Tag Archives: color

[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] 5 Tips for a Better Skin Color Palette

5 tips for better skin color palette header by Chris Legaspi
Skin color is one of my favorite things to paint.  It’s also one of the most requested topics I’ve encountered. The burning question I hear over and over again from students, friends and artists is: “How can I make a good skin color palette?”

Many artists and students struggle with skin color and rightfully so. Color is an incredibly complex animal that is difficult to control and must be handled with care. This is especially true when trying to paint skin color that feels “real”.  Even though color is tough, painting skin can be a lot of fun if you have the right information and the right strategies.

These 5 tips are my thoughts and ideas on the topic of skin color. These tips and strategies I’ve learned through hard earned experience and years of intensive study on color, along with hundreds of hours of painting practice.

Instead of giving you formulas or pre-made skin color palettes, my goal is to teach you how to see color and then show you a process for making your own skin color palette for any situation.

There are 3 main parts to this article. In Part 1, I’ll examine the properties of skin color, or at least how I see skin color at this stage in my painting career. This section will examine what I see when I observe skin and how I simplify the complexity of skin color.

In Part 2, I’ll explore the 5 Tips for mixing and painting better skin color. These are the techniques and strategies that I personally use when I paint.

In Part 3, there are 2 detailed step-by-step painting demonstrations. The first is a study of light skinned male. The second demo is of a dark skinned african female.

A condensed video form of this article , including the first painting demonstration is below.

The second, 1 hour painting demonstration of an African female portrait is available for free on my Private School newsletter page. See image below for the finished painting demonstration.

skin color palette african demo-final

To watch the full 1 hour painting demonstration and get access to even more exclusive content. Simply enter your email below to join.

If you want a more detailed breakdown of the 5 Tips and both painting demos, scroll down to read the full article…

PART1 – Properties of Skin Color

Property #1 – Red, Yellow, Blue

There is no such thing as a “skin” color. Skin color is essentially a combination of all 3 primaries: red, yellow and blue. That’s right. Red plus yellow plus blue. Sounds obvious and oversimplified, but allow me to elaborate.

Continue reading

[VIDEO] Color Course Launch Update

The NEW official launch date for the full version of The Laws of Color Vol. 1 will be Monday, Nov. 9th, 2015. My apologies for the delay, but I wanted to pack in even more content in the Photoshop edition. This is going to be a very special course and will be absolutely worth the wait.

Until the launch, take this sneak peak at the oil painting demo in the video below:

Below are some screen caps from the course in both editions, traditional oil painting and Photoshop.

Traditional Painting 

color course preview screenshots

 

Photoshop Edition

preview_ps01

If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for the free newsletter and get your invite to the private pre-launch. Subscribers will be eligible to get the course on Friday, Nov. 6th, 3 days before the official launch.

To get your advance copy, simply enter your email below and click the blue button to subscribe.