Monday, December 1, 2008

Shadows part 8 - Shading things close and far

I am not sure why I want to talk about this today, but I figure now is a good time to talk a little bit about landscapes. Let's look at the nature of understanding depth and how to color things far away. If you remember back a few weeks ago, I said that cool things are far away and warm things are close up.

What do things far away look like?
The earth's atmosphere has particles that are generally blue. From a distance our planet looks blue because of these particles, not just because there are so many oceans. These particles get in the way of our view of things far away.

Here in Oregon our hills and mountains are covered in pine trees and evergreens. These are a deep, dusty green color. As you get farther away, the hills become more blue and there's less contrast. Why? because the particles in our atmosphere interfere with what we're seeing from a distance making them turn from green to blue.

Look at this photo of my son climbing on some rocks. The rocks close to us have more contrast and are rich in color. We know that the rocks over near the waterfall are exactly the same type and color of rock, but see how they have much less contrast and are lighter. The shadow of the overhang is also stronger on this side of the waterfall than when you get right up close to the waterfall. It's not as strong a contrast in this example as a photo of something farther away, but you start to see it even here.

Take a hill in an area where there are lots of oak and maple trees. In the fall these trees turn beautiful colors, yet the ones far away loose their vibrancy because of the blue particles. What would be a bright, warm yellow tree up close would be a muted cool yellow tree from a distance.

Cool and Warm
Now do you understand what I'm saying about cool and warm in relation to distance? Our minds are used to this concept so we naturally pull this into whatever we see. If you are coloring something and you want the background to be far away and less inviting since it's not your focal point then color it with hints of blue. If the background should compliment your work and make a warm inviting, close scene then make the background warm.

Here is a tree in snow. Notice the background tree on one side I colored all Warm Gray and the other tree I colored all Cool gray. Then, I'm adding my lighter green over the top, and very little of the dark green, since these are farther away. Which tree feels closer or more inviting to you? In my opinion the warm gray changes the tone of the tree, but the cool gray feels a bit more natural, just far away and shadowed.

This is all personal preference. Many of you swear by W1 shadows because you're that kind of person. When I want a gray I always reach for cool grays (maybe because I have a colder personality?). No, really it's because I tend to draw a lot of metal things and things in the distance so I tend to make my shadows cool.

When should I add grays while coloring?
Grays get added for things in shadow and things far away. From the example above you can see that I used gray first, then added color over the top, then added a bit more gray. The final example I used color first, added blue, then added gray. It is a matter of personal preference.

The nice things about Copic markers is that you can keep adding and layering colors and shading or muting it as much as you need. If it looks too bright and detracts from the background or doesn't have enough contrast then you can always add more gray. If it's too dark, then add more color.

For my final image today I drew this scene with a 0.3mm multiliner onto color Laser Copier paper. If you look at the first steps, you'll see how the trees all blend together and look flat. To make the front tree stand out I added the most contrast, and made the background trees muted with both the blue from the sky and the darker gray to make it fade into the distance. Notice on the background trees also the ones closer to us are brighter slightly. My snow is made with B41, which has a bit more gray in it than the brighter blue of the sky.

I hope this helps you as you plan your colors for landscapes, and gives you some ideas for coloring snow scenes. Have a great week.


Ann said...

Ahhhhh, this has been extremely helpful! I like knowling about the warm and cool shadow difference for the distance. BTW....darling tree....should be a stamp! ;-)

B2-kun said...

Very nice well-rounded compact lesson. Thanks!

MaggiLiz Creations said...

Hi Marianne
I've just discovered your blog and all the wonderful techniques you are sharing. So much to assimilate. Are you going to publish a book of these techniques? I think it could be a bestseller.
Now I've got to try out these techniques.
Thanks so much for sharing.

sierra said...

I have read some of your articles,which I find very helpful. I am a new Copic user, and I am at Square 1 with them. Your articles are well written so even I can understand the meaning. Thanks for all of your help.