Lesson 8: Story & color.
Lighting in order to tell a story is the main theme of this course and here we are, at week 8 (one more to go and it´s the end) and already putting into practice all the stuff we´ve learnt through out the course. We were asked to paint 3 different still life paintings and use one of them to set 3 new lighting situations (putting the pig character into the scene) in order to suggest a mood, a story… something else than the scene itself. We also had to provide photo references from the life paintings as well as for the lighting variations.
This was the first time I moved my laptop from my desktop and I adventured myself into a whole new world: the kitchen, the living room and my bedroom. I´ve tried many times after finishing this course going outdoors with my laptop to paint and I´ve always found it very hard. You have to find an interesting place to paint, it has to be comfortable, dark (at least at the shadows) and more or less quiet to be able to focus properly in your work. I don´t know, maybe I´m too lazy but I´ve never felt completely comfortable when I´ve tried. Still I keep pushing myself once in a while out my comfort zone and go for a walk with all my heavy toys to paint. That´s what Robert & Dice recomend and they are the experts here, so…
Anyway, I made these pretty quick for those reasons and I ended up feeling more proud of the life paintings than I did for the lighting variations. This is the work.
When I see this painting I can clearly see my own progression from the beggining of this course. It´s pretty loose but still simple and clear. I could have put more work into this and made it more finished but at this point it´s well balanced: lighting is correct, the materials look as they should and the colors are pretty accurated.
With this one something funny happaned. I started thinking it was going to be so hard that I wasn´t sure I was going to be able to finish it. I kept working and thinking at the same time that at the end I would probably have to dismiss it, but there was always something I wanted to try before: “ok, I´ll do the oven and the coffins and then I´ll leave it.”… “ok, I´m gonna finish the bottles and the microwave and then I´ll leave it”. At some point I looked at it and thought it didn´t look so bad. And here it is! I can recognise my kitchen and I ´ve learnt a couple of things while working on it. So I guess sometimes is better to trust yourself and not pay too much attention to your traveling thoughts.
My bedroom looks ok as well. I might sound smug (believe me I´m not), but I was amazed with the decissions my head was making through the process. Everything tended to simplicty and was more clear to me whether they were good or bad decissions. My work was progressing more efficiently since I was putting my attention into more important aspects of the scene (such as local color, differences of tone between light and shadow…) and letting go others that usually worries me (stroke, shape, transitions between tones of one same color…). This was my last still life painting of the course and I can tell the difference from the first one.
I wanted to make this one in a mainly neutral diffused light and then added a direct light in the corner to suggest the out panel. It´s a grey day outside but the light inside is warm (maybe too much). Maybe there is someone we don´t see in the living room or in the kitchen and the pig is by himslef looking through the window and visualizing his day. Maybe he just woke up in a rainy day and by making the indoors so warm the feeling of having to go outside into a cold world makes the whole scene more dramatic.
Just the opposite. Direct light. A hopeful sunrise, maybe too early in the morning (maybe too cold in the indoors).
Going to bed after a hard day of work. Sweet bed is waiting in a warm enviroment. It´s been a good day for the pig.
See you next friday with the last lesson!
Lesson 7: Lighting, atmosphere and other stuff.
Week 7 was similar than week 6 but working with color. We needed to paint 5 different landscapes studies and choose 2 of them. With the first one we had to achieve useful qualities for storytelling using adjustment layers. With the other one we had to light for the shadows and then for the lights using exposure. Once again we were asked to use photo reference to inspire the mood for the scenes.
I also used photo reference for the landscapes, taken by my friend Elena Nájar Parente. I tryied different brushes than the Tonko House ones, just to feel the technique was fitting other kind of brushes. I found yeah, it does, but you need them to have some transparency.
This is the work, painting from reference la la la laaaaaaa….
So this is the first one chosen. It´s pretty loose, I think I could have worked on it harder but I remember I was more focused on getting the right colors. Anyway the photo is so good I think it makes its job.
I almost did nothing with this. Only by desaturating and darkening the image I got the mood for a rainy day and I only had to add the rain. It´s amazing how easy and fast it is to work with adjustment layers!
I now think that I could have made the sky not so blue… or maybe the ground. It bothers me the hole image is so, so blue. But anyhow I think it represents a pretty fair sunrise (previously than when the sun comes out), wich was the idea.
And this is lighting for the shadows. Now the sky has no details but the ground is much more explained. Overlay again and colorize. It´s useful to have some notions on photography at this point of the course.
This week was interesting for practicing with color and technique. Color always makes things more difficult, but also more interesting. We were here to play, right? And now heading the last two weeks! Woooooooooah!
Lesson 6: Telling a story.
This week was about using lighting in order to tell a story or create a mood for a scene. We had to choose 3 different still life enviroments and paint them in color, then choose one and convey a story using only values. We were asked to do it in a neutral difused light, black and white, then paint 3 different lighting situations to change the feeling of the story. I got it wrong so I painted 3 different scenes, then did the black/white thing and at last I painted 3 different lighting situations for each one of them.
Anyway, despite of the fact that I didn´t understand exactly what the teachers were asking (and this is a very important thing when illustrating profesionally, careful!), I got the main point and I worked more than I was sopposed to. And at the end it worth it.
I decided to paint from photo reference (taken by myself or friends) to have more freedom in choosing the enviroments. I also decided to use Tonko House characters to “humanize” the scenes (the truth is a wanted to use those characters so bad… ;). Finally we had to use photo reference for each painting and this was much harder than I expected. It took me like forever but helped me focus on what I wanted to transmit.
The bully. The house itself had a personality and fitted so well with the character. You can imagine a though domestic situation happening inside this place. I wanted to have a more intimate look towards the characters. This photo was taken somewhere in New Orleans (USA).
The classic: rain for sadness. Maybe he is regretting something he did or just feeling sad for himself. Lonelyness is also implicit because of the enviroment itself. Very grey scene.
The bullied. A tunnel is a very helpful resource and I thought it could be a good enviroment to play with the representation of different stages of fear. Photo taken in Berlin (Germany).
The dark tunnel. Is creepy inside but the outside is not too much better. The character remains frozen under the uncomfortable light, like in an island sorrounded by darkness. Reflection on the wall makes the hole scene look even stranger, like there´s two characters.
When the reason why you´re scared just faces you (and you have no scape). In this case the anxiety is caused by an external element: the car, so this one is not so much of an intimate look inside the character. Maybe I could have thought of a different idea to keep the work on that line, but nothing else came to my mind at the time and I still had a lot of work to do. Still I think this represents the idea pretty well. Do you now that feeling when you´re so scared, your heart is beating so hard, and you feel like you are about to faint? Everything starts to turn white like you´re getting blind. Car was not so much of a bad external element after all.
The thoughtful guy. I don´t know if this fits the character of the fox at all, but still I decided to have this scene my way. I wanted to practice the difference between human and natural enviroment. This photo was taken somewhere near Candeleda (Spain).
The romantic painting was my main source for inspiration. I remember I had this painting in my mind even before go looking for it. It´s kind of cheese, right? jajajaja… I struggled a lot trying to avoid that look but I ended up liking it. The waters are unquiet as the soul of the fox is jajajajajaja… Left-down corner of the image looks too much unfished (I´m realizing right now).
And what do you think about this one with the fireflies? Night scenes are always interesting to paint for me ´cause I don´t have so much practice in doing them. I could have avoided the fireflies but the truth is they help represent the idea soooo… In my references: bulbs = fireflies.
See you next week.
Pretty simple. I remember I thought maybe I was pushing myself too much and I felt like I was hidding my limitations by putting too many objects into my paintings (then too many strokes, too many colors…). So I decided that day I would paint only one onion. I found it was work enought.
Working on reflective and transparent materials. One interesting thing Robert said about this, is that many times when it comes to glows and reflections some artist paint them as if they were simbols, like in the comic books, you know? And that´s totally truth. I´ve done it many times. Never came to my mind while painting, that a polished enought surface could show/reflect colors from objects and things around. And that´s something I ovbiously know, but I just didn´t know how to apply that knowledge into my work. So I painted simbols. Works this way: you think know something, but you don´t really know how to represent/paint that something, so you come up with a way of doing it, usually by copying someone else´s way and everytime you have to paint that something, you do it more or less the same way. Over and over… killing your joy of working everytime a little more. Painting from natural works completely different. While painting you observe and try to understand whatever you´re working on, and through that process, you come understand things. In time you can apply those things you´ve learnt in many different ways. No more need to repeat: wellcome back joy! Now you do know something.
Really happy about this one. Probably the time when you don´t realize how much you´re improving and suddently a good painting comes out and you like: “Whaaaaaaa..?”
Values for different lighting situations.
At this point is when the good stuff starts. Robert & Dice work in animation doing colorscript (among many other things) so there were times when they had to put one same scene into different lighting situations. That´s something we all had to do at some point in our careers and it´s very painful to have to repaint the hole work just to change the lighting.
I don´t know if they came to this tecnique all by themselves or they took it from someone else, and honestly I really don´t care, but the thing is it´s a very easy and fast way of working. By using basically hue/saturation masks and playing weather making them overlayed, multiplied, colored… you´re now able to change the basic lighting situation and only having to repaint a little bit.
This week was about value and we had to work in a greyscale so it doesn´t look so spectacular, but I think the change between each lighting situation is there. I believe it´s an extremely helpful knowledge to achieve for any of us. Once I got to understand the technique I was able to add it into my working process. Now I can paint this way naturally and it chanched it all, making everything so much easy.
Also painting from natural was starting to feel good to me at this point and I was feeling quite comfortable with the resaults and timming of my work. From one to two hours the first paintings and half an hour to one hour the lighting adaptations. I was painting in my desk in a neutral difuse light (the first paintings) and for the direct light I used a low power lighting source so even in the photos you can see it´s no big difference. Now I feel sad I didn´t use a secondary light source.
I love the the white case/cage (I don´t know how to call it) ended up looking. White element over white background it´s a very interesting exercise to do. You should try it (works the same for similar color between object and background).
The transparency of the bottle looks quite nice to me and it didn´t took that much. When I had to paint this kind of objects from my head I´ve always had trouble. This is why painting from natural is such a good exercise, because you tent to make things more difficult when you don´t know how they work in reallity.
This is my favourite one (over). The box was so similar to the table… at the end it was easy to paint and ended up looking simple… I´ve thought a lot about this ´cause when things come out easily they use to end up looking good, just like in life… I don´t know, I have contradictory feelings about this.
This is the ugly one (the second one) jajajajajajaajaja… I think it´s because I popped up the light in the bag too much. Funny this is the one that took the most time to finish.