understood the weakness in overmodeling-the use of too many values to indicate form. They were careful to keep their designs strong by maintaining simple values-clearly establishing their major areas as belonging in either the light or the dark, and not invading those areas with needless or inappropriate values.

    Fortunately, we have an unlimited supply of colors and ways to use them. For example, in areas of gradual darkening caused by contours, a turn in the form on a subject of as much as 40 degrees can be shown with color changes alone before a change in value becomes necessary. My personal guideline is to always check if changing the color temperature of my mixtures will do the job before I change my values.

    Value relationships are certainly not all this cut and dried, and there is certainly room to make choices about emphasizing or restraining them to meet your artistic intentions, but keeping your values uncomplicated and few in number is a sound idea no matter what creative changes you do or do not make. It allows you to simplify the way you look at a subject and render it. I also believe-without question-that it is the basis of strong color and design."

    Last edited by BigJoe14; December 25th, 2009 at 10:59 AM.
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    So what he is saying is that using a restricted value pattern is the key to strong paintings.

    If this is the case, then I agree partly. However, I have seen full valued paintings that are quite strong, such as those by David, Ingres, Bouguereau and Bargue.

    If he is saying that color can turn form, then I am not so sure. We would have to prove that the value of each hue or chroma change is identical. On the other hand, I have seen chroma and hue changes reinforce modeling, given a logical value structure. Both change according to the color of the light source, the proximity of the object to the viewer and any reflected light.

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    Elwell: What is an open palette? What would the opposite be like?

    A note on the question of value composition (not so much on colour): Couldn't you say that the idea that great paintings use large flat areas of similar value only partially true? I mean, if you compare the pictures below, yes, they all have a solid value structure that could be simplified to a few large value steps. But if you compare Sargent's portrait of Carolus-Duran and Hanna Pauli's portrait of Venny Soldan (both late 19th century) with Caravaggio's Taking of Christ and Caracci's Assumption (both Baroque), the amount of modelling if very different, and creates two very different moods or feels. One is rather flat, in an attractive way (I just loove the flatness of Carolus-Duran's jacket), the other is much more modelled and heavy on the chiaroscuro. One is much more naturalistic in one way, giving a simple-to-read quick impression of reality, the other is much more naturalistic in another way, giving us information of almost every tendon and muscle, through much more detailed and rounded modelling.

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    I should have hue and chroma alone, without value. Color comprises all three.

    It seems that in the late 19th century, some artists preferred lighting that would flatten the form and emphasize local changes.

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    I tried doing a study this weekend. Instead of changing values, i changed hues while keeping chroma and value consistent. it does absolutely nothing. just flat patches of color,

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    In that portrait of Carolus Duran, i see way more than 4-5 values. I keep hearing painters saying, like Schmid, that the key is to keep it 4-5 values. Then after you analyze their final painting, it ends up having 10. Simple blocking in might be ok with 4-5 values, but if you want some more detail,more value changes within big value changes, you need more.4-5 dont cut it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigJoe14 View Post
    A long quote by Schmid regarding color and value...
    This is actually a matter I'd been putzing around with on my own for quite some time. I've for a while been fascinated by the fact that each hue has its own distinct greyscale value (the technical term being, I think, luminosity) and have developed a lil' color wheel that shows approximately where each of 12 hues would fall in value when converted to greyscale (via luminosity in GIMP).

    Question on what Richard Schmid wrote in Alla Prima

    This wheel is reinforced by Dpaint's posting of John Asaro's painting. However, I do not think either my wheel nor Asaro's painting are demonstrating the point Schmid is trying to get at. Schmid specifically points to the narrow range of values in Impressionist work and discusses how those artists managed to convey a change in form without alteration in value.

    I am tempted to say however, when one thinks of the general obsession with high saturation amongst Impressionists, that Schmid is concerned with the use of tints and shades rather than the actual luminosity of each color. In that sense one may use a variety of highly saturated colors in order to obtain a broad range of values (as in Asaro's painting).

    So, Andymania, when you use Photoshop or a similar program to convert that portrait of Carolus Duran you will indeed see many many different values. Yet it seems to me by looking at the painting that few tints or shades were employed, which fits with my understanding of what Schmid is speaking of. Further exploration of the effect would lead, I imagine, to something much like either Asaro's painting (if attempting a broader range of values) or Matisse's Green Stripe (if attempting a narrower range of values).

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