The Composition that Social Media Made
This piece didn’t start out as a reflection of some unrelated personal stuff that happened to me lately. It was defined via a Twitter poll where voters decided I was going to draw yi qi dinosaurs next to a stream and color them purple. I had a lot of help from NeolithicSheep, who shared my polls with enough people to give me good data to work from.
No stream this week, but next week…Let’s use the results of three polls to make one art piece!
The third poll is the most important one so be sure to vote in all three!
Poll 1: Where do we want to set our piece?
— 🐝 H. McGill (@Hannahcomb) February 1, 2022
Dolling up a poll with emoji to make people want to click it is one thing, but the main force involved with garnering interactions is having friends with big followings on Twitter. I haven’t 100% figured out how to manipulate social media in my favor on my own, but this poll’s results sure turned out fun. I feel encouraged to set up other polls like this in the future. If you check out Shep’s twitter and enjoy his content, you can help him maintain heritage sheep and cattle breeds by pledging to his Patreon.
Color Theory: Lightness and Darkness
When learning how to color, many beginning colorists are surprised to learn that at least one aspect of color theory can be picked up from doing grayscale (monochromatic) studies. The lightness and darkness of a color affects its depth and ability to catch the eye in any given composition. The way that light and dark colors pop out depend on their proximity to one another. Examples:
In a very dark painting, seen on left, a light color will stick out as what you want the viewer to focus on. In a very light painting, seen on right, a dark color will stick out instead.
It’s also important to keep midtone values in mind. The typical composition that utilizes midtones will gather the darkest and lightest colors on a focal point. They will pop out at the viewer as an area they should look at. This is called an area of ‘high contrast’.
…But this can be subverted in a very interesting way, such as making a high contrast black and white composition with one area of midtones.
Monochromatic doesn’t mean ‘grayscale’, either. Monochromatic simply means ‘one color’. These aspects still apply even when a single color is used throughout a composition. Photoshop has a tool called ‘Gradient mapping’ which is useful for exploring monochromatic compositions and then harmlessly trying out different color schemes on top. It can be pushed to fantastical extremes, depending on the colors chosen, breaking it out of monochrome into a multicolor piece. Some artists use a Photoshop layer set to Overlay to hand-paint monochromatic compositions. I confess that my grasp on grayscale is not quite polished enough for this to work, and when I used this method I would add layers on top to deepen colors. For me, Overlay is too messy for comics coloring.
My first attempt at coloring Afterlife was to use only purple, and color pick based on a palette. For a vision of the beyond, it turned out a little too lifeless, so I added a few spot colors here and there. I haven’t figured out whether this is an aspect of purple to be cold and dark like this. Red is probably easier to work with, so I’m keeping red in mind for a future monochromatic composition.
For another note on color theory, here is my writeup on how different hues of colors interact. If you play with both hues and with contrast, you’re bound to get some lovely color composition ideas.
‘Afterlife’ Coloring page licensed under CC BY NC 3.0.
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