I’ve been recently trying to learn how to paint dark skins (african like black skin), and a question arised as I’ve seen pretty much everyone start from a dark base and build up the light on them. It does make a lot of sense for this case, as pretty much the dark values have low contrast and the bright parts are strong speculars which are the ones shaping the volumes. There are a bunch of more subtle speculars, with a wider range for hues and all kind of colors, but still very subtle, delicate and mostly barely noticeable. So it could be said, you’re painting the lights (or the light’s spec for that matter).
Caucasian skins on the other hand, are pretty much on a high value range, and the shadows are the ones shaping the volumes, instead of the speculars. So I usually start on a medium to light base, and start shaping everyting with darker (even if saturated mostly) tones and values, and as a last touch but not less important, higher values where they make sense (if there’s any strong lights near by, sun, maybe even a rim light?) if the base tone is convering those already. So I could say I’m painting shadows, for the most part at least.
Coming from a drawing background mostly, pencils and white paper, I’m a lot more used to painting shadows. And even if I know the answer to this question could very well be, whatever suits you best and you get the best out of, I also find out that different approaches might suit different situations better and it could save some time of banging my head with the walls and getting better results faster and more intuitevely.
The question is, what do you guys usually prefer and in what situations? Do you consider any of these approaches to be fundamentally “wrong” or maybe innacurate as a model for how light really works? It would be great if a bunch of us shared our experiences and see if we can reach some sort of conclusion on the matter, if you haven’t already that is.
I also realize this might be the case of “asking the wrong questions”, so if it is, feel free to correct me.
Sorry for the wall of text,
Thanks fo reading.