From blank sheet to finished picture – part 3.


The next stage in the application of colours to the picture is probably the most nerve wracking and delicate, though it is hugely rewarding when completed to ones satisfaction. Although in your minds eye you feel you can “see” exactly how you want things to to turn out, the reality is that one is merely aiming at achieving that vision, as actually it’s not at all clear until you’ve put paint to paper, and sometimes by then it is too late to make a change. You have to kind of feel your way towards your goal. I’d decided the bike should be a golden yellow colour. The first stage is to put some shadow tones onto the areas that require them like lower edges and vertical faces. With these you have to think what colour the yellow would be in shadow as these things are invariably never a case of simply adding black or grey to your base colour. In this case doing that would make everything a dirty green colour, not good. So using small quantities of darker ochres and browns these areas are touched in and left to dry. Having decided on highlight size and position it’s time for the yellow, applied in a thinned wash to start with and then built with some less diluted colour as the from appears. Knowing when to stop is as much judgement as experience, so slowly, slowly, catchy monkey as they say. The yellow on the helmet follows and then finally the base layer for the leather jacket making sure I leave clear all the small details I want to stand out in the finished picture.


When all the above is fully dry it’s time for the last of the inking stages. Using a fatter pen than usual, a 0.5 point, the tyres are done first, leaving hard edged areas for the highlights rather than a more messy looking feathered edge. Back to a fine pen and the jacket comes next where it’s very much a case of working slowly down or across the shape, again leaving small slivers of grey to denote highlight areas where the leather wrinkles. You could argue that areas like the jacket should be more gradated and “realistic”, but if you do that then the rest of the picture doesn’t “fit” and you end up having to apply the same approach to everything. All that’s left to do now is add any small colour touches into any helmet and jacket badges, the spark plug cap and small reflections of the yellow that appear on metal parts facing the coloured area. A final tickling process takes some time, constantly scanning the image for little white gaps and spots where a bit more colour or black is needed, but it serves to lift small parts of the picture that you perhaps didn’t see before.


The picture is now nearly done, all that remains is to choose the right colour for the background block, one that gives enough contrast with the bike colour but doesn’t drown the image in the process. That’s all in the next post, see you then.




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