When I did the drawing and painting course earlier this year the teacher had the painters make several color charts to find out what kind of a range of shade of colors they could mix.
But since the colors in my pencil box come in a range of shades, I would have expected that I never would have to make them.
Yesterday I made an other attempt at drawing a portrait of the boy in the swimming trunk. With all my earlier attempts I never noticed that the boy has reddish cheeks. To draw that color I had to mix some colors since this color isn’t in my pencil box.
While I was concentration on finding the right color I forgot to look at the shape and after a while I noticed that I hadn’t tilted the nose as I had with the rest of the face.
I’m nothing if not a perfectionist so I decided that I might as well start again.
But when I scanned the sketch I found that a not-tilted nose was the least of my troubles. It seems that for the millions of colors the scanner can scan, it can’t distinguish between orange and light brown.
That had me stumped for a while. What to do next.
For a while I thought I should just give up on this face. I could look for a picture of someone who hasn’t reddish cheeks.
(I went down town and got drunk) (Well not really but I did have a good time.)
This morning I thought that it should be possible to draw a monochrome portrait with the colors yellow and brown instead of the usual black and white.
Thinking about how that would look I realized something. If the scanner can’t see some colors it should be possible to draw a picture with a full range of colors that would change color when you scan it but still look good. A bit in the same way as a B&W copy of a color picture can look good.
Hell, it shout even be possible to have some fun with it and draw a picture that looks fine when scanned but in reality has colors that are off. With one of my first attempts at drawing a portrait I found that pink sometime scans as brown.
Before I can attempt something like that I need to know with which colors the scanner has problems and since I use a lot of blending techniques I also need to know how that influences the scan.
In the first chart I applied a thin layer of pigment and blended halve of the oblong.
As you can see it’s very hard to see a difference between the different shades of red and the lightest colors yellow are somewhat distorted.
Sample sheet blended yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on white
For the second chart I thought that it might be possible that the problem had something to do with contrast. It could be that the snanner doesn’t “see” a color “as is” but compares them to the other colors on the paper.
When scanning a drawing you have to fiddle with a few controls to get the gamma and colors right. Especially with B&W pencil on white paper you sometimes have to except a greenish paper color because otherwise you wouldn’t see the pencil.
Sample sheet blended yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on black
After taking a better look at the first chart I found that I too had some difficulty in distinguishing between the different shade of red. Which provoked the question if it wasn’t a question of the amount of pigment on the paper.
So in the third chart I put a little more pressure on the pencil to get more pigment on the paper.
The amount of pigment does indeed seem to be a problem. I can now see the difference of in the shades of red (although not so good in the scan). The two lighter colors of yellow are now scanning alright. There is a little problem with distinguishing between one of the oranges, the lightest purple and the lightest brown.
Sample sheet straight up yellow, orange, red, purple and brown on white
After doing these color charts I’ve learned:
- to get a lot of pigment on the paper to avoid scanner problems
- there are problems with distinguishing between mid orange, light purple and light brown
- background color doesn’t seem to have much influence.
There are a few things I still have to try. Mainly if it’s possible to use my white pencil to create the colors mid orange, light purple and light brown in a way that they do scan. But doing color charts is about as boring as looking at them so I will do that at some later date.