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Wren

Understanding "Needs More Contrast"

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I think of this as more of a wine red or pink. With a proper red, you'll often get a situation where if you add something with a lot of white for highlights, it goes pink. If you add orange for highlights, it goes orange. Either can work in some instances, but isn't what you want in other instances. In those situations you can try a pinky or orangey skintone, or what I like even more than that is an orange with some white it in. Reaper no longer makes Red Dust, which was my favourite for that (it was a licensed colour for Heavy Gear). But the new Red Neon Glow 9321 looks like it should serve a similar purpose quite well. (Haven't painted red recently to test it out yet.)

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One thing I noticed from my own experience is that the work light we use can seriously affect our perception of the contrast.

 

We usually prefer a strong light, close to the miniature we're working on. This exaggerates the contrast we perceive, so we don't use highlights as bright as they can be.

 

Once you look at your work under normal lighting/viewing conditions (arms length, regular indoor lighting), it becomes more dull looking. So for me to get a good contrast, my mini must essentially have overblown highlights when right under my work lamp under magnification, and then look at it again and again under normal conditions.

 

 

P.S. You made me excited to try out Red Neon Glow when it comes out with Bones 4.

Edited by Cranky Dog
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Oops, I didn't realize that was a preview colour, thanks for mentioning so that others were aware of that! I am a forgetful creature.

You are spot on about lighting! Also the amount of time we spend with a miniature and our familiarity with it tends to make what we're doing look more extreme to us than it does to others.

One thing that can help is to turn off your lights when you get up to get a drink or finish for the session. Then when you come back, pick up your mini and look at it under normal light for a while BEFORE you sit back down and turn on the bright lights and put on magnifiers and so on. I leave WIP figures up on a paint stand that I pass by a few times a day and occasionally stop to take a look at them. If something is nagging at me in that view, it doesn't matter how good I think they look under the light and magnifier, I need to figure out what I'm not liking about them in normal view. You can also take them into rooms with different lighting, or hold them up to a mirror and look at the reflection to shock your eye into seeing them fresh and getting a better look at them as a new viewer would.

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11 minutes ago, Wren said:

One thing that can help is to turn off your lights when you get up to get a drink or finish for the session.

 

As an anecdote, when I was working on blending a cape, Brice told me to hold it under the table away from the light to judge the contrast. If it all looks dull, or the same tone, it probably is all the same value/intensity and I should adjust (up and down).

 

Since paint is working with light and how it reflects, having less light makes sense as another good way to judge it. That part of the science was a trip to wrap my brain around: I am not actually painting with a "color" but rather I am using a pigment that is rejecting/bouncing wavelengths...and yes, I know I should probably have payed more attention in science class.

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Another trick is to take photo with your phone and use a filter to change the image to grayscale. Most default image apps have simple filters like this. In black and white you can really see the contrast, or lack thereof.

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On 9/28/2018 at 12:07 AM, Wren said:

I think of this as more of a wine red or pink. With a proper red, you'll often get a situation where if you add something with a lot of white for highlights, it goes pink. If you add orange for highlights, it goes orange. Either can work in some instances, but isn't what you want in other instances. In those situations you can try a pinky or orangey skintone, or what I like even more than that is an orange with some white it in. Reaper no longer makes Red Dust, which was my favourite for that (it was a licensed colour for Heavy Gear). But the new Red Neon Glow 9321 looks like it should serve a similar purpose quite well. (Haven't painted red recently to test it out yet.)

Red neon glow. I'll have to give that a try. I have a project coming up that has a lot of red in it. I'll get some and see if it works out. Thanks for the advice.

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It seems to me that your example of highlighting works well on the teal color in the dress.  It keeps the same hue.  However, to my eye, the reddish color in the dress changes significantly in the pre- and post-highlighted examples.  The less contrasted color is a purple, but the more contrasted color has shifted from a purple to a variety of rose red -- it has become a different hue.

 

Is that just my eye or does increasing contrast sometimes result in changing hue as well?  Do the colors you choose to brighten the highlight and/or deepen the shadow have the possibility of shifting the overall hue?

 

I would be troubled if I had worked hard to achieve a specific color and then discover that I had lost it in the contrasting process.  But then, I am troubled by much of my painting. 

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There's a bit in the blog post about that, but you may have missed it, so I'll elaborate here. :-> The original version was painted three years ago. While I usually write down the colours I used on a figure, I did not in this case. (Or if I did, I didn't find the notes. As I'm writing this I've just had a thought about where they might be...) I pulled out the colours I thought I had originally used, but very clearly I misremembered.

The colours you use in shadows or highlights absolutely can shift the perception of the colour. Generally this is fairly subtle when used in shadows (I use purple, green, or blue all the time in skin shades for example.) It can be more perceptible in highlights, but since lighter colours that include white tend to be less saturated, this isn't always dramatic, either. Usually the effect you get with some variations in shadow and highlight colour (or in glazing in additional colours later as I often do) is one of greater complexity and interest. When I add purple to skin, or yellow, or green shadows, you usually won't see the purple consciously unless you turn the figure upside down and look at the shadows from another point of view. But even if the purple is not a darker value than the shadows, it usually makes the shadows look richer and deeper. In a similar vein, touches of yellow in highlight colours can add warmth and interest to highlights.

(Brief pause in writing to search for notes.)

I was right about where the notes were, and I misremembered more than I thought! My issue here was that I intially painted a completely different midtone and first few levels of highlight. Because my repaint colour choices were in the same family and started with matching values before increasing the contrast, this did not cause any issues when doing the touching up. I have thought about glazing over to try to restore some of the purple appearance, but I think I want to paint purple of the third Victorian lady, so I'm going to leave this one as is until I see where the colours on that one go.

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