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  1. #1
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    portrait not finished after all.

    Please see the last post.


    I'm learning how to paint digitally from skratch. My main objective with this painting is to learn about colours and to use them in a bold manner.

    This is a self portrait from a mirror. The light has of course changed sinse I did it but I plan to have another go at it tommorrow. I'm posting here because I'm stuck. I'm having problem finding the right colours for the dark side of the face. When I try to apply any of the hues that I already got it looks muddy and flat.

    I'm sure that I could have planned it better but any insight would be welcome.

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    Last edited by Frida Bergholtz; August 25th, 2014 at 09:35 AM.
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  3. #2
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    I'm not too hot with digital painting myself but I can give you some pointers on color. Your transition from green to red is very harsh and the green is making the red stand out more than it needs to. You say you're shooting for bold colors so you might be able to achieve this better if you went for a more saturated palette rather than one with just complementaries. However, I know an artist who pulls off really bold illustrations with complementaries. She posted a color tutorial on DeviantArt based on what she learned from her years at an art institute. You might find it useful: http://purplekecleon.deviantart.com/...rial-184642625

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  5. #3
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    Why do you have the portrait on that flat, green background? I take it you painted this from life, I can't imagine that the background actually looked like this? You should focus on painting what you see. By changing/omitting the background, you made it harder for yourself to judge the values and colours.

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  7. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Benedikt View Post
    Why do you have the portrait on that flat, green background? I take it you painted this from life, I can't imagine that the background actually looked like this? You should focus on painting what you see. By changing/omitting the background, you made it harder for yourself to judge the values and colours.
    The background is a flat white that to my eyes had a greenish tint to it. I have been oversaturating all the colours in this painting in an attempt to jogg me out of my usual habit of using murky and undersaturated colours. I was also thinking that if I was to exagerate, it would be easier to understand what I was doing.

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  8. #5
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    It actually doesn't look too bad. Two things that I think would really help are:

    1) Paint on a neutral or warm ground, rather than the green you have now. Using an intense cool color for a ground can really throw your eye off.

    2) Pay close attention to the VALUE of the tones you're putting down, not just the hue and the intensity. In your initial sketch, the values are doing a very good job of creating 3D form via light and shadow, but the colored version feels flat and patchy (especially on the model's left side...the right is working a bit better.)

    Hope that is of some use.

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  10. #6
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    I second Giacomo. The biggest problem area I notice isn't actually anything hue related, but the value around the eye of the shadow side of the face. It feels like it might be a bit too light which makes me see the material as something highly reflective like metal. Simultaneous contrast can make some of those reflected lights appear lighter than they actually are. A great way to combat that is to squint and constantly compare your values. I would first focus on playing with the values a bit before you change the color too much. If the value isn't right, very little in the way of hue will make a difference.

    Keep it up.

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  12. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frida Bergholtz View Post
    The background is a flat white that to my eyes had a greenish tint to it. I have been oversaturating all the colours in this painting in an attempt to jogg me out of my usual habit of using murky and undersaturated colours. I was also thinking that if I was to exagerate, it would be easier to understand what I was doing.
    In the beginning you should try to paint what you see. Exaggerating/editing are conscious decisions that you're only able to make successfully once you can understand and replicate what you see to a certain degree.

    I've had a look at your SB, you have a few still life studies on the last page. It might be a good idea (for the learning process, for fun you should of course paint what you want, it goes without saying) to stick with that subject matter until you can render those objects realistically. With a self portrait from a mirror you're adding so many additional challenges on top of it that it's not surprising that you're struggling.

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  14. #8
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    Focus on values. Color is secondary to values.

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  16. #9
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    How can I work on the values if I don't know what colours to paint with?

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  17. #10
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    I'm not 100% sure what you mean by "I don't know what colours to paint with". Colour is secondary to value. In fact, "colour" is a somewhat imprecise term anyways since it actually includes hue, value and chroma. What I think you mean is that you're not sure which "hue" to choose. Instead, you should be thinking first of which value (relative light- or darkness) any given colour should have.

    An easy way to check your values is to convert the image to greyscale. When you do that with your portrait, you'll notice that the values aren't organized. You have lighter values on the dark side than on the lit side and vice versa. As a rule of thumb, the lightest value on the dark side of a form should still be darker than the darkest value on the lit side.

    I'm including a quick overpaint to illustrate what happens when you organize your values:

    portrait not finished after all.

    Once you've figured out which value the colour has to have, you can think about the other two variables (hue and chroma). But value must come first.

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  19. #11
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    I would recommend painting in grayscale for a while before jumping into color. This is the traditional learning method of painters throughout the centuries. Do a bunch of still life studies or cast drawings and paintings in black and white, focusing entirely on drawing, values, and edges. When it comes to color, value is the most important aspect. Get the values right, and the hue doesn't matter nearly as much as you'd imagine.

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  21. #12
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    A big thank you to everone. Your advice has been invaluable. I'm sorry for not replying at once but I needed some time to reflect on what had been said and experiment a little.

    I decided to stick to my guns and finish the painting colour and all. But I think that I will take Benedikt´s advice and do some more simple objects after this, simply because I think that it is a good idea to work on something that I got a chance to finish in one go before the light change to much.

    This time around I focused on the values first. It is far from finished but this time I don't feel completely at a loss on what to do next and that makes a whole lot of difference to me.

    Thanks again for taking the time to help me.
    It is much appreciated.

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  22. #13
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    The new one is much improved over the first attempt. Good job, and keep at it.

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