Welcome to part one of my value tutorial. The idea is to convey the proper knowledge of how to apply value correctly to a scene or object. I've covered what value is and what makes it so important in a previous post, so I recommend you go and check that out if you're a bit lost as to what I'm talking about here. So let's start at the beginning, value at it's core is the effect of light. So what, specifically, is light in the first place?
The best way to approach understanding of painting is the break things down to their basic and simplest form. I'm not going to present this information in a hugely scientific way, more in a general, easy to digest fashion, simplified purposefully for artists to understand in a functional way. Light is electromagnetic radiation that consists of photons, tiny particles that move in a (most commonly) linear fashion. Light sources will emit rays (think of tiny little laser beams) outward, and those rays will either decay, be absorbed by the environment, or bounce off.
For this tutorial, we're going to be covering light from a VALUE point of view, as opposed to colour. We'll cover colour at a later stage, and take the opportunity to reiterate on some knowledge.
At it's most basic, Light reacts to surfaces in three different ways...
When light hits a surface, part of it bounces off and is reflected into the atmosphere. The intensity of the reflected light depends on the material properties of the surface. For example, a matte surface such as clay reflects very little light, while polished metal reflects it with far more clarity, albeit distorted by the form depending.
Refracted light consists of light rays being distorted and bent through transparent or translucent surfaces. This causes objects seen through that surface to appear fractured or displaced. This is what happens when you look through a glass of water. Rainbows are also the result of light being reflected and refracted through water droplets, projecting the spectrum of light into the sky. Note also that while the image shows the light bending, the degree of it depends on the properties of the material.
Point light is a source of light that emits from a given location, such as a light bulb, torch of fire. As light radiates from the source, shadows become relative to the point of light. Point lights are also more likely to show decay, or falloff. As you get further from the light source, the environment is less affected by the light.
Due to the size of the Sun relative to our planet Earth, light casts on the environment in rays that are perceivable parallel to each other. Light either reaches Earth unhindered, or is distorted and diffused by clouds. This causes overcast weather, and makes light appear flat and dull. While it becomes more difficult to render the form, overcast light can add drama to an image narrative.
A little bit above, we talked about reflected light. This is light that results from the effects of that reflected, or bounced light. As each ray strikes a surface, it will bounce off at roughly a perpendicular angle to it's point of contact. This light will then continue bouncing until reaching complete decay (or falloff). This will continue to illuminate surfaces, objects and environments until the light no longer carries any strength. Keep in mind that bounce light in isolation will never be stronger than the primary light ray. As a result of this, reflected light on an object, while lighter than the core shadow (terminator), should never be lighter than the light side of an object. That is to say, the sides of an object that are exposed to and facing the light source will ALWAYS be lighter in value than the shadow side, reflected light included.
That covers the basics of light for now. Next time we'll look at some examples of these effects happening and some ways to apply them to value painting. In the meantime, take a look around and see if you can spot these effects going on in the real world. Observe light and colour bouncing off objects and hitting something else, or how a glass of water will make a straw appear distorted. As always, have fun observing your surroundings and applying light knowledge to them, and keep learning. Thanks for reading! Onward to part 2!!
Thank you for taking the time to check out part one of my tutorial. Whether you're a beginner or advanced artist, I sincerely hope that there's something here to help you along.
The intention here is to simply give the individual an insight into how this particular artist works. Remember however, that there is no one way to approach any artistic endeavour. This is merely to provide an example, to hopefully give some folks an idea of the building blocks that go into the creation of an artistic piece, or in this case, study. With any luck, if my tutorials gain any popularity, it'll open the doors to more discussion. There's few things I enjoy more than talking art with passionate people, and sharing what humble amounts I know on the subject with passionate learners.
So let's get started! Today I'll be doing a study of Hiram Powers bust of Clytie, a water nymph in ancient Greek mythology.
Been trying to calm the shakes with some comic artwork. This is pretty much the first time I've ever attempted anything in this particular style, so it was quite a learning experience. Here's a process sequence.
Many of the finest artists of contemporary times consider one aspect of art to be far and above the most important part of a strong piece. Without an understanding of value, we cannot create art that shows form or depth to a satisfactory degree, and our work will appear flat and dull. It's a huge subject, and an even more difficult one to master (something I will no doubt spend a lifetime trying to perfect myself) but a simple one to get a grasp of.
Put simply, value is the term we use to describe an objects relationship to light. Known also as 'tone', value communicates to us where an object sits on a black/grey/white scale. It shows us the form (3-Dimensional shape), depth and distance of an object. If line drawing is 2D, value is what we use to make our paintings come alive in three dimensions!
So..the creation of art begins with one simple thing, and that is perspective...
What is perspective? Well, perspective is our perception of one or several objects in space. Perspective tells us the distance, spatial relativity and dimensions of an object. If two people are viewing the same object or landscape, one with his face to the ground, and the other from a helicopter, both will see that object or landscape in an entirely different way. It is probably the absolute base foundation of good art, and while difficult to master, it thankfully follows some strict mathematic rules that once digested, will become second nature to you when calling upon it to create your art.
So let's look at the components of perspective...
Art is large subject to take on. So, like anything, it's best to understand it at Its most basic and simple core before moving onto the more complex aspects. It could be argued that everything in art begins with the line. As children, we would draw flat illustrations of what we thought we could see, in it's most simple line art form. More a symbolic representation of the object or person we were drawing than an attempt at realism.
But really, in order to accurately portray something in a realistic, conceptual or expressive fashion, then form becomes the most important thing you can learn in order to understand how to draw or paint something. So then what is form?
Imagine I showed you this painting of the Nightwatchmen by Rembrandt, and asked you to recreate it as accurately as you can, in whatever medium you choose.
Now if you're an advanced artist, just go along with me on this! But if you're an absolute beginner you would likely present me with a single exclamation..
"I wouldn't even know where to begin!"
Indeed! There is simply so much going on in the painting...from the mastery of the human figure to the understanding of light and shadow, to the symbolic use of colour and mastery of perspective..It's too much to take in all at once!
The learning of art can be treated in quite a linear fashion. If you can draw a line, you can construct a box. Once you've mastered the drawing of boxes, you can master other forms. Once there, you can turn those forms into objects. Know how to apply light and shadow to a cube? Congratulations! You're half way towards painting an urban landscape!