Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Red Cube, Pink Cube

The chroma, or saturation, of a color should be carefully considered as an object transitions from light into shade. Making the shadow color too intense can create a false effect.

It’s a common mistake with beginning painters, who sometimes use pure tube colors for middle values and add white to lighten them and black to darken them.

The diagram is by Andrew Loomis, from his book Creative Illustration, still one of the best books on painting, color, and composition. Unfortunately it is out of print and expensive to obtain in its printed form.

But there’s good news: You can download a PDF copy of Creative Illustration and Loomis’s other books. They’re all well worth study.
Loomis books from Illustration Island.com
Previously on GJ: Color Obtains in the Light
Thanks, Evan!


Dougie said...

Hi James,

I LOVE those books. I have the downloads of all of them on my site (http://www.facebook.com/notes.php?id=139120096678&notes_tab=app_2347471856#!/note.php?note_id=443998282993 ). After searching the web, I found a lot of the links were broken, so I posted them for other people in my class.

BTW: saw the postings about Bennington, Vermont. Wish that I could have gotten down there to see you (I live in Burlington, VT). Would have been fun.

Kurt said...

I still have my Andrew Loomis Figure Drawing book I bought back in the 60's. Well loved and well used. If I had known how valueable they would become I may have taken better care of it, but I have used it extensively over the years and still love and use it to this day.

tiffannysketchbook said...

Thanks Dougie!
Thanks James!

Daroo said...

I have a version of this problem with greens (i.e.leaves,foliage) -- except they are chromatically intense on either end (warm highlights/ cool shadows) and grayed down in the middle values.

slinberg said...

I did finally pony up around $150 recently for a nice copy of this book on ebay. It was worth every penny. It is gloriously beautiful. Yes, I have the PDFs too, but the PDF that's commonly available of Creative Illustration is pretty low-quality. It's a collector's item, for sure, but it's worth spending money on good books.

There is an effort underway to secure reprinting rights for the Loomis books, but it's currently still stalled working things out with the estate. It might be a while.

Lester Yocum said...

Once again, James, thanks very much.

Everett Patterson said...

There's no doubt about it: Loomis was the Man.

Joseph Culp said...

I'm very lucky, I found "Creative Illustration" amongst alot of junk at my Grandmother's house. Absolutely love that book and the work of Loomis!

Dave said...

I had forgotten how good an artist Loomis was. Like to find the paper that he drew on I think that it was called choquill ? Dave

jeff said...

There were a few of his paintings going for songs at an auction last month. I think it was the Heritage auction house. Anyway they a couple of real Loomis beauties going for about $1500 for an original oil.
On was of these kids chasing chickens in a farm yard that was just amazing. Everything was spot on, the drawing, the paint handling was all to notch. I could not believe they were so cheap. The Cornwell's were going for almost three times the Loomis'. Mind you they were out of this world as well.

I just saw a copy of Creative Illustration for sale for $12.95 on EBay. It's in bad shape but for 12 bucks one could get it rebound.

Unknown said...

I hope this isn't a silly question, but if don't add white or black how do you make your colors darker (or lighter)?

For darker I thought, maybe you can put complementary colors. But what about to make color lighter?

James Gurney said...

Let's Chat: Not a silly question at all. I should have explained further. You DO have to add white to lighten an opaque color (watercolor is just thinned out, of course).

But adding the white weakens the chroma and often shifts the color to a cooler version. So, for example, to lighten a red you might have to add a tiny bit of yellow. And you have to weaken the chroma of the color in the shadow to account for the weaker chroma in the light, otherwise you'll get the false effect Loomis is talking about: bright red shadows, and dull pink lights.