Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lunchtime Watercolor

Lunchtime watercolor at the neighboring office complex. It was a grey day and their fountain waw running.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

4 Value Test/Levels Crush Test

Here's a test you can use in Ps to check the integrity of a paintings value structure.

First, you'll need a basic understanding of a Histogram and the 'Levels' tool in Photoshop.

An Histogram is a visual representation of the data in an image. In the image above, you can see a gradient from black to white and the histogram to represent this data.

Photoshop's 'Levels' tool (cmd+L) represents the graphic data of the pixels in a value scale of 255 steps from Black to White. In the Histogram above, you can see that there are more pixels towards the ends of the spectrum, i.e. there are more white and black pixels in the gradient than gray pixels.

By using the sliders at the bottom of the graph, you can adjust the number of black or white pixels in a given area, and the midpoint between the two. See the example below:

By adjusting the sliders between the range of 0-255 shades of gray, you can adjust the quantity of black and white pixels in an image. Henceforth called 'crushing' an image.

See the examples below:

By using the sliders to divide the histograms 255 steps in to 4 equal parts, you can find the value ranges of a selected area.

Here's the histogram divided in to 4 equal parts:

0~63=Dark Dark Gray (4/4)
63~127= Dark Gray (3/4)
127~191=Light Gray (2/4)
191~255 =Light Light Gray (3/4)

See example below:

When applied to a color painting, you can use this breakdown to see the 4 Value structure of a painting.

Let's take a look at a painting by Nathan Fowkes to see how he smartly groups the elements in to 4 main values.

Here's the original:

Here I've adjusted the sliders in the Levels tool to find the parts of the images that correspond to the 4 value ranges listed above.

By doing so, I can see how all of the foreground elements are confined to the bottom 1/4 of the value scale. The opposite is true for the focal point and distant objects in the painting. They are painted using only the top 1/4 of the value range. Elements in between are neatly confined to the middle 3/4 and 2/4 ranges of the value scale.

The Levels tool allows you to break down the value structure of a painting and check the integrity of the design of your 4 basic values. Of course you can use the sliders to set the range for any number of steps in a given image.

Here's how to do it.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Watercolors at Stanford

Went out for a drive one overcast Saturday afternoon. I sat in my car in the overflow parking lot at Stanford and painted the eucalyptus trees.