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Corporea's Desk: Sept-Dec 2015


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yep- light is complicated.  In any 2-D art form, it'll be frozen- just like a photograph of a light source.  the shadows and highlights we see are a slice in time.  It becomes harder to use this 3-D, because we want to mimic 4-D, but we can't.  So the general rule for a source is to make it the brightest, and change the color of light as it moves outwards.  Rhonda Bender and Victoria Lamb are super-awesome at this stuff.  Look at Rhonda (Wren's) "Waiting for her Lover" and Victoria's "Rescue of Sister Joan."

 

So anytime I'm painting, I'm going to be looking for ways to maximize contrast. Sometimes I do overexpose my photos to show effects that otherwise I can't show well.  mini photography is hard!!  But most of the time, what you're seeing is paint, rather than light.  We always harp on the "higher highlights, etc" because when working on a surface, the best way to make it look 3-D and realistic, is to up the contrast even above and beyond what we'd see in reality.  I also try to use the same colors to highlight throughout my given piece, because to me this mimics light color and reality.  ie, for narthrax, I used the same sun yellow as my highlight.  this makes the miniature as a whole feel like it is being viewed under a single "sun" so to speak.  So often, when we vary our highlight colors on one part of the miniature, it makes the piece feel disjointed because our eye subconsciously latches onto the difference in color and it can break the suspension of disbelief.  If this makes any sense.

 

So if I'm using a white, I'm going to use the same white- not both linen and leather, but one of the other.  I did this to a degree with my astral ranger to get a sense of other-wordly light.  So my highlight even on the yellows was purple.

ranger36_zpsaa4e32ff.jpg

So all the colors live in the cooler range, and the highlights are all more harmonious.

 

I'm thinking for narthrax, the reason the colors seem to vary is context.  Yes, I used the sun yellow, but on one I mixed with blue, the other brown. And for the scales, I used a lot of the darker browns right next to the highlights, so the contrast is going to be increased, whereas the blue to yellow is a smooth transition from one to the other.

 

But yes, the scales on the blue dragon are all painted with a transition from whichever dark blue I chose to either snow shadow or white depending on where it is.

This is an important point I should make for contrast.  Remember, I need a gradient on each scale to define them and make them look super-shiney, but that gradient is not always the same.  meaning:

ae08d89c-c5fa-45dc-b57f-e389da0361bc_zpsdc9b77ce-29ec-4e59-a919-b8eb78183cff_zpsaurora62_zpsasnh1nbx.jpg

 

These are 3 different areas on the dragon.  Notice right away the back and the belly look very different in terms of how "light" the highlights go.  The middle is in between.  They are all highlighted, but the highest highlight might be brilliant blue on the underside and pure white on the back, while the middle may stop at snow shadow or in between.  This helps our eyes see contrast, but also keep realism.  If we're using a zenithal (overhead) light source like the sun or moon, the brightest area will be on top, and the underside will be darker.  But not absent of minor variations in the way light hits the surface that our eye reads as light/dark.  One good rule of thumb is to remember a deep shadow will never be found directly overhead where the light is strongest, and the lightest highlight will never be in the deep dark underbelly where light never reaches.  it's hard to force myself to stop before I get too light. 

 

This is one reason I'll hold the mini periodically far away or under my light source, to see if I'm getting a bird's-eye general sense of contrast and placement of colors/etc right.  If I focus too much on the close-up, I miss the overall picture.

 

A good rule for starting out painting complex light effects is to pick one light source and run with it.  Too many and it spoils the contrast.  I love this example from Eric J:

img4dce7ead48d86.jpg

 

See on the back, he's highlighted, but not as bight as the front where the light is? It isn't that you can't show a transition from light to dark, just that the light source always has to have the most bang!  Hope this makes sense...

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Corporea is way more amazing than me and also a better teacher, but the basics of color and light is the trinity of hue, value and saturation.

 

Hue is closest to what we think of as color, red or blue, etc. But you can begin refining it to finer increments of bluer reds as it heads to 'purple', that kind of thing.

 

Value is a funny one. Basically, a 1-10 gray scale with 1 being black and 10 being white (or vice-versa, I forget). 5 being a neutral gray in the middle. You can buy a greyscale card thingy, by holding it against a paint color you can see where on the scale it sits if you remove the hue. This is key for lighting a mini properly.

 

Saturation is basically how rich a color is. A really vibrant red is very saturated, a more greyed out red or pastel pink is less saturated.

 

Fairly straightforward concepts that will take a lifetime to master, I barely grasp how to control them and my painting is super primitive on the spectrum of talent :) But if you're willing to learn and put in the time to practice, it's a lot of fun (and a little painful) discovering so much amazing stuff. Your trips to the art gallery will be much more enjoyable the more you learn to see and understand these concepts, too!

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Thank you so much for your detailed response and all the photos, Corporea! The 3 different photos of the dragon really helped. I hope you don't mind if I save your post for reference later.  ^_^

 

Corporea is way more amazing than me and also a better teacher, but the basics of color and light is the trinity of hue, value and saturation.

Hue is closest to what we think of as color, red or blue, etc. But you can begin refining it to finer increments of bluer reds as it heads to 'purple', that kind of thing.

Value is a funny one. Basically, a 1-10 gray scale with 1 being black and 10 being white (or vice-versa, I forget). 5 being a neutral gray in the middle. You can buy a greyscale card thingy, by holding it against a paint color you can see where on the scale it sits if you remove the hue. This is key for lighting a mini properly.

Saturation is basically how rich a color is. A really vibrant red is very saturated, a more greyed out red or pastel pink is less saturated.

Fairly straightforward concepts that will take a lifetime to master, I barely grasp how to control them and my painting is super primitive on the spectrum of talent :) But if you're willing to learn and put in the time to practice, it's a lot of fun (and a little painful) discovering so much amazing stuff. Your trips to the art gallery will be much more enjoyable the more you learn to see and understand these concepts, too!

 

Ahhhh, I'll have to pick up one of those greyscale cards and see how they work. Thank you! I really wish I had learned this kind of basic stuff before I went to ArtistCon! That was the only time I've seen a painted mini in person.  :wacko: I missed a lot of good information I could have gotten if I had just known what to look for with my eyes!

Edited by Morihalda
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awww! ::):  You guys are awesome!  Any way I can help, let me know!!  I'll even throw up tutorials every now and then, so if there's something you really want to see or have a question about, let me know!

Here's a good pic of what Cash is talking about:

197px-HSV_color_solid_cone_chroma_gray.p

From wikipedia on HSL/HSV as a way to map colors.  This helps me think sometimes when I can't figure out where I need to go next.  The color terms I admit, can be confusing. I've got a color theory handout you can have if you want!  Just PM me and I'll email it to you.

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Oops, I meant chroma! :) My current bust project is my first real attempt at controlling that vector directly, previously I'd just use the most desaturated paint I could find. Most of the skin tone chroma is pushed around with black and white (neutrals, to preserve hue) which I balance to push the value up or down a smidge (larger value jumps I start to bring in another paint to shift the hue some, too).

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a lot of the terms are interchangeable and some folks will use chroma in place of saturation or even intensity.  I do the same!  It isn't so much important unless receiving feedback to specifically work on something.  Then it helps understand what someone is trying to say or explain.

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Yep, I just attempt consistency :p When speaking of them in a technical manner I try to use hue/chrome/value because that's how I learned it. But experientially I use saturation more often...

 

And really, it's been very interesting having so many mixes on my palette, of a kind I can't document (as I'm trying to mix on the fly). When I had to change out the palette and match the previous tones, I was surprised at how saturated the base colors were, because they're not really vibrant on their own (the redstone triad).

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*Delurks*

 

Cool take on the guardian angel, Corporea! Glad you liked the cloud motif for the base--you did a great job on it!

 

To add to the current discussion/question by Morihalda, I like to think of contrast in both "macro" and "micro" terms, or perhaps "global" and "local" might be more appropriate since everything we doing in miniature painting (at least for most Reaper models) in micro :blush:.

 

Here is an example of an orc I did earlier this year. In the interest of full disclosure, this is tweaked a bit in PS to exaggerate the effect for purposes of the discussion. As you can see, each muscle group of the arm is shaded and highlighted individually. However, you will notice the shoulder overall is much lighter, with the top highlights going up to a very pale yellow. The triceps, biceps and proximal forearm still have some of that same highlight, keeping intact the "local" highlighting; however, overall those muscle groups are more of a greenish midtone and have a larger amount of dark green/purple compared to the shoulder. The effect is further magnified on the musculature on the back of the upper arm and underneath the forearm. There is still some gradation seen, but it now ranges from the midtone green being the highlight to dark green taking up a larger portion of real estate of that muscle group. There is no is pale yellow seen.

 

You want to continue to maintain contrast on the local level, but understand that it is a moving target as you go around the model, generally being lightest in the face, lighter in the upper body and getting darker as you move down the body. Obviously, this is not a hard and fast rule. OSL on the model or altered the overall lighting from zenithal to say a side lighting effect will break this, but the idea is the same. Wherever your light source is coming from, the farther you move away from the source, the darker that part of the model becomes.

 

Hopefully, this is helpful and not just rehashing Corporea's and Cash's initial explanations ^_^

 

 

 

*Lurks*

 

 

 

 

post-1542-0-86256300-1449725539.jpg

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:wow:  That's a very clear example, thank you! It's becoming much easier to notice details like that after they've been pointed out to me, haha. It's still really messing with me that stuff like the bright highlights on the weapon are painted on, not photography!! I can wait for PAX South to see some painted minis in person.

 

I really enjoy following these WIP threads! There's a lot to learn! .... A lot to learn.... :zombie:  I need some better brushes and to get my butt in the art chair after we move!

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I'm *always* learning, which is fun, and I have seen some improvement in my painting to be honest, but somedays it really doesn't feel or seem like it. But I've always wanted to get this kind of muscle group painting down because it looks great when you can do it right.

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part of it is knowing where the light is going to fall in 'reality.'  I use google images a lot to look at photos of the way bright light hits muscle groups.  Some of it is blending- making sure the transitions are smooth enough to mimic skin.  The rest is the art of painting, where you may fudge what would be real to get the effect or color balance you want. At one point I'd bookmarked a site with a movable light that would show light-effects on a female torso, but I can't find it now.  Sigh.

 

edit: ah hah!  Found it!!!

light cage (er- nudity warning)

Edited by Corporea
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part of it is knowing where the light is going to fall in 'reality.'  I use google images a lot to look at photos of the way bright light hits muscle groups.  Some of it is blending- making sure the transitions are smooth enough to mimic skin.  The rest is the art of painting, where you may fudge what would be real to get the effect or color balance you want. At one point I'd bookmarked a site with a movable light that would show light-effects on a female torso, but I can't find it now.  Sigh.

 

edit: ah hah!  Found it!!!

light cage (er- nudity warning)

Wow! This is why I love following along your WIP's Corporea.  They are always a learning experience.

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