Fringe 365 Project – #272

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Here is Part 2 of a work in progress previously covered in entry #265. Not a whole lot has been done since last week, but this represents the outcome of a single 90-minute work session.

I sat down to this after a rather busy week and sort of stared at it for 10 minutes because I had no idea what to work on next. But that’s okay because a huge chunk of painting is really just “think time,” before you even start actively working on it. And this painting is still in “discovery mode,” where I am looking at the rough drawing and trying to figure out what this scene is actually going to show, and the story it is going to tell, and how the rough drawing either helps or hinders that.

Now that basic values have already been laid in, eventually I have to think about colors. Coloring will come relatively late in the process, but because color has its own values (warm/cool, vibrant/dull etc), you can at least start to lay in very basic color values. For me, putting in a layer that shows “warm vs. cool” is a good way to at least begin. This process was the subject of entry #219, so I am doing sort of the same thing here. But I have no reference image except the one in my head, so, what should be on the warm side and what should be cool? We have a desk lamp as our point light source, but what sort of light bulb does it have – flurorescent (which gives a cold light), or incandescent (which is warm?) These are the ridiculously specific questions you sometimes have to think about!

Because I still have time to make up my mind, I created a second coloring layer with the color values inverted – so there is a cool bluish background and a warm/neutral light source. Both variations have their own emotional effect, which will be magnified when you add real color in eventually. The jury’s still out!

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Speaking of specific questions… a rough drawing is only an approximation of the final scene, so, somehow you have to move from generalizations to specifics on all kinds of things. (Most fearsomely, Peter’s face and body, but I refuse to think about that just now.) Take the desk lamp, which is very important because it’s the obvious light source. The original sketch of the lamp is okay I guess, but do desk lamps really look like that? I suppose there are some desk lamps which are just non-adjustable ones that stand straight up, but most real desk lamps are a bit more complicated. Time to re-draw this lamp, using the sketch as a guide to its orientation and shadowing. I found a reference image of a typical desk lamp that already sort of resembled the one I’d drawn, and drew it on a new layer. (It was important to not forget that I had already established the values for this part of the picture… and not let the reference image confuse me with its own lighting.)

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So now we’ve gone from a pretend desk lamp to something that is, hopefully, a little more visually interesting and specific.

Part of the process now also, is to transition the picture from a drawing into a painting. No better place to start than where you have started making other changes, so this process has begun with the lamp, the light emanating from it, and even a little bit of Peter’s body. In traditional painting, this process is straightforward: just paint over your pencil lines! But in digital painting, your “pencil” is really a brush, just like your “paint” brush is, and you can make any brush superfine in size, which makes it seem more like a pencil, which… can confuse your process a little bit. If your painting app has a brush size limiter, consider changing the minimum size to something larger than usual, so that you won’t be tempted to pencil when you really ought to be painting.

This process will continue through the entire picture eventually (the lamp needs more work, but I will work on a different area of the picture next time). It is important to make “passes” through the whole picture so that every part of it gradually changes to the same stage… more or less.

Another thing I’ve realized is that the white sheet of paper is way too big to be the white tulip card, but I’d like to keep that white area, so the white tulip will be resting on top of some other papers eventually. (This is another example of “discovery as you go along”)

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