Sunday, July 3, 2011

How to make a painting -Step 1 Tonal Drawing

Ability Level: Beginner

First do the very basics; select reference photos, or choose subject matter and draw/sketch compositions.

Then do a tonal drawing. It doesn't matter if it is abstract painting or realistic, by making a tonal drawing, you are making sure you get the foundations of the painting right first. Think of it like a house, if the frame isn't good and correct, you will encounter problems later on. 


So what is tone and tonal value?

Tone is the scale of lightness to darkness of a colour, but you are not looking at what colour (or hue) it is. You are assessing the colour value (ie Tonal Value). When assessing tonal value, you match the colour to a tonal chart; the lightest colour value is 1 and the darkest colour value is 9 (some charts vary and value from 1-10). Check tone by squinting and if the colour or tone blends in then it is a match.

This is my own Tonal Value chart I made. You may print it out and use it. Cut out the above squares. Place over your colour or tone or paint and match it up. Adjust your paint until you achieve your desired tone.


So by doing a tonal drawing and identifying the values, you are setting the foundation of your painting and can make corrections. Once you have made your tonal drawing, and if you choose to make a colour scheme drawing, you may choose to make your first painting layer an underpainting (which is the base layer and can be a greyscale or monochromatic painted version of your composition to then apply colour over the top).




 

When I make a tonal drawing, I actually write the value number in that area as a quick reference -think paint-by-numbers.

Tip: Do not have equal parts of tone in the composition. If you have 1/3 light, 1/3 medium, and 1/3 dark tones, it  probably would not be a very interesting composition. As a general rule, mix it up to vary tonal range to create more interest. 2/3rds dark and 1/3rd highlights or vice-versa. 1/5th dark and the rest a combo of medium and light values would create interest. You be the judge.

Next: Step 2 -Blocking in the underpainting
Step 3: Blocking in the colour
Painting.com has some good activities, see links here

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