Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

You can send an email to forum@drawmixpaint.com if you have questions about how to use this forum.

Color checker versus canvas - wrong values

OK so I've balanced my whites and started using my new color checker but am confused about something. 

When I use the checker to match a color from my still life, it looks fine on the checker but when I actually paint it on the canvas, the color looks too dark. My canvas sits on my easel at 90 degrees while the arm of the color checker is at 45 degrees when I hold it out at arm's length. 

What am I missing here? (Note: when I balanced my whites, I used a wedge at 45 degrees.)

Comments

  • Lots of things will look wrong untill you have the canvas covered. That's just one of them. Is your canvas stained a neutral color. Painting on a white canvas will make things look wrong too. If you have glare on anything that will affect things.
    Bancroft414ForgivenessFlatty
  • edited August 21
    I've attached a couple photos to show what I mean.

    The palette knife and the top left-hand corner of the canvas have the same paint on them. In one, both the canvas and the palette knife are at 90 degrees to the light source, and they look reasonably close in value. In the other, I've tilted the knife to a 45 degree angle, same as the arm of Mark's color checker. The paint now receives more light and appears brighter in value, even though it's not.

    I know I must be missing something but why is the color checker's arm at 45 degrees instead of 90 like our canvas? It seems like you're always going to have value problems this way. Of course I know I'm missing something because I've watched enough videos to know that Mark knows what he's doing!
    Renoirmovealonghome
  • Thank you for posting this thread.  I am very interested to hear what others think.  I have not painted yet using a color checker -- just dabbing directly onto a reference photo.  Your question has significant merit.  
    RenoirKaustav
  • The important thing to  balance is the color checker light  and your set up light, not your canvas light.   Theoretically it wouldn't matter if your canvas was in complete darkness so long as you matched the color value in your set up with the color value on your color checker.   So for example if you matched a white on your color checker  with a white in your set up and you dabbed it on a canvas that was in complete darkness, it would be correct once you took the canvas into a well lit room   You can increase in the amount of light on your canvas to whatever you would like, but it's not critical. 

    Your darks will always look too dark at first.  What you do want though is the same amount of white falling on your color checker no matter where you have it pointed in your setup.   If the amount of light on the color checker dabbed with white varies as you move the color checker from left to right, then you need to fix your lighting striking your color checker so that it is more consistent. The color checker is angled at 45° in order to reduce or prevent glare.  The particular angle isn't so important as much as consistency of the angle each time you check.  In other words, if your color checker is at 45° you always want the same angle every time you check a color.  



    FlattyMark_CarderPaulBRosanne
  • edited August 22
     The more I think about your situation, the more I think that the light that is striking your color checker is inconsistent as you move from left to right in your set up. So even though you balanced your white with the wedge at a 45° angle at one spot in your set up, if you were checking colors at another place in your set up, and the light there was hitting the color checker more brightly, you are going to mix a color that will end up being too dark.  It sounds confusing, but the important point is to make sure that the light striking the color checker is consistent no matter where you move it in the setup.  I use a bank of three lights to make sure that the light hitting the color checker is consistent.  Not the light hitting the set up, which can vary, but the light hitting the color checker, which must not vary. 
    Rosanne
  • Martin's advice is sound. Just to let you know that I saw quite some value difference at both angles. Part of the problem is the paint surface on the knife. It's not a painted film. Use a color checker with a spotting ring that separates the checked color from the background. Trust the color checker.
    Martin_J_CraneFlattySummer
  • edited August 27
    Martin, your comment made a lot of sense to me. But I'm still having the same issue. 

    I've attached two photos. The paint on the canvas and the color checker is identical. In one of the photos - the one where the greens have the same value - I've matched the angle of the canvas to the angle of the color checker. In the other, the checker and the canvas are at slightly different angles, the greens appear to have a different value. Obviously this makes painting pointless because if I match the values to what I'm seeing on the checker, I end up getting values that are far too dark.

    I'm so confused! I even took my canvas and checker outdoors and the problem was the same.





  • It sounds like the lighting affecting the colour too much? Maybe you need a vertical piece of metal at the end in this case?
  • You will always have a change in values with identical colors if one surface is angled differently than the other. Take a piece of construction paper and put one piece on the checker and the other on your canvas, change the canvas angle, and the values will be different. Mark has talked about this somewhere but I can't find it - paintings painted in balanced studio light will appear darker in natural light.  Museums compensate for this with the lighting they direct at the painting.  If you turned those off the paintings would seem way too dark.  He recommends that you paint for display in museum quality light, then display with a good picture frame light or track light. The other way to lighten your painting is simply to put more light on the still life setup. But don't worry about the canvas values matching the color checker values. The important thing is matching the checker values to the set up values. I'll look for a photo from my studio to show you what I mean. 
    PaulB
  • So with the bottom example you posted, it tells me that you will need to light up the painting when you display it to get the values where you want them. 
  • Here's an example of one of my paintings in natural light v with proper lighting. 
  • Martin, thanks for all the help. I've attached two more photos, one a close up showing my shadow box and the other a wider showing the shadowbox, table, palette etc. Maybe that will give you a better idea.

    The shadow box is lit by a small LED desk lamp. The "studio" is lit by an LED on a stand, which is usually over my right shoulder. Usually I bounce the studio light off the ceiling but I've tried it direct as well. I balance my whites using that 45 block you see next to the jug. You can see my easel in the foreground, which seems to be in the same amount of light as my palette. 

    Even after white balancing, all my values are significantly too dark. When I look down at my palette when I'm mixing, if I stop when I think I'm close and put it on the color checker, the value will be far too light so I'll darken it down until the color checker says its OK but by then it looks far too dark by eye.

    This is so frustrating. I have tried so many different set ups but I still don't know what the problem is.

    Do you have any more suggestions?








    Julianna
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 3
    @davidegp ; I'm just guessing, but I bet it's glare.  Mark talks about glare in one of his videos.  I still can't grasp your studio setup enough to help you out.  If you could take a long view photo of your whole studio including part of the ceiling, that would help.  That would give us the whole space dynamic.   When this happened to me, the glare was coming from the ceiling.  Summer  

  • edited September 3
    Ha, Summer, I was just reading another thread in which you participated. And I think it might be relevant here... Yes, my ceiling is white.

    http://forum.drawmixpaint.com/discussion/4148/light-problem-when-painting

    I'll post some more photos in a bit.
  • does k value of bulbs effect not the whites, but rather the colors ?
  • @charlesLinvlle ; It's my understanding that k value affects both whites and colors.  Here would be an extreme example:  Suppose that the k value of the bulb is very very low so that the bulb glows a dull red.  Would the red light cause the white to look red and the colors warm?  I would think yes.  Think of light from the fireplace, does it affect the whites as well as the colors?  Would the firelight cause the whites to look yellow?  I would say yes.  Summer   
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 3
    Just a suggestion: Some people are making semi-room enclosures from pvc pipes and black curtains or felt pieces  Here is one idea of a room within a room.  There would be no glare and you could have ventilation if you customized this design.




  • Mark made a new video just for you.

    Renoir
  • Hey @davidegp    I completely understand.  No matter how hard I tried, my color checker was not working for me.   A notecard with a hole punch works much better for me.  If you get a tan notecard and punch a hole in it (like a school hole punch) it isolates the color.  You can use a white notecard also, I just find an off-white is better.   The DMP color checker for me, showed too much of the metal under light colors so it was never correct. I tried but I'm not getting it either.  
    PaulB
  • edited September 3
    From what I can see, the colors on the palette look good as compared to the setup. If that light to the right is the only one lighting your canvas, then that may be why everything on the canvas looks too dark. It looks to me like your studio light is too far away and to the right. Try moving it directly behind you or adding another light on your canvas, but make sure it doesn't add light to your setup and make sure that you balance again after adding light.  I use dimmable LEDs with an inline chord dimmer which makes balancing much easier. 

    Also make your canvas vertical per Mark's advice.  BTW if the K value is the same on the checker and the setup, it won't change the warmth of the painting. 1500 K is best because it's closest to neutral daylight.  Only if the setup uses one K value and the checker uses another will you get a change in temperature though. 

    After adding another light light for the canvas I would recommend doing a small test painting of a simple colored object like an orange from start to finish even if it seems wrong or doesn't seem to make sense. You will see that much of the painting will use dark browns, etc. and will seem way way too dark, & only a very little will be high chroma orange, but just trust the method and carry on to the end without trying to fix it midway to get it to meet your expectations. 

    At at some point somebody here made a comment which has become my motto:  "Its always wrong until its right."  
  • Hi Martin,

    I've painted in various mediums for a while - should have mentioned this earlier, I guess - but never with a color checker, which I'd hoped to use as a learning tool. I'm familiar with the importance of values and can get decent results by eye. 

    I think Summer is right - glare is the problem, which is throwing off my values, something you mentioned earlier on. When checking my blacks, as I moved my arm up and down a small distance, the black on my color checker went from pretty black to almost grey. Clearly glare is an issue, although I'm surprised just how much of a deal it is - easily 3, maybe 4 steps in value. Worse it isn't always obvious when there is glare unless you're dealing with "absolute" values like black or white.

    My set up is far from ideal, I know. The wooden floors are reflective, as are the light walls, the chandelier, and ceiling. But I don't have a better space at the moment so I'm trying to make it work.

    I love Mark's paint and I'm sure there's nothing wrong with the color checker but it has been exasperating trying to get value from it. 












    Martin_J_Crane
  • Would a black umbrella over you help with the glare at all?
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 3
    It could work if there were only one source for the glare.  However, there might be people in the house sensitive to a superstition about an open umbrella in the house.  Hmm.   :)  






  • edited September 4
    Richard,

    Thanks. I'll try that - superstitions be damned. 

    Update: no luck.
    Summer
  • The important thing to  balance is the color checker light  and your set up light, not your canvas light.   Theoretically it wouldn't matter if your canvas was in complete darkness so long as you matched the color value in your set up with the color value on your color checker.   So for example if you matched a white on your color checker  with a white in your set up and you dabbed it on a canvas that was in complete darkness, it would be correct once you took the canvas into a well lit room   You can increase in the amount of light on your canvas to whatever you would like, but it's not critical. 

    Your darks will always look too dark at first.  What you do want though is the same amount of white falling on your color checker no matter where you have it pointed in your setup.   If the amount of light on the color checker dabbed with white varies as you move the color checker from left to right, then you need to fix your lighting striking your color checker so that it is more consistent. The color checker is angled at 45° in order to reduce or prevent glare.  The particular angle isn't so important as much as consistency of the angle each time you check.  In other words, if your color checker is at 45° you always want the same angle every time you check a color.  



    Agree completely.  Try to understand what Martin said in the first two sentences. 

    There are reasons why it is better to not use a "vertical" color checker.  But simply consider what Martin is saying.  What if for instance your studio light happens to be 25% brighter on your canvas than it is in the area you hold your color checker when you check your colors (or vise versa).  It will not matter at all so long as when using your color checker you always hold your it in an area where the light does not vary.

    Absolutely your colors will look way too dark on the canvas.  That is because you have an untrained eye.  Keep going, once the canvas is covered it will look perfect.
    PaulBBancroft414Summer
  • SummerSummer -
    edited September 6
    @davidegp ;  You can't expect to color match a color under one light (inside the shadowbox) and have it look the same under another light (on the canvas).  But if you keep using the same method, it will look right in the end--but different under your studio light.  Your brain just needs to get used to the idea of this reality.   After your painting is completed you can carry it into many different lighting environments and the painted colors will seem to change, but you know they haven't.  You can then decide where to put your painting where it will look its best.  There will be other surprises along the way like this one that are equally intriguing.  Good luck.  Summer 
    PaulBBancroft414
  •  Thanks for all the help, everyone.   Colour checker worked great in natural light. Appears that I have a serious glare problem with my lighting setup. 

     Now I just need to figure out how to get rid of the glare.  I think I'm going to need some kind of rig with black curtains etc.  Seems like it's going to be a lot of work   
    Summer
  • In a room with low ceilings it's a lot of trial and error. Placing the lights directly behind me shining down works best for me. 
  • keeping your canvas vertical or even angled slightly forward will help. A role of gardening cloth is cheap and you get enough to cover 2 or more walls. You'll need 2 layers thick if you have window light behind you. Hang it over a string or tack it to a wall. I'm inserting a link here so you can see what it looks like. you can get this at lowes or any garden store Walmart too. If it looks too shiny get something else they're not all shiny.
    https://www.amazon.com/Premium-Garden-Barrier-Landscape-ECOgardener/dp/B06W2J76W3/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1504818828&sr=8-17-spons&keywords=dewitt+landscape+fabric&th=1
  • edited September 7
    Hmm. Thanks for the tips. 

    Although the photos of my studio - aka the dining room - don't fully convey this, the space has bright walls, a white ceiling, a polished wood floor, and until five minutes ago a green tablecloth, which is now black.

    I'm half tempted to built a black curtained area to deal with the glare but not sure how easy this would be. I think to make this work politically I'd have to be able to remove it when guests come ;)

    And thanks again to Martin and Summer. You guys were right from the beginning. 
    Summer
Sign In or Register to comment.