Block in stage of painting
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  1. #1
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    Block in stage of painting

    Alright, Green Lightning here again. I don't have much in my sketchbook cause I'm self conscious about it and keep reseting it to current "more suitable pieces", but I do have a very important question regarding the blocking in stage of digital painting. I had a set process that worked but for some odd reason, a touch of art block has just... obliterated all trust and applicability in that process. In trying to recover from it, I've encountered tons of problems in how I choose to begin a painting. I've done nice pieces with good detailing from the blocking in, such as:
    Name:  Twinkle Kroe WIP Resize for CA.jpg
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    What begins to bother me about painting and blocking in is how to add the lighting and getting rid of the line art or sketch underneath. The process was to have a layer of a sketch, an underpainting under the sketch, and then one over the sketch, then a detailing layer above that, then add adjustment layers in a non destructive way over those as needed. I know I can detail a painting and can understand how to sculpt the form with values etc, but the blocking in and underpainting really seems to trip me up which doesn't allow me to finish a lot of my work.

    I know some artists use soft brush block in, then hard brush paint overs (getting rid of the line art), and some artists block 100% hard brush. Others use soft gradual building. I know there are many styles and it'll all suit the artist but I suppose understanding the lighting and how to block the lighting in correctly is what the issue is. I can't possibly expect anyone to have a be-all-end-all answer to how to get over this but it's been running for three weeks now. I sit down and paint for hours but it doesn't click. Some epiphany must be waiting for me to discover it.

    My ultimate question for this thread is: How do you (anyone who will answer) keep track of your lighting in the blocking phase? What really are the things that need to be established in the blocking in stage before moving forward?

    Thanks for any input and help.

    Last edited by Elwell; February 25th, 2013 at 08:22 AM.
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  2. #2
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    Shouldn't this be in the Critique section?

    There is, indeed, no single technique for blocking in, and it's largely irrelevant which one you use.

    The things to be established in the block-in phase are value composition, lighting, and general color scheme. You basically do a very un-detailed version of your painting. It should read clearly as your intended painting from a distance, or at least close to it - generally block-ins will have the falling shadows defined, but not smooth shading or, of course, small detail.

    As for how to track the lighting - the same way you track the lighting anywhere. By being aware of where the light is coming from, what the 3-D form of your subject is, and what angles its defining planes are in relation to the light.

    Your problem (if the image you attached is any indication) is not technical. It is the lack of that awareness of the light and form, and lack of understanding of color and texture. To give you an example, the skin, the hair and the "bones" are painted in three different styles and don't fit together. To give you another example, you've picked a very jarring dark fuchsia for the background - which may not per se be a bad decision - and then made the hair nearly the same color, visually taking a big chunk out of the silhouette - and that was a bad decision.

    So keep practicing. Do lighting studies, perspective plots, learn to generalize and interpret form. You are working very naively, without much regard to lighting, value or form. If you want to go in the direction of realism, you must exercise in all these things, and make sure you are not just following your current habits as you are doing it.

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    The colors also all blend together due to their equal levels of saturation. If this image were grayscaled all the colors would most likely look like similar shades of gray. As Arenhaus said this is more of a Lighting and Perspective thing (how much color does something have if it's far? What about when it's close?).

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    I apologize for the confusion on the purpose of the thread and the question it posed. I would have posted the image in the art critique section if I indeed wanted a critique. I was posing a question on the technique of blocking in and the management of lighting during the block in stage, as stated at the bottom of the original post: "My ultimate question for this thread is: How do you (anyone who will answer) keep track of your lighting in the blocking phase? What really are the things that need to be established in the blocking in stage before moving forward?"


    As for the image, it's rather old and I agree with you on all points. It was for a fashion student and they made a great deal of the design choices. It was my first finished piece, so I'm still proud of it regardless, being that all my previous works were still worse than it. I do take great appreciation in the points you made about it and will recount them in the future as well. And thanks ArtsySiridean, I agree about the saturation thing. I've been working on using my value ranges and neutrals a lot more.

    As I'm sure you're feed will be notified of the quick reply I'm putting down, I'd like to discuss my question a little further if it would be acceptable, though I'm not sure if it would be better to start the thread over in the art discussion section or allow it to remain here.

    I've read tons of digital art books, Digital painting techniques, the Digital Art Masters series, looked through Ballistic's Expose' series and the one stage of painting I have the most difficulty with is blocking in at the beginning of a painting. My previous post used the image to example that the act rendering,albeit the image did have fundamental issues, was not an issue to itself. However I do think that if I had had a better blocked in painting, the piece above would have indeed been more unified. I gave a written description of my process of painting cause I feel that while each artist has his own particular way of blocking in, there just isn't a light bulb clicking on in my head for some reason.

    I try soft brushes and hard brushes and all manner of different processes but none seem to work. I like using hard brushes with transfer at 100% opacity to slab on the values and colors but even then the lighting is hard to control because it seems to just be too flat to me. I suppose this is more of a post and question about how to relieve this frustration. At which I can see that only practice will truly fix any of it. As you said, Arenhuas, I need more lighting studies. I need to learn to interpret form and generalize things.

    I thank you for your time and I apologize again for the confusion.

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    To answer your technical question - use the plane breakdown. Simplify the form into flat planes, which you can then use to figure out the relative brightness of. Loomis's "Figure Drawing" and "Successful Drawing" both have an explanation of that.

    You'll need a good grasp of perspective to do it, as well. Norling's "Perspective Made Easy" is recommended reading; it also has a chapter on plotting shadows.

    Don't try to learn from "digital art books". Learn the classical way, with pencil and paper and paint, it is easier.

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