TREVOR CONRAD

Back To Basics

Recently I've been trying to do a lot of looser more gestural digital paintings. Generally when I create images either for work or personal I make full use of the 'digital' tools that Photoshop offers. Work often requires very quick turnarounds and Photoshop offers great speed and flexibility that traditional drawing/painting tools do not. I'll be the first to admit, I'll use all the tips and tricks and techniques I've learned over the years to achieve a final image that I have in my head. That might mean constructing forms in 3D and lighting them to give me a working guide to paint from. Often it involves pulling tons of reference to help me establish the tone of an image... and I'll color pick straight from reference because I know the colors harmonize or evoke the feeling I'm after.

My latest addiction has been watching The Crown on Netflix with my wife. Although a little behind in the series, it's got a lot of great atmospheric lighting and compositions that I'd been meaning to paint. To switch things up however I thought I'd set some boundaries and parameters for myself.

The Goal:
To create a quick gestural color/lighting study, in order to get better at picking true color values.
(I chose frames that had unique lighting setups to get a better understanding of how light and color worked in each situation.)

The Rules:
10-15min Time Limit (I tend to get caught up in the details, so this would force me to keep it loose and focus on my goal)
No Photoshop tricks, that means: No Color Picker, No Adjustment Layers, No Lasso, No Transformations, No Undo
One Brush and One Eraser
Layers are okay, but I kept mine to a minimum (I used between 2-4 max. better not to waste time here)

After completing each quick study I would then paint over my image, but with true colors picked from the original screen shot. I did this to study and understand my gut reactions better and see where my colors were off, and what the actual colors and values were.

My Results:
I'm a little embarrassed to actually post these, but I think the exercise and practice is worth studying and hope it might be informative for some of you as well. Given the shortened time frame and going on first instinct without getting too fussy, I found that I was a bit hesitant to push my lights and darks as dramatic as the original image. My brightest brights and darkest darks were generally closer in value than the original image. I feel like my overall color temperatures also seemed far more desaturated than the actual colors. 

Below are my studies. I'm really curious to hear what you think. If you give this a try yourself, please let me know I'd love to see your results!