Thank you guys. I really want to be able to do those crazy brush strokes and stuff.. I love when a painting has them, it gives a really nice felling and it looks so easy. But it isn't though.
Actually that's the reason I don't use soft brush. I guess it's needed sometimes but I just don't like it all that much.. at all hah.

Here's the almost-quick portrait finished. Started from imagination but ended up looking at another painting's colors. Damn I suck at this paint-from-imagination thing so hard...

[Image: mmIKoJz.jpg]

This is from a photo but it's still in that awkward stage with wrong values etc. when I don't really know what's happening.

[Image: 2UkIjAK.jpg]

Faster faster I wanna paint faster! There are so many things I want to do and I'm slower then a snail..

I Adore the portrait. Looks really nice. But Id love you to at least suggest that there are more things going. Floating head and body looks weird. Connect objects with the bottom of the frame, it'll be more comfortable for the viewer.

Attached Files Image(s)

Thanks, I guess you're right. I was trying to do something like that (not by me): [Image: portrait_by_sharandula-d4ao832.jpg]

Do you think it looks weird too? Although this portrait is fading on the edges and merging with the background, while mine is just hanging there..

@maggie You just said that. The edges much more softer and value, hue wise match the background. But it could be just my personal preference, face on the last picture kind a appears from the mist. So its kind a weird for me as well. Again personal preference

SO every now and then I get frickin inspired and decide I should paint a some portrait - very quick and loose and stuff, with some awesome colors and all those messy rough brush strokes etc. and feel awesome and proud.
But then reality hits me in the tiny blond head and I spend a week on the stupid thing and I feel so desperate and hopeless haha:))

but it will come, it will come.

[Image: 7pqwg7J.jpg]

Hi! Thanks for your nice comment on my sketchbook. I just looked through yours and I think you are doing great! Be patient and continue what you are already doing and you´ll get better automatically. I read, you have troubles with painting from imagination. One thing that might help there is by doing a study (really concentrate on it and try to remember as much as you can) and after finishing it, redo the study from your mind without reference. It will not look pretty at the beginning, but just be bold and do it, no matter the outcome. It´ll train your brain to better memorize and in the end to better paint from imagination.
Another exercise would be to not look at a studyreference when painting it. Just observe it, analyze it, then put it away, paint it from memory, check with the reference and correct mistakes. You could start with simple images and get more complex once it is easier to memorize.
The key to painting from imagination in my opinion is to have a good visual library (which you only get by memorizing) and a good understanding of the construction/foundation of things.

The portrait of the black haired girl on the previous page you did from imagination is really great. You have a good solid foundation there, the lighting is good and the colors are in my opinion also good (you could try a bit of color variation on the skin tones to spice it up, also incorporate the 3 color zones of the face blue-red -yellow like you did on the blond girl you posted last) You should do that more often (next to studies of course :) ! Hope that helps a bit.

Thanks for commenting on my sketchbook. I like your style of drawing, and you have some good foundations.
Drawing from imagination is hard, but Keep drawing, and applying what you study!
Elderscroller, thank you for the helpful comment. Really good advices, I will definitely try those things!
About the skin colors, what are these '3 color zones'? For the last girl I looked at a portrait by loish and tried to make the same colors (not pick them) and understand why she used them. But it really confused me that she uses this desaturated yellow (as on the jaw).. why is that? ( )

And I have one probably very dumb question, if anyone is willing to answer - if I paint something yellow with slightly warm light source, then the shadow is cold. BUT is that a color going from yellow towards red or towards green? Because yellow is exactly across blue and it's really really confusing...

here's a very quick self portrait on my new paper. I've always wanted to try brown.
however, I should buy white pencil, because I kinda screwed it up with that pen..

[Image: tOqwkAR.jpg]

Hi Maggie!

Regarding the 3 color zones, here is a description of it from James Gurney:
By the way, if you don´t know about his book Color&Light, buy it! It is in my opinion THE best source for light and color in paintings I know of.
Basically these zones describe where each hue dominates in the face. Use these color zones very subtly in your portraits and it creates a more lively and vibrant skin color

Regarding your question about warm/yellow light source and cold shadows:
This is not easy to answer. Generally the "rule" warm light /cool shadows or vice versa should be followed, but don´t do it blindly.
In skin, the shadows get more saturated and warm with a warm light source as Paul already said. That is due to the light reflecting from lit parts of the skin into skin shadow parts, tinting the shadows with the light source colors. In skin you also have subsurface scattering that warms up skin tones because light scatters below the skin surface and gives it a reddish glow the more light shines through it (imagine a strong light source shining through your fingers. They will appear more red and have a glow around them) Just google subsurface scattering and you find plenty material on that.
Coming back to shadows: Always remember to pick a shadow color based on the material it falls on and on the surrounding light that bounces into the shadow! For example on a bright sunny day (sun as warm light source) you get cooler blueish shadows because the blue of the skydome (which is a second light source! -->Ambient light) lights the shadows and give them a blueish tint. The sunlight is a much stronger source of light, so the light from the skydome doesn´t completely light the shadow and makes it disappear, it only tints it. Hope that makes sense :)
Try to find photos of different lighting conditions and materials (e.g.: grassy fields, a face, buildings,...) and color pick in PS observing what hues are there in light and shadow. This simple observations help a lot in understanding how light and shadows behave.

Shadow colours are tricky to work out. What paul and elderscroller have said so far is good advice, but I'm going to expand it a bit.

As scroller already said, the shadow colour is going to be determined in great part by the ambient light source. If you understand how ambient light works, you can make better predictions from imagination of what the shadow colour will be. It's very, very hard to get it 100% accurate all the time, especially the further you stray from natural light sources like sunlight.

I made a little chart to show what I'm talking about. For instance, inside. If you could create a space that had 0 reflectivity, then there would be no shadow detail. This is what you see in outer space, since reflected light is very weak it cant bounce around from planet to planet to create fill lights and illuminate the shadow sides. I don't know of any surfaces that reflect no light. You need some reflection to see the object, as light needs to enter your eye for you to see it. Even matte surfaces which are defined as surfaces that do not reflect light strongly still reflect some of it.

Adding in a second light source reduces the darkness of the first shadow, and softens both shadows. As you add more and more light sources, shadows become less and less pronounced. This is what "ambient light" refers to. The ambient light from the sky is essentially like having infinitely many tiny light sources, but they only affect shadows because the light from the sun or the primary light source is infinitely stronger than any ambient source could ever be.

It's a bit crude by I hope it gets the idea across

[Image: 2wc2ky1.jpg]

Take those ideas outside and you get something a bit like this. If your object is close to a surface thats reflecting light (ie the ground in this case) it will most likely take on some of that colour somewhere in the shadow, as well as any ambient light from elsewhere

[Image: 71saqv.jpg]

Hope that helps!

Thank you guys, very very helpful explanations!
However, color has always been my biggest struggle.. I have 2 Gnomon DVDs about color and light and I understand the theory but when I start painting it's such a mess...
I will look up that book Elderscroller mentioned though!

I revived one old project today. I started this a year ago, for a present. However, the lack of skills made me leave it. Here's some old version, which took me probably a month or more..

[Image: QbZoG4w.jpg]

And the new one I made today. I used a photo from which I took the composition and some colors because I loved the palette and I'm horrible at color.
However, the green on the jacket for example doesn't exist on the original photo so I was wondering if it's okay to add it?

[Image: LxdljY7.jpg]

If you guys have any comments/critiques I'd love to read them.

Is that a photo-study or a piece from imagination? If it's from a photo it would be helpful for us to see it so we can give better feedback. Also if it's from a photo, don't be too ambitious. If you're not yet confident in your colour abilities, pick a simpler picture, whether in terms of colour or in terms of detail. Start with the simple stuff and work your way up

If it's from memory, the best feedback I can give is really to do more studies. I know its a cliche answer, but that's really what it boils down to. Every time you feel like you're regressing or struggling, it's likely because your fundamentals aren't quite there yet.

But don't just do studies for the sake of doing them. If you want to paint paris in the wintertime, find some photos of that, study them and then come back to your imagination as soon as possible. Colour is probably the hardest dimension of art to get a solid grasp on. There are rules of thumb you can follow for grayscale, for perspective, for form rendering etc, but colour, as far as I know, is very much interpretive and looser, and it's very easy to make mistakes. That's why, more than any other facet of art imo, you have to use the knowledge you gain from colour studies asap.

I would advise against colour picking from photos into imagination work at this stage. A lot of pros do it to speed up the process and save decision making time, but its not a substitute for understanding colour. If you're doing a photo study, definitely allow yourself 2-3 colour picks throughout the whole thing. There's a lot of colours that are quite surprising that you might never guess without doing that every so often. But do your best to observe all the colours as you interpret them first. You will most likely be off on a lot of them, but thats not an issue. Over time you'll become more accurate

Have you seen shaddy safadi's videos on youtube? They're not necessarily about colour, though there is a bit about them in there. But I think you can try his technique for painting landscapes in your work. For me, personally, it helped to develop a LOT confidence in colour since I could focus much more on the colours and forms and not worry about the silhouettes and edges so much. Once you get that understanding and confidence, you can ditch the method if you don't enjoy working that way and just paint normally again, but with more confidence knowing that you don't have to struggle with colour so much and can focus on the forms and other things.

Hope that helps! If you have any specific questions feel free to ask, colour is probably my favourite thing to talk about in art :). Also, out of curiosity which dvds do you have? I've seen 2 colour dvds and they were both very good

Fantastic post, Patrick!
Color and Light by James Gurney is also really great- like. really.

I absolutely agree that I need more studies. A lot more, especially in color! There's no question in that.
When I started this a year ago I knew I can't draw from imagination. Today I still can't haha. The only reason I'm trying to finish this painting is because I want to make it a Christmas present. And if I wait until I'm good enough, I'll never finish it, as stupid as this may sound.

So anyway, I started watching shaddy safadi's videos, they are definitely very useful! Thanks a lot.

And to answer your questions:
The background is a photo study - I liked the perspective? how you can see the tower. Also the colors are nice and I thought since I can't create my own palette, I could use colors from a photo.
Usually I would not do that, but I have to finish this at any cost, so right now cheating doesn't bother me that much.
So background is photo study, characters are from imagination (their colors too)
Here's the photo.
I don't want to make a super realistic background and some very stylised characters, that would look weird. I will simplify the background and make the characters a bit more realistic.. idk I'll try to find some balance between both things.

My question is - do you think the characters' colors seem out-of-place/weird? Because the photo has very limited palette with lots of desaturated purples and some saturated orange/yellow. No greens like on the jacket. Also the black on the photo is actually very dark greyish violet which confuses me. I use the same color on the guy's jacket and it doesn't seem black?

[Image: OGHarLt.jpg]

I know this won't be some awesome piece that will change my life etc. I'm pretty sure I will be disappointed by the result as I am most of the times. I just really want to make this present and I think it would mean a lot even if its not very good technically.

Ah I understand now. If time constraints are an issue then go for it!

As for your question, that's actually one of the drawbacks of colour picking, and, in your case, adding in other colours.

For one thing, in your reference there is no solid black. Often times the thing that will look black will just be whatever the darkest colour in your picture is. You've added dark outlines in black to your work which changes the colour relationships slightly, and so it will be harder for you to get that black feeling. Adding in extra colours that aren't in the original also slightly changes that. But i don't think that's why its not there yet

The colour picker is pretty inaccurate most of the time. If you select the eyedropper tool ("I" if you haven't changed your shortcuts), there's a drop down menu on on the top bar that tells you how it picks colour. It either takes it one pixel at a time, or takes an average; neither are accurate because in a photograph, colours are not pure but made up of many different coloured dots, and also because the average of the pixels around the eyedropper isn't necessarily the same as how you perceive that colour. It's called optical mixing if you want to read up on it more. Photoshop works in pixels, which are pure colours, so you'll never match the photo 100%, especially if its lower res.

Speaking of photos, these days they're very rarely shot "as is". They're often manipulated to achieve a certain effect, which is fine, but I think part of the reason you're confused about that dark purple as a black is because of that. It's pretty difficult to get those colours in real life, if not impossible. And in my opinion it becomes pretty hard to paint that, even from reference, if you're still trying to think of it in terms of classic colour theory.

With all that said, since you're picking straight off the photograph, there's some things you can do to make it more accurate. You have the general feeling down which is good, but you're missing some saturation and a lot of the little gradients that make the colours feel the way do right now. If it's not working right, go ahead and paste the section you're trying to get right onto your work. Not to use it in the final, but to compare it and have it literally right beside it see what you're missing.

Here's what I mean. See how the saturation is off, mostly in the warm colours? Also see how the light from the lamps gradates from pure white, quickly into yellow, and then red-orange? I also did the inverse, and pasted your characters into the photograph so I could see what was wrong with the colours you picked. All I did was play with the levels a bit until it looked closer, so really what that meant was your colours and colour temperatures were fine on them, but the values and the saturation were a bit off. You can still treat this as a learning experience, especially if it's not going the way you want it to!

[Image: 263g0no.jpg]

I can't tell you how tankful I am for those advices! It definitely looks better with the value changes you've done.
And I didn't know those things about the colour picker. It sounds interesting, so I'll google it.
My 'journey' in art started with photography so I have an idea about how the photos are edited and I even like that effect where black is dark grey/violet. So I want to achieve it in my painting too. But I didn't think about the black lines that confuse me, because they are the darkest thing. Anyway, my intention is to remove them when painting on top, so I hope that would solve part of the problem.
Tomorrow I will try to change those colours because you are right that they are very different, especially the lamps with those gradients.

I think I want to make the lighting look a bit realistic, but keep the shapes more stylised. I'll try some things tomorrow and I'll post them.
Thank you again for being so very nice and for taking the time to write here! :)

You're very welcome :)

Cant wait to see how it turns out!

Some good news here!
One of my artworks got selected and will be featured in an exhibition/bazaar next week. I will have the opportunity to sell it if any insane human is willing to pay for my art :d I really didn't expect that, I've never participated in such event.
While this is very cool, I feel kinda stupid because I know how much more practice and knowledge I need and I really don't feel confident enough to be on such place with other, more experienced artists.

and a small update on the characters:

[Image: KoKU56v.jpg]

The guy looks a lot like my boyfriend (which is the idea) but the girl doesn't look much like me.
I haven't made any changes to the colors, but I am planning on doing it these days.

some quick works form the weekend when I couldn't paint the paris thing because it should be a surprise and stuff

no ref
[Image: v2bivqm.jpg]

yes ref
[Image: 2gk7R1v.jpg]

I have such a blast lookin in your sketch book Maggie, absolutely solid work! :D


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