WetCanvas
Home Member Services Content Areas Tools Info Center WC Partners Shop Help
Channels:
Search for:
in:

Welcome to the WetCanvas forums. You are currently viewing our boards as a guest which gives you limited access to view most discussions, articles and access our other FREE features. By joining our free community you will have access to post topics, communicate privately with other members (PM), respond to polls, upload your own photos and access many other special features. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free so please, join our community today!

If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please visit our help center.

Go Back   WetCanvas > Explore Media > Pastels > Soft Pastel Talk
User Name
Password
Register Mark Forums Read

Salute to our Partners
WC! Sponsors

Our Sponsors
Reply  
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-19-2018, 05:38 PM
HopelessComposer HopelessComposer is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 22
 
Exclamation Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

Hey guys! Just started pastels, and I love them already. The medium feels so honest and fresh - just pick up a color, and lay it down. It's great! That said, one thing I noticed right away is that my blackest blacks and whitest whites weren't as black and white as I'd like them to be. I'm coming from a digital background, where black is black and white is white.

I just did my first test on Canson paper with Rembrandt pastels. Just sketching a quick pear to see how the pastels handle on the paper:

I was pretty happy with it, except for the contrast. I've seen a lot of wonderful work on this forum...some of it with contrast that seems physically impossible to get with pastels. Pastel still lifes I see online usually look more like this:



Whoa, what a difference in contrast after ten seconds in photoshop! This is more what I'm used to while painting digitally, hahah! But it doesn't seem to be actually possible to get using pastels - at least not with Rembrandts and Canson!

This is why I made the thread - I've seen plenty of pastel works around the net (and even here) where the blackest blacks in the painting read as RGB (0,0,0) in an image editor, while the whitest whites read at RGB(255,255,255). That's perfect contrast - you can't get any more of a range than that! It seems physically impossible to me. In the light, my blackest black is still obviously dark grey compared to the black of my monitor's RGB (0,0,0). In the dark my white, of course, no longer appears white. It feels like pastel works around the net might be a bit misrepresented on a computer monitor.

So here's my question for all you veterans out there: Do you "cheat" with color/contrast curves when you upload? If so, how much?

....If your answer is "I don't cheat at all," then please tell me your secrets! I want as much contrast in my pastel paintings as physically possible, hahah!

Thanks, guys. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions on this, heheh. =D
__________________
Learning! Some of my art: https://imgur.com/a/niSDB

Last edited by HopelessComposer : 02-19-2018 at 06:15 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-19-2018, 07:40 PM
water girl's Avatar
water girl water girl is offline
Moderator
san diego, ca
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 6,874
 
Hails from United States
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

If I want a dark background, i use an inexpensive black "square chalk pastel" that also says Charcoal on the box. The one I have right now is by Sargent Art. Once I've filled in the background, I go over that with one of Terry Ludwig"s Intense Dark II pastels. Flat black is not as vibrant as a really, really dark pastel. Go to an art store that has individual sticks and grab a few of the darkest colors. You did not say where you live, so I'm assuming you are in the US.
As for white highlights, I often us a white NuPastel, with a very firm hand. I hope this helps.
__________________
Karen, IAPS/MC, PSA WC Moderator-Pastels

web site , Getting started in soft pastels., What you need to know, Critique Guide Lines
Reply With Quote
  #3   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-19-2018, 08:17 PM
DAK723's Avatar
DAK723 DAK723 is online now
WC! Guide
Rochester, NY
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 12,351
 
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

No cheating at all - at least not intentionally. As you probably know, cameras have a more limited value range than our eyes, so if you expose a pic on your camera to be correct at the middle values, it will exaggerate both lights and darks, often going to white even if nothing in your actual painting is white and to black even if your painting only has something as dark as - let's say value 8 of 10. In other words, pretty much every photo will have more contrast than the actual painting.

One thing I would consider. While contrast is important and I highly recommend using it to your advantage, virtually nothing in nature is 100% white or, more importantly, 100% black. As soon as light shines on a black object, it is no longer 100% black. That, plus color reflects into most things we might think are "black" - they usually contain some small hint (or not so small sometimes) of color. Just a thought.

One last thought. Medium to harder pastels often do not have nearly as dark pastels as some of the softer brands. I think pretty much everyone who starts with Rembrandts (one of the harder brands) will eventually supplement their collection with darker (and perhaps lighter) softer pastels. Some brands have special sets (Ludwigs, as Karen has mentioned) of darks because many brands do not have really dark pastels. The softer brands are more opaque, as well, making light and dark pastels in those brands cover better and enhancing their ability to be really dark (or light).

Don
__________________
Don Ketchek, WC Guide - Pastels

My Blog My Art Gallery My Photo Gallery

Last edited by DAK723 : 02-19-2018 at 08:21 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-19-2018, 08:37 PM
KJSCL's Avatar
KJSCL KJSCL is offline
Enthusiast
Calgary, AB
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,421
 
Hails from Canada
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

Try a more pigment rich pastel like Ludwig, Schmincke, or Unison. The difference will be quite noticeable. Also, the color of your paper will influence the pastel's color chroma and value.
__________________
Kathy
My Website
Reply With Quote
  #5   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-20-2018, 03:02 AM
HopelessComposer HopelessComposer is offline
New Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Posts: 22
 
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

@water girl: Thanks for the advice. I didn't know whether or not I could use charcoal with my pastels....I have some charcoal that's probably much darker than my Rembrandts, but didn't think to try them. Can I use normal charcoal with pastels, or does it need to be "pastel charcoal?" I've heard lots of people mention Nu Pastels, too, but I thought they'd be as dim as my Rembrandts, since they're also a hard pastel. I thought a softer pastel would give me a lighter color...

And yes, I'm in New England. =)

@KJSCL: Thanks for the advice. Any thoughts on what sticks would play with the Rembrandts the best, or should they all be roughly the same? I was thinking about supplementing the Rembrandts with some softer pastels at some point, anyway.

@DAK723:
Quote:
No cheating at all - at least not intentionally. As you probably know, cameras have a more limited value range than our eyes, so if you expose a pic on your camera to be correct at the middle values, it will exaggerate both lights and darks, often going to white even if nothing in your actual painting is white and to black even if your painting only has something as dark as - let's say value 8 of 10. In other words, pretty much every photo will have more contrast than the actual painting.
Yes, photos usually have pretty inaccurate colors. You can do the opposite of "cheating" with photo editing software and bring the contrast down to match your actual work if you want to too, though. Not sure what the thoughts are on this....are we trying to capture the exact look of our pastels in our photos, or the feeling they give us when we look at them. Most artwork is more beautiful in person, even if it's a bit less saturated or whatever than a photo would make it look.
Quote:
One thing I would consider. While contrast is important and I highly recommend using it to your advantage, virtually nothing in nature is 100% white or, more importantly, 100% black. As soon as light shines on a black object, it is no longer 100% black. That, plus color reflects into most things we might think are "black" - they usually contain some small hint (or not so small sometimes) of color. Just a thought.
Heheh. I hear this line of thought a lot about white whites and black blacks. I understand the thought behind it, but I think we can use whites and blacks more than most people allow - you say that nothing is 100% white or 100% black in nature, and this is true. It's also true that our eyes can only detect so much contrast at once - if we're outside looking toward the bright sun, shadows under the trees near us will appear almost, if not completely black. There's also the problem I already mentioned with pastels and paper - even if we use pure black on our paper, it's still brighter than the shadows I'm trying to convey in my paintings. Our blackest "blacks," because our paintings are viewed in light, are already tinted by light, and far from black. If I hold up a painting of mine in front of a dark room, the dark room is much, much blacker than the pastels on my paper. Because of that, I think blacks and whites are safe to use. Pastels already offer way less contrast than our eyes can actually see - might as well use all of it! My thoughts on the matter, anyway! =)
Quote:
One last thought. Medium to harder pastels often do not have nearly as dark pastels as some of the softer brands. I think pretty much everyone who starts with Rembrandts (one of the harder brands) will eventually supplement their collection with darker (and perhaps lighter) softer pastels. Some brands have special sets (Ludwigs, as Karen has mentioned) of darks because many brands do not have really dark pastels. The softer brands are more opaque, as well, making light and dark pastels in those brands cover better and enhancing their ability to be really dark (or light).
Thanks for the advice here, Don. I'll take a look at the Ludwig sets. The colors I'm missing the most right now are dark neutrals. =)

Actually, this seemed weird to me, but my 120pc Rembrandt set has basically *no* pure red colors, either! Every stick, save maybe one leans either noticeably orange or purple. Is this normal for most pastel sets? Is it because pure red is a rarer color than most or something? It's not a big deal, just struck me as a little strange, hahah!

Edit: Haaaa, pastels are expensive, huh? I think I know where half my tax return is going this year...those Ludwig darks look nice. :')
__________________
Learning! Some of my art: https://imgur.com/a/niSDB

Last edited by HopelessComposer : 02-20-2018 at 03:13 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #6   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-20-2018, 10:17 AM
DAK723's Avatar
DAK723 DAK723 is online now
WC! Guide
Rochester, NY
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 12,351
 
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

Quote:
Originally Posted by HopelessComposer

@DAK723: Yes, photos usually have pretty inaccurate colors. You can do the opposite of "cheating" with photo editing software and bring the contrast down to match your actual work if you want to too, though. Not sure what the thoughts are on this....are we trying to capture the exact look of our pastels in our photos, or the feeling they give us when we look at them. Most artwork is more beautiful in person, even if it's a bit less saturated or whatever than a photo would make it look.
Heheh. I hear this line of thought a lot about white whites and black blacks. I understand the thought behind it, but I think we can use whites and blacks more than most people allow - you say that nothing is 100% white or 100% black in nature, and this is true. It's also true that our eyes can only detect so much contrast at once - if we're outside looking toward the bright sun, shadows under the trees near us will appear almost, if not completely black. There's also the problem I already mentioned with pastels and paper - even if we use pure black on our paper, it's still brighter than the shadows I'm trying to convey in my paintings. Our blackest "blacks," because our paintings are viewed in light, are already tinted by light, and far from black. If I hold up a painting of mine in front of a dark room, the dark room is much, much blacker than the pastels on my paper. Because of that, I think blacks and whites are safe to use. Pastels already offer way less contrast than our eyes can actually see - might as well use all of it! My thoughts on the matter, anyway! =)
Thanks for the advice here, Don. I'll take a look at the Ludwig sets. The colors I'm missing the most right now are dark neutrals. =)

Actually, this seemed weird to me, but my 120pc Rembrandt set has basically *no* pure red colors, either! Every stick, save maybe one leans either noticeably orange or purple. Is this normal for most pastel sets? Is it because pure red is a rarer color than most or something? It's not a big deal, just struck me as a little strange, hahah!

Edit: Haaaa, pastels are expensive, huh? I think I know where half my tax return is going this year...those Ludwig darks look nice. :')

Yes, you make some good points regarding darks, shadows, etc. As artists we are certainly free to exaggerate contrast (I highly recommend it, in fact) or to interpret light and shadow as we wish. And yes, our paintings are seen in light, thus the blackest blacks are automatically lightened. I guess my only advice would be - when using pure black, it can often appear as a hole in your painting rather than as part of the painting. Creating a feeling of light and atmosphere often means having to put light and color into all areas of the painting - even shadows. Of course, each painting will have its own requirements and strategies, so I am definitely not saying my advice is a rule. Just something to be aware of. And, needless to say, you can ignore it totally!

Taking photos of our artwork is often a challenge, and I think most of us try to manipulate the resulting image on our computers to be as close to the actual painting as possible.

Not sure about Reds and how Rembrandts compare with other brands. Some brands, such as Sennelier, have many more sticks, so you may find more red alternatives in other brands. Some brands (I think) stick with single pigments for each pastel group of colors, other will mix pigments to create more colors. You will find, in all likelihood, that one brand will not be anywhere close to getting all the colors you want. This means buying many more sticks that you ever thought possible, or being happy with colors that are close but not exactly what you want! Or mixing colors as you would in other painting mediums.

You mention neutrals - and once again some brands offer special neutral sets as they are normally lacking in general sets and some brands. Mt Vision has some very nice colored neutrals (their Thunderstorm gray set) and other brands have sets of grays as well.

Don
__________________
Don Ketchek, WC Guide - Pastels

My Blog My Art Gallery My Photo Gallery
Reply With Quote
  #7   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-20-2018, 12:10 PM
stapeliad's Avatar
stapeliad stapeliad is online now
Moderator
New York City
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 18,668
 
Hails from United States
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

I take my photos with no flash (pastels are so much easier than oils!) and make minor adjustments so the photo is as close to the painting as I can get it. I do not try and fix things in the photo, I fix the painting.

Not all paintings have a full black-white value range.

I haven't ever seen a photograph that truly represents a painting 100%. Even Jeremy Lipking's paintings are about 1000% better in person, and his stuff is of course photographed and printed using the best technology and materials.
__________________
Lady Mars Orange Marmalade Stapleford
My Website .. Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. -Oscar Wilde

Reply With Quote
  #8   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-26-2018, 05:42 PM
PeggyB PeggyB is offline
A WetCanvas! Patron Saint
Washington state
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 3,766
 
Hails from United States
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

As Edgar Degas once said, "Art is not what you see, but what you make other see." OK, he said it in French, but I think we can get the idea in English as well. There are multitude ways to accomplish this, and color contrast is one of them.
Modern science has shown that our eyes are more unique than our fingerprints, and no two people see colors exactly the same. You mention looking into a dark room, and seeing black where as I more often see subtle differences in the dark that make some "warmer" and some "cooler" in temperature; not pure "black". The only times I use a black or white pastel is when I am painting something more abstract, and that's not often.
As for my "fixing" a photograph of any of my pastel paintings, well I don't do that. I leave that to my professional photographer if it is something I'm entering into competition.He has the original work there from which to compare, and he decides if the photo needs any adjustment. If its one destined for a gallery I just use my iPhone 8+ camera and say to myself, "Good enough."
BTW: I also use the monochromatic view on my cellphone camera to get an idea of how well the values are working together. I don't want any pure "black holes" or "white highlights" even in the mono view. In my opinion they are much too distracting for a viewer to look at the entire painting. I want their eyes to travel into, around, and through the work, and not be stopped by "oh look, a dark spot" or "oh look a highlight".
__________________
Peggy Braeutigam, IAPS/MC
www.peggybraeutigam.com
Reply With Quote
  #9   Report Bad Post  
Old 02-28-2018, 06:31 AM
Moises Menendez Moises Menendez is offline
WC! Guide
Magnolia, Arkansas
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 3,231
 
Hails from United States
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

In my humble experience the darkest "dark" has been the Ludwig soft pastel. The brightest white pastel in my palette is the Unison brand. Another trick is to add contrast and create the feeling of darkness or brightness.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #10   Report Bad Post  
Old 03-07-2018, 06:41 AM
Merethe T's Avatar
Merethe T Merethe T is offline
A WC! Legend
Harstad, Norway
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 10,101
 
Hails from Norway
Re: Brightest Brights, Darkest Darks - How much do you cheat when you upload?

No cheating with photos, it is possible to achive the contrast you are looking for! Most of my paintings are all about light and contrast, and I have several pieces that range from pure black to pure white in the highlights. I'm not looking for a realistic rendering of colors, I enjoy saturating real life colors to make a painting sparkle.

You have already been given great advice, I'm just gonna add that your materials do matter. Softer pastels (like Ludwigs) will give you richer darks, I use them all the time for darker areas. As Don mentioned, a pure black can appear dead in a painting, and most of the time I'll mix other colors into the black to give it more depth. But if I want a pure black for background, I prefer Mungyo black. The paper you use is harder to achive contrast with, it doesn't take many layers and I find that colors appear more dull with Canson. Try a sanded paper, it will allow more layers and thus will give you more depth in color. I prefer Sennelier La Carte, but there are several other options.

Lastly, remember that colors do affect each other, if you want a sparkling highlight you'll have to consider the colors surrounding it. The darker the colors next to the highlight, the more spark. If you look at the values in that second photo you'll find that the colors surrounding the white is darker. You'll need to keep an eye on your values to make the lights pop. And as for blacks, a softer pastel is easier to apply on top of other colors.

Keep experimenting, what you're looking for is possible, and it is fun!
__________________

My Website My blog
Reply With Quote

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

vB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 04:15 PM.


© 2014 F+W All rights reserved.