painting grayscale values

In Colorbook on January 25, 2010 by nameplace

how can we use paint to match Color-Aid grayscale values? Here’s my shot at it… 

1. Since middle grays are hardest to match, I started at one end of the scale, gradually worked up to 4 levels, and then switched to the other end. I started by mixing a value and then testing it against the Color-Aid swatch before applying paint to the board. This method worked well to start.

2. Then, working my way in towards the middle, beginning with a value, I experimented by adding light or dark paint.

3. The approach still didn’t give me the results I was seeking, so I began to mix an approximately matching value and applying it directly on the board. It took a couple of tries, but eventually the lights and darks blended for a closer match.

4. The real insight in the process came when I  realized that I had 12 steps on the greyscale instead of 10! Once the extra two middle grays were cut out, bridging the lightest and darkest four swatches went very well.

5. I concluded that any of the approaches I tried worked, but the best and fastest results for me would be in a combination of 1 & 3.

Some comments & observations on the process… 

– painting in layers is helpful. Since the values must relate to each other, mixing the paint, putting it down and having it fit right off is unlikely.

– the paints I was using, Golden liquid pigment in white and bone black mixed to create grays that had a bluish hue to them vs. the Color Aid swatches. I kept this in mind while making decisions.

– it is nearly impossible to avoid brushstrokes when using acrylic paints and brushes

– although one of its purposes is to slow drying, I found that blending medium didn’t help me as much as water. Water also worked better as a paint thinner.

– the glossiness of the blending medium and the type and intensity of environmental light played at least a small role in how the values were judged.

– squinting helped


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