knarthex

Help in using Black and White Images to paint Highlights

14 posts in this topic

Hey all!

(I heard that groan!)

Yes, George is back to pick your collective little grey cells again!

 

I have heard that people are using photo shop and such to change the images of figures they are painting to black and white to improve their high lights. Now, I don't have that capability atm, but I can have the Camera do this, I just need to take extra photos...

 

So I am going to post some B&W  photos of current WiPs and ask people to comment on the photos as to where I need to high light / shade.

 

First up, Vourgha the Ogre:

post-14271-0-31132900-1441464164_thumb.jpg post-14271-0-65351700-1441464182_thumb.jpg

 

Next, the Vulture Demon

post-14271-0-84946200-1441464226_thumb.jpg post-14271-0-01996100-1441464467_thumb.jpg

(Use the images from the WIPS with the same date)

 

As I look at the pictures, it looks to me as if there are no high lights at all! Now I believe this to be untrue, as when I look at the color images, I can see the high lights, and I darn sure know that I painted them!

 

This is what I mean by needing help with using this tool. (Any military ex Photo ops specialists out there?)

Also, would it be easier to do if I put the color image side by side, (top & Bottom), or is the black and white image enough?

 

Thanks all!

8)

George

 

Mods, I believe that this is the right place for this, but I have been wrong before....

I Can't post photos on the shutter bug area, and the whole discussion is worthless without them...

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I always thought the idea was to look at black and white versions of the unpainted or base coated miniatures, perhaps under strong light, then paint the shadows and highlights visible in the photos.

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What sort of black and white conversion is this?

 

That's a serious question. Greyscale is kind of arbitrary. It's not just a matter of converting colors to grey. What does a bright red turn into, for instance? Is it appreciably different in greyscale from a deep maroon?

 

In the version of Photoshop I have there are numerous settings, all of which give different types of greyscale, some of which have dramatically differing results.

 

To give a historical example, black and white film before the 1930s pretty much could only see blue light. As a result, in old photographs blues were very light or even white, but red and even bright yellow looked dark and muddy. It's why skies were always washed out in Victorian photographs. It's why blue eyes looked so creepy and pale. It's why people with gold skin tones, like the Japanese or the Navajo, looked as dark as Africans in old photographs. It's why few people realize that Queen Victoria was a blonde.

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I use an app to quickly turn my pics to a basic black and white. If everything is one consistent grey tone I know I need to ramp up where my highlights and shadows are. 

Contrast is a huge weak point for me.Wish i could help more.

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I use a filter that removes color saturation.  This renders my image black and white and helps me to see where I need to up my contrast.  It is easy to see highlights and shadows in color.  But colors with a similar value will look nearly identical when you remove the chroma.

 

definitions!

Chroma or Saturation- a concept of brightness or colorfulness. A saturated color appears intense or bright, whereas a completely desaturated color appears gray or absent of color

Value- confusingly also called tone or lightness.  this describes increasing perception of color from black to a purely saturated color.

 

picture! (thanks wikipedia!)

197px-HSV_color_solid_cone_chroma_gray.p

 

So you could have a blue and a yellow, which appear vastly different when saturated, but have exactly the same position in the spectrum between black and maximum value.  Then, when you remove the "color" you are left with two areas that appears similar and thus, lack contrast.

 

One way to combat this is to choose colors with either different value or saturation.  meaning- there is a distinct difference between these two blues:

09017_G.thumb.jpg09020_G.thumb.jpg

 

Why are they different?  Well, Anne may never reveal her secrets, but one of these blues is bright, or saturated, while the other is dull or desaturated.  And I suspect also contains something to tone it down (like adding gray to a color to dull it.)

 

Now compare these yellows:

09009_G.thumb.jpg09074_G.thumb.jpg

 

Again, both yellow, but one bright, the other dull.

 

Placing two colors that are disimilar in saturation will help up contrast.  But be careful- a saturated color will draw the eye.  It is usually safer to use a small area of saturation as an accent.  Unless you're going for the fun cartoony style, which is totally ok.  Just be aware that your colors choices will dictate to some degree the atmosphere/mood of your work!

 

Contrast:

09017_G.thumb.jpg09074_G.thumb.jpg

 

Woah!  even in black and white, the two are going to look different:

797b15e7-2cc9-45c5-8d6c-fca55c99d785_zps

 

Let's play with this example:

09005_G.thumb.jpg09017_G.thumb.jpg

 

removing color...
00ceaadb-2ac4-424d-a05d-8a049358fa19_zps

 

Muah ha ha hah!  I have eliminated almost all contrast!  These two colors have nearly equal value, even though they are different colors!

 

Choosing colors can be simple, but if we add a pinch of color theory it can get super fun!  (...and complicated...)  Don't be afraid of this stuff.  It's actually fun once you get the hang of terms and all that.  And it can add extra depth to our work to think about why and how we can use color.

 

But the long and short of using the filters to remove "color" are to see where we need to work harder!

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What sort of black and white conversion is this?

 

That's a serious question. Greyscale is kind of arbitrary. It's not just a matter of converting colors to grey. What does a bright red turn into, for instance? Is it appreciably different in greyscale from a deep maroon?

 

In the version of Photoshop I have there are numerous settings, all of which give different types of greyscale, some of which have dramatically differing results.

 

To give a historical example, black and white film before the 1930s pretty much could only see blue light. As a result, in old photographs blues were very light or even white, but red and even bright yellow looked dark and muddy. It's why skies were always washed out in Victorian photographs. It's why blue eyes looked so creepy and pale. It's why people with gold skin tones, like the Japanese or the Navajo, looked as dark as Africans in old photographs. It's why few people realize that Queen Victoria was a blonde.

It is a B&W setting on the camera itself. No Idea what it actually does to give that result....

 

8)

George

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What Corporea said. The tool is not really about "how to place my highlights", but more along the lines of realising that sometimes, because we are seeing the color contrast, we are blind to value contrast, and we believe that two greens are contrasting enough because of saturation when, in terms of value, they are very similar. 

 

Just different ways of achieving contrast. IMHO, when you need super high contrast in places (like the face) you need to work the values, and when you need contrast without making things pop (like, in differentiating volumes in an unimportant area, or in shadows) you need to work the saturation and hue a bit while keeping the value range tight, so that things can be identified but do not draw the eye too much.

 

If that makes any sense. :blush:  

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Thanks!

Still trying to wrap my little grey cell around all this.

That is why you are all being bombarded with all of these (disjointed)  questions here!

Everything (almost) that I thought about painting minis has pretty much gone out the window!

I am like a Tabula Rasa yearning to be filled...

 

8)

George

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We love helping!  And I love color theory, so I'm always happy to attempt to explain.  Remember- if it feels like too much information or it's too complicated, just have fun painting.  The more we paint, the more we get a sense, on an unconscious level, of what works and what doesn't.  The best way to learn all this stuff really is practice. ::):

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We love helping!  And I love color theory, so I'm always happy to attempt to explain.  Remember- if it feels like too much information or it's too complicated, just have fun painting.  The more we paint, the more we get a sense, on an unconscious level, of what works and what doesn't.  The best way to learn all this stuff really is practice. ::):

I just told someone posting for the 1st time this in show off!

 

Thanks! I am sure I will find something else to ask about before the day is over....

(At work and bored, painting stuff home :down: )

 

8)

George

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 Think of it like this...

 

Before you paint your mini:

 

If you want to know where to place your highlights, take the unpainted/unprimed mini and put a very bright light directly above it and take a B&W photo of it. The light reflecting off the bare metal will show you where the highlights and shadows should go. (For a plastic mini, if the natural shine of the material doesn't help show where to place the highlights you can prime it, then give the whole thing a very light wash with a grey color to point out the shadows better, and then hit it with a single puff of primer from directly above to better show where the highlights would be.) Some people actually prime with a grey or darker color and then hit it with a short puff of white primer from above - this is a technique called zenithal highlighting (you can use it just to show where the highlights go or you can paint the mini with thin glazes and washes and use the color gradient of the primer as your shadows and highlights).

Start a dedicated painting folder on your computer and save all the images you take. In between painting sessions open them up and study them, paying attention to how the light plays over surfaces of different shapes. Eventually you'll be able to visualize where your shadows and highlights will be just with your imagination.

 

 

While you paint your mini:

 

This is where the color theory stuff comes in. As mentioned by the others, for each object/area/material (cloth, leather, etc.) decide whether or not just the contrast of the different colors will be enough, or if you really need to crank up the contrast by working with the values of the colors as well.

You can take a B&W image of your paint bottles to check the contrast of their values. Again, save and label your images for future reference.

 

 

After you paint your mini:

 

If you want to check out whether or not your highlights are truly as high as you think they are and how well they pop, take a B&W image of the painted model and check to see if the contrast is still there... You can use the pic to decide if your highlights need to go higher or your shadows need to go deeper, or if you need to adjust your colors/values. (You can also do this during painting to check your progress.)

This is most helpful as a tool to learn what you need to work on for future minis. Take notes on what colors/mixes you used, what worked and what didn't and what you need to work on doing better, and consult those notes every time you start a new project.

Edited by Mad Jack
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zenithal priming or zenithal highlighting is how i know this technique. If you haven't already found it tutofig.com is a great resource for all kinds of tutorials in the miniature painting experience. Massive voodoo is good too. 

 

In one of the miniature mentor videos banshee does this exact technique on a 54mm figure and you can see it from start to finish. Miniature mentor is also valuable because you can actually see how the techniques are used in real time.

 

And imo the best painting tutorials hand down right now are painting buddha and you get them for free but I recommend you donate because they are awesome and I don't want them to go away.

 

As an experiment I'd suggest you try painting with a limited palette on each particular area. If you reduce each part of the mini into one or two colors, black and white it will be illuminating (get it) how interesting a model can look when you do it this way.

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Another "trick" I do to check for value contrast is to put the mini below the table (basically in a low-light situation), and close my eyes a bit. If it becomes a blob, it needs more contrast. If I can still somehow distinguish the volumes, it is fine. In low light situations our eyes see less "color" and more value (but this is ultra-simplistic and not 100% accurate because of how we see blues, reds and greens... science!)

 

But in a pinch that trick usually helps me check if the faces are contrasted enough, for example!

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This comment is similar to Mad Jack's comment on pictures before painting, but my thinking is slightly different:

 

Before painting, I sometimes take a picture of a mini, with a strong light source above the figure.

 

If the mini is bare-metal, you will get different results from different angles - The sharp, bright highlights will follow the eye around, reflecting off of whatever surface is pointed towards you. If you have a bright, polished mini, a picture of it in this state can be super helpful in figuring out how to place highlights for NMM (if you are so inclined). Plastics behave differently than metal, and can vary quite a lot from one material to the next.

 

If the mini is primed, especially with gray or white, a photo with the same lighting will show where the light falls on the mini, and hence, where highlights belong (assuming your intended light source matches the photo light source.) Primed surfaces reflect diffuse light, and the bright spots do not depend very much on viewing angle - the parts facing the light will be bright and the rest will be darker.

 

Resin minis will generally behave like a primed mini, straight out of the packaging.

 

Both are pretty useful, but have subtly different uses.

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