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  • OSL

    OSL........allright. Here we go. I'm going to try to keep this simple by breaking it up into sequential blocks. I'm going to go from start to finish, simple to complex.Hopefully it will be such that you can stop wherever you want and still have something nice. Some of this can be a little confusing. Be patient, this isnt the easyest thing to learn depending on how far you want to go. This is a subject that has literally endless variations possible. Some of these things are like riding a bike I can tell you and show what to do, but there is some that you simply will have to learn from doing. I dont say these things to be discouraging but to be realistic with you. What I will tell-show you, take it and play with it, see what happens, go with that seemingly wierd idea that occurs to you. Trial and error (or sucess!) can lead you to some fantastic things. If you are new to OSL start with a really simple mini.

    I will start a forum thread called OSL TUTORIAL. It will be in the discuss submissions section. There is simply too much to cover in an article so I think it would work better if I simply fielded questions (please include photos) in the forum so that all can benifit. I have numbered each paragraph so you can refer to a specific paragraph in your questions.

    I am going to start assuming the light is warm white (think incandescent-light bulb).

    1. Paint your piece black. Using a bit of imagination, here is a real simple way to quickly decide where the light will go. Imagine the source of light is not a light but a hand grenade. Now, instead of exploding and sending forth hot death, it is filled with paint. When it explodes, where will the paint go, or not go?? One side of the nose and not the other, the top of a wrinkle in the cloths will block the bottom of the wrinkle next to it and so on. Another way is to hold the piece up in front of you (holding the piece so that the primary light source (PSL) is closest to me and the mini is DIRECTLY behind it). Now, sighting FROM the PSL, sight to where the light will come in contact the piece If I sight FROM the PSL TO the mini. As you look at the mini from this angle, you are seeing EXACTLY where the light is supposed to be. If I sight from the PSL to the mini but there is an ax in the way then the part of the mini that I am not able to see because the ax is in the way is NOT going to have light. Paint the areas viewed from the PSL white. If the boundry where the light ends (going from the light area to dark, day to night)is on something round, head, arm, hull, etc... blend to the dark side. Dont have a sharp transition to night. I will call that inbetween area the evening area. The lit side will be day and the dark side night. If the light hit's something small and flat, blade, book, board, etc... then the light will simply be day, no transition.

    2. With a medium to dark bluish-grey, dry brush the night side and the evening side Try to have it a little lighter to the top of the piece and darker as you go down.You want to have every thing on the night and evening areas drybrushed so the stand out a bit. As you would normally 'shade' around objects on any mini shade around those same areas with black.

    3. Now, on the day side, paint the colors that would normally be there. If the part of the mini is green then paint it green,red, then red. Again, in the evening areas, if the area is on a curved surface, blend between the the day side and the night.

    4. Next, on the night side, with your paints really watered down (you want them to be very transparent) paint the night side.part of the mini green, green, red,then red. Done right you should end up with a very dull color yet still know what it is. Dull is good.Or, if the colors come out too bright shift your palette to darker tones of each color If thinned paints arent dull enough mix a little black and MABEY a touch of white. You want to end up with the color, but dull.

    · You can stop at this point and the light should work. If you wish to go further simply continue on. I am picking up where the above stops. You dont have to start over again

    5. Now I will further refine the gradations going from light to dark. On the day side I will take the color's I used in the step above and mix some white in. nearer the center, where the light is brightest I will put the lightest shade and gradually, using less white, go to a darker shade as the surface - 1. gets further away and - 2. the angle of the surface turns AWAY from the PSL (see towards the bottom for an explaination of how angle's affect lighting). A. and B. are shown to show the difference between simple application of colors and gradiated colors.

    6. On the night side I will take any dark colors and gradually go to almost black as the surface either curves toward the evening area OR comes to a shadow area. image Typically the evening area will be where everytinig is darkest. Not necessarily black, but not far from it. The colors will be dull in this area to the point of almost being just black and shades of grey.

    · This is where it starts getting deep.If you begin to get overwhelmed, take each section below one at a time. Get to where you understand it and can make it work then move on one more step.

    ·7. On to the night side. This is where an OSL effect can go from nice to really good. In reality there is seldom light comming from ONLY one direction. Light is really bouncy stuff. In OSL I will not only use this fact I will accentuate it ( a fancy way of saying I will cheat and make it more than it really is). Stars, streetlights, explosions, city lights, or me just putting light on the night side all can be indicated on the night side (this is called a secoundary litght source and I will use SLS). I almost always put the secoundary light source directly opposite the primary light source (image 5). While a secoundary light source can come from any direction, putting it directly opposite is easyest and gives a good effect. Decide which color your secoundary light source will be.

    ·8. Usually when I do a SLS I shift towards blue-black, call it a dull blue or a blue tinted grey. (you dont have to use blue but I find it pleasing). If you are using another color SLS simply mix that color, the color of the mini surface (color of pants, flag,) black and a touch of white, DULL. Yellow is one exception. It MIGHT be better to go with simply using the SLS color black and white.

    ·9. If this wasn't confusing enough, here's another thing. Tonally (how light or dark a color is) the the colors will remain roughly the same IN RELATION TO EACH OTHER (colorchart) as they go from light to dark. On the day side red, blue, green will be (usually) darker than yellow or orange or white. In the evening area, while the colors are now all darker, the red, blue, and green will STILL be darker than yellow, orange and white. Same with the night area. As you have the secoundary light source get darker the tones will become closer (less range of dark and light) together till all is black.

    10.The SLS shadows ( not cast shadows but the shading normally done around objects on a mini to make them stand out) will be in the black to black-blue range of colors. I will shade with black washes. You can highlight on the night side and you can get fairly bright with it, you decide. I will keep this rather dark. The hightlights will be just a little more white to the base color-black, white mix above

    11. Between the night and the day areas is the evening. With the primary and secoundary light sources directly opposite each other there isnt much to highlight in this area. In this area I will put no highlighting or VERY little (there are some odd instances where you will put both night and day highlights on. These would be when you have a rivet, button, or some small thing that falls in the evening area and sticks up). Instead of highlighting I would accentuate the shadows using black on the night side of evening and a dark shade of whatever color I am transitioning on the day side of evening.

    I think this would be another good stopping place. The following are not really step by step things but more principals. They can be used each by itself or all together. If you are new to OSL or painting in general I would strongly recomend taking this stuff one step at a time.

    12.As said above, light is really bouncy stuff. When it hits something it scatters. The further from the light source the less this happens (with secoundary light sources I have NO scattering). As I get nearer to the PSL the more the area is flooded with light thus more stray, scattered, random light bouncing around. Most if it is going DIRECTLY AWAY from the light source but there is enough stray light bouncing in other directions that the shadows get more filled with light. The range of contrast between light and dark on the day side as you get nearer the PSL becomes less.

    13· Imagining you are in a room with many colored objects in it and the lights are slowly turned down
    As the lights go down obviously the colors will get darker but they also get duller.

    14 · Light always travels in a straight line

    15· One overall rule in doing OSL is that having pure black somewhere in the shadow area and pure white some where on and-or near the primary light source-PSL are essential to making something glow bright

    16· I'm not a scientist so my physics may be off but as and artist I'm pretty sure this works most of the time. As the light gets brighter the colors will get more intense. There is a point where it will go beyond intense and begin to wash out (lose color and begin to go to white). These last two things are where you decide how bright your light source will be. You do not have to have the colors wash out. Instead of thinking about it just do it and see what happens. You can always adjust brighter or darker. The above mentioned, colors brightening and washing out, get progressively more pronounced the closer you get to the PLS. Experiment.

    17· This isnt 100% of the time but most of the time. Light is usually the result of heat. I find that a slight shift to warmer color as I get toward the light source can work. Again, you decide.

    18· A general principal in OSL is that (yes this is obvious but I want to cover it all) the further you get from the PSL the darker things get. No matter what part of the mini it is or what it is attached to. Just because a part is connected to the main mini dosent make it special. It will get dimmer at the same rate as something disconnected but at the same distance. .

    19· When doing OSL on flat surfaces angle is everything. The distance from the PLS is where you start. That will determine what the brightest CAN be. If the falt surface is 90% to the PSL (perpendicular) it will be the brightest an object can be at that distance. At 45% to the PSL it will be half as bright etc... This applys to small things-books, small boards, the flat side of a gun, etc... Larger stuff - walls, a big table, a large flat flag, etc...will fade as the object streches from near to further from the PSL (the floor going off into the distance).

    20· I'm teaching this with the mini supposedly set in a really dark setting. To achive the OSL effect you dont have to have many things go to black, as though it were night. You can do a mini with a lit effect where things are simply dim. When I do OSL, no matter if it is to be pitch black night or something not so dark, I will try to do all of my painting without using ANY pure white. I may tone here and there but will never use white straight from the tube. Once I get the shadows and all that other business worked out I will put PURE white in the PLS (that is if the PLS is an actual thing that you can see and not something that is not in the scene such as the sun). You ALWAYS want the PLS to be the LIGHTEST, BRIGHTEST thing in the mini.

    21· When choosing a mini and it's surrounding I like to have alot of projections, texture, and little bits. These all give you more oppertunity to show where the light is comming from since these things will cast shadows all pointing to where the light is comming from (all shadows, especially small stuff will 99% of the time point directly to the PLS). Sometimes I will strech a shadow, say a rock on the ground, a little longer than it really would go just to accentuate the light comming from OSL. If you look at the ground on the piece I did called Fire!!! piece # you will notice that the ground lighting is not accurate. I lit the ground as though the lightsource was much lower (just barely off the ground) and from a single point. The length of the muzzle flash would have lit the rows of dirt very uniformly and diminished the drama of the sourced look. I did this to accentuate the effect of the light comming from one place. On the piece I did called Neo-Soviet guy with glowing thing ( I didn't know what else to call him) piece # I intentionally used a brick wall because the bricks would all pick up the light on one edge, again dramatizing the light. I also intentionally put the 'glowing thing' in the doorway so that the light would strike the wall at a very low angle. This gives a more dramatic effect.

    22· Put a coat of dull coat on EVERYTHING. The duller the better. The more you can reduce or eliminate reflections.

    23· When photographing, try to light it from as many angles as possible (a light box would be ideal). You have PAINTED the shadows and dont want to have your lighting casting shadows. This can be one of the harder parts of OSL. Having light comming from all around hopefully will eliminate any cast shadows. Take your time positioning the lights. Also try to eliminate reflections.

    24· I know this part will be contriversial. It will be up to you to use your discretion and not cheat.....Use Photoshop...I use it to reduce reflections and cast shadows. The way I view it is that due to the peculuar nature of OSL and the odd photographic difficulties it poses a little help is warrented. I DO NOT add stuff that's not there.

    25. Believe it or not, there is more I could go on about but I think it would be counter productive to put out too much at once. What I will do is as you post your pieces for me to review in the froum section (I will start a forum thread called OSL HELP. It will be in the discuss submissions section) and you seem to be catching on to what is happening I will add some of the even finer points to my suggestions. Being in the forum with photos of your work, I think, will make it clearer and also available to all to see and learn from. Please dont be afraid to ask even the most basic questions (or complex). If I dont know the awnser I will tell you so. I do art because it brings joy into my life and I wish to share that joy with you. I hope you will give this a try. As stated at the beginning, if you are new to OSL, start with a REALLY basic mini. Just to learn the ropes.

    One final comment, Victoria's Firey Angel still takes my breath away.
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