The Process Behind 'The Insidious Whisper' #2
Missed the first part? Click Here.
In this post I'm going to talk about colour mixing. Mainly because it was a complete nightmare during the painting of 'The Insidious Whisper'.
Grey. It's one of the trickiest colours to mix. The problem is that greys in the real world aren't neutral greys as you'd see in a black and white film. They lean towards a certain colour. Let's see how that works: to mix grey I start with white and then add red, yellow and blue. The proportions of these colours determines the final grey. If they are balanced perfectly a neutral grey is mixed. But if a little yellow is added the grey will tend towards yellow. Extra red and blue will lean it towards purple. When I talk about adding extra, it's the tiniest amount of paint just using the very tip of a small brush. It's all incredibly subtle, but carefully mixing greys can turn a potentially dour painting into a riot of colour albeit a subtle riot of colour (possibly more a 'minor disagreement over whether milk should be added first or second to a cup of tea' of colour).
(These may look slightly different on your screen but you get the idea.)
All well and good you say, but what made 'The Insidious Whisper' so difficult. Okay. The first problem is mixing the subtle greys. The next is the fog. Fog destroys a lot of the contrast in a scene: the whites aren't pure white and the blacks are dark greys. So rather than having a full range of tones to play with, I was restricted to a narrow band of greys in the middle.
Tonal range in 'Welcome
Tonal range in 'The Insidious Whisper'
The final problem is the sheer amount of depth I was trying to put into the painting. Due to the fog, I needed to have paler tones in the background gradually getting darker into the foreground. So when working on the background tentacles I was only had an incredibly narrow tonal range to play with.
Putting all of these issues together meant that I was mixing colours with a 000 brush and modifying them using the tiniest pin pricks of colours. I would then dry the paint to check it against the surrounding colours and modify it again. It was a painstaking process.
As the painting developed I was constantly revising the tones that I'd already done either by repainting or adding very dilute washes (I deliberately kept my colours on the light side so that I could do this).
In the final stages I applied many white washes over certain areas to enhance the fog effects. This was ever so slightly stressful (understatement ahoy) because if something went wrong it meant a lot of repainting would have to be done. I kept looking at the painting in Photoshop and trying out the washes before I did them in real life. This saved me numerous times as I was able to test things first.
Next time I'll back track to talk about the mask and the reason for its creation. See you then.
For Part 3, Click Here.