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Thread: Beginner Q: How do I avoid cartoonish colors in landscape painting in oils?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Beginner Q: How do I avoid cartoonish colors in landscape painting in oils?

    I can't seem to get the colors right. I am working from photos on the internet. I am sampling the colors from reference photos in Artrage 4, but they never look right on the canvas. Instead of majestic, I'm getting cartoonish. Especially dark spots on a light background. They look like holes or toy balloons. I am able to blend colors that are similar. I am not using Insta-Dry. What might I be doing wrong?

    Dan
    Last edited by DanC; 09-30-2016 at 05:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    I can't seem to get the colors right. I am working from photos on the internet. I am sampling the colors from reference photos in Artrage 4, but they never look right on the canvas. Instead of majestic, I'm getting cartoonish. Especially dark spots on a light background. They look like holes or toy balloons. I am able to blend colors that are similar. I am not using Insta-Dry. What might I be doing wrong?

    Dan
    Can you post an example showing what you mean?

    I'll just take a guess but I think it may be due to the fact that the appearance of color is relative and can look very wrong when used out of context. A lime green in a picture taken on a cloudy evening looks like lime green in that scene, but would look wrong if placed in a picture taken on a bright sunny day. What matters most with perception of colors being right is that colors are correct in relation to other colors in the work, i.e. that things that are expected to be darker or lighter, cooler or warmer appear so.

    Here's a little site I found which illustrates and explains this a little better:

    http://facweb.cs.depaul.edu/sgrais/color_context.htm

  3. #3
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    Aug 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkOwnt View Post
    Can you post an example showing what you mean?

    I'll just take a guess but I think it may be due to the fact that the appearance of color is relative and can look very wrong when used out of context. A lime green in a picture taken on a cloudy evening looks like lime green in that scene, but would look wrong if placed in a picture taken on a bright sunny day. What matters most with perception of colors being right is that colors are correct in relation to other colors in the work, i.e. that things that are expected to be darker or lighter, cooler or warmer appear so.

    Here's a little site I found which illustrates and explains this a little better:

    http://facweb.cs.depaul.edu/sgrais/color_context.htm
    Wow, thanks! Just what I was looking for. I was completely unaware of these effects! Google "relativity of color". Will try to absorb and apply it to my painting.

  4. #4
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    Zoom in to the pixel level and you'll see that there are a bunch of colors clustered together where they optically mix the the right look when you step back -- or it used to be that way. So you probably picked on of the adjacent ones. So in essence since you're sampling colors in a super simplified way, and you're enlarging it through your paint strokes, you're the one making it look cartoony. Rookie mistake as you have no doubt guessed and what prompted your question.

    So. . . You have to lfree yourself up and get in there and paint. Paintings are often mixed and layered and that makes them look interesting and other than posterized. Interesting color relation comes from smooshing paint around, transitioning from one color and value to another and other simplified ways of applying marks.

    Sure, you should go crazy and have fun and try out all the things you're aspiring to, but values (the gradation between light and dark) are what creates form. The color is secondary to the values in most realism. While people go straight to color, it's because they inherently are conscious of value relations and creating form through lighting. And color gets worked into the overall.

    Anyway, try finding the colors based on your eye, and if the color you sample looks wrong, it probably is.

    So get free and see how paint behaves on the fly, and once you understand a little about that, you can seek out tricks because you know where you're going more and whether it is getting you there or not.

    Have fun!

    "Not a bit is wasted and the best is yet to come. . ." -- remembered from a dream

  5. #5
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    Aug 2016
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Akey View Post
    Zoom in to the pixel level and you'll see that there are a bunch of colors clustered together where they optically mix the the right look when you step back -- or it used to be that way. So you probably picked on of the adjacent ones. So in essence since you're sampling colors in a super simplified way, and you're enlarging it through your paint strokes, you're the one making it look cartoony. Rookie mistake as you have no doubt guessed and what prompted your question.

    So. . . You have to lfree yourself up and get in there and paint. Paintings are often mixed and layered and that makes them look interesting and other than posterized. Interesting color relation comes from smooshing paint around, transitioning from one color and value to another and other simplified ways of applying marks.

    Sure, you should go crazy and have fun and try out all the things you're aspiring to, but values (the gradation between light and dark) are what creates form. The color is secondary to the values in most realism. While people go straight to color, it's because they inherently are conscious of value relations and creating form through lighting. And color gets worked into the overall.

    Anyway, try finding the colors based on your eye, and if the color you sample looks wrong, it probably is.

    So get free and see how paint behaves on the fly, and once you understand a little about that, you can seek out tricks because you know where you're going more and whether it is getting you there or not.

    Have fun!

    Makes sense. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    Often, you just need to make everything a bit greyer or slightly more randomised - if you have a picture that's too bright and simple, try:

    1. Reducing the layer opacity and see if that suddenly works better
    2. Messing with the colors (Edit > Adjust layer colors in ArtRage 4)
    3. Adding another layer and adding very thin/translucent paint in various colours (just mix them up/throw them down and pull out a palette knife) and either messing with the opacity or with layer blend modes
    Ambient Design Tech Support & Community Manager

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    Go forth and read the tutorials. Also, check out the featured artists!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Quote Originally Posted by DanC View Post
    Wow, thanks! Just what I was looking for. I was completely unaware of these effects! Google "relativity of color". Will try to absorb and apply it to my painting.
    You are very welcome. Glad I could help! Let us know how it goes.

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