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Understanding color: Warm advances, cool retreats

From: Digital Painting: Architecture

Video: Understanding color: Warm advances, cool retreats

Besides indicating detail with brushwork, you can also indicate depth and visual importance with color by controlling its temperature and saturation. Atmospheric or aerial perspective is a painting technique in which three-dimensional depth is portrayed by reducing color saturation and tinting retreating colors towards blue. This mimics the effect of the atmosphere on distance. We can additionally use this optical cue to place greater importance on subject matter in a painting. In this video, we'll take a look at how to use this technique.

Understanding color: Warm advances, cool retreats

Besides indicating detail with brushwork, you can also indicate depth and visual importance with color by controlling its temperature and saturation. Atmospheric or aerial perspective is a painting technique in which three-dimensional depth is portrayed by reducing color saturation and tinting retreating colors towards blue. This mimics the effect of the atmosphere on distance. We can additionally use this optical cue to place greater importance on subject matter in a painting. In this video, we'll take a look at how to use this technique.

So, just to kind of cover what I'm talking about here, I've got a couple example here that I want to show you. This is atmospheric perspective, and in this case, it's actually foggy out. But see how the color in the foreground is fully saturated and rich. And as distance increases, in this case, there's particulate in the air in the form of tiny droplets forming the fog. So, as objects get farther away, more and more of that is between us and that object and as a result, it gets more and more grayed out and loses detail.

Another example here, even on a sunny day, is right here. This shows you that even in the sunny conditions, once again, you've got all of this color in this ridge in the foreground, but as we start to move back, in this case, more and more blue starts to intrude on the scene till you get to that farthest back mountain range and it's basically just kind of gray with a hint of blue in it. So, the use of color saturation is great for indicating depth, and that's one of the primary ways it's used in traditional painting.

What we're talking about here isn't so much depth because of distance, but depth or color used to indicate importance. And this probably isn't the exact place I would use this, but I just want to give you an example of how powerful this can be. Because we have these hue and saturation layers associated with each of our Cloning Layers, I can, at any point, play around with each one of these layers' importance, so to speak. And so, if I go to the underpainting layer, down here, and use this Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, which is associated with it, I could go in here and, for example, if I thought this brick work is more important than the under- painting, well I could start to, you know, desaturate it a bit.

I could play with its lightness a bit. But you see all of a sudden how that brickwork is now jumping forward. It's not intentional, I wouldn't do that to this because they really are sort of together here. But as we go through the rest of this title, you're going to see me taking advantage of these Hue/Saturation layers. And always keep in mind, these are non-destructive. So, for example, I could even set this this way right now. So then, as I paint, I am getting a more clear view of how these look as I paint.

And then later on, I can pull the saturation and lightness back to where they were and they'll merge a little bit better. In fact, I do that all the time, I'll probably leave it like this so that as I start to paint, my intermediate layer is going to have greater saturation because we've actually desaturated the background. So, you can use this in a number of ways. You can use it as a final part of the image to create importance on certain layers. Or you can use it temporarily, as I'm describing, and just desaturate a background layer that you don't want to necessarily have bothering you or interfering with your vision as you're applying these strokes, in this case, for the brickwork.

The use of warm/cool color and saturation/desaturation is a useful tool for focusing viewer attention to desired areas within a composition. The trick is to be subtle about it, and not let it call undue attention for the wrong reasons. And as I just mentioned, you can also use it as a temporary measure to increase the importance of the layer that you're currently focusing on.

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This video is part of

Image for Digital Painting: Architecture
Digital Painting: Architecture

49 video lessons · 11757 viewers

John Derry
Author

 
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  1. 26m 4s
    1. Introduction
      1m 3s
    2. Using the exercise files
      32s
    3. Installing custom content
      2m 46s
    4. Setting up Wacom express keys
      13m 32s
    5. Setting Wacom touch ring preferences
      2m 14s
    6. Setting Wacom stylus preferences
      3m 24s
    7. Division of labor: Image prep and painting
      2m 33s
  2. 19m 9s
    1. Visual vocabularies
      3m 49s
    2. The vocabulary of photography
      7m 38s
    3. The vocabulary of painting
      4m 59s
    4. Looking at reality through a mental painting filter
      2m 43s
  3. 38m 57s
    1. Removing lens distortion with the Adaptive Wide Angle filter
      6m 47s
    2. Removing distractions
      8m 7s
    3. Don't be a slave to the original photograph
      10m 51s
    4. Correcting image adjustments
      2m 58s
    5. Telling a story with added image elements
      10m 14s
  4. 25m 2s
    1. The eye has a better sensor than a camera
      3m 2s
    2. Adding natural shadows with Field Blur
      8m 47s
    3. Using the Shadow/Highlight adjustment filter
      7m 48s
    4. Using the HDR Toning filter
      5m 25s
  5. 39m 56s
    1. Resolution is in the brushstrokes
      3m 26s
    2. Using the Surface Blur filter
      6m 17s
    3. Using the Displacement filter to add imperfections
      6m 22s
    4. Using the Oil Paint filter
      11m 51s
    5. Making tonal and color corrections
      12m 0s
  6. 22m 40s
    1. Nondestructive layer painting (NDLP): Your creative safety net
      5m 54s
    2. Setting up the Mixer Brush cloning action
      7m 29s
    3. Using cloning layers
      2m 58s
    4. Working with adjustment layers
      6m 19s
  7. 20m 7s
    1. Using tool presets and not brushes
      3m 41s
    2. Categorizing and organizing brushes
      6m 14s
    3. Adding canvas texture
      4m 51s
    4. Using Sample All Layers
      5m 21s
  8. 14m 48s
    1. You must destroy detail
      2m 9s
    2. Establishing compositional structure
      3m 46s
    3. Determining a style and sticking to it
      7m 30s
    4. Painting in progress: Finishing the underpainting layer
      1m 23s
  9. 26m 40s
    1. Understanding simplified indication
      9m 9s
    2. Understanding color: Warm advances, cool retreats
      4m 9s
    3. Painting in progress: Introducing texture to the intermediate layer
      13m 22s
  10. 40m 19s
    1. The play's the thing
      5m 18s
    2. Focusing on the subject through detail
      4m 40s
    3. Using a traditional paint color swatch set
      4m 37s
    4. Painting in progress: Completing the detail layer
      16m 25s
    5. Adding surface texture effects
      9m 19s
  11. 12m 47s
    1. It pays to wait a day
      1m 55s
    2. Adjusting your importance hierarchy
      4m 49s
    3. You'll never paint the same thing twice
      2m 7s
    4. Helpful resources and inspiration
      3m 56s

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