Creating ‘the Scientist’

Here you find a little step-by-step tutorial of my steampunk style painting ‘the Scientist’.

Step 1: Choose a subject, and draw the final layout on a medium of your choice. In my case, it was drawn with pencil on white gesso board.

Scientist work in progress 1

Step 2: Build your painting in greys with some black acrylic paint. I use a lot of water for the grey values. I hardly ever use black undiluted, because black mostly ends up with your painting looking dull. This is actually a very classic way of ‘building’ a painting, which a lot of famous painters centuries ago used as well. The reason? Black and white paint were the cheapest ones, and people often had to travel far for special colors. And as you probably know, most painters weren’t that wealthy, so they had to be careful with the use of expensive paint.

Scientist work in progress 2

Step 3: Add titanium white to the parts that you want to be highlighted. When you do this, you will notice you painting really starts to ‘live’.

Scientist work in progress 3Step 4: When you’re satisfied with your black & white painting, start adding the first layers of color by using transparent colors. Do not use opaque colors, because then all the work you did will just disappear under a layer of paint. If you cannot avoid using opaque colors, then mix it with a transparent color, to make it less opaque.

Scientist work in progress 4Step 5: you can see here the result of several layers of transparent paint. The shadows and highlights still shine through, and they give depth to your painting. The background looks like a watercolor painting. I actually used only acrylic paint, but I created the background with even more water, so it resembles a watercolor painting.

Scientist work in progress 5Step 6: At this point I was quite happy with the lady in the front, however the background seemed a little uninteresting. So I created the image of the pyramids, partly to merge the front- and background together. But also, to make this painting more interesting. To have the person watching the painting think of the reason why this lady in her Victorian styled clothing has a watch and goggles, and make up their own story about her. That is the main thing for me: what’s the story? It doesn’t always have to be obvious what it means. That’s the great thing of your imagination. An image can mean this to one person, and that to another person.

Scientist work in progress 6Step 7: After adding some more highlights with buff titan and titanium white, and adding the last details like the shadows on her hand and her fingernail, my painting is done.

the Scientist

I hope this tutorial is helpful if you want to create your own art using grey values.

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