Colour references from art

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Rebecca Hubbard shares her inspiration for painting faces.

I usually use a lot of photo references when I paint.

Using photo editing software I can zoom in, and pick out specific colours used in – say a brick wall for example.

Brick wall texture will colours selected in photo editing software

Brick wall texture will colours selected in photo editing software

I like free texture sites such as http://www.cgtextures.com, where you can download images of all sorts of things useful for miniature painting – such as rust, metal, brick, fur and much more – great for scenery!

Today, I came across the site of an artist, a colleague was looking at it. Evgeny Parfenov (hope I got that correct) has some fantastic portrait illustrations.

With a very distinctive style and strong use of colour, I was immediately struck by how useful these would be for painting people.

Painting faces is something I find difficult to get right. I’ve read how Seb Archer adds colour to his models to add a different dimension to them, and this is a technique long used in traditional art – and in film lighting.

A scene from the movie Peaceful Warrior

A scene from the movie Peaceful Warrior

The film Peaceful Warrior uses a lot of blue and orange lighting in the garage scenes – there are some lovely close ups on Nick Nolte’s face that I wish I could have freeze framed and captured for later reference. The TV show, Battlestar Galactica is another source of strong lighting and colour on faces.

My problem is trying to recreate this kind of look when painting. Where exactly do I put those colours – how should I highlight and shade? Even without adding colours I often get stumped when shading faces.

I know what I see in the photos – but I just can’t seem to place the paint correctly when it comes to the model.

This is where artist Evgeny Parfenov’s work comes in handy. Check out the Illustrations >Magazine section of the site, and have a good look through the sets.

Michael Ballack for tss magazine, by Evgeny Parfenov

Copyright © Evgeny Parfenov

Copyright © Evgeny Parfenov

Copyright © Evgeny Parfenov

Copyright © Evgeny Parfenov

Copyright © Evgeny Parfenov

With the stark lines of colour – even on the smooth Keira  Knightly picture, it’s really clear where the colour and the highlights and shade should go.

Obviously, as a mini painter deciding on a light source is important – and this will affect the lighting on the face – but with these images are references I think I’ve found a good starting point.

Using these as a positioning guide – and smoothing out the application of paint so it isn’t so dramatic and stark, I think face painting, for me at least, is going to be a whole different story.

I hope you get inspired too.

Rebecca Hubbard

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