Monday, February 20, 2017

SketchStyle Painting Class With Matt DiPietro

This last weekend I had the privilege of attending a 2 day workshop taught by the very talented Matt DiPietro (of Contrast Miniatures). Matt taught all about his "Sketch Style" painting technique. This was an incredible opportunity and definitely ranks among my favorite painting classes every taken. I haven't included all of the random notes from the class, but I do have this photo dump from the 2 days.

This was Matt's introduction to types of contrast, out of which he emphasized that value is the most important when it comes to SketchStyle.
Matt demonstrates priming for Sketching. He starts with quick bursts, waving the can towards the model in the process to do the diffuse lighting. Then picks an angle for directional lighting and does some more focused bursts to add that lighting. This priming step is pretty important. When doing mine, I was worried that I had put too much white on mine, but in the end I found that it was just right.
Here Matt was talking about Value in color. He started by creating a gradient using P3 Morrow White and P3 Thamar Black. Then he extended that gradient even further using artist-grade Titanium White and at the other end a mix of Thamar Black with Indigo ink. Once he established this gradient, he picked random swatches and showed how each color had a value on that gradient scale. This understanding of Value became a foundational piece of the whole class.
Here Matt is doing his Sketch, which involves enhancing the black and white aspects of the priming step. There's really much more to it than that though. He starts by using black to deepen the shadows and create separation between elements. It's important to note that the Thamar Black paint is darker than black primer, so this step really helps push shadows deeper. Next he goes back and starts raising the brighter parts of the sketch with P3 Morrow White, and then after that uses Titanium White sparingly to push the value even further. Matt commented that it's the Titanium White that really helps make the Sketch more "durable" for when the coloring step starts.
These are photos of the model he was working on. His concept was to create a sense of glow from the tablet she's holding, with an additional directional light from behind her to create a contrasted set of lights. At this point he's only added black shadows; all the white is from the priming step.
This is after he's added white. The effect is very striking.
This was a second Sketch he did after the first one. What was great about this one is he did it at his normal speed. We timed him and it was just about 17 minutes. Watching him work at full speed was very helpful since it gave a real sense of how he works his way around the model and what he does to keep his pace moving. Matt's secret: Pandora Dubstep station.
This was my Sketch. The idea here (thanks to Matt's prompting) was to have the coils of the guns be a light source. He also helped me get a better sense of how to handle the cylinder of the gun canister.
Day 2 began with a LOT of discussion about color. He showed us a bunch of gradients and specifically talked about Saturation. To be honest, although I already knew a fair amount about Saturation and Hue, I found his discussion both very education and somewhat over my head. I know that I'll be mentally unpacking a bunch of what he said over the coming months as I put it into practice.
These are from an exercise he gave us. He handed us each a bunch of swatches of colors and instructed us to put them in Value order. Then he told us to take out our phones and take a black and white photo to check our results. I clearly failed at mine, but loved the exercise.
This is an in-progress pair of pictures of Matt's Sketch example. The photos aren't very good, but it illustrates the point. At this point he's using thin glazes to add color over the sketch. It's important to note that the glazes are purposefully thin and the sketch is supposed to show through obviously. Unlike a wash, he's using even coat glazes and getting an entire surface face (black and white).
This is my finished model. I started with the glow effect of the coils and built that up first. From there I did the red canister which is where I felt like I started to really understand the glazing process better. I actually asked Matt to look at the canister effect just to confirm I hadn't made the glaze too thin or thick and he confirmed it was perfect. From there I moved on to the blue armor, then added the yellow. For the yellow, Matt saw I was going to use an Indian Yellow and suggested I also add a second glaze using his Indian Yellow ink afterwards. This really brought the value of the yellow back up more vividly. After that it was freehand details and touch ups. Total painting time, taking out pauses for questions and other such interruptions was probably 2 hours.
This was a model that Matt did full speed from start (just primed) to finish (all color). It took him about 45 minutes (about 15 for the sketch, and 30 for the color), which I watched completely from start to finish. This process was amazing and the fur in particular was really fascinating to watch. The fur was a slightly different process where he used essentially several glazes as washes and wet blended them as he applied them over the fur areas. Again, seeing him paint at full speed was impressive and helpful.
And this is a group shot of all the project pieces from the class.

I'll try to add more notes at a later point in a follow up post, but for now I wanted to get all the pictures up.

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