Easy-to-follow video tutorials help you learn software, creative, and business skills.Become a member


From: Artist at Work: Color as Shape

Video: Highlights

Now that I've laid down a ground that's dark enough to So you can see in this piece, his shirt was This will serve me.


Now that I've laid down a ground that's dark enough to have a good reaction to the colors that'll be put on top, I'm going to pull out highlights on the surface, so that you can see anything from 50% value up to white, essentially. And when I look up at the color mockup that I've made, the whitest thing that I see is the collar of the shirt. So, I'll start by pulling up color in that area. And basically, the reason why I do this, is so that as I block in the color, I understand where my edges will be, what my lightest light and medium tones will be.

Then I'll lay in my darkest value. It also helps when laying in color. If you have something white, or light, to paint, you don't want to have to be layering so much color and blocking out the ground so much so to get it to the right value. So, I'm going to help it along by just pulling up the color and creating a sense of light, as in the light on this form, and also the lightness of the value of the color. So you can see in this piece, his shirt was actually blue, but I want it to be essentially white.

Which would be appropriate for the Renaissance period, wouldn't have had that turquoise blue color. So I'm pulling up that light, and I'll do it not only for this spot, and I'll leave some of the color, in the shadow from this ground, because it'll work with whatever I put on top of it, to feel like shadow. It already starts to feel like shadow now, and as soon as I make the color closer to the white I want it to be, and maybe pull in some purple reflective color which I'll explain.

This will serve me. I'll also do the same thing for the white of the shirt that's on the shoulder. Because it will be the whitest part of the picture along with the neckline of the shirt. Now, there are only two other areas that I want to really pull out light besides the shirt, and that's on the face, and the hair. And the reason why I do that, is because the face will be a focal point, and if you look at the reference, it's very pink and it's also very light.

So I have to make sure that in the color that I put on top is the right value. So I have to make sure the ground is not too, too heavy in those areas, so I'll do that now. Also the whites of his eyes, and I see the tip of my brush is a little, a little too big for this area, so I'm going to switch to a slightly smaller brush tip. Again, I feel strongly that you have to pay attention to the size of the tool, the brush or the pen or the stylus, or what have you. Or if you're in Photoshop, the size of the tool, and not use too large a tool, or too small a tool for the area you're working on.

It's easy to use the same brush for the whole thing, but that's not a good idea because maybe it's not as accurate. So, I pulling out the white of the eyes, and then I'll pull out, If I have to I blot with a paper towel. As you can see, it kind of bring that light out just a little bit more. It pulls the color off the surface. Now I'm going to look really carefully at the highlights on his face, because if I put them in the wrong spot it will look strange The light on the face is telling us about the form of the face.

And we're human beings, so we, we know what a face looks like. And if the highlight's in a weird spot, based on the lighting system in the whole painting won't look right. And it'll break the sense of our, our illusion. Our belief in the illusion of the picture. So, I have to say that faces in particular, are something we know, so you have to pay attention to the form. If you're trying to make it look, you know, vaguely realistic, in this case, I am. So I'm pulling up the highlight on the nose, the highlight on the lip, and then I'm going to have to very carefully Pull out the highlight on the right side of the face.

And I don't want it to be as, as bright as the nose, or the whites of the eyes, because the skin tone is not that light. It's light but it's not white. So I have to do this with some amount of delicacy. And I'm just very lightly grazing over with a little bit of water on this brush to pull up that light. Now how this relates to shape, is that basically I'm trying to design the shape not only with thinking about what are the colors of these shapes. But what are the values, the underpinning values of each shape.

Because that plays a role in the overall design of the picture. So I'm just going to pull a little more light out of the side of his face and his chin. So that effectively, the color on the left side, which is more, slightly more in shadow, just slightly, will be a little bit deeper than what's in the lit side. At this level, which is the, the foundational level of the piece, the core level of the piece. All the color that I put on top of it will kind of follow these guidelines. Sometimes when you lay color on top of something you bury the things that you've made as kind of visual notes and that's okay.

But in this case, I'd like this ground to really inform the color that will be on top, and the shapes that will be on top. His ear also has a bit of light on it. And you'll notice that I won't pull the light out of the sky, even though the sky is pretty light. It's not as light as the face. The value of the sky is deeper than the value of the face. And because it's right on the edge of 50%, it's probably 30 or 40, it's pretty close. I'm going to leave it this dark green. And let it be just a little darker than the skin tone.

So that the skin tone stands out as being more important, lighter, pinker that the sky. And so hopefully it'll be a point of focus. I'm just going to put a little bit of a light out of the neck, and then the highlights on the hair are pretty important, because the hair frames the face. And let me just do that. And hopefully you can start to see, the form. And that's another reason why I tend to work this way, is that when you're dealing with a piece that is trying to mimic reality, there's light in the real world.

So you want the piece to reflect that, and show light and shadow. And if you ignore that, It, it could be an interesting image. But it won't reflect an illusion of reality or believability in terms of the realism we see in the world. So, let me see if I can just make sure that I don't go too light in this area. And then I'll hit the highlight on the hair. It also probably looks very strange to see this whole painting in green but soon you'll see how that will tie this whole piece together in an interesting way.

I'm almost done with the cheek. I have to be careful, and this is a danger when, when you work And you're looking at imagery, and you're trying to decide where the light goes. People often want to make every single thing have a highlight. The dark shirt, the skin, the hair. And that's not a good idea. It's frequently a problem, you know, when I've worked with high school students. They give everything the same highlight. It's all the same value. The nose might lit be the same way the hair is, and the, and the skin, and the shirt.

And the problem with that is, is that each element is a, a local color. It's a particular color. The dark shirt will not have as high a light as the flesh, because it's a darker value. So to make it have the same highlight. It, messes with our sense of reality. And I'll demonstrate that further when I get into the color, the blocking of the color. So I think this is pretty close in the flesh. I don't want to put too much light on this side of the face. Just enough to make this believable.

And also to make sure that the form, the light is hitting the cheek higher on the top than it is on the side. I want that to be visible. Okay. So the last thing I'll do is to, just a little more on the chin, is to pull up the light in that hair. What do now, and you can probably see I pushed the sense of shadow on the opposite side of the face, just a little more than the photograph, because hte phootgraph is very even, very flat. And I'm doing that, I'm visually editing, I'm doing something because I want it to look that way.

I'm not trying to replicate the photograph precisely. I'm trying to make a work of art. So, I think it's just about ready. And I'll hit the hightlights. And I renderered the hair ahead of time in a dark value, because the hair is darker than the face. And established some highlights in pencil rendering. Just so I'd have a guideline. These curls are, you know, not something I want to have to guess at. I want it to really look closely at the direction of the curls, and the hair to capture the quality of that the texture of the hair.

And one thing I haven't mentioned is I think the texture is really important as a point of contrast. In this scene, the hair is a texture, so it gets your eye to go there, it frames the face, it moves your eye directly to the face. And I'll do a few other things to get your eyes to go to the face. But for right now, let's just, work with some of the highlights in the hair. I might use a slightly stiffer brush to get those highlights, actually this one is bigger. . A little bit stiffer. So I'll pull out a few more highlights in the hair.

And then I think we're good to start blocking. I'm almost there. You can start to see the form of the picture come together even at this basic stage, before it's blocked. Okay, it's almost there. I don't want to light all of the hair, because again, we have a light source coming from the right side. So if I start putting light on the left side and the right side, the whole image will flatten out and that's not the illusion I want to create, I want to it to feel like There's believable light so I'm just going to leave lit areas on the left side, and the opposite side.

Even know in this picture there's a lot of light there, I want it to have more shadow, just like the face, on left hand side. And again, I'm switching to a smaller brush, because it makes a smaller mark. And I see a dark spot on his cheek, that I don't really want there. So I'm just going to pull that right up. Okay. I think that's pretty good. Now, this is enough for me to go to the next stage, which is color blocking.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Artist at Work: Color as Shape
Artist at Work: Color as Shape

6 video lessons · 2698 viewers

Mary Jane Begin

Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 1h 9m
    1. Introduction
      2m 56s
    2. Establishing shape
      5m 45s
    3. Highlights
      11m 17s
    4. Color blocking
      23m 28s
    5. Color blocking the face
      11m 1s
    6. Adding final details
      15m 5s

Start learning today

Get unlimited access to all courses for just $25/month.

Become a member
Sometimes @lynda teaches me how to use a program and sometimes Lynda.com changes my life forever. @JosefShutter
@lynda lynda.com is an absolute life saver when it comes to learning todays software. Definitely recommend it! #higherlearning @Michael_Caraway
@lynda The best thing online! Your database of courses is great! To the mark and very helpful. Thanks! @ru22more
Got to create something yesterday I never thought I could do. #thanks @lynda @Ngventurella
I really do love @lynda as a learning platform. Never stop learning and developing, it’s probably our greatest gift as a species! @soundslikedavid
@lynda just subscribed to lynda.com all I can say its brilliant join now trust me @ButchSamurai
@lynda is an awesome resource. The membership is priceless if you take advantage of it. @diabetic_techie
One of the best decision I made this year. Buy a 1yr subscription to @lynda @cybercaptive
guys lynda.com (@lynda) is the best. So far I’ve learned Java, principles of OO programming, and now learning about MS project @lucasmitchell
Signed back up to @lynda dot com. I’ve missed it!! Proper geeking out right now! #timetolearn #geek @JayGodbold
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Artist at Work: Color as Shape.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Become a member to like this course.

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses.

Get started

Already a member?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

The classic layout automatically defaults to the latest Flash Player.

To choose a different player, hold the cursor over your name at the top right of any lynda.com page and choose Site preferences from the dropdown menu.

Continue to classic layout Stay on new layout
Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from lynda.com.

Sign up and receive emails about lynda.com and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.