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Naive Lighting Questions

Discussion in 'Painting Techniques' started by Dan Morton, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Probably somewhere in the library of 291 posts on Painting Techniques these questions are answered, but I'd rather see this as a dialogue vs. a monologue and, if possible, I'd maybe like to ask some follow-ups.
    I am interested in knowing the consensus answers on how miniatures painters deal with lighting.
    Please refer to Roger Newsome's WIP on painting flats of the funeral of Charles XII. I'm not sure but I think the weak wintertime lighting of Cederstrom's painting originates from above the figures. In Roger's painting, again I'm not completely sure, but I think light originates from the right and about mid-morning angle.
    When you are painting - (A) a full round figure; (B) a flat figure; (C) a bust; and/or (D) a relief [half-round?] figure - from what direction do you paint light and shade? Another way of asking - Where does your Sun come from? Does your Sun ALWAYS come from the same direction? Why?*
    Why have I made bold you and your in the questions? Because I would prefer to hear your answers as a practicing painter of miniatures.
    Thanks for your answers!
    All the best,
    Dan
    * - I would have preferred to ask this as a poll, but the text limits don't allow it.
    billyturnip likes this.
  2. Eludia A Fixture

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    I always imagine my lightsource coming from above, classic zenithal lighting I s'pose. This is simply the way I've learnt to paint, following tutorials and youtube vids which, in the main, follow this principle. If I were to try and paint with light coming from a different direction then I fear my head would implode with the effort and it would be the end of the world (4 horsemen, antichrist, Jeremy Corbyn as PM...the works). So I best stick with what I know as I wouldn't want all that on my consience ;)
  3. billyturnip A Fixture

    Country:
    England
    From my own flat painting perspective light will usually be top left or right and generally speaking the sun will be shining into the figures face.
    Most flat figure designers will already have taken this into account when designing a figure so that when painted you will get a good 3D effect.
    Exceptions to the rule will be when more than one figure is used in a vignette or diorama. When two soldiers in are combat one will have the light in his face, the other the back of his head, assuming they are in profile.
  4. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Billy - Thanks for your answers!

    I now have this picture in my head of a sweating, grunting painter concentrating on painting light from "a different direction" and the resulting splatter all over the walls of his flat followed closely by the Four Horsemen cantering in slo-mo through clouds. Shudder.:sick:

    All the best,
    Dan
  5. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Roger - Thanks!

    As a follow-up, what would you do with a two round figure scene, the poses of which come from a newspaper illustration depicting strong mid-afternoon light from the right of the figures? How about exactly the same situation, except now the figures are flat?

    I don't see this as a right/wrong artistic argument, although I do think there are outcomes that would "...just look wrong..." to the non-artist. And that's a lot more important!

    All the best,
    Dan
  6. Tubby-Nuts2 A Fixture

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    One could always try this as a tester!

    Have a mini torch with a 'Led bulb'. Then mount it on a 'jig', and see how the shadows change when moved in a 180 degree view point.

    Just a thought.

    Mark.
    samson likes this.
  7. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Thanks for the suggestion Mark! Using your tester, I can kinda imagine how light:shade would change on the four types of miniatures identified above.

    I'm still interested in what you are doing now when dealing with light and shade on the miniatures that you are painting. Not trying to put you on the spot.

    All the best,
    Dan
  8. billyturnip A Fixture

    Country:
    England
    I would say that light and shade is placed for maximum effect. An artificial light source such as Mark's torch would help you decide but it's really how you see the figure(s) in your head.
    samson likes this.
  9. billyturnip A Fixture

    Country:
    England
    Taking photo's with different light sources with your camera set to monochrome is useful.

    For example,
    Light source from the left.
    IMG_3028.JPG


    from the right.
    IMG_3029.JPG

    Personally I like the way the folds, particularly on the flag, are highlighted in the first (light from the left) photo.
  10. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    That's very practical and helpful, Roger! Cool idea!

    Probably I'm being over-analytical about the question. My main interest was finding out if there was a consensus about light and shade among painters and why painters handled the light and shade question the way they do.

    All the best,
    Dan
  11. billyturnip A Fixture

    Country:
    England

    Funnily enough the standard bearer looks better with the light from the left but the main group in the Karl XII scene, of which he is part, look better with the light from the right.... to me anyway. :)
  12. Tubby-Nuts2 A Fixture

    Country:
    United-Kingdom
    Dan.

    Which is the point, not from just above. (Zenithal) The torch is the, 'light source' Swivel it over from left to right and inspect. look to what works to your eye on each of the four casts.;)(y)

    I am not painting anything at the moment! nor have done for a long time. (Health & Limitations) ;)

    Keep well,

    Mark.
  13. rafaelega Active Member

    Country:
    Spain
    Usually my lighting paint is from above but in some cases I am looking for a most expressive portrait or focal direction light coming from another lighting focus ; in that cases I use other focus origin.
    I must tell the decision depends of the history you want to explain. Also in some cases I add some minor focus trying to carry the eyes to some points in the scene.
    If you pay attention to fantastic figure painting technicals trend You will see more than one focus and lateral focus on many cases.
  14. Dan Morton A Fixture

    Country:
    United-States
    Thanks Rafa and Mark! I'm probably over-analyzing. My background is engineering, so I tend to approach everything analytically. I definitely can understand that a painter would almost always be open to the option of doing what looks best for the figure or scene.

    All the best,
    Dan
  15. samson Well-Known Member

    Country:
    United-States
    only thing i can add is that i was totally not understanding light there at all . having said that and being a beginner i bought the figopedia book and it really has put things in a better line for me .

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