Archive for July, 2008

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Volleyball at the Beach: Part 2

July 31, 2008

The arrangement in the line drawing looks fine, so it’s time to transfer the print to the painting surface. I’ve chosen a pre-primed watercolor canvas made by Fredrix. I like the fine weave and texture of this product. The type I have is a loose sheet, instead of a pre-stretched frame, which I will just tape to a board as I paint it.

I use a light box to transfer the print since the primed canvas is thin enough to see through clearly. There’s a particular ink marker I like for this made by ZIG called the Writer. Their Platinum color is a medium gray shade of archival pigmented ink which is oil-based but acrylic has no trouble adhering to when drawn in thin lines, and the ink won’t bleed under the preliminary wet washes of paint. Also, the guy on the left had a printed design on the back of his shirt that initially I had thought would add more “presence” to the scene, but I decided to leave out since it seemed too distracting.

The next step is to settle on the coloring for all the objects in the painting. In the original photos, almost everyone is wearing shades of blue clothing which makes the scene almost monochromatic, except for the beach. I needed to add more color variety, so I go back into Photoshop to play around with colors. I load up the line drawing I made earlier and reduce it down in size to minimize the details. I paste the image in as a new layer set to Multiply and lighten its opacity. Next I create a new layer underneath and start roughly painting in shapes of color for each outline area: sky, water, beach, skin tones, etc. I don’t bother too much with shading or details, just block in single shades of color. I hide the line drawing occasionally to better see just the shapes themselves until I come up with a coloring arrangement that I like. The checkerboard pattern pants of the guy on the right I decide to keep, but change it to a yellow-orange to make it pop out more, and I add two equal shades of red on each side to balance things out a bit.

Digital color test

Digital color test


Now that I’ve settled on the colors, I can work out the undertones. What I particularly like to do for my preliminary paint layer is lay down shades of neutral grays that are color opposites of the local values for the objects I will be painting. The local colors will be those represented by the color scheme above, pink skin, red pants, etc. The color opposites are the complementary colors on a prismatic spectrum. You can see this easily in Photoshop by opening Hue/Saturation, and moving the Hue slider 180 degrees in either direction. I also move the saturation and the lightness down some, making it more gray and darker. The benefit of having these shades in the undertones of the painting is to add more color harmony with the more opaque top layers of paint. Keeping them toned down in saturation and brightness will allow the chroma of the top layers to not be overpowered. It also converts the white of the canvas to a mid-range value. I make a few more adjustments to even out the values and that’s it. All these steps so far today have gone by rather quickly, and I’ve managed to work out much of the decisions that were needed before I’ve even started painting.
Neutral colors

Neutral colors


Now it’s time to put paint to canvas. I mix up pigment to follow the color opposites shown above. I’m using mostly raw sienna for the warm tones. The blue shades are made with tints of cerulean blue and ultramarine mixed with titanium white and umber. The shades of green have touches of yellow ochre added. These are all laid down in broad thin washes of paint.
Painted canvas

Painted canvas


I noticed something interesting while doing the color mock up earlier in Photoshop. When laying down the two lines of the net using the same value of white, the bottom line looked brighter than the top line, which was due to an optical effect caused by the different values of the background. In the painting, I wanted both lines to appear to be of equal intensity, so I know I will need to tone down the bottom line a bit in value. If I painted both as fully opaque as possible, the bottom line would still seem brighter. This demonstrates a benefit of pre-planning. Nothing is set in stone, so to speak, but I like having a clear idea of where I’m going before I start out.


Read other posts in this series:

  • Volleyball Painting part 1
  • Volleyball Painting part 3
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    Volleyball at the Beach: Part 1

    July 30, 2008

    This series will show the process of how I completed a recent acrylic painting. It was to be displayed at a gallery exhibit with a boat and water theme.

    I had a series of photos taken at more or less the same time of day, so I drew a thumbnail layout of the figures in a grouping that I liked. I then made more complete pencil sketches of the individual figures, and scanned them in. I prefer redrawing them as opposed to just using the photos themselves so that I can better interpret the poses and forms of each figure in preparation for the painting. It’s sort of a warming up process, and helps me to better understand the figures. I still keep these drawings rather simple, as I’m not trying to tightly reproduce the photo. My purpose is more one of study than precision at this point.

    Thumbnail Sketch

    Thumbnail Sketch

    Figure Sketch

    Figure Sketch

    I use Photoshop to arrange the drawings over the thumbnail layout, and determine a comfortable size for the final painting. I decide this one will work out to be roughly 20×14″, so I scale the composite up to that printing size.

    Next, I make a simple line drawing digitally over the pencil composite, print that out to actual size, and tape the sheets together. This completes the first day’s worth of work, so I pin the layout up for study until the next day.

    Line Drawing

    Line Drawing




    Read other posts in this series:

  • Volleyball Painting part 2
  • Volleyball Painting part 3
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    Day One

    July 29, 2008

    Greetings. Thank you for stopping by. This blog will be a place for me to show my artwork in progress, and share my ideas and discoveries. I hope you find it worthwhile.

    It will be a companion site to my domain at dbclemons.com. There you will find older works, favorite links, and archived articles I have written.

    This is my first blog, so don’t be surprised to see quite a few changes in appearance as I settle in.