10 Minutes to Better Painting | Marco Bucci | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Episode 1 - Merging Shapes


    • 2.

      Episode 2 - Visual Language


    • 3.

      Episode 3 - Digital Brushwork


    • 4.

      Episode 4 - Good Shapes


    • 5.

      Episode 5 - Colour Harmony


    • 6.

      Episode 6 - Light & Shadow


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About This Class

Combining education with humor, each episode of '10 Minutes to Better Painting' dissects one element of art that's certain to improve your work. This series in ongoing, with new episodes coming out every 2-3 months, so check back often!

Meet Your Teacher

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Marco Bucci

Professional illustrator & teacher


Hello, I'm Marco.

I'm a professional artist with 15 years' experience in the film, TV, game, and print industries - primarily as a concept artist and illustrator. I also happen to believe that it's the duty of experienced artists to pass on what they've learned, with no BS and for as low-cost as possible. It's for that reason that I'm a passionate teacher. I currently teach at CGMA, and have previously taught at Academy of Art University, Centennial College, and more. 


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Level: Intermediate

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1. Episode 1 - Merging Shapes: it's time to break out your pocket. Watch Andrew paintbrushes for this episode of 10 Minutes to better painting, I'm your host, Mark Obuchi. Each episode will be structured as follows. Part one will be a short lesson that gets us into the subject with some visual examples. Part two will feature a full painting demonstration where I will show you how to apply the episodes lesson to your work, and Part three will be a final wrap up of the episode with some closing thoughts, Richard Schmidt said. Once that painters don't seem or information than other people do they actually see less? This episode is about emerging shapes. You know that old painting maxim that advises you to simplify well, merging shapes is one of the many possible ways to do it. I love these etchings by Anders Zorn. They contain such a strong statement of light and character and mood and composition. And yet the medium is so primitive it's just a bunch of chicken scratched lines on paper Now. Zorn was a master of simplification and merging shapes, and that's exactly the tool he used to get such a high degree of quality. Here, let me show you what I mean with a very simple example. Let's put four simple objects on this frame, and these objects will be lit by light, which means they also cast shadow. We just painted a picture, but it's not all that exciting, right? I mean, it looks computer generated and boring. It certainly doesn't look like light, but why? Let's count the number of shapes in it. There's 123456789 I had to make nine shapes just to paint that. Jeez, that's gluttony. Let's see if we can simplify this by merging some shapes together. I'll start by duplicating the painting. Now watch as it slowly fades into a simplified version the same picture, but with the shapes merged together, let's count the shapes in this version. One shape for all of that 23 and four. I just reduced the shapes by more than half. Merging shapes means a reduction of information. I've given up the silhouette of every one of those little objects in favor of a larger silhouette. Fewer things toe look at ah, more simplified, effective statement. The reason we simplify is to allow the move to come through and mood. That's where art lives. Take a look at this beautiful painting by Dean Cornwell, which I'm showing you in black and white for the purposes of this lesson. Specifically, look at this area here, and I'd like you to appreciate for a moment how much information Cornwell has opted to lose by means of merging those shapes together. That's like half the picture reduced to one shape. We're not seeing pants or belt buckles or buttons were just seeing a big, dark shape. What that subliminally confers to the viewer is this area is not important. Rather, look upto where the guy's faces, because that's where all the juicy mood and character lies. And even when we look at the face, sure, there is more information here. But Cornwell is pulling the same kind of design idea. The lower 2/3 of the head, as well as the neck and the shirt, are merged into one shape. Merging shapes enhances the element of mystery as well, which coincides perfectly with how we feel about this guy. Look at this breath taker by Walter Everett. I think a lot of people would say that there's a lot of detail here, which in painters speak means a lot of shapes. But I actually don't think that there is looking at it. With this simple filter applied, we can see it's actually a carefully manicured path of dark and light shapes emerged together that lead us through the picture. I feel like everything this red line touches is an unbroken shape of dark, comprising the very backbone of this picture. And, of course, you could merge shapes together in light to, for example, this large shape made up of the women's veils and faces. So Richard Schmidt is right through merged shapes, a painter does see less than what's actually there. But what he didn't say was that painting less is actually harder because it requires us to do something that largely goes against our nature. That is, to express something not by being literal about it, but instead to reduce it to an essential design. This is the finished painting. I'll be demo ing for you in just a second now. I chose this particular subject for its complex city. There are six or seven boats in the painting water reflections, buildings, figures, atmospheric perspective, the whole nine yards if our little example a moment ago had nine shapes, imagine how many thousands of shapes you'll have to deal with in a picture like this, as I build this painting, pay specific attention to areas of shadow and areas of light in order to see which shapes air sacrificed in favour of a clearer design. So right away, I want to point out that I actually designed my pictures with shape merging in mind even though I know there's gonna be boats and figures and houses I first want to block in overall areas of light and shadow, as you see me doing right now, I'm committing myself to a kind of abstract design the way that this picture is going to read, I know that in these big areas of light and shadow, that is where I will play with merging my shapes. So you see, subject matter is actually secondary, and I'm a firm believer that even the most realistic rendered painting is still an abstract piece of art. First, because the painter always has to deal with these shapes that air divorced from reality. But that's what makes aren't fun. It's a reaction to something. It's not me literally trying to show you every window on every house and every figure. I want to imply that stuff, and I want you to be part of that experience. That is, I want you to fill in the shapes that I merge. So I'm kind of curating you through this picture. I'm stimulating your imagination, I guess through means of merging these shapes and arriving at kind of an abstract design and see that texture and putting down. I think it's really helpful to work underneath texture, at least for me. It helps me escape that literal mindset and get into the abstract design mindset. And that's where you want to be, especially if you're painting out of imagination like I am here. So right now you can see the boats coming into the foreground and you notice already where the boat meets the reflection in the water. Those shapes are lost, their merge together, even the boats themselves air kind of merging into the houses. If you look at that boat about 1/3 up from the bottom, it's kind of merging into the house. That, to me, is interesting. You know, I don't need to show you where the tip of every boat is for you to understand it. The human brain is remarkable. We fill in shapes all the time, even in real life. In fact, my conviction in this kind of approach is bolstered by the fact that this is actually rooted in human psychology. When you're walking around the street, you aren't seeing everything. In fact, you're barely seeing anything. You're only seeing the information directly in front of you. Your brain fills in the other stuff left and right. It happens all the time, every minute of every day. So the visual equivalent of that to me is merging shapes and actually showing less in your picture. Like I explained in the lesson, by showing less, we can actually communicate more. Let me expand on that. If I were to show you every literal shape that actually would exist in this picture, I would lose the feeling of this location. It wouldn't capture it. It would be like reading a textbook. Whereas if I'm doing it like I am here with merging shapes and try to mimic visually how I feel about this scene, I'm essentially sacrificing one thing that is the amount of shapes in order to gain something else, which is the feeling that is going to allow this picture to resonate with viewers. Now, this is where painting gets very creative because I'm the one who gets to choose which of these thousands of shapes get emerged. And I just threw a posterized filter over it to evaluate my progress. The posterized filter helps me see kind of the trends of my lights and darks to see if I'm on the right track. So that's something you can use if you work digitally. Even if you work traditionally, you can scan your stuff, bring it into photo shop and and check it out. Eso I'm on the right track here. I like where this is going. I like how the posts are merging into the water, emerging into the boats which are merging into the houses. There's even an indication of figures. They're kind of ghosting in and out of lights and darks. Now you do want to choose the key areas where your silhouette is very clear. Look at the third boat up from the bottom. This area here you notice that that boat is still a wedding over the light shape because we need something to latch onto as a viewer. So that is a very clear area of silhouette where there is absolutely no shape merging going on. It essentially tells your brain this is a boat and then it gives context to all the other stuff that's lost emerged. So I'm halfway through the painting here, which, by the way, it took me about an hour and 1/2 of real time to Dio. And the thing I love about this idea of merging shapes and coming up with big areas of light and dark is that it gives you a structure that you can depend upon for the entirety of the painting process. You know, I don't feel like I'm guessing now as I'm working on this. I feel confident that the picture as an abstract design works and that leads to conviction and confidence that anything I do within that structure is also likely toe work. You know, I think the real hard part of the painting is actually at the beginning when your first making these big decisions that are going to dictate the rest of the process. But at the same time. If you fail to make those big decisions early on, you will certainly run into the problem of so many shapes creeping into your painting. None of them seem to have any purpose behind them, and you'll go back and forth and back and forth, and it'll just be a really frustrating experience for you. So again, knowing which shapes I'm likely to merge as I work and knowing how that contributes to an overall structure of the pictures design, it gives me the confidence to kind of freely create because I know that so long as I adhere to the structure I set out for myself. I'm likely to have a successful picture by the end. And because merging shapes means you paint fewer shapes, you can actually get a piece of work like this done quite quickly, which is actually very important, especially if you're a concept artist or something. So here's another way to think of shapes. Think of them as being like annoying, needy, crying Children in a daycare, all clamoring for your attention all at the same time, and you want some peace and quiet. Yet you only have the capacity to satisfy three of the Children. So what do you do to the rest of them? Will you? Yeah, you get the idea? 2. Episode 2 - Visual Language: break out your pocket watch and your paintbrushes because it's time for another episode of 10 minutes to better painting. I'm your subservient host, Mark Obuchi. As usual, let's start this thing off with a short lesson novel. Editor Shawn Coyne would like to remind us that once you lose the audience, it's very difficult to get them back. And a little digging at statistics brain dot com will tell you that the average human attention span is a whopping 8.25 seconds. Just let that linger in the back of your head for now. Okay, this episode is about visual language, which falls under the topic of communication. Communication might actually be the most important topic because, after all, that's what art is. To broach the topic, let's examine what a writer does. A writer, like any human being starts off with a bunch of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Now those things by themselves are inaccessible toe in audience. So the writer uses their primary tool language to make the intangible tangible. And if the writers any good, the final result will contain a clear message. Now, where the writer uses verbal language, we as painters use visual language to communicate our message. Let's stick the word message over here just so we don't forget it. Okay, What is this painting by John Singer Sargent about What's the message? What is he trying to show us? Is it all these pine trees? Is it this fallen log? No, it's clearly about this guy enjoying a painting session out in the woods. He's the focal point of the picture, and that's what we'll remember about it. Here's a much busier painting by Dean Cornwell, but same question. What's the focal point? What's Cornwell's intended message In a picture populated with people? It's the interaction of these two that stand out. This is the message. It's why Cornwell painted this picture. But how do we know that? How did Cornwell communicate to us? That this painting is not actually about these baguettes? How did Sergeant ensure that we looked at that painter and not get distracted by all those trees? The answer, in both cases is they used contrast to help communicate their message. Now I think many of us might think of contrast as simply being a matter of light versus dark. But that's actually only one example of contrast, think of contrast as being equal to any kind of difference when there's no difference in a picture, all things air rendered equally unimportant. And that's a problem when you're trying to communicate. Whereas building, in a bit of contrast, enhances the focal point and pretty much guarantees a clearer communication with the audience. So here are some examples of contrast. We can start with the obvious one, ah, light shape reading over dark. Or how about areas of high activity versus areas of low activity? How about a frame full of squares with just one circle in it? Or what about creating difference with texture versus non texture? Here's a difference in edges. Hard versus soft. How about a simple difference in the direction of a shape? And here's one were a higher degree of Finnish contrasts against more sketchy areas. Looking back at the Cornwall example, he's using a contrast between areas of high activity in the crowd, where no one really stands out versus areas of lower activity. To make these to stand out, there's a second contrast that playas well, their silhouettes are the area of highest contrast, dark over life, and that's how effective contrast can be in communicating a focal point. So let's go ahead and add contrast and focal point to our notes. Here's a painting by Meat Shaffer and a painting by Norman Rockwell. These are examples of another tool for visual language that I call direction In the Meat Schaefer painting were directed through the picture by this elegant and simple C curve. Every important piece of the message lies on that curve. Schafer is also using contrast here to make sure we specifically pay attention to what these guys were doing. The Rockwell painting employs a different kind of curve. Actually, it's a series of straits that all converge at the focal point. The fact that we're then ushered out of the painting in three different directions amplifies the message of those kids arguing. Another cool thing about direction is the nature of the curve can support the message of the picture. Hard straight X shaped lines emphasize the physical strain in this picture, while the sensual C curve in this picture almost romanticizes the pirates actions. All right, so let's add the word direction here, so we've got a nice little list of four tools for visual language. But one thing I cannot abide is a teacher who hands out a list that no one is going to remember. So I'm gonna make this stick by coming up with a good abbreviation. So let's see. Maybe I can start with the first letter of each word. How about doubts clouding future mo mentum? God, that's awful. Nope. How about Count Dracula finds Mommy better, but no. Who? How about Ford Coppola directed movies? That's at least that one's true. But past Mrs Hard, Let's take a short break and come back to it. Hey, remember how we only had 8.25 seconds of attention? Did you know that a goldfish has nine seconds? Yeah, it's like the human race has been cheated. Wait, that's it Cheated. If you show me a picture with no message, I feel cheated. So don't for cheat me. If you cheat the audience out of a message, you'll lose them. And once you lose them, it's very hard to get them back. So don't fucking cheat me out of a message. Implement these visual language tools and see how much more clearly your paintings communicate. As a result, these are sketches from Prague, one of my favorite European cities, a place just begging to be painted. And as you can see, there's no shortage of things to potentially make the painting about. So your first job is a painter is to decide what that thing is and then proceed from there . Even a city is beautiful. Is Prague needs to be filtered through these tools for visual language in order to come up with a cohesive painting. So to go about painting this, I'm using the same visual language tools that I just showed you. My focal point, which should be obvious already, is those two buildings on the right third that are separated via a shape contrast. And by that I mean they make one shape that is different than the smaller shapes that surround them. And the second piece of visual language I'm using is direction. I'm using a graceful C curve via that river that wraps right around the focal point. It gives our I a path to follow, lending some movement to the peace and, I think see curves air quite elegant, which happens to be perfect for Prague, and you probably noticed I established thes things right away. They were the first things on the canvas, and that's really important to me. At least my most successful paintings come when I have a clear idea of what I want to say and then how I want to use these tools of visual language to say it. And then the paintbrush just flows more naturally because everything seems to then have a place. Ah, hierarchy. You know, I could leave this as a quick sketch, which I'm doing here, or I could take it to something very rendered and finished. But with these visual language tools at play from the start, I know my message will not change. Okay, on to the next quick sketch, I think I'm gonna make this one a little more fantasy based. And what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna amp up the visual language for that. So right away, that big building again is the focal point, and everything is going to lead you to that. So you see that triangle? That's water there that I just blocked in. That is literally a pointing device that point straight to the focal point. Also, it's very angular, which contrasts the very circular focal point. In fact, I think I'm gonna try and make the foreground area more angular as a rule which will help separate it or help it be different from the focal point. I think fantasy, by the way, is a good opportunity to audition different kinds of shapes on the canvas and really try and push the difference between circles and hard head shapes. For example, that's what brings us into the realm of fantasy, because in real life things tend to be a little more similar rather than so starkly different. So I'll work up this area of foreground now, and when I do that, I'll make sure to make more angular shapes. You can see boxy shapes and triangular shapes. I'm really refraining myself from using circles. I really want the circles to be in the focal point also noticed the circles air in the clouds, so anything kind of in that focal range gets circles, and then everything else will get angles. There's another subtle piece of direction happening here. The water points in and the clouds point in, and they cross right at the focal points. That's another thing I've designed into the picture and just to finish it off here, three boats, Of course, they're angles as well, because they belong to the foreground. And just like that, there's are finished sketch. Okay, let's do one more. I'll go back to a more naturalistic look to this one, and I'll make it a night shot so I can really play up some heavy contrast, leading your eye directly to those two buildings in the middle. And again, I work that in very early on in the process, so I'm always building up from something simple. It's very difficult to start complex and then find simplicity that that method doesn't really work for me. Aside from the heavy contrast, notice that there's a subtle V composition here, almost a ziff. The two buildings in the focal point are nestled into this valley, custom made just for them. And not only that, but this painting is also very vertical. Even though it's a horizontal composition, it's very vertical. All the building's air pointed straight up and down. That helps lend the piece structure, which is perfect for painting buildings and just a reminder the audience is not meant to be aware of these tools of visual language. That's our job as artists. The audience just wants to look at a picture very quickly, be led to a focal point and come away with a message. If that happens, you win. How many times has the following scenario happened to you? Exhibit A. You started painting and you feel great. It's gonna be your best painting yet, and then time runs its course and we get exhibit We now. Don't worry. This doesn't mean you're a failure as an artist. In my experience, this is the result of just not thinking simply enough and therefore not effectively communicating your message. What I do is I ask myself, What's the message? What am I trying to show? And once you got that, you can make it the focal point and have everything else support it. All of us fight against a natural human tendency to over complicate things. But just remind yourself of the beautiful simplicity in the examples earlier. Don't feel like you've gotta embed the Fibonacci sequence into your paintings just to make them work. There is one time where you absolutely have to use the Fibonacci sequence, though, and it's when you're painting a picture of a cat 3. Episode 3 - Digital Brushwork: break out your pocket watch and your paintbrushes. It's time for Episode three of 10 minutes to better painting I Am your Coherent When edited host Mark Obuchi. You guys know by now how this works. Writer director Andrew Stanton believes that the audience actually wants to work for their meal. They just don't want to know they're doing that. Episode three is about digital brushwork, which falls under the heading of music in music. The possible notes. We can play our very limited, but within them we confined unlimited variety, and in this episode we'll explore how that's applicable to brushwork as well. Brushwork can almost be a dangerous thing to teach because it's a fertile area for expression and expression, by definition, is personal. J C Line Decker would rehearse his brushwork, and this page events is his desire for every little element to be designed and beautiful. John Singer Sargent's almost countable brushstrokes gives us insight into the mind of a man who would stop at nothing in his quest for irreducible simplicity and Jackson Pollocks. Manic spillages are nothing less than the emotions of a man living within a hair's breadth of his sanity. The point is brushwork is where you announce who you are. Consider this. If you were to play your brushwork in Winamp, what would the music sound like Theo take away? Here is the manipulation of paint impacts the viewer on an emotional level, and that is critically important. Okay, now let's talk digital brushwork. See the challenge with digital painting is that your scores of traditional tools are essentially all replaced by simulated stamps. And while digital brushes do come in all shapes and sizes and brush engines are getting more and more sophisticated. Essentially, what you're dealing with is a shape that gets repeated over and over and over. The human brain is exceptionally good at detecting repetition. Repetition kills variety and variety is the thing we need to make compelling brushwork. And that is where I can help. Because while I would never tell you how your brushwork should look, I can point you towards areas that contain variety. I've got one word for you. Edges are like musical notes in the sense that there's a limited selection of them. In fact, I put edges into just three categories. Card soft, lost and here is the secret. Some objects have softer edges and other objects have harder at huh? Oh, you know that secret already? Well, I don't really took the window, but how about this? Have you considered that there are edges surrounding every object in the painting edges, demanding attention around the perimeter of every brush stroke you make? And if you don't manage those edges properly, your painting will be boring. And mathematicians around the globe still cannot calculate the number of edges in the painting, even a this moderate complexity. You can see where the challenges so here's a simple scene that will afford us a glimpse into creating variety with EJ work. Now, at the moment, there's nothing but hard edges everywhere. There isn't any variety yet. I want some hard edges, but I certainly don't want them everywhere, Hard edges say to the viewer. I've resolved everything for you. There's no work for you to do here. Think of a hard edges being like hitting someone over the head with a hammer, so I'll create our very first soft edge with an airbrush. But I don't like the digital airbrush. There's something sterile about it. The pointillist made soft edges by having little dots kind of bleed one shape into the next room. And I have this ratty brush whose edge kind of looks like that. So what if I use that brush over top of my airbrush to add some variety to this edge and hey, while I'm at it all softens images that way in other areas to a totally different way to soften edges. Using photo shops, mixer brush. And because the mixer brush has a softer feel, I find it particularly effective against the more textured soft edges I have on there. Here. I'm using a typical spatter brush, except I'm aiming at just a the edge. This gives me additional variety for how one shape can contaminate another shape, and I'll go ahead and try it out. All the while I'm doing the Winamp thing, and I'm trying to hear what the music is sounding like as I'm creating these edges. Our edges chart from earlier is actually drawn to scale. The soft edge area appears larger because I think in a painterly painting you are mostly dealing in soft edges, and there are so many ways to make him Here are just a few notes. You can play with varieties of soft edge soft edges. Say, there's something here, but I've only given you part of this story. You're able to inject some of your own meaning here. I highly advise manipulating the edge around the silhouette of objects. Notice that sergeant's hand is not one consistent edge going all the way around. So here's our little example, which now has some hard and soft edges applied. Let's now move toe lost edges. Lost edges are tantalizing. Lost edges are where you can no longer detect where one element ends and another begins Its a mystery. Lost edges Say, I've left this area unresolved. You have to do the work to make it meaningful. Back to our example. Pay attention to these two areas. Those edges air gonna pop from soft toe lost in 321 Good. So you can see how just by working those edges, we can get some musical digital brushwork, brushwork that makes the audience work for their meal. And can I help you, Mr Stanton? Um, don't you think that's a little self service? Okay, fine. It's the Stanton principle. Can we just move on to part two? So in honor of brushwork. I'm gonna do a painting of brushes in a studio, and I want to say right away that unlike the demo in Part One, where I started with hard edges and then got softer, I actually tend to work in the reverse way. I start with soft edges and progressively sculpt harder edges into it. Now that's just a personal choice. But I think it's because as you orchestrate edges, remember that hard edges really grab attention. So I like to put those in later, when I know exactly where I want that attention to go. But that's later. Right now I'm switching my brush a lot, and I'm making all kinds of different varieties of soft edge like I showed you in part one . I want as much interest pumped in there early, and then I can kind of sculpt with it. Now the here comes some brushes in these jars and the brushes. There's probably gonna be like 30 or 40 brushes in this painting, but I'm not going to paint them all with the same edge. I will be sure to use everything from hard to soft toe lost edges in order to keep those elements in the painting very, very interesting. And that's because if I made hard edges everywhere, I'd lose a lot of intrigue and all the mystery would be gone. Everything would feel overly resolved and I'd lose your interest because there's no work for you to dio. So I will use the Stanton principle to ensure that I'm giving you just enough so that you can complete the story. So what I like to do is try and give the viewer just enough hard edges, which again is kind of like hitting them over the head just so they know exactly what some things are. And then they can extrapolate from there and kind of give context themselves to the softer edges and completely give their own context to the lost edges. But the point is, you need to use all of those edges in concert. If you don't it be like playing the piano, but only using one octave it be too limited. So getting back to the painting process, I actually find that my paintings start very rapidly. I have a picture very, very early, but then it slows down pretty dramatically as I then have the workload of sculpting all these edges and orchestrating all these edges and relating all these edges. Actually, to me, edges are the subject, not just of this painting of any painting. Ideo doesn't matter what the literal subject is. A person, a robot, a fantasy scene. It doesn't matter. I still need to evoke that emotion on an abstract level, the brushwork level. So, you know, when I was first learning, it was all about the literal subject. But now actually spend most of my time evaluating my painting on an abstract level. And there's a common question people have. It's when do you know your painting is done for me? That answer is when I have thoroughly evaluated literally every square inch of that canvas . I know every brush stroke. Certain things may happen by chance. I'm not saying you should control everything, but even if something happens by chance, I need to understand that it's there and how it's affecting that music. In fact, if you go back to the beginning of this demonstration, I'm completely messing up the canvas with randomness, kind of like the visual equivalent of banging my fists on the piano, you know, producing notes at random, and then I'll find the order afterwards. Notice the particular styling of soft and lost edges in that photograph to make it look like a print rather than an actual person. And I'm at the point now where the painting could probably be called finished. I mean, certainly the drawing and values and color were there a while ago, and since then it's been softened and edge here hard in an edge. There get a bit of variety here. This process could actually take another hour, but I've noticed that when I'm inching my way around the canvas like this, that's a pretty good indicator. I'm finished, and I've learned to listen to that. Many digital artists take their brushwork woes to Google and think that downloading a good brush that will make their paintings better. And while that may sound reasonable, it is a logical fallacy. I love playing with new brushes, too, but remember, no brush is going to accomplish the stance in principle for you and way don't want that right. There are a 1,000,000 painting ups out there, but self expression can only ever come from you. If you let the software takeover, you're in danger of composing music by stamping the same note over and over on. And that's the kind of self expression that might lead to a more fulfilling role. Uh, at the D. M. V. 4. Episode 4 - Good Shapes: break out your pocket watch and your paintbrushes. It's time for Episode four of 10 minutes to better painting I and your deadline pushing host Mark Obuchi. Let's get right into it, shall we? Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin says. I laugh when people ask if I ever get Writer's block. Writer's block is my default position. In this episode will be looking at good shapes, a topic that can be found in the broader chapter of readability. We read pictures in much the same way as we read words like how a series of abstract markings form a sequence of words which together provide meaning. A painting does just the same thing Onley with shapes instead. And good shapes are what build good paintings. I consider this painting by J. C. Lyon Decker to be a good painting and one of the main reasons I think that is because it's chock full of what I consider to be good shapes. But I don't want to get ahead of myself. You might be wondering, What exactly do I mean by shapes? Well, probably the kind of shape we're all familiar with is this one. The outline or silhouette silhouettes, or maybe the first kind of shape. We recognize his Children, but when we're painting, we have to deal with many, many more shapes than just the silhouette. Like, for example, this shape responsible for defining some of the blue light that's falling on his face. Or this shape, which contains some of the warm light that's coming from that match. This shape actually straddles two things. The cast, shadow of the ear and the sideburns. Here's a shape of light on the underside of the brim of the hat, and here's its counterpart shape for the shadow of the same object. Here's a zippy little shape of highlight on the chin, and here's that same shape. Onley inverted, making up the eyebrow. Okay, please follow me over to this painting by Walter Everett. This one's a little more subtle, but let's do the same shape, isolation, exercise. Here are three shapes responsible for ambient light falling on the woman's dress. Here are two kind of pointy shapes responsible for patches of the landscape, and here's a neighboring shape also responsible for part of the landscape. And let's quickly zoom in to catch a few more soft shapes like this one here that belongs to the side plane of the woman's face, this subtle shape of light on the man's sleeve. And finally, this shape of shadow under the woman's jaw. OK, before we move further, how many of you have heard this old adage? Those three words often get passed off his wisdom, but to me they're a little cryptic. I mean, if painting is like a recipe that calls for shapes, values, edges and color. When we mix those ingredients, what exactly do we need less of? Try to keep that question in mind as we continue this lesson. All right, So these are all the shapes we isolated a minute ago, plus just a few more to fill out the page, and I've re scaled them also. They appear now at roughly the same size. So let's look at these and see if we can come up with some observations. Is there anything here that jumps out at you may be? The biggest thing I noticed is that these shapes are abstract, that is, by themselves. They don't have any inherent meaning, even though a moment ago they looked like brims of hats or light and shadows on faces orbits of the landscape. When you see them by themselves like this, they don't actually look like any of those things. In a weird way, it's almost like the painter is speaking a different language than the picture. All right, let's keep our detective hats on and make a few more observations. How about how simple all those shapes are there, not intimidating. I'm sure any one of us here could draw any of those shapes. But why is painting so hard then? Before we continue this investigation, I think we should take some notes. When I saw these shapes for the first time, I knew they were troubled. One thing was certain, though. They must be good shapes because they were part of good paintings. But they were just so abstract. They also looked so simple, so easy to draw, like any one of us could do it. There's just something so so intentional about them. Should Design is so clear on. Look at this. Even if we zoom out in photo shop, the shapes still, they still read clearly, even at a distance. It's starting to come together, but I still need more. Ah, that was a great lunch and now it's back to the video. And, hey, who left this notebook here? When you're painting, try and think of these three basic marks. See curves s curves and straits with cie curves, s curves and straits. You can draw or paint any shape and sticking to just those three will help you become conscious of exactly the shape you're making. And now, looking back at thes shapes, weaken, do some further analysis. Take the shape on the top right, For example, I really like how this shape is designed. It's a graceful shape, made by essentially to see curves, each having a slightly different flow. Here's a much sharper shape, and predictably, it's made mostly of straights, and these two little see curves help break up that pattern and give it maybe a little more interest. This is an interesting shape. One side is a very simple S curve, and the other side is more complex, made of smaller straits and see curves. You know, I really wish there was some kind of Superior Art Authority board that could certify your shapes, but there isn't. You have to be your own shape, detective, and these four criteria are a good place to start. You see, it's all too easy to neglect to this lesson and make a shape that's overly self important. Fill a canvas with those and it feels like a clogged drain. You can evaluate good shapes by how well they retain their design when they fill up a canvas. So if I catch myself making a shape like this, I'll try and redesign it, using seekers s curves and straits to bring out its inherent identity a little better. And now that I've arrived at a simple statement, maybe Aiken design back in some of that complexity and don't fall into the trap of simply trying to copy from nature. Nature is under no obligation to provide good shapes. That's your job. Sometimes nature will spoon feed you with simple, readable draw bill shapes. But most of the time, yeah, there's gonna be some work to dio and from personal experience. It's about turning shapes into less so that together they can communicate mawr. So cheer up. Aaron Sorkin, you're not alone. We painters may not have writer's block. We have, I don't know, shape dysfunction, but let's find comfort in the fact that we all suffer together, and we can work on it together to Okay, Yeah, that's kind of better. Well, good luck with that. The rest of us are moving to part two. This self portrait by John Singer Sargent looks very sophisticated, and it is. But I want to show you how with good shape design is the backbone of your painting. You, too, can aspire to this level. I'm going to set up our workspace, and the first thing I'm going to do in this study is break down the shapes. The biggest shapes are usually the most obvious, like this piece of light that covers most of his face. Here is a gigantic shadow shape responsible for the entire shadow side. Also just a quick note. Look at our canvas. I am not trying to use any values yet. I am just looking at shape, So here's a real simple shape for the hair. Here is a scattering of half tone shapes. Half tones are generally responsible for bridging the light into shadow. These air the highlight shapes on the head. This shape actually does look like an eye, and that's because it's one shape for the entire eye. socket and structure of the eyeball. Here's a very simple shape for the collar. In light. This handcuff looking shape is the beard in shadow and last to the shadow of the collar and the beard in light before I move on with this demonstration. Remember earlier in this video, I said that it's almost like the painter speaks a different language than the picture. Doing a study like this reinforces what I mean as a painter, you have to train your eye to see not the object literally, but the individual shapes and the design of those shapes that form it. Maybe like how a chef might look a dish and immediately begin to see the ingredients that went into it. Okay, moving ahead witnessed the magic, as I now reconstruct those shapes. But in the correct order and with correct values and what we have now, ladies and gentlemen, is the painting. It's not finished, but the critical information is all there now, and my goal for this lesson is to give you an appreciation of the importance. Each of those shapes have to further drive this point home. Let's zoom out on our study as you'll remember from Part one. It's largely those good shapes that are pulling the weights and making this picture read, and I want to also quickly say yes, values are very important as well. But I do think that shapes and values are two separate lessons. So stay tuned for a future episode on values. And speaking of episodes, what I'm doing now is recalling what we talked about in Episode three about brushwork and edges. All I'm doing is taking the shapes that I just laid out and determining what the edges between each shape. So you see, you can compartmentalize these processes shapes first and then edges later. And I do recommend studying this way, even if at first it means tracing shapes directly off the source. Tracing has a dirty connotation sometimes. But when it comes to study, especially if you're new to this, tracing and analyzing shapes off a painting is a great way to familiarize yourself with the language of shapes. And then you can challenge yourself to this stage of the process, which is determining the edge without losing those strong underlying shapes. It's very common to see a student start off with decent shapes, but then lose them in the process of. And I don't like this word blending. I don't like the word blending because for some reason it seems to capture people's attention mawr than it deserves. Your attention should be on shapes, not blending. In fact, there are many awesome art styles that don't have blending at all. It's all just hard shapes, and I guess that's why I place such an importance on shape. It's because no matter what your style, your shapes play the largest role in quality. I'd like to take this last moment to talk about how I think learning arts is unique, and that is when we think of learning, we tend to accept the idea that things start off easy and then get Mawr and Mawr complex over time. But do these shapes remind you of anything? They remind me of being in kindergarten and experiencing sheer joy at the concept of shapes . We used to do everything with shapes. We cut them out. We drew them. We played with them. We learned all their names. I think that what lies at the heart of painting is a desire to return to childhood and maybe mix it with some of the life experience we gain as adults, and that's it, if you ask me, is quite a profound and beautiful thing to strive for. 5. Episode 5 - Colour Harmony: break out your pocket watch and your paintbrushes because it's time for Episode five of 10 minutes to better painting. I'm your itinerant host, Marco ButI. Let's roll run into part one. Shall we say hello to multiple time Preda West winner Morgan y Sling. When asked about his color mixing, Morgan said, I don't know what I'm mixing the colors on my palette are like a piano, and I'm just hitting the keys. Okay, I appreciate the insight, Morgan, but that doesn't quite help me with this whole coach. Oh, look, it's world renowned watercolor artist Joseph's Buck Fitch. Maybe he can spare some knowledge about color, he says. I don't look at the colors on my palette. There's a warm side, a cool side and a few odds and ends in the middle. Now maybe it's just me, but that advice sounds like it's coming from people who don't know how to use color. But that's a Morgan y sling painting, and that's a Joseph's Buck Fitch painting, and the colors in both of them are beautiful. Today's lesson is about color, harmony and color. Harmony sounds intimidating. It always struck me is one of those elites color theories that a lowly student like me would never be able to understand. And there was a kernel of truth in the way Weiss Lincoln's a Buck Fitch talked about color a moment ago in the sense that there's just something indescribable about the effect of these colors have together. But despite that, let's not go any further without having a working definition of color harmony. Well, we know what color is. So let's look up harmony, real quick harmony. The combination of simultaneously sounded musical notes to produce a pleasing effect. So let's just change that word there. And these two words here and that were there. And there we have it color, harmony, the combination of simultaneously displayed colors that produce a pleasing effect to achieve color harmony. The first thing we have to do is overcome our limited acquaintance with color. Everyone chime in. Now, what color is this? Excellent. What color is this? Very good. This Okay, that was tons of fun. But sadly, understanding colors by their names is actually quite limiting. And to show that I'm gonna take this grace watch of color and paint it into this Edgar pain landscape. And when I do that. Something funny happens that gray suddenly looks a little orange, and when I bump up its value slightly so it fits here, it doesn't resemble orange at all. And just for reference, that was the same grey. I just changed the value. So how does such a minuscule difference in the color picker result in such a massive difference in the painting? The reason is Grey's communicate with each other. You see pure saturated colors like this have a very hard time communicating. They feel more like a loud party where everyone shouting. Here's another attempt of that painting, only this time with gray er versions of those colors. I hope you can agree that this alone is producing a more harmonious effect. But now I have to explain why that is. I need to come up with a cool image that everyone's gonna remember. That's it. We're right in sync with the new Star Wars film, so let's take the Millennium Falcon. But not just any Millennium Falcon. This is the 2017 model with a color wheel on it. That's awesome. And I'll need a captain for this example, so I'll use Jar Jar. I mean Han Solo. Han Solo's job is to make sure that all these colors and the rebel alliance are communicating their plans to each other. As we saw earlier, these colors are all shouting right now, and you can't command a rebel ship with that kind of chaos. So what does Han Solo do? He brings the colors in closer together so they don't have to shout anymore. When colors air less saturated like this, they begin to talk to each other. And, as with any conversation, they gain a common ground. And what is that common ground? Well, as far as color harmony goes, it's that all the colors air now based on relative degrees of gray. In this example, the colors are all at the same relative level of gray. Maybe something like this on our Millennium Falcon. This is okay, but it doesn't have to be equal like this If I now did this and brought in some more saturated colors that are layered over top of those common graze. Watch the transition as the saturated colors that were once too loud now carry real weight in this color conversation. Here's that, Joseph said, but fish painting again, and I specifically want to look at this area here. There's a very subtle conversation between oranges and blues that make up that wall now, you might be saying. But Han, how did he pull that off orange and blue at opposite ends of the color wheel? Well, he started with an orangish color and probably used the force to bring it into about here. And keep your eye up here, too, as I plot these colors on the actual painting as well. Anyway, that first color choice you make is actually not that relevant yet, and that's because it's all alone. It's not talking to anybody, so let's invite other colors into the conversation. One thing you can do is add subtle variations on that color. This kind of gets the conversation started, and it's pretty easy to dio. This is a good start, but you might not want the color to only exist on one side of the color wheel like that. There's a lot of opportunity to carry the conversation 20 here, and in my judgment he brings in just two more colors to do it. So watch the color wheel. This color starts talking to the blues by moving towards them, and then this color actually completes the journey into the blues. Now, to be sure, those air very great colors. But this painting proves that our eyes are extremely sensitive to these subtle changes. Let's now zoom back out and notice one more layer of color harmony. He's accenting those greys by using very saturated versions of them in the boats below. I think this is a brilliant move because now those colors air speaking to each other across multiple objects the entire frame and uses a wide variety of gray's to really fill out the color conversation. Now let's recall the Morgan y sling painting. Although this is painted in a different style and in a different medium, it builds its color harmony in just the same way. For instance, I'm sure your astute eyes can now detect that some of those bluish grays and the quilt are talking to those reds in the girl's dress. And, looking back at our Grace watches, I think we can now appreciate what was happening here. The reason to similar graze can look so different is because they're having two different conversations. The gray in the shadows that looks kind of orange looks that way because it was talking to blues. The other gray looks almost bluish in its context because it was talking to these colors and, well, it was the bluest part of that conversation. So I think we should give our two friends here a pass on their vag comments about color earlier. If anything, we should now have mawr oven appreciation for some of the esoteric imagery that painters tend to invoke when talking about color. This is one of my paintings that builds its color harmony, using the same ideas we just saw in Part one. And I'm going to recreate it now to demonstrate how I go about building these color harmonies from scratch. Oh, and Hans Solo was here to to provide a live update tracking of my palette as I go. The first thing I noticed is that this all happens in kind of a fluid motion. It's not like Part one, where I could break down certain parts of the painting and isolated. You'll notice when I paint this, I try and rough out very quickly. Some grays and some colors across the whole canvas to kind of see what conversations air starting and then as a painter, I can sift through them and choose which ones I want to nurture and which ones I don't want at all. And this is why I'm not showing you the color picker because, as we also saw in Part one, the same color can look radically different based on the area of the painting that it's in . So for that reason, it's way more important to use your eyes and trust your eyes. Rob. Event Some digital readout One of the stronger colors in this painting is that turquoise color, and you notice what I'm trying to do is I'm trying to carry it from the sky in the background, into the monster's head and even into the bridge, and it kind of gets greater with each successive step. So it's my way of doing what's a buck pitched it earlier, carrying a color through the painting. It kind of reminds me of how musicians can have variations on a theme as a way of tying a piece of music together in the painting. It's variations on a certain color passing through various levels of grey and what that does is it just has this unifying harmonizing effect. Now. This is not a formula, because every painting will require different colors, different palates, different levels of gray. So this is just a broad concept that might help you really enhance your pictures impact with color, and I just like to reiterate a message from Part one. The reason this painting looks colorful is not because there's a lot of saturated colors in it. There are some, but what's really happening is I've set the scene with a like a murmur of conversation of with multiple graze. And then what I can dio based on my own artistic aesthetic is I can choose which of those colors I want to take all the way to, like full saturation. So in this case, I've chosen that turquoise color to be the most saturated color, followed by some of those greens. And then maybe the yellow would be third. The other colors in the painting the orange is the purples, for example. They exist in gray er versions. And of course, when I say that, I mean relative degrees of grey, as we've seen and just one last note on process, I find that starting in color rather than black and white really allows you to embed and build and discover your color harmony as you're also building your shapes and values and edges, giving your colors time to play out like that, just like a real conversation is a great way to find all the nuances and ultimately come out with the strongest possible meaning. I love color. But if I were asked to make a list of painting fundamentals in order of importance, that list might look something like this. The big number one drawing You can Onley paint as well as you can draw. You can refer to Episode four of this series for some insight into drawing good shapes. Number two. Actually, this should be number 1.5 values. These two things really go hand in hand, and I will do a future episode on Values Number two is edges, and we talked about those in Episode three of this series. Now you might be like, Hey, you didn't leave any room for color. Well, to me, color fits like this, and that's because color doesn't carry the same kind of load that drawing values and edges do color is the subjective part of painting that, in my opinion, is best when it's enriching a picture that already works. And I hope this lesson has given you some concepts to explore in your journeys around the color wheel. You know, speaking of round, have you guys heard this crazy Internet theory that the color wheel isn't actually round but flat? I mean, come on, give me a break. Evidence of around color wheel is everywhere. I mean, even industry leading graphics software. Adobe Photoshopped agrees. The color wheel is. 6. Episode 6 - Light & Shadow: break out your pocket watch and your paintbrushes. It's time for Episode six of 10 minutes to better painting I Am Your Cyber Lee gregarious host Mark Obuchi. Let's dive right into the lesson, playwright August Wilson said. The simpler you say it, the more eloquence it is. This episode is about Light and shadow, which falls under the category of values. Values, of course, refers to the gray scale between whites and black. Now, when we see the work of great painters like Frank Frizette, Assault Tepper, John Singer Sargent, the quality of lights and shadow gives their paintings a real dimension, like they're about to pop right off the canvas. And when I take the color away, the effect of light remains equally strong. You guys remember Episode four right where we talked about how good shapes are. An essential part of making good paintings in this lesson will be connecting our shapes to some values. And I say some values because a good painting does not treat the value scale like an all you can eat buffet. If our goal is to paint light and shadow, we have to be very conscious about our shape, value, connections and this lesson will focus on just three values. Three values that I consider essential to understand. Two of those values will describe the light, and one value will describe the shadow. So let's arrange a quick, still life. How about a ball sitting on a floor? Okay, now we need a light and are unpaid. Intern will switch on the light. Hey, go grab me a coffee. Would you make it quick? I'm dying here. I love interns. So anyway, are still life is just waiting for us to paint some light and shadow. First we'll have to find some light and shadows shapes, and then we'll need to connect values to those shapes. But before I do that, there's a checklist of fundamental things that we need to know. First, see all those polygons. Those are called planes. Planes have a very specific orientation in space. You can put planes together to understand three dimensional form, which is handy when what? Oh, do you? If you're so smart, why don't you just be a contestant on the brand new? Get your tapping fingers ready? Here's question. One shadow values are what then might values Okay, let's tally the answers darker. Of course, most of you nailed it. When you're painting light in shadow, your number one job is to keep the two separate. For example, the shadow values in this present a painting are all way down here. And by contrast, the light values airway up here. We'll explore a little later how doing this really helps with clarity. But now question to generally light travels in blank lines. I know you feel this. Let's see what you got. That's right. Generally speaking, my travels through the air in straight lines, a phenomenon so reliable that most of us proved it in fifth grade science class. Okay, this one's for all the marbles. How many types of shadow are there? Final answer is I'm still looking for sponsors. So in shadow, we have cast shadows and form shadows, and this Sargent painting has both these air two shapes of casts. Shadow cast shadows happened where the light is blocked. Let's look at the nose Light is coming in from this direction, and because the nose kind of juts out of the face, it blocks the light, and what we get is a projection of the shape of the nose onto the face, so cast shadows adopt the shape of whatever is causing them form. Shadows, on the other hand, occur when planes turned away from the light, and the resulting shape is determined by the particular arrangement of planes in that area . So moving back to our still life with our selection of values and our checklist of fundamentals, we can now add light and shadow. And remember, I'm only going to use three values. The first value will tell the viewer everything that's in light, so I'll choose the value that's pretty lights like this one. And because lights coming from above, I can just find every plane that points up and give them all that value. This Rove planes is tricky. Are they pointing upwards or not? I'm going to say yes and give them the same value. So every plane that was facing the lights received one average value. In fact, I call that value average light. Now I'll give the shadows the exact same treatment, even though there are two shadows here, the form shadow on the sphere and the cast shadow projected onto the floor. I'm going to merge them together as one shape. Now I'll choose a value that is clearly separate from my average light value like this one , and I'll fill it in. This average shadow value is called you guessed it average shadow. Now, before I show you the third value, let's reflect on just these two. They look kind of simple on a sphere, but simplicity is exactly the point. This figures light and shadows shapes are more complex than the spheres, but that doesn't mean your values have to get more complicated. A tiny bit of editing reveals that Frizette is doing most of the work with just average light, an average shadow. A similar edit on these paintings also reveals the same high contrast to value principle. But high contrast isn't always required. Sergeant achieves remarkable subtlety here by bringing his shadows closer to the lights but still weaken. Deconstruct it to see simple shapes of average light and average shadow providing the foundation. Okay, so here's our final value of the day. Remember this row of planes that's just barely facing the light? It's often helpful to reserve a value to describe that, so I'll pick of value. That's just slightly darker than our average light. This will work and I'll fill it in. This value is called half tone. It can show where lights transitions to shadow. Let's bring up this Sargent painting again. We've already looked at the light source and the shadows, so let's identify the other two values. We can pull an average light value from this broad area. Those values hover around here on our grayscale. Now we've got a whole ton of values from which to choose 1/2 tone. So how can we stay controlled here and not treat the value scale like an all you can eat buffet? Well, remember that shadows are darker than lights, and we want that to be very clear sergeants Advice is to ignore the values that are close to the shadow and instead choose a value closer to the average light. So watch the painting. Here are some half tone planes. Remember half tone planes, air still facing the light but starting to really turn away from the light. I'll fade that away now so you can judge how the half tones air just a step darker than average light before the values plunge into shadow. Now the human head is far more complex than a sphere. So I'd like you to meet my art friend Theus, Aro Head. Ah, 360 degree cast of the plains of the head. Using something like this is reference. You can move beyond a simple sphere and try to recreate different lighting situations on the head from your imagination. With enough practice, you'll find you can say a whole lot with these three simple values and the simpler you say it. August Wilson. You got it. Well, that's the end of part one. Accept something feels incomplete. What could it? Oh, yeah, Where's the unpaid intern with my coffee. So here's a photograph of me actually looking seven years younger, and I want to show you how you can take this lesson and apply it to studying from a photograph. I'll be looking at the probably hundreds of values that exist in that picture and reducing them to just three. That means I'll be losing a lot of information here. Real life has more than three values, but a big part of a painter's discipline is the idea of simplification getting down to the bare bones of what makes form and lights work, So using a fully detailed photo and simplifying it is a great way to build that discipline . One of the benefits of having only three values toe work with is you can actually begin to draw with paint. You probably noticed I didn't start with a line drawing. I went straight in there with my three values. And I'm currently moving them around, painting over them, adjusting my shapes as I searched for that clear form and light. Now, my goal here is not a portrait likeness. I'm not trying to copy the photo. It will end up looking something like the photo. But more than anything else, what I'm going for is an overall statement of how this series of planes is interacting with the light source. So when you do studies like this, you're practicing both your lighting and you're drawing. Even though I did not do a line drawing, I'm still drawing shapes there, just shapes of value. Making good shapes is critical. So I'm constantly refining them. You know, I'm not trying to get them right the first time. I'll be the first to admit that I never get my shapes right the first time But a big part of studying is putting something down. Seeing where it's off and then adjusting it. And having only three values to choose from is kind of like a life preserver that keeps your head always above water instead of drowning in the sea of hundreds of possible values , I want to mention one more important thing, and that is I'm using edges in this demonstration. We talked about edges in Episode three of this series, and I'm using them here to soften the transition between values and shapes. In part, one of this lesson I did not consider edges. Everything was kept razor sharp. But in practice it's nice to combine these fundamentals because, after all, that's what they're made for. And the nice thing is, whether you're working from photos from life or even from your imagination, you can use this same approach. You know, I wouldn't blame you if right now you're wondering to yourself our three values really enough to make an impact. That's a fair question, and in response, I'd like you to consider this familiar piece of music. A statement made with minimal means can still make a powerful impact as far as light and shadows concerned. You can use these three values to make a complete statement, or you can use them as the basis for something more complex. Remember that good painting, like any form of communication, is based on solid structure, and that's what we're pursuing here. So I hope you enjoy this episode And how What took you so long? Shows over hire an intern to help with the show and whoa, I get the one guy. You can't even deliver coffee. And now you probably expect me to write you a letter of recommendation for a job in an animation studio, so I don't think so.