Web Design, Murals, Fine Art, Faux Finishing

Faux Fresco Project 1 Part 2

Fresco painting by artist Arthur Morehead of Art-Faux Designs
Faux Fresco Painting

Faux Fresco Project 1 Part 2

After getting caught up on a few projects I am finally able to catch up on some posts, so to pick up where I left off on the

Faux Fresco Project Part 1

I will begin by saying that I have come a long way since beginning this post and I am finding out that I will have to break this down to

“A Four-Part Series”

Because the first post was nearly 2000 words and had taken me quite some time to put together I will have to do it this way otherwise I will be spending even more time on my machine than I do already instead of painting. So with that being said, I will have a sign-up form at the end of this post to where you can receive the updates on this project as I produce them. I already have

Faux Fresco Project Part 3

and am putting together

Faux Fresco Project Part 4

As most of you know I record and produce my own instructional videos which because of the time involved, I have to charge a fee for the DVD’s otherwise I would just give them away, but I have to maintain the costs as I am sure most of you understand. So if you are interested in learning my techniques for other finishes just click on my free

How To Faux Previews

page to view a short video on each of my DVD’s
In the meantime here is

Faux Fresco Project 1 Part 2

Well I hope I didn’t lose any of you on that long-winded introduction that basically puts this post “below the fold” but I felt that it was important for you all to know what’s going on with this project because I have received a few emails on it so without further ado here is where we are at this point.

Faux Fresco Project 1

We were still at the “blocking in” stage and working on the fabric below the arm on the right. Already establishing the darkest darks within the fold of the fabric by using a mix of cerulean blue, yellow ochre, and burnt umber, I want to stay on the warm side of the color until we get deeper in shadow. As we progress you will see what I mean. Right now the darker values look pretty dark but by the time we work everything in around it you will see how far off we actually are which is just one of the reasons why I am staying on the warmer side of the shadow color

Painting fabric

After confirming the darker values (dark and mid-tones) using the same mix and just by making it a little more translucent by simply adding more medium or water will change the value of the color and applying a wash over the sections of fabric under the arm on the right and behind the leg you can see how the three values are created that are needed to work with. While the wash is still wet you can remove the color from a few areas that you know are going to be your lightest value on the faux fresco. What I like about this technique is how absorbent the synthetic plaster is at first but as you keep adding to it the more control you have over your color because the paints and washes are sealing it more and more which actually gives you a little more “open time” to be able to blend your values from dark to light and light to dark, so I work very translucently at first.

Faux Fresco Project 1 Part 2 1

As you can see by the reference photo on the left I need to be much darker around the head and torso so using the same mix for the wash behind the leg and below the arm I applied another wash over the other areas of the faux fresco to push those areas further back in shadow and again wiping off the lightest areas and as a result you can see that the darkest darks that are in shadow need to be much darker and cooler. I started adding VanDyke brown and ultramarine blue to the cerulean blue and ochre yellow and this may even confuse some artists as to why the Van Dyke and it really is a preference and what I see so whether you really need to use it yourself is up to you.

Painting fabric

Now that we are getting further along and closer to our correct values it’s important at this point to work on the common color which in theory is what separates light and shadow and generally as a rule light and shadow never touch but I have a problem with that rule that goes back to my portrait drawing days where I did everything in pencil. I’m not going to go into it because when discussing color theory with other artists it can get pretty drawn out (excuse the pun) and argumentative to say the least. If you want to have some fun some time and your around 5 or 6 other experienced artists get into a conversation about color theory make a statement to the effect of value being the most important part of color theory or bringing up something like warm light always throws cool shadows and watch where it goes. The fact is you will study color your whole life and color theory is just that,“theory” because every person sees color differently. Although the general rules of color are taught and learned it is ultimately how the individual sees it and applies these rules. I myself believe that light and shadow does touch when it comes to the gradation of color between the two when it comes to realism but that’s just the way I see it and makes it easier for me to understand when comparing realism to rendering a faux fresco.

Painting the shadows

Painting the shadows around the neck you can see how much deeper and cooler the color needs to be above and below the arm and by adding ultramarine blue to the cerulean blue, ochre yellow and burnt umber mix you will start to create that cooler color that is needed to get the correct value. Remember that cool colors recede and warm colors come forward. A good example of this is right above and the arm look how much warmer the shadows are and how “flat and dull” it looks and if you look near the neck do you see how much deeper the shadow looks? That’s because of the addition of the ultramarine which not only makes the shadow darker but also cooler and makes it appear deeper without losing the faint fold of the fabric within the shadow which you really can’t see from this image. The other thing I am doing is slowly replacing the burnt umber with the cooler vandyke brown and very lightly starting to gradate the color up under the folds of the fabric using a bristle brush for its firmness and bringing the shadow very lightly over the warmer color. This is where your hand will start to get lighter with the brush which you need to get used to now before you start bringing in the darker tones of the figure that will represent the muscle tones. Note how the texture of the plaster picks up the color and how dry your brush is. You can get a whole lot of shading done with a dry brush when used correctly.

Painting the fabric

As your building the faux fresco on the deepest shadows and mid-tones of the fabric you will notice that the figure starts to come forward as you view your work by standing back. You won’t notice it while you’re working on it because you are only focused on the fabric but as you keep stepping away from the canvas you will start to notice it more and more. Once you go over your fabric the figure will start to look pale and lighter, this is when I like to start shading in the muscle tones with another bristle brush mixed with burnt sienna, burnt umber for the lighter tones and a touch of ultramarine for the cooler shadows like under the arms.  Be very careful with your mix the darker tone still needs to stay on the warm side, so be very careful with the ultramarine so as not to gray your color out and start with your darkest darks just as you did with your fabric but you are not looking for saturation here. I will start under the arms with the mix because the values need to be darker there and depending on where you are at with your tones you may not even need the ultramarine at this point, a simple wash with burnt sienna and a touch of burnt umber may be all you need which is what you should start with. Work your brush dry under the arms before bringing in the tones on the torso in this order. Arms, below the neck and chin, below the breast, working up the middle of the chest and finally the ribs stomach and sides by the time you get to the latter your brush will be very dry and the texture of the plaster will pick up the color from the brush.

Neck Face and Hair

After looking at this further I believe that starting with the hair would be the best for you to start mixing your color for the figure to get a better “feel” of the values you’re going to use because overall the darkest value for what we are going to cover in this segment begins here at the right side of the hair and by using a mix of burnt sienna and burnt umber will give you a nice rich color. Remembering, of course, you are working very translucent because the texture is very absorbent as you know by now working on this faux fresco.

The arm and torso

After starting with the hair you can use the same mix under the arm and on the right side of the forearm remembering to gradate the color dark to light with a dry rag or you can use a damp rag whichever is easier for you. Work one area at a time though and don’t over saturate the area if you do, use the damp rag to remove what is needed. If it looks too dark don’t panic because your still not through with the fabric and you will be surprised how much darker the fabric needs to be and what you may think to be too dark may in fact be too light once you get closer to the end result. This may be somewhat a little redundant approach but until you know where you are going with this style of painting it’s best to work up to it gradually. Now if you look at the muscle on the arm you will see the bicep and triceps simply by using an edge of your damp cloth to pull the color out don’t worry if it takes to many colors away because you can always go darker. Using the same brush on the faux fresco go back to the neck area and start bringing in the shadow under the chin which is slightly darker than the neck, then work the shadows under the breasts. The next lightest values are on the cheek, chin, nose and along the hairline followed by the ribs, sides, stomach, and torso. keep in mind we haven’t touched any other areas and are just focusing on confirming the muscle and facial features. After establishing these areas we will do a wash over the whole figure and by wiping out the color where the lighter skin tones and hi-lights will go.

Painting the leg and fabric

The last part of this segment of the Faux Fresco Project 1 Part 2 will be adding in the muscle tones and shadows of the leg using the same mix of burnt sienna and burnt umber. knowing our light source is coming from the left we know that the shadow areas are under the thigh, the right side of the calf and you can see there is a cast shadow from the fabric above and below the ankle but at this point, we are just confirming the areas that need to be accentuated for the time being. Even though we know the light source is coming from the left there is still a shadow on the left side of the lower leg that is unusual but I’ll explain why when we come to that later on. Pay very close attention to the tonal values on the sides and torso of the figure above the leg.

The other part to focus on are the folds of the fabric which is wrapped around the leg and to establish the darker values within the robe and also the fabric to the right of the calf

Painting fabric wrapped leg

Notice how the fabric folds and wraps around the leg on the left an important aspect of the folds is to make them appear there is in fact a leg behind it by matching the contours and shape of the leg

Faux Freasco Project 1 Part 2 end

In the third part of this post we will really start to punch this Faux Fresco up to make it more believable by bringing in more details. Be sure and sign up for the newsletter and/or the RSS feed to stay up to date because this mural is about to come alive and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss the opportunity to really learn some valuable information here that I am giving away. If you are interested in learning more techniques take a look at my

“How To Faux Previews”

I have also supplied a link below to the

Faux Fresco Project 1 Part 1

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