Anatomy ad­vice

How to ren­der form in colour.

ImagineFX - - Illustrator - Chris is keen to share his ex­ten­sive knowl­edge of fig­ure draw­ing and paint­ing. See more of his work and draw­ing ad­vice at www.learn-how­to­

Af­ter years of study I’ve learned work­ing meth­ods that help me to sim­plify my colour and paint­ing process. One of these meth­ods is ren­der­ing with tem­per­a­ture shifts. So when I change the value of a colour, I al­ter the tem­per­a­ture by adding more yel­low, more red or blue.

I start with a lim­ited pal­ette of white and only two colours: usu­ally a warm earth tone such as Burnt Si­enna and a cool blue, for ex­am­ple Ul­tra­ma­rine Blue. Later, I’ll add a yel­low and a red to bring about the nec­es­sary tem­per­a­ture shifts.

When paint­ing, my first con­cern is value and I’ll squint to see the value shapes. I’ll also sim­plify the val­ues and group value shapes as much as pos­si­ble. With these sim­ple value shapes in mind, I can then mix a colour for ev­ery step or tran­si­tion in value.

I be­gin by block­ing in the shadow with a medium-dark cool tone, ig­nor­ing de­tails and vari­a­tions in the shadow. Then I mix the next value shapes that com­prise tran­si­tion tones, mak­ing sure this is warm enough so they sep­a­rate from the cool shadow. Then I mix the next value shape and shift that tem­per­a­ture as well. I’ll con­tinue this process to the bright­est high­lights. As long as the tem­per­a­ture shifts are dra­matic enough, the val­ues will read and the colours will feel lively.


Can­vas or il­lus­tra­tion board Bris­tle brushes of var­i­ous sizes Oil paint colours: Ti­ta­nium White, Ul­ta­ma­rine Blue, Burnt Si­enna, Yel­low Ochre and Alizarin Crim­son Sol­vent or thin­ner

1 Block in shadow

Once the draw­ing and place­ment is de­fined I’ll block in the shadow. I mix a grey­ish blue tone us­ing Burnt Si­enna and Ul­tra­ma­rine Blue. I also make sure to sim­plify the shadow shape by dis­re­gard­ing de­tails and nu­ances. Shadow vari­a­tion and de­tails can be added at a later stage.

2 Tran­si­tion tones

I be­gin ren­der­ing by mov­ing from shadow to light us­ing a warm brown com­pris­ing Burnt Si­enna and Ul­tra­ma­rine Blue. This warm ‘pops’ against the cool-blue shadow. For sub­tle vari­a­tion, I mix in yel­lows and cool reds. These tem­per­a­ture shifts make the colour lively and life-like.

Mix cool reds in lower area

Ig­nore de­tails in shadow

Colours mixed

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