Friday, August 19, 2011

The Value of Black

Classic comic artist Roy Crane (1901-1977) reminds us of the compositional importance of black.

“Get all you can,” he said in his famous scrapbook. “But use it mainly to bring out the color of white.”


Applies to painting, too. (Rembrandt, Descent from the Cross)

Wikipedia on Roy Crane
More pages from the scrapbook at the blog "Hairy Green Eyeball."
Books: Captain Easy, Soldier of Fortune: The Complete Sunday Newspaper Strips 1933-1935 (Vol. 1) (Roy Crane's Captain Easy)

14 comments:

Luisa said...

hey
nice post.
great paintings!


Farbwahn

Drew said...

I can't say I've never heard of Roy Crane, so thanks for turning me onto a new artist!

I've gotten a similar lesson out of Milt Caniff and Noel Sickles though! Those were my go-to artists for a short bit in trying to figure out how much black you can use (with the answer usually being "as much as you can get away with.")

Now that I think about it, it might be time to revisit them and get a refresher...

Tim Fitzgerald said...

I love black!! Not out of the tube black but the black achieved by mixing red,yellow, and blue from your pallet. Tube black looks like the men you see walking around with that home died hair color, it's flat without highlights.

william said...

A really good fairly current artist that does amazing use of black in his art is Tim Sale. I'm putting his website link here if anyone wants to check him out (or u can just google his name). he has a very 30's/40's noir feel to his art.

http://www.timsale1.com/

maxwest said...

Since I draw comics too (in fact, I have my own series), black is very important to me on my pages.

It has to be used in conjunction with grays and whites. As Klaus Janson said in his text, The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics, nothing stands out on a page full of all blacks or all whites or all grays. You have to mix it up and get a good balance!

My Pen Name said...

viridian + dyoxian purple makes a deep black

krysjez said...

If black is indeed so important, why are so many beginners told *not* to use black in their work?

/puzzled

James Gurney said...

krysjez, Tim, and MyPen: In this context I don't mean so much black as a pigment in painting, but dark areas as framing areas for light areas--which in comics means black ink.

Whether to use black as a pigment is a great topic for another post.

Dominic Bugatto said...

Wonderful post.

Rich said...

Pitch dark black.
In a way almost a cheap means and method of contrast.

The impressionists had their own opinions, and of course Cezanne.

william said...

max-
wow yea almost forgot about Janson, he's inked practically everyone. His work with Frank Miller especially stands out as far as his use of shadows to really play up the mood (ex. The Dark Knight Return).

julius said...

this really reminds me of what you wrote about shapewelding in imaginative realism, which really blew my mind.
which in turn reminds me to read it again and remember everything you've taught me when painting and drawing. thank you so much!

Schnider said...

Sir, I have a question about notan. When can we say that a particular design is appealing or not? is it subjective?

James Gurney said...

Schnider, yes, appeal is subjective.