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Painting Large Scale Bust SBS pt II

Discussion in 'vBench (Works in Progress)' started by Anders Heintz, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. Anders Heintz Well-Known Member

    Continuing the SBS on the bust I thought I would do some talking about painting techniques and different kind of lighting. By breaking it up into seperate posts keeps the posts from being miles long and an hour to load all the pics. I typed this up in Word so please excuse the more formal style of writing, it's intended to put all of this together in an article some time down the road.

    Painting with acrylics is not a new thing, nor is it an undocumented part of our hobby. With this article I will just show you how I approach painting large scale busts with acrylics, and there are several ways you can do it and mine is by no way the only way it can be done. All colors will be Vallejo (Va) if others are used they will be mentioned in the text.

    The basic idea with acrylics is to build up thin layers of paint until you achieve a depth that you are looking for. In opposition with oils where you blend the colors wet on wet to achieve the mid tones in between the shadows and highlights you have to physically blend each color that is on the figure on the palette and then paint it on the figure. With oils you can lay in the highlight, and then lay in the shadow and blend the borders together to achieve a smooth transition, with acrylics you increase each layer just enough to be different but not too much tone change to create the smooth transitions. The images below will demonstrate this better then any words then I can write. But essentially all you do is paint the base coat, then increase the lighter color in your mix and gradually build up your highlights with each layer slightly overlapping the previous one and then repeat with the shadows.

    Once all the layers are put together it is time to make even smoother transitions. This is called painting the mid tones. A mid tone is a very diluted mix that you paint over the edges of each layer to create an even smother transition. The colors you do this with are roughly 50/50 of the two colors you are painting the mid tone for.

    To show these techniques I painted a plastic piece, first the base color, then highlighted it and shaded it, leaving the top side without mid tones and the lower parts with mid tones. I did this to show how the paints are layered and the difference in the tones. Each layer is painted completely through, with this I mean that the first highlight was painted all the way until the end of the piece, then the second highlight was painted over this and again painted to the end and so forth. For smoother transitions use more layers and for starker contrast use less layers. Note how each layer is overlapping, leaving an edge of the previous color.

    Remember that I am not an artist and I can't paint worth a crap on flat surfaces so don't laugh too hard at my attempt

    First Light and shadow


    The whole range from dark to light, the top s left alone and the bottom has some midtones added


    The second thing I did was a small circle, its very rough as I really didn’t try to make it beautiful (not that I could anyways) but it shows how the layering technique works. There was no mid tones used here just each tone painted over the base color.


    Let’s talk a little bit about the lighting. You can direct the way you paint the figure by changing the light source. Today the most used is something called Overhead lighting. This is when the imagined light source is directly over the figures head, or 12 O’clock. You can experiment with the light coming from different angles to achieve some really neat effects. To check where the shadows and highlights should be, take a desk lamp and place it so the light is shining from straight above, right side or straight ahead, or where ever you want the light to come from. This can be a great resource if you are not quite sure where to place your highlights and shadows. (Something I should be doing more often!!)

    Light from overhead, or 12 O'Clock


    Light from right side


    Light from straight ahead


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