On relativity of color temperature: Secrets.

13 02 2012

I was invited to the Enchanted Visions Project a couple of months ago, but so far I had been unable to take part in these friendly monthly challenges. However, finding that the planets were aligned and I actually had some time at night, I took the opportunity to tackle February’s challenge: “Secret Kisses”.

Since I had been studying tutorials on skin tones I was eager to work on that and decided to have lots of skin! My idea was to have the kisses being secret because they are not accepted by the rest of the world, so I sketched two women being from different worlds: Earth and Water. I took the opportunity to work on a very warm skin tone and a very cold one to represent the element of these women. Also, I wanted to add a dash of each woman in the other one to bring the palette of each into the other and make the piece more harmonious.

Secrets. Finished version. Note the temperature of the two women and its variation within the skin tones.

That is why I added a violet flower on the hair of the nymph and a pink flower on the hair of the mermaid. But then Lisa Cree suggested to push that idea further and have them “exchange gifts”, I then gave the nymph a crown of pearls, and color picked the tones from the lighter blues of the mermaid. I did the same for the leaves ornament, picking colors from the nymph.

To have the mermaid not look clammy in blues and green I added a dash of pink to where you would expect blush in a normal skinned woman: chin, cheeks, nose, elbow, a little bit on the shoulders too, this added some warmth to it (and received many compliments!). To convey the idea that these women are interacting, in the same place, and not just pasted on top of each other I got their colors to interact by using reflected light. The theory is that when light bounces off of an object, it is reflected on other surfaces. In this way, the light reflecting from the mermaid’s skin should cast a blue reflection on the nymph, and vice versa. If you take a look at the nymph, there is no doubt that the reflected color from the mermaid is definitely cold.

Temperature of colors is relative, as it can be seen in the left panel. In both cases the warmer tones belong to the nymph and the cold ones to the mermaid.

Both these examples, the warm blush and the cold reflected light are warm and cold respectively only when seen surrounded by the skin tones that each woman has. If you color pick them and put them against a neutral background, you can see that he blush is actually green and the cold blue is actually a rose. Furthermore, by comparing them to the skin tones of the other woman you can see that actually the blush is quite cold and the reflected light rather warm, but when put into the right context they convey the right temperature idea.

When painting, keep in mind that not always rose is pink, it sill depend tremendously on the context.


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