My Slowvember (WIP)
This is a great discussion, and it´s super interesting to follow.
I thought I´d mention a book I read a while ago. It´s a famous one: “Creative Color” by Faber Birren. It´s famous both because of its place in the history of color and as being one of the worst written books....ever. So, I do not recommend reading it unless you are obsessed with color theory, but it does say something extremely important: he calls it “the field”.
It basically means that light effects in paintings like light, translucency, transparency, iridescence, etc..., cannot be done in isolation - they are only possible. If the whole “field” - that is the all painting - works towards them. Often, they are only visible once the whole painting is done - even if there is a little white paper showing anywhere, the whole effect will be ruined. So, to have light in a painting, the rest of the painting - actually the rest of your field of view when you look at it - needs to be darker, otherwise the light will not show.
That makes it so difficult to get light to show in vignettes (I have tried!). It also simplifies the discussions with clients, when they insist on having a scene with candles, moon and whatnot, but they do not want the image to be “too dark” ;-)
As for this piece, I definitely like it and I think it´s worth finishing it in any case. I feel the reason you run into frustration is possibly that you went too much into “finish” before the idea and composition for the whole piece was sorted out. Someone said that doing art is taking thousands of decisions, from start to finish. I´d add that it helps to take the big decisions at the beginning (composition, values, color scheme) and the questions to be answered should get smaller and simpler as you progress (should I add whiskers or not?). Keep going on this one!
@eric-castleman No Eric, you have to finish it RIGHT NOW!!!! :)
Just kidding! This is about getting good work. Nothing more. Take all the time you need.
@smceccarelli I just requested "Creative Color" from my library. I really struggle with color. Grayscale is my happy place, but not practical if I want to be a children's book illustrator. Do you have any other favorite books you'd recommend? I enjoy seeing how bold you're getting with color with your latest pieces. And also, I'm excited to see how Eric's piece ends up. Some great suggestions here.
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
@laurel-aylesworth Oh, I am not sure I am the right person to ask - I can get very “scientific” about color and I am not sure how much of that really influences my illustration work (I feel like I am struggling with color every time I set up a color palette ;-)) - and there are many different interpretations of color out there...
Without giving lists of books that may just end up confusing, I would suggest you aquaint yourself with the Munsell color system. He classifies color according to three parameters: hue, value and saturation.
There are many different color systems, but this is the one I find most useful for practical applications - you can even setup your palette (in photoshop easier than in real!) to show and control hue, saturation and value instead of rgb (it´s the so called HSL or HSA/HSB color space).
I nearly always work that way. Here is a widget where you can play with the relationships between the various ways to code color. If you get familiar with seeing color that way and keep in mind a few basic rules about painting (value separation between light and shadow, etc...) you may start feeling that color is under your control rather than the other way round ;-)
Much of my use of color comes from the design world. I feel designers are given way more tools and information to control color than illustrators.
There are tons of books about this too, but the bottom line here is to decide your color palette before starting with color and to keep it limited. Designers feel that a 5-color palette is the maximum you need....and increasingly I find this to be true for nearly all illustration as well. The key is to make a clear decision about what you want to transmit with your piece: joy, sadness, sofistication, mystery....Here also there is a designer´s widget to play with: It used to be called Kuler, now it`s Adobe Color. Go to the “Explore” tab and just pick any of these color schemes to base an illustration on...
@smceccarelli So much good stuff here. I love the Shade option on the Adobe color wheel as I sometimes have trouble figuring out what colors to use for shadows. I will definitely check out Munsell. And I agree, it seems a limited color palette is way more affective in conveying a particular emotion, which I find doing nighttime pieces easier than full light paintings as you can be more surgical about how the light affects everything else.
It's a great collection of color palettes for inspiration.
@laurel-aylesworth For what it’s worth I really like Betty Edward’s colour book (Color: ACourse in Mastering the Art of Mixing Colors).
@pam-boutilier Thanks, Pam. I'll check that one out too.
Sorry for not updating in the last few days. We just moved, and I also started a new job, so this week is quite busy.
In related news, I took this job and moved in order to be able to fully support myself while moving forward with my art in hopes of getting into picture books as a career.
I will be finishing this piece asap. Thanks again for all of the help and encouragement
@eric-castleman congrats on your move and the new chapter in your life.
Ok, so now that my place is unpacked, and I have a week under my belt at my new job I can finally get back to this.
The issues I have had with this piece are my design and my values. My design issues are rooted in some bad habbits I have created over the last year. They began when I was able to save many of my drawings in the end by adding in elements that were not there in the earlier design, and I started leaning on this with confidence, but here it resulted in a botched piece. I also have known in the back of my mind that this is a bad habbit that digital has somewhat allowed me to fall into.
My other issue is understanding values. I don’t know if values have to do with lighting or color. When I do a black and white image, I am only thinking about shadows and depth. In my mind darker value are in the foreground and fade as things get further back, and if it is a darker scene that would be reverse. This might be wrong, but my limited understanding of values has forced me into these two seperate ideas. I also use a lot of light sources to make things more interesting value wise, and it seems to have been a winning formula so far.
As for this piece, snow has really thrown be for a loop. In my brain I know snow is white, and at the same time I do the values the same way I always do, but since I do not understand how value and color works vs value and light, the values in this piece change as I add more color to the snow.
So what I need to do is start over, and resdesign the drawing, since it is definitely something I need to pin point and get right first. So that will be my next few posts, and I will go over what I am thinking as I take into consideration what needs to be changed and added in.
I am just going to start posting outload. Feel free to stop me and insert your thoughts at anytime.
Marsha Kay Ottum Owen
Just looking at this again. We're all going to learn as we watch you work :-) I have to say, I loved the color nd reflection of your earlier painting. But, of course, you might be working into that? Looking forward to seein ghow it ends up!
There is some great progress here, but I thought I would throw out a through things that came to mind. I would push dark's especially in the sky a lot more to make the tree pop and dark the tree in the foreground to make the center focal point stand out even more. As was previously mentioned the way to make something brighter is to make everything else around it darker (there is more to it than that but its a good rule)
I would redesign the rabbits if possible as Lee White mentioned, they are too similar the to trees and they would look much better if the shapes were somewhat opposite or at least different to the trees. I feel like they get lost in the design when they are not meant to (I am designing a creature that looks similar to it's surrounds because of the theme, but the ears in yours seem to be an afterthought or somewhat obstructive to the piece)
As Lee said, if it's getting too stressful then switch to some other piece for a while and come back and look at it with fresh eyes. I have a few pieces that have been put on hold because of that, but you will learn from your other work and that will help you when you come back to the pieces you dreaded. Hope that's of some help :D
You are doing some great work though Eric and I you definitely have the power to push on to learn more!!