Category Archives: Materials

[Video] Tonal Painting Exercise in Burnt Umber

Many years ago, when I was first I was looking for work as a Concept Artist, one of the skills that helped my portfolio stand out from the crowd was the way I used color. My approach to color was something I learned by first practicing a simple and powerful exercise. Understanding the principles of this exercise not only helped me get a job as a concept artist on the Star Trek Online MMO video game, but helped me get a cover illustration for Star Trek The Magazine.

star trek magazine illustration by Chris Legaspi

This color exercise is tonal painting. It’s the first exercise that I recommend to anyone who wants to learn how to paint in color. In this lesson, I’ll cover tonal painting using watercolor and I’ll paint several different examples. I’ll start with simple shapes, then a cool skull still life and finally a figure study. Don’t worry If you’ve never used watercolor, or are not comfortable drawing skulls or figures. Instead, focus on the principles, concepts and the process, because the principles and the process applies to any subject and any painting medium.

The videos in this lesson demonstrate the tonal painting in Burnt Umber process. In Part 1, I cover the principles and concepts and also talk about the materials I recommend, specifically the brand of watercolor I like and use the most. Part 1 also has a full tonal painting demonstration of a cool skull still life.  In Part 2, I demonstrate a tonal painting of a female torso. By focusing on the torso, I can spend less time on drawing the figure and more time and energy on the painting.

PART 1: Skull still-life

PART 2: Figure studies in watercolor

tonal painting video lesson part 2 thumbnail

Part 2 of this video series, along with the full article with detailed process images and a text breakdown is available only to subscribers of my monthly Newsletter, Private School. To watch Part 2enter your email below to subscribe…

 

 

Why Tonal Painting and Why Burnt Umber?

burnt umber monochrome lesson by chris legaspi

If you’ve never painted before, this is the best place to start. Tonal painting is really the process of using drawing techniques and principles in a painting medium. For the demonstration I will be using watercolor, but any painting medium of your choice will work. Gouache or acrylic are two other mediums that are good for beginner painters. If you are more experienced and have used oils or just want to try, then these concepts will also apply. The reason why I am recommending watercolor is because it’s inexpensive and easy to find. I’ll go into more details in the materials section below.

The reason why we’re starting with Burnt Umber is because it’s a color that has two unique properties that make it great for beginner painters:

#1. It can get a nice range of value from dark to light. In a way Burnt Umber is a lot like using ink wash or any black water based medium. It doesn’t go to a full black, but it still gets really dark, especially when contrasted with a bright white paper.

burnt umber value range

#2. Burnt Umber isn’t a saturated brown. This means it is not as colorful, rich or intense as other colors like a pure Cadmium Red or Cadmium Orange. Using a less saturated color will allow your eye to start to see and experience color without being too distracting or intimidating. See the image below for a comparison of Burnt Umber to Cadmium Red and Cadmium Orange.

burnt umber swatch

The brand I am currently using the most and recommend is M. Graham. There are other “fancier”, more expensive brands, but I keep coming back to M. Graham. The pigment they use produces a nice temperature of Burnt Umber. This means that it’s not too orange, not too red or not too blue. It also gets dark when used more opaquely or thickly.

 

Recommended Materials

burnt-umber-tubes

M. Graham. is an American brand and can be ordered online or found in larger art stores. For those outside of America, another brand I recommend is Holbein. Since I am currently based in Asia, I’ve been able to find Holbein at many art shops I’ve visited.

Holbein is a lot like M. Graham in terms of color temperature and pigment quality. It’s also less expensive that most brands and is great quality paint for the price.

burnt-umber-watercolor-holbein

click the image to buy Holbein Burnt Umber watercolor paint…

 

If you can’t find either of these brands, don’t worry. Start with whatever is available or whatever tube of Burnt Umber you can find. The important thing is to just start painting!


Process Images

In this section I’m going to break down the process in text form to help you review the material from the video lessons. The full article with the detailed process breakdown is available only in the November ’17 Issue of my Private School Newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will not only have access to the detailed process images, text breakdowns, video demonstrations and lessons, but you will also get access to the archive of past articles and video lessons.

To subscribe, enter your email below and click the blue button to join…

 

tonal painting process by chris legaspi

[video] Life Drawing Exercise #2: Charcoal Pencil on Newsprint

These drawings were done while watching the Daily Life Drawing Session #17 from the New Masters Academy youtube page. The images were timed so it simulates a live life drawing session. The poses are 1 minute (x5), 2 minute (x5), 5 minute (x2) and a 10 minute.

The medium I used are carbothello black pencil, smooth newsprint and kneaded eraser.

life drawing, charcoal pencil on newsprint by Chris Legaspi
Life drawings part 1, 1 minute, 2 minute and a 5 minute pose (lower right)

life drawing, charcoal pencil on newsprint by Chris Legaspi
Life drawings part 2, a 5 minute pose (left) and a 10 minute pose

For more figure drawing tutorials and videos, sign up for my free newsletter, Private School. New videos and content are added every month and only available to subscribers. To join, enter your email below and click the button:

[video]Life Drawing Exercise #1: Ballpoint Pen on Toned Paper

These drawings were done while watching the Daily Life Drawing Session #20 from the New Masters Academy youtube page. The images were timed so it simulates a live life drawing session. The poses are 1 minute (x5), 2 minute (x5), 5 minute (x2) and a 10 minute.

The medium I used are ballpoint pen, Strathmore toned paper sketchbook and white carbothello pastel pencil.

life drawing, pen on toned paper by Chris Legaspi

For more figure drawing tutorials and videos, sign up for my free newsletter, Private School. New videos and content are added every month and only available to subscribers. To join, enter your email below and click the button:

30 Day Challenge: Animated Movie Stills

The purpose of this challenge was to copy Animated movie stills for 30 consecutive days.  This challenge was completed during the same time period as the 30 day plein-air challenge.  Needless to say, this was a month of tremendous growth.

The intent behind this exercise was to study the color, design and composition from two of my favorite Animated movies, Kung Fu Panda and Puss in Boots.  Of course I’m a little biased to Puss in Boots because of Nathan Fowkes, who was the lead color stylist for the film, and was also my painting teacher.  In fact, I have to credit Nathan for inspiring me to do this challenge. He always credits his color skills to hours of consistent master studies.

I’ve also described my thought processes, color choices, material choices and general tips below for those who may want to take this challenge themselves. Scroll down to read more about the insights and lessons learned during this month of intensive color studies.

Continue reading

Take the ’30 Day Plein-air Oil Painting Challenge’

Last month, I was able to oil paint at least once a day for 30 consecutive days. Once I knew I had the right resources and systems to be able to paint everyday, I was confident that I could take on a 30 day plein-air (outdoor) oil painting challenge.  The image below is a snapshot of my outdoor paintings from the last 30 days.

I also show my outdoor painting set-up, and how I was able to complete the challenge. If you want to learn how to do it for yourself, scroll down to read more.

“30 day plein-air challenge”, began Sep. 11th, 2012.

 

– How to Take the 30-day Plein-air Challenge –

 

Plein-air and landscape painting in oils is not easy. The challenges of the medium, travel time and unfavorable weather conditions can make outdoor painting even more difficult. Despite the effort, the benefits of being out in nature and gaining expertise in color is invaluable. In fact, it was this need and desire to improve my color skills that motivated me to commit to painting everyday. To begin the challenge, I had to first assemble the right tools.

Continue reading

How to Choose the Best Art Marker for Sketching

This is a review of popular art markers that are commonly available at your local art store, craft store or online through various retailers such as Blick Art Materials.  As a digital illustrator, I use markers mainly as a sketch and design tool and not for detail work or rendering. Because of that I only use gray/gray tone markers, which will be the only “color” reviewed here.  Scroll down to see my personal choice for best marker and a buying guide.

Continue reading