Schoolism: Nathan Fowkes Color and Light Week 04

Week 04 focused on creating images that feel emotionally different in both greyscale and color. You should change the lighting, the atmosphere, the local colors and value arrangements. When you’re working on skies, think of structure and perspective.

“Don’t miss your opportunity to practice. The river of life will rush you forward so stop and revise now!! Practice now!” – Nathan Fowkes

Color is scripted with emotion.


Student work on Schoolism:


The common feedback was that the values and local colors weren’t pushed far enough.

Week 04 Feedback 03

Screen Shot 02-20-17 at 07.54 AM.PNG

For doing an overpainting on top of a value scale, first bring your levels into the mid-range so that the colour will be picked up (in the color blending mode).

Screen Shot 02-20-17 at 08.04 AM 001

Start by painting as if it’s an overcast day and then bring in light variations from there. Think in terms of local color first. If you’re working from grayscale to color, then a color overlay layer will work better over mid-range values. Be conscious of how atmosphere might cool colors in the distance. Then add a value adjustment on top of this to bring the values back.

Once the overlay is laid down, then start opaque painting. Think what the color, halftone, highlight and shadow would be. Think of how the light is bouncing from the sky and adjacent surfaces.

Starting with an overcast lighting setup, create a direct sunlight, sky light and bounced light versions for masking.

Direct sunlight:

Screen Shot 03-25-17 at 06.01 PM

Sky light:

Screen Shot 02-20-17 at 08.04 AM

Bounced light:

Screen Shot 03-25-17 at 06.04 PM

Our generic scene to reveal layers upon.

Screen Shot 02-20-17 at 08.04 AM 001

Week 04 Classmate 06

Think of the sky as a gradation of colors. The sky behind you might be a different color versus what is in front of you, e.g. the sky might be warmer near the sunset and cooler behind. The color of the shadows facing the sky will take on the color of the sky. Shadow color can enhance the other colors of the painting.

Screen Shot 04-06-17 at 09.40 PM


Schoolism: Nathan Fowkes Color and Light Week 03

If you want to use a palette which spans across the color wheel then you need to have a unifying element.

Screen Shot 01-14-17 at 03.41 PM.PNG

A painting might appear to have a lot of variation but when the colors are put in a different context then they will take on different properties. All the colors are mixed with one unifying color e.g. a warm yellow ochre.

Consider how your main character will stand out from the others. E.g. Sinbad is red clothed. However, the color should also represent the character’s personality. The strong saturated colors seen in animated movies result from a highly organised palette.

Screen Shot 01-14-17 at 07.31 PM.PNG


Create a scene and then rework it with different color palettes. Spend at least 5 hours a week on these homework assignments. Make these paintings as tight as you can. Start afresh or use a grey render from last week to paint over.

Consider all hue, saturation, value and temperature.

Week 03 Feedback 01 Pay closer attention to where translucency might be occurring in your image. If an object is producing light, follow it to where it will be caught on other surfaces. Think of the light color, direction, source and quality.

Week 03 Feedback 03 Experiment more with the arrangement of your values and not just your hue, e.g. light against dark versus dark against light. (Note, I have a tendency to create dark foregrounds receding into light into the distance to make the characters stand out. I need to try out different approaches to lighting.) Beware of light sources appearing as a local color on a surface instead of a light.

Screen Shot 01-15-17 at 02.01 PM.PNG

Student work on schoolism

Think about the storytelling within the scene and how a poorly placed highlight might direct the viewer’s attention to the wrong place within the frame.

Week 03 Feedback 03 For doing studies, it is simpler to paint a scene without characters so that you can just focus on the color and light. You can use value in the same sense that you can use color to create a mood with palette. Use the presence of extreme darks of an abundance of light values to your advantage.

There are more variations than just warm and cool.

Week 03 Feedback 04

Experiment more with the arrangements of value. E.g. try light foreground and dark middle ground and vice versa.


Think in terms of varying the degrees of black and white also.


Note to self: Try a simplified version of this assignment with spheres. Try creating simple value arrangements with spheres/simple objects. Vary the type of light sources and vary the subject slightly so as to create different local colours if need be e.g. a grassy sphere versus a colder rock/paved sphere.  Try a narrow versus a broad value range. Try a narrow versus a broad palette of colours. You could narrow the value range and then choose one area of subtle highlight.

Schoolism: Nathan Fowkes Color and Light Week 01 – 02

Week 01 Notes

Use a noise reduction filter to find the underlying simplified forms. What is the minimum amount of information that you can put into your study and still make it feel like the original?

Do a minimum of one study daily besides the work that you have to do. Keep them under an hour and try to get the essence of the image.

Homework: Do a minimum of 2 a day over the next 6 days.

Feedback 02

If you get your values right then your colours will follow. Study Jamie Jones. The edges and big shapes are important for the readability of the image. Jamie Jones’ painting has subtle value shifts but the readability of the edges is still very clear. Bear in mind that hard edges create an area of contrast. Use a surface blur filter to see the big colour and light compositions simplified. Also use the noise reduction filter. How far can you simplify and still hold on to the purpose of the image? You need to consciously consider what the underlying purpose of the image is. Work on your fundamental skills so that they are usable across all media, not just Photoshop tricks. Learn through the restrictions of traditional media so that your painting is more organised and designed. This will then follow through to digital media also.

Week 02 09/Jan/2017

Take grey scale renders and create believable, theatrical lighting with them. Where are your light sources coming from? How does scale affect the spread of the light? Think of warms and cools in your lights.

Push the theatrics of the image with atmospheric perspective and perspective.

Think of the relationship between your colors. Two complimentary colors, desaturated, will look vivid next to each other. A warm brown next to neutralised purple i.e. neutralised complimentary colors by mixing them with each other. You want a balance of sameness/repetition and difference/variety.  Unity and variety is the same as saturation and desaturation of colors in a relationship. See the paintings of James Reynolds.

Fowkes found a benefit in creating quick roughs of every image in Reynolds’ book.

You need to brush up your skills so that when the time comes you will be able to take on the tasks given to you and show that your skills can be trusted for more important jobs.