I think the hardest thing to focus on when you’re sketching is the “finished look.” Basically how your piece is going to come together. And honestly, that’s something I stress about every time I make a piece, so if I find myself too stressed, I go straight to sketching: because a practiced mind is a prepared mind. One issue I’ve been having recently is lighting and skin color.
Lighting & Its Difficulties
I’ve mentioned a couple of times before on my YouTube videos that I’m not great at focusing or finding the “right” color palette for a piece. That, I typically go with the flow until something comes to me. But lighting also falls into that category (almost).
Lighting is a bit difficult because your mind tends to play tricks on you. You’ll think that well yeah, I should be lighting on the forehead because lighting touches the forehead. BUT. Is lighting hitting the forehead of your piece? Is that the direction your light is coming from; a direction where the light would hit the forehead of this piece.
These are important concepts to think about. I know this. As well with the way the light would touch the materials presented in your piece. For example, my piece above, she has on a flowing cape-like material and her clothes are represented by wrinkled fabric. There wouldn’t be a solid shine of lighting hitting her clothes because it would then look like one weird solid structure, instead of a beautiful distorted pattern of light.
One technique I find useful is focusing on lighting in various other art pieces after gathering a general idea of where I want my lighting to come from. Here are a few from my Pinterest board pins that’s helped me check my lighting.
It also helps me to find some with poses as well, so that I can study the flow of the light and it’s direction with the flow of the body. I also tend to play around with the color of the lighting and the layer types like overlay, color dodge, luminosity,etc.
So What’s the Problem?
While I may seem like I have it all figured out, the most frustrating part about this is putting it into “color.” And I put it in quotes because it’s technically already in color, as you can see. But oftentimes more than not, I find this great lighting and pose etc...but putting this end result with a color that actually matches with my line art and shadow work is quite difficult for my mind to piece together....so...I’ve been experimenting.
Knowing my lighting direction, pattern, and shadows, I can just throw a color on for the skin and experiment with adding the different shades over that when it’s time to paint.
Let me try to explain.
I blended some of my shadows and lighting together to get a general look at the piece before I added the color. The darker pink from the shadows comes directly from the dark pink of the line work so that it unifies nicely.
I hid that layer and just went in painting normally when I added the skin.
It’s not my best work, but it’s also not bad. I focused on where the skin would normally shine if I hadn’t done that lighting that you just saw. I gave her a purplish skin tone and went in with the pinkish-purple highlight for the bright parts of her skin, using the original color as her base skin tone. I slightly kept in mind the original lighting that I came up with.
I played with some “general lighting” and got this:
And then I turned on the lighting layer to see what it would look like altogether, again experimenting with different layer tops.
Art is fun but can be hard. So far this piece remains a sketch and that’s perfectly fine. The whole point of this was practicing lighting and practice I did. I still have a long way to go but experimenting with layers and the colors intertwined on those layers were worth it.
My point for this point .
Experiment. Don’t think about perfection, don’t think about the finished piece. Work on the things that are frustrating you to find a solution. Not every art piece has to be a finished idea.
It also helps to experiment with the hues and saturation, or in my case the Gradient Tool if you have Procreate