Issue 18    


A Painting Is Like An Onion

alien photo opportunity A Metaphor is Like an Ogre

The title to this issue is a reference to the movie Shrek, in which Shrek claims that Ogres are like onions because they have layers. And yes, paintings have layers. I'm not talking about layers of sociopolitical meaning but, quite simply, that you create a painting by adding one layer of paint over another. Some layers are opaque and some are translucent, so that the final appearance is a result of the interaction of several layers.

In a way, this is similar to working in colored pencil. Just as was the case with colored pencil, you create the desired result by layering colors. But working in acrylics is different in two significant ways. For one thing, you can mix the paint on the palette instead of the painting so the desired color does not have to be achieved by layering as it does in colored pencils. But the other difference is that, with colored pencils, once you have colored a section there is a lot of work involved in changing it. You have to get it right the first time. With acrylics, you can always lay down another layer to either fix mistakes or to add a new dimension. You can add objects, shadows, light sources... all the things you need to plan ahead of time with colored pencils.

Initial Layers

I like to start off a painting by laying down some rough colors to help me get the right idea in terms of saturation, color and value. In the first picture below, I have applied some basic colors in order to block in the areas and get a feeling for the direction.

first layer of paint

I had a basic idea of how I wanted the mountain in the distance to look but I had little idea of how to achieve it. So I threw down an initial guess. This quickly convinced me that I needed to find reference to work from. After a few minutes of searching the internet (thank you, Google Image Search!) I had a small set of landscape photos to work from.

Getting the Sky Right

Before working on the mountain any further, I wanted to get the sky right. A properly colored sky would help me get the mountain correct the next time I attacked it. So I carefully mixed the exact color I wanted for the sky using a variety of colors including phthalo blue, cadmium orange deep, phthalo turquoise and titanium white.

While filling in the sky, I only lightly painted the cloud shapes in order to retain their outlines; otherwise I would have no idea where they should be. Once the blue of the sky was painted, I painted in the clouds. I did not record the process, but they began as shapes darker but less saturated than the surrounding sky. The white of the clouds was layered on top of these darker shapes, and finally the darker tips of the clouds receding into the distance was applied.hills_palette2.jpg

Taking On The Mountain

I made a file with splotches of color based on the landscape photos I found (see the picture to the right). This palette gave me a set of colors to work with. Using the landscape color palette as a guide, I painted the whole mountain a dull purplish blue and then painted the features and trees over that. This resulted in the picture below.

sky and mountains but no city


Bringing Civilization to the Mountainside

The mountain was painted in, but there was no cityscape on it. Thanks to the layering abilities of acrylics, it was easier to paint the mountainside and then add the city than to try and paint it all at once. By this time, however, the inked lines of the city were completely covered up. The printout of the inking, mentioned in the previous issue of IMPrint became very helpful. Using the printout and the features of the mountainside, I added in a city roughly but not exactly the same as planned. Trying to work from less detailed to more detailed as the city comes closer to the viewer, I added in the houses, governmental buildings, spaceships and other features of the bustling city in the distance. The final result is below.

The Pangalactic Bazaar as of February 5, 2004
The Pangalactic Bazaar as of February 5, 2004, 700 pixels wide
Click on the picture above for a larger version

The next task will be to start on the ground and architecture of the foreground.



    Issue 18    


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This document last updated Mon Oct 2 11:00:31 2006.