Learning to Paint: Painter’s Algorithm

February 22, 2016 at 10:48 am (Art, painting) (, , , , )

I had an important lesson this weekend in learning to paint. I painting a set of peppers with some suggested techniques and colour recipes from a book. The book suggested that I block in my shapes by painting in areas using the midtones of my components. This means that if I have a picture of peppers, I paint the basic shape of the peppers in, then the stems, then the background.

This blew my mind, and I’ll tell you why. In computer graphics and rendering, we use what’s called the “painter’s algorithm”; we draw the shapes in our scenes background first, then foreground. I had always thought that all paintings worked this way; doing your full backgrounds and working forward with layers. While some artists may still do this, depending what their medium (oil, acrylic, watercolour, etc), it isn’t the rule in the way I was expecting it. Furthermore, some colours of paint are transparent or translucent, meaning that some or most of the background will still show through the layer. This makes it not very ideal for some pieces, as you’d have to do multiple layers, or put in a layer of opaque paint first to get the colours you want to show through.

Essentially, my lesson was this: don’t assume that your current techniques are the best, or even the ones you will continue using in the future. Always try to find new ways to do things, even if you like how you paint now. You might like the next technique even more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: