How do you actually train color/value/perspective?

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  12 December 2012
How do you actually train color/value/perspective?

Hi, i've been practicing some digital environment creation and watched some tutorials and read some books about painting, value, color, perspective, etc. the undisputed essentials for a competent artist. Although everybody knows they are essential to learn, how does one actually do it?

I know it may seem a dumb question but the notion of having to know such things is so encrusted in every tutorial, book ,workshop that i never before actually thought about how do you actually and in practical terms train those. How do you train those skills and know you get better at it? I'm asking in a very pragmatic way.

In analogy,i.e., i come from a 3D background, so sometimes i train myself to be faster modeling and to more efficiently clean topology by timing myself fixing some borked models, but i get a direct feedback and auto-critic because its a factual thing, the topology is correct after i finish, pinching is gone, better rendering etc.

When i try to train myself in 2D (alone) and try to prepare some training regime it gets messy, because i can't figure our good exercises to improve my skills,mainly because besides not knowing what practical exercises to do, it seems to depend on an external critic who's better than me to tell me if i'm improving or not. I may do a thousand attempts to do a matte painting and although maybe faster with the tools not be better than the day i started. I know that's the reason there are WIP boards and requests for critics on the internet, but surely before the digital age painters had some sort of practice routine besides mindlessly painting no?

Another question a bit more cheeky: If there are lots of different composition "models" (rule of thirds, golden spiral etc) isn't there a chance that if you just randomly set up your scene you end up with a correct composition anyway? how do you approach it? You actively worry about it or is like learning a language in a sense that when its right you instinctively know it without thinking about rules?

  12 December 2012
Interesting question (so not dumb in my opinion). It would be interesting to know how other people practice.

I try to do some still lifes with objects that show perspective well like tools and other man made things. I try to carefully deconstruct the objects and all their proportions. Working from their biggest proportion to the smallest, and always their real proportions and not the viewed proportion. Perspective solutions are there in front of you and you only need to accept and learn how they work.

I don't have a good idea about training color but one thing I can think of is to make studies of ceramics and porcelain on colored cloth. My idea about this is to learn more about local colors as well as reflected colors. I was teached to exaggerate the reflected colors but I say that it shouldn't be much. I think I need a better idea here.

Cloth can be interesting when training value. Let it fall over objects then try to describe the shape of the object based on the values and drapes from the cloth. I enjoy using compressed charcoal for value studies.

Try not to waste to much time on each. Don't try to correct to much... just redo.
  12 December 2012
Thanks for the insight
  12 December 2012
Thanks for this, I am currently doing what is suggested but needed confirmation! Ever since the latest FZD youtube video I have been wondering if I was doing it right or not haha. Having said that I do notice increase in level of my work over the last year or so Good luck Ethervoid.
  12 December 2012
All the questions you have asked, are some of the reasons why I created the workshop "Becoming A Better Artist" (linked below in my signature). It was because I saw so many people feeling lost and unsure about how to learn, practice, and develop as visual artists, that I decided to create a workshop that will show them the way and lead them out of the dark, allowing them to improve much more effectively than if they were to fumble around in the dark on their own.

In my workshop, I designed very specific exercises that trains the students to be able to make critical decisions in how to portray values and lighting effectively and accurately, as well as how to approach color decisions, brushwork choices, different ways to portray emotions, various stylization approaches, etc. I also have exercises that train the students' ability to create compositions that serve specific purpose in the narrative of their images, as well as work effectively at the most abstract level even without any representational elements. Composition is definitely not just random or arbitrary--it is something you can deconstruct and study and apply to your work to serve exactly the purpose you want it to. While some of it is instinctual, there are also many elements that are intentional and if you don't know the inner mechanisms of how to lead the eye, how to avoid distracting tangents, how to increase readability, how to plan the hierarchy of your focal areas, then you could easily create ineffective compositions by just arranging things by instinct instead of by informed decisions.

The next workshop will start in early January. Maybe you might join us? You can read about the details as well as the student testimonials here:
  12 December 2012
Ethervoid: I have enrolled to the "Becoming A Better Artist" workshop because I too need some guidance. Join us, I think it will be great :-)

Lunatique: do you see any problems with my suggestions?
  12 December 2012
Your suggestions are sound, but they only cover a small range of things one can do to develop effectively as a visual artist. You're going to learn all the other great methods during the workshop--ones that target specific weaknesses, as well as shove you out of your comfort zone and force you to try things you never tried before, in order to overcome your insecurities and weaknesses in specific areas of your artistic development.
  12 December 2012
To everyone in this thread aside of Lunatic :P I often refer to the Becoming A Better Artist notes even years after I took the course. Most of the stuff is stuck in my brain but there is a tonne of knowledge there to keep me sourcing back to it

Perspective is pretty simple you don't really have to practise it.. more of an understanding. Just up to 3 points your lines have to vanish to doesn't require practise in my opinion :P

Last edited by joshbailey : 12 December 2012 at 11:57 PM.
  12 December 2012
@Josh - It's been a long time since you've been to the alumni students forum. You should drop by and take a look. Some of your fellow alumni are studying/practicing using the comprehensive strategy laid out in week seven's lecture notes, and they are seeing really great results. You might consider joining them in doing the same. Remember, that comprehensive strategy I laid out at the end of the workshop is meant to be the most efficient and fastest study/practice strategy for visual artists, and if you aren't following that plan, then you're not really benefiting from the teachings of the workshop as much as you could be.

When you swing by, make sure you look at WIP sketchbook threads from Jean-Noe, Titti, Laura, Jorge, Nicolas--they are following the strategy and doing very well.
  12 December 2012
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