Mastering the art of rendering takes time and certain steps in order for you to understand the use of color. Many people struggle with color…including myself. Even after all these years I seem to try to rationalize and educate myself on how to experiment with different color combinations. I will have to say that one of the best investments you can make would be to purchase a set of gray scale markers. I have a couple of sets made by Letraset. One is cool gray, the other is warm gray.
Before diving in…a little about the marker sets I am using. Unfortunately I must report that each set of 12 marker no longer exist in the Letraset brand and the new ones only come in a set of 5 markers. This is a total bummerama because having gray scale from 1-12 (12 being black) is a huge bonus. Plus they were refillable but unfortunately, the refillable inks are no longer available for the older brand.
Alternatively, you can consider purchasing either Copic ($5/marker) or Prismacolor ($1.8/marker) markers (to my knowledge prismas are not refillable ). You can also purchase Chartpaks ($2/marker).
Ok…enough of that…now on to the technique. It is really important to practice understanding value range. Range in value allows you to describe form on an object as well as lead the viewer through your artwork with a certain level of contrast. The higher the contrast between two elements, the more the viewers attention it drawing to it.
Having a large range of values for your markers also allows you to blend the shades gradually…building up the tones before committing to darker values. I first started off with a reference photo for this vintage motorbike helmet. Unfortunately I did not capture my process here but the approach was to start with a number 1 gray and build up to number 11 which is almost black.
You can see for the Harley that I start off with light warm gray tones and slowly build up the value range to around a 6 or 7….building the contrast between the exhaust, motor, and other components within the bike frame.
Above you can see the darker tones and high contrast areas that pop the shapes of the exhaust, motor, and frame. It is important to take note that you need not introduce a lot of color when working with gray scale.
I know this is quite a jump but by just adding a touch of light purple background with some reds, prismacolors, and gouache paints, you can bring the “gray” value sketch to life. Hope you enjoyed the post and until next time…happy drawing!
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