Friday, May 29, 2009

Ninja Mountain Podcast #18 - Adventures in Colors and values

It's a long one today, as we talk about color and value. Ralph, Andy, Socar, Patrick and Jeremy take us through an admittedly introductory discussion about the nuts and bolts of these vast subjects, as well as a few of our normal detours into areas unknown.

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Show notes:

WiP Podcast
Big Illustration Party Time Podcast

Rendering in Pen and Ink, Guptill

Rendering in Pencil, Guptill (out of print, buy it used!)

Unseen Shadows: 50 cover concept illustrations, Steranko (expensive but hey, you're worth it!)
(And it's up on ebay right now!!)

Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green, Wilcox


Daniel Hardesty said...

Hey guys...I'm sorry if this question has been asked previously in another thread...but will any of you be attending the Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con? Would be very cool to see one of the ninjas in person!

Ninja Mountain said...

Good question! We should be putting together our yearly "summer cons" post soon. I know I will not be there - at this point it looks like my only convention will be SDCC in July. Of course if Wizard World or anyone else wanted to pay for our travel, I'm sure we'd make it... (hint to all convention organizers everywhere!!)

Any other Ninjas planning on traveling to Philly this year?


Ralph Horsley said...

I'm sorry to say that I am not leaving the UK for any shows this year, but I will be in Birmingham next weekend for:



MuYoung Kim said...

Another great one, guys and gal! It was a nice change of pace (and very informative) to get a bit more technical in discussing color and such. Also, I'm very glad you waited to have Ralph on for this discussion as his color usage has this adventurous savoriness that just pops!

Oh, for anyone interested, you can grab a copy of Rendering in Pencil at Amazon for about 10 dollars US (I know as I just ordered a copy).

Anonymous said...

Sorry; I'm such a stealthy ninja that I never appear at conventions, for fear of blowing my super-secret ninja cover.


/bad martial arts movie

Ninja Mountain said...

I'll be at GenCon this August which has me very excited. It'll be good to get back there. :)
I think only one other Ninja, Grey Thornberry, will be going as well.
I may be at a small local con here in New Hampshire.
OGC Con.

If I can swing any other shows this year, I'll let interested folks know.
Tomorrow I am going to a small local comic show, "Granite Con" here in my hometown of Manchester.

A cool Boston show or two will likely also be on the roster. We'll see. :)

Jan said...

Good episode. And long, just as Patrick promised!
Great that you went a bit into the theory - that whole "It's important to see, not just look." idea. It took me a long time to realize the few color-related things you mentioned.
That objects rarely have the color we think they have and that it can change a lot in a different lighting situation. Or that colors look different based on neighbour colors.

Definitely an episode very useful for beginners.

And Socar speaking in abbreviations! :D The fact I knew them all makes me feel dirty...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the stellar editing job again, Pat! Herding cats is a phrase which springs to mind! Having just listened back to the cast I figured I ought to ask Jeremy what he meant by using an 'analogous' palette. I think I know what he means, but could you spell it out for somebody scratching his head, Jer?


Ninja Mountain said...

MuYoung - glad you found it! I can guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Andy, you should ask these things during the show! Everyone likes to hear us try to explain ourselves in real-time. :D Since Jer is TOO SLOW and I love to hear the sound of my own typing: analogous is just another word for a palette limited to colors next to each other on the color wheel. Not monochromatic, but close. Like yellows with some orange.

I've found that if you're going to go to either side of your main color in an analogous scheme, some work better than others. Red + a bit of purple and a bit of orange seems to work better than Yellow + a bit of Orange and Green. But that's just personal taste, probably.


Ninja Mountain said...

Thanks Jan! Socar messed me up in that section - I just updated the one f-bomb I missed. Damn your dirty mouth, Myles!!!!


Anonymous said...


What was that?

Why, it was the sound of my Sopwith Camel Special Edition F-Bomber, buzzing this post.


MuYoung Kim said...

No, thank you Patrick! I've been looking for something to help me develop my pencil skills and generally rendering so this podcast was a boon for me. Criminally so as I was able to get a hardback copy to boot! As it comes recommended from the Mountain, I have no doubt it's filled with awesome win (as opposed to un-awesome win).

Ninja Mountain said...

Hey Socar, the only possible response to your Sopwith Camel attack is... "Rats!"

MuYoung - well, maybe at least we're filled with "un-lose". Which would be a major step up for me!


Tim said...

Patrick really needs to add a vblog to the weekly podcast. It can be him sitting in his study with the book of the week to discuss. you can wear a smoking jacket, pull out a pipe and pontificate on the Verisimilitude of illustration.

Tut Tut!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the mention of ArtOrder (!

I'll see, a fw of you, at Gencon and IlluxCon this year.

Jon Schindehette

ATOM said...

Nice rewarding podcast,thanks very much once again my friends!

Jon said...

I was initially appalled and disgusted* by your group promotion of stiff, academic, atelier methods like grissaille, and even worse having black on your palette. Man what?!!!!

But you saved yourselves with at least a brief mention of The Impressionists, only the most significant practitioners of colour theory EVAR and also briefly mentioning how vitally important it is to remember to watch for colour intensity as an integrated part of value when working colour on top of a grissaille sketch.

Ala prima and teh impressionists for teh win! ;););)

Conversely was it Loomis who said if your values are right you can use whatever colours you want?

*its so much fun being just a listener.

Ninja Mountain said...

Let the record show that when Jon takes a show or two off, he becomes a troll.
Next thing we know, he'll be collecting bridge tolls... ;)

I kid because I love, mate. ;)

Patrick said...

Hey Tim - I actually do have an awesome vintage smoking jacket, bequeathed to me by my super-cool Grandpa. I've never had an occasion to wear it, as I'm usually working at night rather than sipping port and smoking Cubans, but maybe that would be a good excuse.

Daniel Hardesty said...

Jon Foster is a real "painter" with a pencil. I've sat with him as he's sketched just some ideas off the top of his head and it's pretty amazing. He encouraged me to not jump to sharpen my pencil every 5 seconds, but to use the blunt, and sometimes oddly planed, tip of the pencil to create new textures and surfaces in your sketch. He typically sketches with a 2B pencil and pulls the lighter areas out with a kneaded or Sakura electric eraser, and the darker areas with a 4B or darker pencil.

Jon's work is fantastic and very thoughtful and a joy to look out. I'm a big fan. Check his work out if you get a chance! You'll see what I mean especially if you take a look at his "sketches" section.

Jon said...

If there is anyone presenting the show who doesn't know who Jon Foster is I shall kick them in the shins! THROUGH THE INTARWEBZ!

Cacodaemonia said...

I had to listen to this episode twice to absorb everything! ;)

With all the talk of color theory, I wonder if any of you read James Gurney's (author and illustrator of the Dinotopia books) blog, Gurney Journey: He has consistently awesome articles on there about painting and art in general, and a three part series about color wheel masking:


Jeremy, I've heard a similar color theory to what you were describing during the show. The terminology was slightly different though, resting more on the temperature of the colors involved in mixing. For example, say you were to mix a warm read (cadmium red) and warm yellow (cadmium yellow medium), you would get a warm, bright orange. However, if you mixed a cool red (crimson) with a cool yellow (lemon yellow), you would get a very dull, yucky orange. Similarly, if you mixed a warm blue (ultramarine) with any sort of yellow, you wouldn't get a vibrant, bright green because of the hint of violet/red in the ultramarine.

-Chelsea :)

Patrick said...

Caco - If we'd had some more time (or do another show on the subject) I'd like to get more into that subject of mixing. I work a lot with the color wheel - not so much warm/cool (though that's an aspect) but how things relate for mixing. For instance the as you mentioned the presence of blue in a red messing up the mixing of an orange. Or the orange flavor of the Cad reds messing up mixing purples.

(And on a side note, that's where Faber Birren's books on color theory really fall apart for me - it may work for putting together color schemes (whether they're attractive or not I leave to the viewer) but it doesn't work at all for paint mixing.)

Pedro Medeiros said...

Great podcast as aways!
About that book you mentioned "Rendering in Pencil", it doesn't have caopyright anymore, so, anyone can download it for free at internet archive, here:

Ninja Mountain said...

That's good to know, Pedro! That reminds me, the best figure drawing books on the planet can be found online if you look around - ANDREW LOOMIS. Here's Figure Drawing for All It's Worth:

Ninja Mountain said...

While I'm on the subject - here is a link with good scans of several Loomis books, including Creative Illustration, which all aspiring commercial artists should read at least twice:

Since these books are criminally out of print and have been so for many years, I see no ethical problem downloading them for educational purposes.