Keyboard Shortcuts

When you paint, there are two keyboard shortcuts you should learn and use at every opportunity. Their use will speed up your painting process.

Ctrl+Alt (Option+F on the Mac) resizes the brush being used in an interactive way. Hold the keys down and drag in the painting window. A circle interactively changes size, indicating the size of your brush. When the size is what you want, let up on the keys.

The Alt key (Option on the Mac) activates the Dropper tool. Selecting colors to paint with is quick and easy: you can select colors that are created as strokes overlap, giving you some beautiful and subtle effects.

Choose a dark color and block in the dark areas of the painting on the new layer. Go ahead and use the same dark color to paint not only the fabric, but also some of the darker areas in the hair. Figure 1.14 shows this initial block-in of the dark color, as well as the arrangement of the various layers. Using the same brush, continue to paint in the colors of the fabric, gradually moving to lighter colors. In the case of a deep red fabric, as in this painting, take care not to go too light with the red. Red is one of the only colors that will eventually become a different color as it is lightened. You do not want a pink costume.

Figure Painting Techniques

Figure 1.14 Painting in with a darker color on a new layer using the Captured Bristle Acrylic brush

Figure 1.14 Painting in with a darker color on a new layer using the Captured Bristle Acrylic brush

Notice that some of the red also is painted over the edges of the sketch extending into the background. This apparent mess is intentional. A bit of foreground color painted into the background helps unify the color scheme. The reverse is also true. A bit of the background color brought into some of the foreground figure helps harmonize the color scheme even more. Figure 1.15 shows that most of the dress is now blocked in with red.

Figure 1.15 Most of the red color is blocked into the dress.

6. Continuing with the same brush, paint the face with a flesh color and the hair with a blonde color.

In this painting, I've tried to keep the model's hair really light to give it a nice contrast against her darker dress. Paint strokes of color across the forms in the face to give some volume to the features. A lot of color from the background is finding its way into the colors of the hair. This is intentional to help unify the color harmonies, as mentioned previously (Figure 1.16).

All of this color work is beneath the Sketch layer, as you can see in Figure 1.16. Because of the overlying sketch and the rough handling of the color, the painting is in a pretty ugly stage right now. Don't get discouraged if you think your painting is ugly. Virtually all paintings go through an ugly phase early on and will improve if the artist does not give up on it.

7. Without changing the brush but only varying the size and extensive use of the Dropper tool, block in the background colors.

The need to go back to the Colors palette for new colors will gradually diminish. Most colors needed to complete the painting will already be in the painting when you are finished with the block-in.

Figure 1.16 Here you can see the block-in of color for the face and hair.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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