Monday, October 11, 2010

Using a tonal scale to 'see' colour

When you are using reference photos or even just a greyscale sketch, I find it helps to use a tonal scale to check the darkness or lightness of the colour before putting brush to canvas.

A tonal scale is the graduation of greys from white to black or lightest to darkest using 9 values. 

Here is a Greyscale for you to use in your own art practice. The white boxes above the value is so you can cut it out, use as a window and see your colour your matching or checking. Click for larger image.
Free Greyscale Template
Note: This image only is copyright free . All other images retain copyright.  

Here is the Greyscale template printed. The holes were cut first and then laminated.

 Left: Using the greyscale here to check what tonal value the rock shadow is. In real life it looks like it could be at the 8 or 9 value.
Right: Using the greyscale to check what tonal value the rock highlight is. In real life it could be at the mid range point. About a 5. 

  • Use the greyscale on the palette when mixing paint. Remember, a colour's value or intensity can be altered by what other colour is surrounding it. So what seems light a very bright colour on your palette, may actually be more dull then you think what you put it next to a mid tone value colour. That is why a greyscale is great for checking. 
  • Also, use your eyes and quint. Blurring the image helps to see the masses of shape and their tone
  • I find looking at the painting through the digital camera screen really helps to 'see' too. Because you are seeing the painting differently.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, great job Chrissy - makes you really think about colour choice.

    I'm always changing things after seeing it via the camera lense - that degree of speration and 2Dness really helps.




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