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Old 12-01-2009, 07:36 PM
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Use to denote nudity/mature subject matter ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Hi! Welcome to the 7th lesson in our Exploring Soft Pastel Classroom – Portrait and Figure Fundamentals. My name is Don Ketchek and this is part 3 of our study of the figure.

Here are links to the first 6 lessons:

Lesson 1 started with eyes and noses and can be found here:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=532971

Lesson 2 covered mouths, ears and hair, and can be found here:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/show...hreadid=538364

Lesson 3 was all about measuring, and can be found here:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=544390

Lesson 4 covered backgrounds and depth.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=549886

Lesson 5 began our work on the figure and focused on the “stick figure.”

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=561275

Lesson 6 concentrated on edges.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=583040

This will be our final lesson in this classroom! I sincerely hope that I have covered the fundamentals for portraits and figures to everyone’s satisfaction. Keep in mind that there are many methods, techniques and opinions to painting any and all subjects, so it’s OK to take what you wish from these classes, ignore other things, and most of all, continue to explore and learn!

Since these lessons began, the staff in the Figure forum here on WC have begun their own series of lessons. Please visit them to get more great information!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/show...hreadid=590516


Rhythm, Connections & Asymmetry

Lots of figure drawing books have a chapter on Rhythm. Aside from being the hardest short word in English to spell (thank you spell-checker!), it is a rather vague term. Usually in art books it is accompanied by some pictures with swooping guidelines and a couple paragraphs of text explaining that rhythm is very important, but not really explaining what it is or how it is achieved. I, at least, never understand these illustrations and explanations! But that won’t keep me from adding my own!

Rather than try to define rhythm, I will return to the subject of curves. For many, including myself, we learn to sketch or draw with small linear strokes. If one isn’t careful, using small linear strokes can result in poses that are too angular. In lesson 5, we looked at how curved the various parts of the figure can be. But, along with those small and medium sized curves, in some cases there may be a curve that defines the entire pose, or a large part of it. Often that curve is best found in the spine or the centerline. Here are some examples.



Original photography used with permission, ©Hong Ly - CharacterDesigns.com.


Original photography used with permission, ©Hong Ly - CharacterDesigns.com.



Original photography used with permission, ©Marcus J. Ranum - www.ranum.com

I’ve roughly drawn in the large curves in red, and some secondary curves in magenta. Now, not all figurative poses will have such clear, long curves. But looking for and finding the curves that extend through most, if not all, of the figure, will help you create the gesture of the pose and find its rhythm. Those large curves will also help you create your stick figure, or may even replace the need for the stick figure. Laying in a major curve might be the first stroke in your painting!

Although we often construct the figure piece by piece – from shoulder to elbow, and elbow to wrist for example – we must always remind ourselves the pieces are not separate, but interconnected. The outline of an arm, for example, does not often stop at the elbow and then continue in a separate direction. The underlying muscles connect the upper and lower arm and the outline of the arm may flow around that elbow with its own flow and rhythm. The same is true at the knee, and all the joints.

Also keep in mind that the limbs are not symmetrical cylinders. They take on a different silhouette shape as they turn or are seen from different angles.


Composition

Figure paintings are usually fairly straightforward when it comes to composition, unless you are doing multiple figures. Usually your subject takes up the majority of the painting and is fairly centered, so there is not a lot that can go wrong! But there are a few things to keep in mind to keep your painting balanced and well composed.

Don’t put all your areas of greatest emphasis on one side of the painting. “One side” means top or bottom, too.

If your subject is looking to one side or the other, make sure they are not too close to the edge of the painting. Give them room to look into.

Don’t put areas of emphasis (areas of high contrast, intense color, lots of detail) too close to the edge of the painting. This often leads the eye towards and off the edge.

If your painting crops your figures, try to crop in an area of low emphasis. If you have drawn most of the arm, or the leg, you may not want to crop off the hand, or the foot. These last suggestions are barely even suggestions, as we will look at some examples where the artist has cropped off hands and feet quite successfully.

Let’s take a closer look at cropping, beginning with some Renoirs! Let’s start with paintings cropped around the waist:



Renoir crops many paintings around the waist, but they are mostly portraits and the subject is almost always sitting! The painting on the right was the only non-portrait that I found cropped at the waist. Notice that on the painting on the left, he crops right through the hands. Notice also, that the hands are not particularly detailed and have a much lower value range than the face – so they are not emphasized. If they were more emphasized, I think cropping them in such a way might lead the eye out of the painting.



A couple more Renoirs. Again, on the right, the hands are cropped mid-way, but very blurry. On the left, the hands are complete and more detailed and not cropped.



When Renoir has standing figures that are cropped, they are usually cropped mid-thigh. Personally, I would also recommend a mid-thigh (or even slightly higher) crop for a pose of this type. I think cropping below the knee for a standing pose would look somewhat awkward, but again, this is just my opinion and not a rule!

On the other hand, for many of Renoir’s seated nudes, the crop is indeed below the knee. Here are three Renoirs and a Bouguereau.



All these paintings are quite successfully cropped below the knee, although, in my opinion, the Bouguereau (lower right) is not as successful. Is it because he is cropping lower – showing more of the leg and cropping closer to the foot? I think it might be! Again, this is my opinion. What do you think?



Of course, one doesn’t have to crop! Here are a couple Renoirs that show the full seated figure. He is painting those toes very close to the edge however (assuming these scans from the internet are showing the full size of the painting). Some composition “rule” books will point out that painting an object tangent to the edge of the paper or canvas is a compositional no-no! Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Especially if the tangent is an area of low emphasis. I’m glad Renoir didn’t throw these in the trash because of those tangents!

Here are a couple more to show that Renoir did sometimes place the entire figure within the canvas without cropping, or putting tangents on the edge!



Let’s not forget the reclining pose – certainly a very popular compositional layout when working with the figure! More Renoirs!



And, yes, he cropped off the toes in the bottom painting! Does it matter?

Since the advent of photography, cropping is much more common than in earlier times. Because we are so used to the somewhat arbitrary cropping in snapshots, cropping can be done almost anywhere and still be successful. However, as we have seen, there are still times that softening edges or blurring detail to create less emphasis near our crops is still a good idea, in my opinion.

Here is an example from my own work! Not by any stretch of the imagination, should my work be shown next to all these Renoirs, but this is my last lesson and I won’t have any other opportunities to do so!



Notice her distant arm. I am cropping it off right above the hand, but to de-emphasize that crop location, the arm is softened almost to the point where it disappears. Does it work? I hope so!!

Last edited by DAK723 : 12-01-2009 at 07:55 PM.
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Foreshortening

Foreshortening occurs whenever part of the figure is pointing towards us or away from us, so there is almost always some foreshortening in a figure drawing or painting. However, the difficulty with foreshortening usually arises when the foreshortening is extreme! However, while extreme foreshortening can be a great technical challenge and a wonderful learning exercise, it is often avoided – not only because of its difficulty - but also because most figurative works are trying to depict the grace and beauty of the human figure. Usually this means long limbs and graceful curves rather than limbs seen head on. Even when well done, one must ask oneself if an extreme foreshortened viewpoint best serves your painting’s objectives.

But, as mentioned, some foreshortening will usually exist in your poses and there are times when one is working from a live model and you just happen to be sitting in the spot with the most foreshortening! So, yes, understanding it and being able to depict it is a fundamental skill!

As usual, I searched my reference books for teaching material on foreshortening, but unfortunately, I found little on the subject, with one exception – Burne Hogarth’s excellent book, Dynamic Figure Drawing. So, between Burne and me, this is what I have come up with!

I believe that the biggest reason for the difficulty in depicting foreshortening is that one must rely almost totally on one’s observations. Remember in our first lesson where we discussed overcoming our “mental image” and how it can interfere with acute observation. Well, in reality, when we have drawn or painted a subject many times, we do rely on our visual memory. We get to know what an arm or leg looks like when seen full view. We can also use generic measurements to get the proportions correct. But suddenly, when something is foreshortened, we have only our visual observation to guide us. It is easy to panic when our mental pictures and past experience are not there to help us!

So the first tip on confronting foreshortening is – observe carefully! Trust your observations and use all the techniques discussed in previous lessons in locating landmarks and measuring. In my opinion, this is where the stick figure can be most helpful. By locating the landmarks with the stick figure, you can save a lot of time and effort.

Below, on the left, is a painting by Bouguereau with some tricky foreshortening. With the stick figure, I can locate those landmarks fairly easily – the foreshortening is not really an issue at this stage. I am just putting down dots for the landmark and then connecting the dots! With the stick figure in place (red), it took just a few minutes to do the sketch.



An obvious aspect of foreshortening is creating the illusion of depth. For a more detailed discussion on creating depth, please refer back to lesson 4 here.

Let’s start with some very basic foreshortening. Since the arms and legs are basically cylindrical – let’s start there!

At its most basic, a cylinder seen from the end is a circle. What can circles tell us about foreshortening?



At the top we see three circles (cylinders). Because they are overlapped, we know which is in front and which behind. Sometimes, we can foreshorten with very basic overlapping outlines or silhouettes. Obviously, these sketches are very simple, but sometimes this is the first step in developing a foreshortened limb. I would start with the closest shape and work back.

Let’s get a bit more dimensional!



On the top, we see 3 cylinders, slightly offset from one another. The outlines overlap, giving us the information we need to see what is in front and what is behind.

But when we paint, we often don’t use these types of outlines. If we remove them all (bottom), we lose all depth and depiction of the forms. Is there any way we can use these outlines, or overlapping edges to help us?



The top figure recreates some of those outlines. But if I am doing a painting and not a line drawing, I won’t have these lines unless I have a distinct crease or change in value in my painting. What if I just show a little overlap (bottom). That still works to define the forms and show some depth. What else can I do to help define the forms and show depth?



(Top) The front of the cylinder is definitely at a different angle than the sides, so it would likely have a different value and color. That definitely makes a big difference.

(Bottom) Using directional strokes that follow the shape of the form is another way to help define the form and create depth.

But in all these examples, I am still using lots of lines in a more drawing oriented approach. Can we use these same techniques in a more painterly, less outlined manner?



Yes, but it becomes a bit more subtle (and more difficult)! But the overlapping outlines and edges depicted as lines in the previous examples have now become value shapes. I am also softening the edges and using cooler colors as I recede. And I can still use a hint of outlines and stroke direction if I want!

Let’s take a look at a couple more effects of foreshortening on the cylinder.



1) If we look at a cylinder from the side rather than from the ends, it looks more like a box (or rectangle) especially if the elliptical end isn’t visible. If this cylinder was the upper part of the leg, then the outline on each side would be a fairly straight line. Of course, as we have seen, they would be slightly curved, but for this demonstration, we will say essentially straight.

2) As we begin to foreshorten the cylinder, we begin to see less of the straight edges. But notice, the width of the cylinder doesn’t change when seen straight on.

(3) and (4) The more we foreshorten, the more the overall shape begins to become circular rather than rectangular, until we have a completely circular outline when seen from the end. But the width stays constant. Why is this important? Because it is a common mistake to make the foreshortened limb wider the more it is foreshortened. Also, if one is having problems with the width of a foreshortened limb, one can judge the proper width by imagining the limb without any foreshortening.

Let’s look at one more foreshortened object.



(Left) When we look at the sponge straight on, we see lots of surface detail. (Right) As we see the sponge foreshortened, we see less and less detail on the foreshortened side. Also, the value change becomes more important in defining the form.

So, let’s keep in mind the following observations for foreshortened objects:

For cylindrical objects, the greater the foreshortening, the more circular and less rectangular the foreshortened object becomes.

Using value changes may help clarify the foreshortening.

Overlapping shapes or edges are perhaps the most useful technique in foreshortening. They help clarify what is in front and what is behind and they can indicate, by their degree of roundness, how foreshortened the object is. Related to overlapping edges are contours – an interior edge or a change in value that follows the surface curve of the form.

Detail decreases or becomes non-existent on the foreshortened object, thus the overall shape or silhouette takes on greater importance.



Let’s look at some examples from the Masters!



In this Detail from Michelagelo’s Doni Tondo, notice the overlaps on the wrist and upper arm (yellow arrows).



Above, from this detail from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, we have an extremely foreshortened forearm. At the red arrow, we see the entire outline of the wrist and hand placing the entire hand shape in front of the forearm. The upper forearm (yellow arrow) is very rounded, and the cylindrical shapes of both the forearm and upper arm are reinforced with darker value shapes that follow the curve of the cylinder (purple arrows). Where the upper arm meets the shoulder, notice how the shoulder muscle also helps define the foreshortening. In many cases, the definition of the muscles will create value changes or contours that will help us with our foreshortening.



Here we have a similar situation from the Bouguereau we saw earlier – a hand coming towards us with an extremely foreshortened forearm. In this case, the hand is not outlined as noticeably, but there is still considerable overlap (yellow arrow). The values are handled in a much more subtle manner, but still effectively indicate the hand shape in front of the forearm. Notice once again how rounded the foreshortened limb is.



Here, let’s concentrate on the man’s right leg (from Michelangelo’s Last Judgment). Let’s compare the upper and lower leg cylinders. The upper leg is seen almost straight on with little foreshortening. So it looks more rectangular with only slightly curved edges (red arrows). The lower leg is foreshortened quite a bit, therefore the edges (yellow arrows) are quite rounded making the entire shape quite circular. Notice also the considerable change in value (green dashed line) which reinforces the illusion of the foreshortening.



I just had to revisit our Rubens from the last lesson. Here we see a leg with the opposite situation – the bottom portion is more rectangular and the upper portion is receding behind. Notice the more curved, cylindrical form of the upper leg (yellow arrow). Notice also, that Rubens uses a hard edge and greater value contrast at the knee (green arrow) to bring it forward.

Notice also the number of curving overlaps and curving contours on the lions to show the cylindrical nature of their foreshortened torsos!

The next example, also from Michelangelo’s Last Judgment will deal with the human torso! While the torso isn’t as cylindrical as the arms or legs, it is still somewhat of a flattened cylinder! When the torso is foreshortened, we can still use the same techniques – overlaps, interior contours, outline shapes or silhouettes, changes in value, loss of detail – which we used for the arms and legs. With the torso, we may have more interior muscles, bones (rib cage) and areas of fat that will help us reinforce the circular nature of the foreshortening.



Remember those simple circles in our first demo? In a way, we can think of them as mountains in a landscape. We’ve all seen paintings or photos of mountain ridges, one behind the other. You can think of foreshortening that way! In this painting, the head shape is closest and is almost completely enclosed in the next contour that defines the chest/rib cage/shoulder/back (yellow line), then another contour (red), then one final contour (blue) that gives us receding layers of the torso. Of course, depending on your angle, you will have different points of reference and different contours, but you will usually find some receding layers in a foreshortened torso.

A couple more to sum things up. On the top we see partial overlaps (yellow arrows). The hand shape (red arrow) is very foreshortened, but the overall shape defines what it is with almost no detail, and the detail on the thumb is quite faint to emphasize the receding nature of the hand.



On the bottom we see a partial overlap (yellow), full overlaps of the feet -very faint (purple) and lower leg (blue). This is a great example of the more foreshortened limb (R) being more cylindrical than the less foreshortened limb (L). Notice, however, that they are the same width.

These are my observations on foreshortening! If you have some others, let us know!

Last edited by DAK723 : 12-01-2009 at 08:24 PM.
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Skin Tones

It is very common for those doing portraits and figures to feel overwhelmed by trying to duplicate the subtlety of human skin. Many are on a quest for the magic formula! Alas, I don’t have one – nor do I think it is a good idea to look for one. Why? Well, the color of skin is just like the color of everything else – it varies depending on many factors. Just as we come to learn that grass isn’t always green, or an apple is not always red, skin tones vary depending on the light. Is the light source warm or cool, indoors or outdoors, sun or shade, morning, noon or night? What colors are reflecting from the surroundings, or the person’s clothing? The colors that you place next to your skin tones will affect the way they look, as will the color of the paper, in many cases. And even beyond that – are you using color in a realistic or idealistic way? You can also choose colors for their emotional impact.

Most of the time, I use very simplified and idealized skin tones. On those occasions where I try to use more realistic skin tones, my skin tones always end up simplified or idealized anyway! And you know what – it doesn’t bother me at all. In a painting, skin tones don’t need to match reality any more than your colors for grass, sky, or water match reality in a landscape. They can be close, but rarely will they match if you really compare them side by side. They just have to give enough of an illusion that they are the real color and the viewer’s experience and knowledge will convince them that it looks realistic enough. That’s my opinion, anyway, and I’m sticking to it!

What is important to me is that the skin tones go together well. If I choose a pastel for my light skin areas, another for my mid-tones and another for my shadows, I always blend them together before I begin to make sure they harmonize and blend well.

Now, here’s one suggestion that I have if you just aren’t sure what skin tones to use – or to buy! If you have a program like Photoshop, you can use the “eyedropper” tool to sample a color from a photo or digital image of a painting. If you sample various colors from the lights, mid-tones and shadows, you might get a better idea of what colors you are looking for your skin tone choices. Here is what I mean.



Here is a Renoir, and I have picked various parts of the painting with the eyedropper tool, and then created a little swatch of color for each. At the bottom I have lined up all the swatches. Now you may or may not find pastels that match these swatches, but you might find some that are close, and be able to mix the others.

Here’s another:



Bouguereau is using a more limited palette and a bit more “reddish” than Renoir’s. So, as you can see, there is no “skin tone” formula. While Renoir also used a few greenish or bluish grays in his shadows, Bouguereau is using only browns.

These are fun to do – and, yes, I have actually gone to the art store with some of these swatches to help me pick out skin tone pastels!



Here’s a Degas, from his later period. Not surprisingly, since he is using pastels (as opposed to the previous oil paintings), they are more colorful and brighter!

Here is a Rubens:



As we can see, the skin tones for lighter and darker skinned individuals are essentially the same.

Here's an example of how varied the color choices for skin tones can be. Another Bouguereau.



All grays - including just a touch of a pinker gray! And yet it still works!


Distortion

One thing to be aware of if working from a model is distortion. It isn’t really an issue when doing portraits or when doing a figure from the waist up, or even from the mid-thigh up. But when working with a full figure, you want to make sure that you are far away enough from the model to reduce the distortion. I am sure we have all seen, or taken photos, where the figure is distorted. Small point and shoot cameras, wide angle lenses, cell phone cameras have made distorted pictures rather commonplace. Because of these types of camera equipment, the distortion is often exaggerated, but distortion can be an issue when painting from life, too. I did this little illustration to show how just moving farther away from the model will help alleviate the problem.



Scenario #1: Our artist is using the “sighting” method of measuring – holding a pencil or pastel or brush at arms length and using his thumb to measure the length (A). The two (A) lengths are the same – exactly 1/3rd of the total height of the model. But the “sighting” length – the apparent length – is quite different and represented by the (b) and (c) lines.

If we compare those (b) and (c) lines representing the apparent lengths, we can see that (b) is considerably longer than (c). Remember, the actual length on the model is the same.



So how can we prevent the models legs from looking too short and squat? Let’s add two more scenarios to the one we just looked at. First, we will move farther away (#2) and then let’s place the model on a stand (#3), so that more of the figure is closer to the artist’s eye-level.



I have enlarged the (b) and (c) apparent lengths on the far right, and shown the percentage of the shorter length to the longer. You can see that just moving farther away (#2) greatly improves the ratio of the two lengths. By placing more of the model closer to the eye level of the artist (#3), the situation improves even more.

Therefore, when working with a model, it is better to stand back and/or place more of the model nearer to your eye-level!


Anatomy

You may have noticed that there was no specific mention of anatomy in this lesson. That doesn’t mean a study of anatomy isn’t important, but I don’t think it is a necessity to doing figurative work. Why? Because when we observe and record the light and shadow shapes, we are recording the anatomy. Of course, a study of anatomy, and greater knowledge of where the muscles are and how they interact, will put more knowledge at your disposal, thus leading to more accuracy and success when depicting the figure.


Exercises

I have posted quite a few references in the previous lessons, so feel free to use those; or use any of the old Master paintings that appear in this lesson to do some new figure paintings!

Please, do not use my painting from this lesson, however! That one is just for observing!

Here is one new reference that might be a good one for working on rhythm!



Original photography used with permission, ©Marcus J. Ranum - www.ranum.com

And here are a couple for brushing up on that foreshortening! From Michelangelo’s Last Judgment:



And another from the Sistine Chapel ceiling:



Thanks once again to the following photographers who graciously allowed us to use their photos for these lessons on the figure:

Marcus J. Ranum - www.ranum.com

Hong Ly - CharacterDesigns.com

And thanks again to the many photographers whose photos I used from the reference library for the portrait lessons.

And thanks to Charlie (Colorix) for her contributions to Lessons 3 and 4.

And thanks to all who have participated and posted in the threads. I am grateful for all your support and kind words.


Recommended Reading

In one of my previous lessons, I mentioned that I would list some of my favorite reference books, some of which I used in the preparation of these lessons. Here they are!

Portraits in Oil – The Van Wyk Way by Helen Van Wyk

Capturing Personality in Pastel by Dennis Frost

Painting Expressive Pastel Portraits by Paul Leveille

Harley Brown’s Eternal Truths for Every Artist
by Harley Brown

Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth
by Andrew Loomis

Life Drawing in Charcoal by Douglas R. Graves

Dynamic Figure Drawing by Burne Hogarth


Now, let’s paint!!

Please post your paintings, sketches, stick figures, etc. right here in the thread! Please ask any questions. Post your observations and experiences. It’s a classroom – let’s learn from one another!
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Last edited by DAK723 : 12-01-2009 at 08:27 PM.
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Don, thank you so much for this lesson. The color picker method is so good to know. As I was going through the lesson, I groaned. I said to myself, "Oh, no, he's onto Renoir and I've only got Degas' books." But good thing you have the Sistine Chapel pieces. I have a few of those.

Let me order colorfix paper now and I could start doing these in real this time. I am eager to get the skin tone and foreshortening right this time.
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Old 12-02-2009, 07:20 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Don, thank you for yet another wonderful lesson. (Unfortunately the last...)

"Rhythm", "silhouette", there are some tricky words to spell. :-)

Thank you for taking the practical approach. Words like 'rhythm' and 'lyrical' reall doesn't help, and so many use them. What exactly consitutes "lyrical" in painting? I just read one clue to both these words, where Greek sculpture from the archaic period was compared to those of the high classical period. The comment was along the lines: in the earlier period, the sculptors knew every limb and feature, and could render them correctly, but they didn't know how they flowed together in a natural rhythm, so the statues looked stilted and odd. When they solved the trick of how one plane flowed into another, they got the unsurpassed beauty. That comparison helped to explain one meaning of 'rhythm' of forms.

Just a word on the eye-dropper of a computer program -- it averages out the area. It may be a composite of many colours, usually layered in pastels. And it is a great tool. The head study by Rubens is a wonderful example of how alternating warm and cool colours create life. Those patches have different hues, while the Boguereau is basically monochrome tonality, convincingly rendering form, but to my eye not being as *alive* as Rubens'.

The sculptor Michelangelo paints. Those images are very high up, and standing on the floor, you do not see the outlines. He usually didn't do outlines, but here they were necessary.

Don, excellent, thank you!

Charlie
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Old 12-02-2009, 09:48 AM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Thank you Sandra and Charlie for your nice comments!

Charlie, I am glad you mentioned the eyedropper tool. In my version of photoshop (Elements 3, I think) You can set the eyedropper to "sample" one pixel, or an average of 3 x 3, or 5 x 5 pixels. I would recommend to everyone that you should not set it to the single pixel, as you might not get the color you are seeing, as each individual pixel might vary considerably from the average that you see when they are blended together. My version of Paint Shop Pro has averages up to 11 x 11 pixels, which is probably too big an area! My samples were taken with the 3 x 3 average.

Good point on Michelangelo's paintings from the Sistine Chapel. As you page through a book or see the images on the internet, you tend to forget that they are painted to be seen from far away!

I saw the Rubens portrait this summer in person, and it is absolutely stunning in real life - the photo here doesn't do it justice. It resides in a nice small art museum (The Hyde Collection) in the city of Glens Falls, NY, just outside the Adirondack park.

I hope I did spell all those tricky words correctly! I will mention that every time I typed in Bouguereau, I walked over to my bookshelf of art books to make sure I spelled it correctly! (Usually it was wrong!) When the lesson was almost complete, I realized that I could add it to my computer program dictionary - which I did!

Don
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Old 12-03-2009, 12:30 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

don,

this is amazing. i am now looking forward to the kids going to bed tonight so i can study this!!! i am committing to posting. there.... now i have to make time many thanks , ginger
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Old 12-03-2009, 01:05 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

LOL! It is a mouthful-- Bouguereau. "Bou" = the 'u' indicates that the 'o' is to be an o of the quality of 'ooops' (no diftong). In "gue" the 'u' tells us that the 'g' should be a hard one (and not a sh-sound) and of course the u isnt' pronounced in any of the cases. "reau" is a complicated way of indicating the sound of the vowel in "ball" so "eau" is just one sound, with no diftong. :-D I don't know the English phonetic system, but it might look something like boh-guh-ROH. (Not! Bow-gyu-roah.)

Are you sure there is only one 'r'? (mindless giggling is heard, fading.....)

OK, I *am* procrastinating. Delving into useless facts with no importance is a foolproof sign of my procrastinating.

Seriously:
One way to indicate foreshortening is with colour, and just as we discussed it in the head, warms come forward, and cools recede. In addition to what you show in the lesson, Don, not instead of, just as colour can help shape the forms of a nose or a muscle. As we saw in the Luti head, the differences in colour may be *very* subtle.

Charlie
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Old 12-03-2009, 11:13 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Yes, I would urge everyone - especially those that may have started with the figure lessons - to review the section on creating depth in lesson 4, as many of those techniques will be applicable to foreshortening.

I tried, in a primitive fashion, to use colors to help create depth in my "cylinder demonstration." Luckily, Charlie contributed a section in lesson 4 that gives a much better picture on how warm and cool colors can be used to help create depth.

For those who are interested in learning more about color (or colour!), I recommend the excellent ESP classroom that Charlie taught. It is now in our Soft Pastel Learning center, so you can't post new posts to it, but I guarantee you will learn a lot by checking it out! I know I did! Here is a link:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=527268

Don
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Old 12-16-2009, 04:18 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

I've finally opened my pack of Colorfix paper today and did my first figure study on it. I am still bogged down with non-skin colors. It's like my set of SMi is full of neon colors. Supplemented with Cretacolor Hard pastels which has more subdued colors.

One of the ignudi above the Prophet Ezechiel by Michelangelo in Sistine Chapel.

Mustard Green Toned Colorfix paper 9x12 inch

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Old 12-16-2009, 11:33 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Hi Sandra! Thanks for posting! I wouldn't worry about non-traditional skin tones. You can depict form and depth with many different colors.

You have some nice movement in this pose! There are a couple things you might want to check.



A very quick stick figure layout of just the arms seems to indicate that the right arm is very long from shoulder to elbow. The width of the near leg seems a bit thin, too, as it is no wider than the arm, which would be a bit unusual!

As always, the depiction of the areas in the light should be clearly distinguished from the areas in the shadow. For the face, neck and torso you have done a nice job in depicting the form, but there are some "patterns" of lighter and darker values on his right arm and right leg which are a little less clear. My guess, without seeing the original, is that there are some areas of reflected light on those limbs. Reflected light is always difficult in that the tendancy is to paint it too light. It should always be considerably darker than anything in direct light.

I know I'm throwing a lot of critiques at you , but I haven't been too busy here in the classroom! This is looking quite good and I am glad you posted!

Don


Quote:
Originally Posted by gakinme
I've finally opened my pack of Colorfix paper today and did my first figure study on it. I am still bogged down with non-skin colors. It's like my set of SMi is full of neon colors. Supplemented with Cretacolor Hard pastels which has more subdued colors.

One of the ignudi above the Prophet Ezechiel by Michelangelo in Sistine Chapel.

Mustard Green Toned Colorfix paper 9x12 inch

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Old 12-17-2009, 06:57 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Don, thank you for the pointers. Now I see all the faults in the piece.

I went in with more orange and blue to warm up the body and shortened the viewer's right arm and toned down highlights in reflected light and upped the white on other parts.

I need to let this rest a couple of days and then come back with fresh eyes again. There are so much patches of color in the skin tone it's difficult to follow. It's this dude I was copying.

http://digilander.libero.it/debiblio...o/04900270.JPG

Here is the amended version. Tell me where else I could improve on before I move on to the next piece, please, Don.


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Old 12-18-2009, 03:08 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Don, thank you so much for doing this series! I'm inspired again, especially with all the classical examples you posted. I might give one of them a try.
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:08 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by gakinme
There are so much patches of color in the skin tone it's difficult to follow.

Hi Sandra,

I agree with your critique! I'm sure you have heard it many times, that one often needs to squint when laying out the initial block-in of the light and dark shapes. Squinting helps eliminate the subtle in-betweens and helps simplify the dark and light values. Luckily, we can eliminate all that eyestrain today and let the computer do the squinting! I took your reference into photoshop and used the posterize command (there are other ways, too) to simplify the values.



This helps show the large difference between the light areas and the shadow areas. If one were to add in more subtle color variations, they should still be very close in value to the overall large value shapes of the light and shadow colors.

Now you have simplified the values a bit from your initial post, but as you mention, there are still some patches of color that are not quite the right value, in my opinion.




I have pointed out a couple areas in the shadow (yellow arrows) that still seem to stand out a bit too much to me. The near leg, even though the values are fairly close, has about 5 bands of color. I think that could be simplified a bit. On the light side - the far arm has some bands of darker value that could be eliminated or reduced when compared to the reference.

Now I do understand that in trying to show the musculature, there will be more detailed shadow shapes or bands. So, the key is trying to find the best compromise! Sometimes the small details need to just get gobbled up in the bigger picture! And judging the value (degree of light and dark) of colors can be very difficult. So when adding in additional colors one must be quite careful in keeping within the correct value range that you have established for the light areas and the shadows.

The only other thing that caught my eye when looking at the ref, was the back leg is more visible - coming out farther beyond the front knee and tapering down to a thicker ankle.

I hope this helps!

Don
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Old 12-18-2009, 05:09 PM
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Re: ESP - Portrait & Figure Fundamentals - Lesson 7: The Figure, Part 3

Quote:
Originally Posted by robertsloan2
Don, thank you so much for doing this series! I'm inspired again, especially with all the classical examples you posted. I might give one of them a try.

Thanks Robert! I look forward to seeing your work!

Don
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