I decided to unwind from all the stress of being a suckie artist and other life nonsense by coming to my parents new home in Vegas. While here I plan to do a lot of traditional and digital studies almost exclusively from life.
I haven't started yet but Ive been looking at the mountains and kind of pre painting it and thinking about techniques and approaches I want to try out before I even lay 1 brush stroke.
The mountains are a brownish red color but of course because of depth of field and atmospheric perspective they appear a bluefish purple. In Vegas there is hardly a could in the sky ever so it's just pure blue sky.
Here's where my semi question discussion comes in. In the past when trying to render something like this I would have colored the mountain it's local color then went over it with a low opacity in a slightly brighter color blue than the sky. I notice that this usually just turns the brown slider(in ps) closer to blue by like 3% and usually just desaturated the color.
I've heard our eyes play tricks on us constantly when referring to color and it's learning to see past that ain't paint things as they really are that makes a good painter. So that being said is that the correct way to handle a situation where ambient light changes the color of things? Is it really just a very similar color with a saturation tweak and a tiny push in hue towards the invading.
I'm trying to figure out the correct way (or more so how a painter would) to handle this.
Last edited by battlebattle; June 28th, 2012 at 08:51 PM.
Well, you're in a tough situation. On the one hand, yes, our eyes are very bad at judging relative value and color, and context is everything. However, that relative subjective perception is one thing you actually want to communicate in your painting.
Sometimes you want to accentuate the warm/cool contrast to give a more "impressionist" concept of what you're perceiving.
If you want strict accuracy, get yourself a grayish business card and a holepunch and punch a solitary hole in the middle. Then look through that hole at the color, and it will help you isolate it and determine its true hue/value/chroma.
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But getting 100% color accuracy is not the goal, in my opinion. I think your painting should always ultimately concern the emotional, subjective and even abstract qualities of your subject. Those things which only a human mind can perceive - i.e., specifically not what the camera sees. So some degree of exaggeration in color, value and form will contribute to the final piece. As with caricature, you have to have a solid grasp of what you're seeing to make your caricature effective. The same thing is true with everything else.
Beginners have difficulty with accuracy on the basic levels of value, color, perspective, etc. So it is wise for them to develop their study of those things.
Intermediate painters (of whom the range is the widest in terms of skill and quality of results), can become obsessed with these types of "accuracy" because focusing on that was what brought them up from beginner-hood. They often figure that the closer they can get to machinelike accuracy, the better their art will become. Some accuracy was good, therefore maximum accuracy is best, right?
This is a pernicious mindset! You can get sucked into this and never come out, and spend a lifetime chasing "accuracy," which seems constantly to exceed your ability, but never see your work really excel. The worst examples are people who do these anal-retentive paintings from photos, which are technically exact but lifeless and uninteresting.
The Masters transcend "accuracy" and return to the emotional heart of drawing and painting. This is what is often meant by knowing the rules, but breaking them anyway. They make weird color choices, exaggerate forms, go completely against what seems like "reality," but their work is moving because it taps into something ineffable and essential. Essential as in, it captures the essence.
(Be that as it may!), to answer your question I'd expect most of the colours to converge towards the colour of the sky in hue, value and chroma:
However if there is anything very bright, such as a cloud, it may become more orange due to "outscattering":
The "tricks" your eyes play on you are likely to result in underplaying the colour change, to paint more the colour you know the mountains to be. Test out your main colours in a little simple thumbnail to see if they are actually creating the desired effect of light. As for neonnoodle's card suggestion, I find a card with two holes even more useful than one hole, so I can judge relationships of colours.
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Going on what Elwell said. You could match the color by getting down the value, then altering the hue without affecting the value, then alter the saturation without affecting the hue or value. And going on what briggsy said, color relationships are more important than the individual colors theirselves. That's why you can bump up or bump down the brightness of a picture and it'll still make sense. Because even though the overall lightness and darkness is changing, the way adjacent values contrast each other is the same.
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I agree with Elwell (and I don't think that sounds snarky at all). If you really want to understand what is going on in the real world, outdoors, with color and value...get out there and paint it.
There are no absolutes or rules involved...those color and value relationships will change all day long, every day, every season and with every kind of sky.