I’m gonna show you how to shake up your
color a little bit! First, make a new canvas. It can be any size, doesn’t matter.
Now, because this is a regular canvas, I can, of course, paint in any color that I
want. Now the thing we’re gonna do here: is we’re gonna paint in color … only,
without the ability to see the color! So head over to the layers window, make a
new layer, set that layer to ‘color’ mode, grab the paint bucket tool and fill that
layer with pure white. Let’s go ahead and call this layer ‘black and white filter.’
And I recommend locking it so you can’t paint on it. Now, to show you how this
works, I’ll grab a brush, go to my original layer, and no matter which color
I pick and paint with, my black and white filter layer is going to display my
painting as values-only. And the key is the color is still there – as you can see
in the layers window. All I have to do to see it is toggle the visibility of my
filter layer, and there’s the color. And of course turning visibility back on
makes it black and white again. Ok, just one more thing to do here: select the
sample tool and make sure this drop-down is set to ‘current layer.’ This ensures we
can sample the colors on this layer rather than the grays that are being
displayed. And with that done we can start painting! My layers window is
off-screen now because I’m just painting on that one background layer. I’m
roughing out a quick drawing to get me going, and now that I’m painting I am
just picking colors at random! Random hues, random saturations! The colors you
choose in this exercise are based on pure chance, so just have fun abusing
that color wheel! Now, the real fun will happen later … when we toggle off that
black and white filter and see what we’ve come up with! Now, this exercise is
not just pure anarchy … it’s designed based on a common painting maxim. One
that i believe in – and i’m sure you’ve heard it before. It goes something like
this: ‘get your values right and you can get away with almost any color.’ …That
was my professor voice. Anyway this exercise is designed to show you how
that works. With color on the back burner we’re free to think about other things.
So … what other things can we think about? Well, we still have full control over the
drawing. For example, her pose; the tilt of her head; the appearance of her being
captured in a moment in time; we don’t need color for that. Secondly, we
still have values and lighting. I’m choosing to light her with a diffuse
light. That is, a very soft light coming down from above. Because a diffuse light
is soft, her forms will have very delicate value differences. Just subtle
transitions of lighter to darker. Those tones emerging out of a middle range
based value. Of course, our black and white filter ensures that all the colors
I’m using – which, again, are random – that they all conform to the value structure
I’m working so hard to maintain here. And later in this video when I turn the
color back on, we’ll get a sense for how color plugs into value. Anyway just
making a quick adjustment to this part of the pose and let’s call that one
finished. Okay for this next one I’ll block in a bit of a line drawing again.
And for my base flesh tone I’m gonna choose this weird green color. Just
something intentionally off-the-beaten-path,
and we’ll see how it shakes out. And I want to give some quick credit here: I’m
reading the graphic novel series, ‘The Keepers of the Maser,’ written and
illustrated by artist Massimiliano Frezzato. I love his artwork, and this
guy is based on one of the characters from that series.
Anyway, the color exercise is exactly the same as before, however I’m doing
something different from a lighting standpoint. That is, here I’m using a
direct light where last time I used a diffuse light. I’m basically imagining
like it’s a sunlight coming in this way. That will give the values a little more
contrast between the light and shadow family and it will give the shadows more
of a distinctive shape. You can see that in, like, the cast shadow under his nose.
Also different here: the edges between light and shadow are gonna be generally
harder than they were on the first character. Partially this is the result
of a direct light, but it’s also due to the fact that this is a grizzled old man
whose planes are harsher than that of a younger woman. And edges are the tool
that will help you distinguish between the two. So just as a quick recap – while I
may have color off my plate, I’m still dealing full-on with things like
lighting values, edges, composition – not to mention academic things like
facial anatomy structure and expression. Alright let’s do one more, before we see
what kind of horrible, colorful mess we’ve made! I’ll go for a darker skin
tone this time to see how that works. Process wise for this one I didn’t even
start with a line drawing, really. I just started with a
massive value that I’m kind of sculpting into with paint. Still randomizing the
color of course! Although this time I’m kind of favoring the blue and purple end
of the color wheel … for no other reason than I’m interested in seeing how it
looks. Those are not colors one would usually attribute to skin tones, but I’m
hoping something interesting will come of it nonetheless. I guess we’ll find out
soon enough! And last thing before I finish up here, you can do this exercise
in the style of your choosing: painterly like this, or airbrush-y smooth – it
really doesn’t matter. Anyway, picking a random color here for the background,
I’ll just fill that in … and that should do it. Okay. Now, when I click this layer
off, we will see the col– let’s make this more dramatic! When I push this BIG RED BUTTON, we will finally see the color! Heeey that is pretty cool actually! I
really like how the cooler blues kind of slide into warmer tones! Like this
area here being cooler and sliding warmer as it goes down this way. I kind
of see the same thing happening in the jaw where it’s very cold here, sliding
into warm as it goes up. I didn’t plan that; I was just using soft
brushes in this area, and in this area, and because my values were kept under
control, the colors just sorted themselves out! But I also liked some of
the more abrupt temperature changes like here in the cheekbone. I really like how
this blue seems to pop out so aggressively. In fact I’m kind of seeing
that in three places: there, there, and there.
Now I think if I were to plan these colors I probably would not have done
that three times … but I do think it’s a good idea to implement something like
that – especially if I were to control it a bit more. I also really like how the
ear is, like, super warm – versus the entire rest of the head which is colder. And
while it’s interesting that the warm is focused on the ear, I’m not sure that’s
exactly where I put it if I had the conscious choice!
I mean it’s so odd … yet kind of interesting at the same time. This is the
kind of thing that will definitely inform me in future paintings.
OK, ready for the second one?? Let’s push the RED BUTTON. Whoa! It’s like a
color bomb went off! So I have a couple thoughts. The color here definitely tests
the limit of this painting principle. I’m not quite sure I can get away with all
of these colors … at least, not at the same time. However, where that statement does
hold up is: I don’t think any of these color combinations are, like, against the
law. I mean sure, it’s pretty odd that two near-complementary colors are merging in
such closed quarters. But it still reads as skin, does it not? The color overall is
distracting in my opinion because it kind of demands your attention
everywhere and I just don’t think that’s ever a good design idea. But, like,
remember how I started with that green color? You can still see evidence of the
green, and, you know, these areas here, and a lot of it down here in the beard, and I
really do like how those greens have subtly modulated into oranges and
purples and blues, as I laid those colors on later in the painting. I think in
future paintings I can use that idea. You know, starting with a weird flesh color
and then painting over it. That can be a way to generate interest in your colors.
One thing that I think does work quite well is how these shadows are all one
consistent deep reddish color. I think that kind of eases the eye from all the
colors here going on in the lights. And I do kind of like this shadow under the
nose how it gets bluer as it gets further away from the nose. I think
that’s really nice. But I also want to draw your attention to the fact that,
despite these crazy color choices, it still looks like a grizzled old
character with three-dimensional forms lit by a direct light. In that sense, I
*can* get away with any color! It’s almost like the values and edges are
responsible for the objective reality of the piece, and the colors contribute to
the emotional reality of the piece. That’s kind of how I think about color
when I paint. This is part of a piece I did for an actual project. And you can
see how, when you’re intentional with your color design, you can move color
around quite a bit! I think these blue bits here that are
right up against neutral oranges and more aggressive purples – that’s not so
far removed from what I’m doing here! Same with, like, this area of the hair
down here. It’s just that in this project I’m exercising more restraint. And I’m
doing the same thing on this one. Look at all the little blue color notes that are
popping out in her hair. Those are not there to actually look like anything.
I consider them more emotional touches. And you notice I’m doing that a lot more
in the hair than I am in the skin area? That’s the choice I made in this
painting so the colors don’t all compete … like they’re kinda doing here.
All right – let’s go back to our first sketch! We push the RED BUTTON and – ooooh!!
The first thing I notice are those reds that really pop out against the grays.
Just gonna drag in the color picker here and sample some of these grays. You can
see what I mean. Notice the saturation for most of this is kept in this overall
section of the color picker. That includes the hair, the flesh, even the
background. This is a common habit of mine. I find that when you base your
colors on grays, they tend to slide in and out of each other pretty easily –
opening up possibilities for all kinds of color harmonies! If you’d like to
learn more about the ins and outs of that, check out episode 5 of my ’10
Minutes To Better Painting’ series! Over top of those grays, these saturated reds
here, and this little bit of purple there, the speck of blue right there in her eye –
those colors really gain a lot of identity. Because when a saturated color
appears against grays it’s like a loud voice in a quiet room. Anyway, another
thing I kind of like about this is how the brow takes on an overall bluish
tinge, the cheeks and overall reddish tinge, and the jaw is almost some kind of
neutral greenish thing. Having three zones of color in the head like that is
something you’ll find all throughout art history. And I guess while I couldn’t see
the color when I painted this, some of my influences and instincts were still at
play. Moving on, though. When I painted this, I made the compositional choice of
having the values in her head be much darker than the background. All these
colors I’m using here … though they have so much variety, it’s the value that
really reins them in and keeps them in service of the composition. If you want
to test that, just zoom out and you notice that her head still really stands
out. But, going back to color – you can get a sense for how these saturated bits
that I’m circling also stand out! I don’t think they stand out quite as much as
value contrast does, but they do still have a voice. I’m gonna stop here. But if
you want to talk color for literally hours more, check out MarcoBucciArtStore.com. Head on over to the workshop section,
and I recommend ‘Digital Painting 1, 2, and 3.’ You’ll get hours of real-time painting, a selection of my favorite digital brushes,
as well as a lot more discussion about color and how it plugs into other
painting fundamentals! Well, thanks for watching, everyone! I hope this exercise
will inspire your color use, as well as give you a glimpse into the endless ways
that color can behave in a painting. And how other fundamentals – drawing, values,
edges, composition – how they can be shepherds for color – corralling it into
its appropriate place. Well, happy painting. I’ll see you in another video 🙂