A Modern Approach to a Traditional Technique Continued (Refining the Tonal Transitions)

At this stage, my goal is to refine the transitions between my light and shadow masses and begin to depict soft and hard edges.  With a smaller brush, (in this case a #1 round) I applied a second layer or passing over my shadow masses.  The second passing was noticeably darker since I was applying it to an all ready toned area instead of a white surface.  I refrained from adding white to my paint mixture so that my darks would remain transparent.  With this second passing, I also concentrated on covering up all of the visible streaks and choppy brush strokes in the previous layer, as well as adjusting the value.  To make the paint more fluid, I added linseed oil and turpentine in a 50% to 50% mixture.

I then proceeded to mix up each variation of value for my half tones.  In portraiture it is especially important to observe how gradual or abrupt each transition is as it moves from dark to light.  This will describe how the form is turning, and accentuate the features.  The forehead and cheekbones for example have much slower turnings than the nose.  Instead of excessively blending these areas to create the transitions, I mixed separate tints and shades on the palette and carefully applied them in sections in the painting.  If this is done correctly, very little blending will actually need to be done. 

The tonal ranges in the light masses are quite subtle.  For now, I’ve decided to leave my direct light mass a pure white.  I am considering this area to be the same as a highlight on a sphere.  This will later be modified with glazes.  In my less direct lights, I see minor tonal variations due to surface details such as freckles, dimples, pores, etc.  I applied small dabs of paint to depict these minute details, and break up the larger passages of light.  I am still keeping in mind however where my general light is falling as it is very easy to overwork these areas with exagerated tonal variations. 

value transitions for blog

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