Color Theory and Light Sources

Yesterday I posted a Dark Eldar Archon I've been working on.  Here were my general guidelines:

He lost his base in an almost Not Brent fit of focused chicanery... or some such nonsense!
The model has red armor and a cloak with purple lining and a light tan exterior.  He's standing under a neon light.  

I painted this model as you see it, with a clip in one hand and a brush in the other... but when I went to base it, I decided to try and add the light.

The results?  Not so good.  I think that more than anything else ruined the effect I was looking for, primarily because the execution was so poor.

The light post was a rush job... and it showed!

I was trying to finish the model in time for my Bell of Lost Souls article, so the lamp was a rush job.  The Master Manipulator (every store needs one) quickly picked up on that.  Darn him.

Still, there was some conversation about the way light effects a model, and while most of it was centered around the light post - the element that threw everyone off, thus the reason I snapped the bugger off - some was directly about the way light hits.  Specifically, green against red.

It produces yellow.  In the model, I used a green with a lot of yellow in it for just that reason.  I also diffused it based on distance, and adjusted it where it hit different color cloths (cloak back and front and gloves).  Still, doing all that doesn't mean I did it properly - I'm just pointing out the process my thoughts took.  Where did I go wrong?

So why do I write all this?  It's not really about a defense of the model, which has problems.  Nor am I bothered by the comments, because I invited them and wanted them.  Constructive criticism for the win!

No, it's because I decided to continue working on this model rather than moving on to the next project.

Might as well try to get it right.

Step 1?  Add a subtle glow from the wargear in the model's right hand.

Step 2?  Not so sure...


Karitas said...

Hey man.

first up, Kudos for pushing on whith this and not, i would deem, understandably, dropping the guy in a corner for a few months :)

for me, I follow your logic relating to the effect of ight on a colour perfectly, but when I look at the model there are some inconsistencies which prevent that "read" of the miniature to me.

Ihave, for this, to look at the model with the lamp present, as that object is creating the green cast light.

looking at the "reach" of the green light, the effect of the luminescence reaches further down the armour that even the lamp post. this is a clue that the light might not be the cause of the tan colour.

lastly, the blue lenses arent showing the effect. and here it would be a specular highlight effect, which could also be present on the tan armour, giving opportunity for a bright high gloss green point of reference.

additionally, other object on the mini, the blade, the skulls, which are not red, and therefore would be showing evidence of a green cast arent. this again causes my eye not to read the tan colour as caused by the green light.

I guess what I'm saying is that these supporting clues arent here, and additionally the darkness i would expect in areas of chadow caused by the cast light arent as pronounced as they could be. those things together would, IMO help us to read the effect of the green light on the red armour.

Anyway, response to point 2 :) I hope that helps in some way, and that it continues to contribute to your feeling of supportive advice rather than the previously mentioned "kick in the balls" ;

Luke said...

I'd like to address the green/red/yellow thing. While you are correct that green light+red light=yellow, That's not the situation on the model. It's green light+red pigment, which is a very different situation. You wouldn't mix green paint with red paint and expect to get yellow, would you?

Patronizing bite sized physics lesson, objects have color because they reflect more of a given spectrum of light than others. Light of a given color is of said spectrum. If the only light available is of the green spectrum, all the light reflected will be green and the object will appear green. Source lighting on a mini assumes a light source so powerful it completely washes out any 'regular' light, making it a non factor. Unless you want to posit multiple light sources, which make the mini much harder to read.

Karitas said...

that's true, but I'm assuming a suspension of disbeleif in some part, as what would acvtually happen with that light source as the only light source and aroumour only capable of relfection red would be black armour, and black shadows from the absence of other light, and the only light present reflections from non-red items and the specular reflections form the reflective surfaces.

it probarbly wouldnt make for a very interesting mini.

My advice was aimed at making what is being attempted "read" as more beleivable, not strictly to imitate life.

theres a few good articles out there about colour theory proper and additive and subrative modes, which is essentailly the difference between refleictive colour such as from pigment, and filtered colour such as is generated by theatre lights,

I tried to frame my advice/pointers in such a way as to make the mini more grounded, while your response here is informative, i'd persnally like to see how you would interpret your points into advice for the painter?

Brent said...

Ironically, I think I shot myself in the foot by adding light-sourcing to the miniature I was trying to stretch my blending skills on...

...all this light and color theory is complicated stuff!

Big Whit said...

Well, I think it was a very lovely story and you tell it so well, and with such enthusiasm.

Master Manipulator (every store needs one) said...

Damn not having internet at work. Luke hit it on the head and it was the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the picture of the light.

When you shine daylight or white light on red armor..the armor will reflect the red light and absorb the other colors of the spectrum. When you introduce a different color light source...say one saturated with green light, it will still reflect some red light and mostly green.

The closer the red item is to the green light the more the green will overpower the red that is reflecting from other sources.

Also, as I said previously source light will travel in a straight line and should not show on anything that is not in a direct path of the light or next to something highly reflective that is in a direct path of the light. the reason I mention this is that the light is above and to the left of the miniature. So only the upper left facing surfaces should reflect the light.

Also you should consider the shadows cast by items blocking the OSL source. For example the left arm sticking out should in theory cast a shadow to the green light shining from the upper left.

It is really hard to tell from the pictures exactly where the light source is as compared to the mini, but it just looks to me like you have lit too many surfaces for the light that is available.

Luke said...

You're right, Karitas. I went off on my physics blah and forgot the important hobby part. :p

I would give the same advice I give for Non-Metal Metalics. Cartoonify. Bold differences between the lit areas and the unlit (though not necessarily dark) areas.

Check out this awesome piece from Paintraina's Spacemans as an example: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_vWLXCWDn0UU/TRp1smA0cRI/AAAAAAAAABo/7vIgwPdTZzU/s1600/Picture+121.jpg

If you really want to get deep into it, I'd recommend this awesome set of articles by the ever astounding Ron of From the Warp:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

As an aside, Brent, when I first looked at the model, I thought that it was holding a brilliant crimson soultrap that was washing its chest and face red. I was kinda puzzled by the khaki cape and armour, though it made me think of Ghostplate for some reason. ^_^

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