Value, light and shadow learning
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    Value, light and shadow learning

    Hi
    Im currently teaching myself art with book and tuts and such, and i hit a roadblock, called value.

    I havnt been able to find any books that specifically focus on value, light and shadow, for painting more specifically digital painting.

    So far value is my biggest weakness, so im looking for anything that can stop the guess work, i want to know when to use what, grey percentages, value keys, basically control.

    Anyone know of any good books, tutorials or any processes on how to teach yourself value?, because alot of people i have spoken to say experience, and photostudies, but i want more control then that.

    thanks

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    I heard that you have to establish your darkest value first (core shadows and all that, and then work your way towards your lightest value? If anyone can offer more solid advice, I too would love to hear!

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    Just say you have a nude figure with black hair,

    the darkest dark is in the crevise shadow in the hair (never go all the way to black) the lightest is the highlights on the ball of the nose, cheek highlight, shoulder (like sphere highlight).

    Disregarding the hair, look at the overall figure - all - ) the whole context. The best way to do this is to half close your eyes until you can vaguely differentiate two tonal shapes a light and a dark, it takes a while to lock these 2 distinct shapes in, (2D) the longer you spend on these two shapes dark and light by far the better the result.

    Breaking up the fiure - Each part will follow the laws of basic forms and depending on how many light sources there are will govern the 2 shapes as well. The easiest one is the sun, one light source from a distance. To further define these 2 shapes you become well familiar with how light (sun) would fall on basic forms cube, cylinder, sphere. You always see three sides of a cube unless facing straight (square) [a top side front]. If sun - top brightest ,front next , and side - darkest, a cylinder divided along its long axis (nb the plane break, core shadow, turning point are all names for the same thing) has one half dark the other light, its good to initially think of a cylinder as a long box so one dark side and one lighter side. Because it is a cylinder we have a turning point this would be where the corner of the elongated box is. Now we are talking about a cylinder with the sun from one side giving a dark shape and a light shape (half closed eyes(2D), to add to the believability that its a cylinder not a box there is reflected light on the dark side creating a dark band on the dark shape side at the turning point. You now have 2 values in the dark shape and 1 value in the light shape, to further add to the authenticity that it is a cylinder you do three grades of value in the light shape. The order is - Darks <Reflected light (2nd darkest) ; Turning point (darkest) >; Lights <value 3 (3rd darkest) ; value 2 (4th darkest) ; value 1 (5th darkest)>. The ratio is 3:2 lights:darks. This can be applied to each element of the figure as each element can be thought of as block like, cylinder like, ball like, from fingers to ball of nose to eye, block head (front side top), ribs is block like, egg like. Its really all block like with rules of basic forms to add to 3d authenticity. Starting with 2 tones in an overall sense will lay the foundations well as its not 3d its 2d and you can correct and recorrect this shape for a long time and IT will pretty much get you 3d with ANY modelling, spending a lot of time on this easy to follow rule, get the proportions right will add to the realism. two shapes light and dark its an easy rule and hard to push to outcome, though infinitely worth it as when it becomes habit modelling will be a piece of cake. Always work from general to specific 90% labour on general.

    We were talking about a nude figure, if the figure was wearing a white shirt and black pants. The shirt would have the two lightest tones ; a dark and a light the overall skin tone would be middle tone a dark and a light shape and the pants darkest tone dark shape and light shape. We always look at elements individually though ALWAYS in context with the whole.

    If colours, say coloured skirt first think of the overall 2d shape divide into darkest and lightest in context with skin tones Dark skirt or light skirt then the pattern in the dark part will be in context with the dark shape and the pattern in the light part will be in context with the light shape. To add to the authenticity of the whole skirt form refer to the 2:3 ratio always remembering context.

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    Yeah everything in the world has a block like characteristic. Rather when we draw any object there are facets/planes which follow a block in space principal. This is the principal - A front plane, a side plane and a top or bottom plane depending the angle of tilt of the block. We see one side (square), two sides dark and light plane or all three sides light medium dark plane. If the object is uniform in tone eg scapula is all bone coloured, every left side will have the same tone, every front side same tone and every top side same tone. Each side has the same orientation to the light. A scapula though very thin on side plane (razor thin) is still a side plane.

    If you shade along the form of the cylinder (parallel to edge in dark shape) you can shade across half of dark shape and first third of light shape (perpendicular to edge) this will 'round off' the harsh edge and give you the first of the three values in the lights and you really only need to add one more and leave the paper for the lightest.

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    Always always always work from general to specific. Biggest blocks first and then else always always always in context

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    Yeah the scapula is a great example, imagine the light sun coming from the top which edges (thinking 3D) are going to be facing the sun, make these all a light tone. Now just say you are the second source of light same as the sun though not quite as bright which faces are you making your medium tone light. And therefore with edges/faces/planes/facets are get the darker tone from an absence of any significant light. This is the simple block/cube principal though the shape is somewhat irregular its about the direction each face or plane of the object is facing.

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    The sun was the top plane, You the front planes and the absence of any light the side planes.

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    Yeah, half close your eyes and simplify simplify simplify down those first two shapes. NAIL the proportions of these two simple shapes - shadow shape. Dark shape / Light shape , 2D Proportions perfect.

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    Thank you for the great response. If it's not too much to ask, but could you explain how many beginners such as myself get into the problem of muddy values? How do we bring make a good painting without making it look like a pig rolled on it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chris_kaw View Post
    Thank you for the great response. If it's not too much to ask, but could you explain how many beginners such as myself get into the problem of muddy values? How do we bring make a good painting without making it look like a pig rolled on it?
    The trick is to have a set of values you use in the darks and a set of values that you use in the lights and to never mix them. Never let anything in the shadow be as bright as anything in the lights.

    Here's a really old post Craig Mullins made on Sijun:

    Ok how to show that. If you look at comics, the shadow area is flat black. It does not have to be black, but it has to be flat, as in little activity or contrast. In the lit areas, you can have a little lighter and darker to show smaller more subtle forms. But here is the point often missed- keep the shadow and lit value SEPARATE. Thou shalt make no value in shadow lighter than the darkest area of what is in light. Read that slow. The shadow has values in 2-3-4 and light has values 7-8-9, if you think of white as 10 and black as 0.

    So apply this thinking front planes of the body in shadow, side in light.


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    Craig is paraphrasing Howard Pyle who said
    the darkest note in the light is lighter than the lightest note in the shadow.

    Average the lights and shadows and paint your half tones into these without breaking up the original mass. You have to translate color and tone you can't copy. This is why painting from life is so critical.

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    Great, great stuff, thanks, you guys got any references of where you picked this all up, because id like to have comprehensive knowledge on it. Any books or tutorials, i want to know values inside out before moving on to colour, and also learn more about what you guys have mentioned about using percentages, in the dark and light family, alot of this is familiar from my oil painting book.

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    The chapter on Tone in Creative illustration by Andrew loomis that covers this and more, there is a link on this site to the loomis books
    http://www.alexhays.com/loomis/

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    I believe what your trying to grasp is "Lighting". There really isn't a LOT of information for artist on lighting when your trying to create something from your imagination. You can use a lot of reference, meaning you can use photographs or directly from life and try using what you learn from memory. Other places you can learn are:

    http://www.itchy-animation.co.uk/tutorials/light01.htm

    A little more than halfway down is some of Reilly's notes on lighting.

    http://www.dhfa.net/Artiststatement2.html

    James Gurney's blog has a lot of useful information and look for his new book that will be coming out, "Color and Light"

    http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/search/label/Lighting

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