Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Constructing Santa Rosalia — backdrop, Part 2

My first post about the Santa Rosalia backdrop described the installation and blending of the transition piece between Ballard and Santa Rosalia. You can read it at this link: . Next I needed to paint the sky. My procedure was much like what I did on the Shumala extension, described in a prior post (at: ), so I won’t repeat all the details here. Here is the painter’s tape applied, using a level to make sure the alignment is the same across the length of the backdrop.

Next I used my four blends of blue, from a moderately deep color at the top, blending downwards to lighter and lighter blue. Shown below is the first, uppermost blue, tape still in place.

I then added each successive, lower blend of lighter and lighter blue. Although some further refinement was still needed, the sky appearance was good enough to permit continuing on with the skyline.
     By “skyline,” I’m referring to the landforms to be depicted. These were based on photography acquired in a visit to the prototype area I am modeling, sample photos of which were in an earlier post (my description is at: ). I like acrylic colors for this kind of job, not least because the color you mix is quite close to the color you get when it’s dried in place.
     For my California backdrop, I used a lot of Yellow Oxide, “browned” with some Raw Umber, and plenty of White to lighten it. A few areas were represented as farther away, and I used some Neutral Gray in the mix to suggest that. And where I wanted to show vegetation clumps, I used Chromium Oxide Green, often darkened with a little Black. There is nothing magic about these colors — they just enabled me to get the look I wanted.
     I’m no artist, and have zero experience in painting landscapes. But I can peer at a slide of the area I model, and try and copy the hill shapes and colors. I would emphasize my belief that the simpler and more generic a backdrop is (in most cases), the better. You want the focus of a layout viewer to be on the layout, not on your wonderful (or otherwise) backdrop art.
     I once experimented with a mere wavy line of bluish-gray to suggest a distant skyline, and it was magically effective, though it really portrayed nothing recognizable. You can see that effect in a photo of it, in my previous post on staging, at: . One need not be quite this simple in all cases, but to me it is a suggestive example.
     So I now needed to extend the old-backdrop skyline visible in the photo above, and also to match colors across the vertical white patch which is at the very left of the photo above. My acrylics, described above, allowed me to do this.
     Here is my first step, covering the patch and extending around the curved backdrop, some ways to the right.

     I have not decided yet exactly what I will paint at the far right of Santa Rosalia, so that part remains sky only, at this time. I think the work you see here is good enough so I can proceed on layout work in the area in front of the new paint of the backdrop.
Tony Thompson

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