Color matching

im a new person here and I've not yet started on mark's very generous intructions. I can't wait to start, but have no space .
I am first working on color matching through Arthur stern's book 'how to see colour and paint it', which is great.
my struggle/question is this : when you hold your paint out (on a pallete knife viewing through a hole in a card)  visually match it to your still life (in my case simply an orange against colored paper) the paint sample is in less light than the actual still life so- well the value is all wrong and I can't figure out where to hold the paint sample- do you put it RIGHT in there against the still life? So it's under the lamp light? Or in the room light? Everyone must have this problem? 


  • goosamoz

    Welcome to the Forum.

    Hold the sample ( preferably in a color checker) at arms length, use one eye in studio/room light.
    The sample should be a comfortable distance from the still life, say, 3 to 6 feet.
    The important aspect is that you're shadow box lighting and studio/room light needs to be balanced.
    Mark shows you how to do all of this in his free videos.

    This is awkward at first but soon becomes as natural as breathing.

  • Thanks Denis that's really helpful - I think I need to find a studio! I'm realsiing how very controlled the light has to be, getting it just right - I will look at the vids again.
    cheers  ;);)
  • dencaldencal -
    edited March 2017

    Don't find a studio. Make your own in a garage, spare room, basement etc. Most of the studios I visit are hopeless for light quality and control. One in particular has white glossy tiles and white glossy walls and yellow halogen down lights. I need sunglasses when I visit.
    A rental will cost big time and you will have to apply as much effort and cash as you would at home.


  • Well- that's also good advice but I'm in a tiny house w no space- but no need to go on about that! But the lighting is clearly v important so I'm finding. I really want to get my teeth in to the DMP methods ! 
  • I tried matching the color as per Marks method of mixing colour's.  I achieved in yellow ochre, olive green, prussian blue.  But cudnt mange to get the results in viridian green and lemon yellow 
  • Raj

    I imagine the paint you are using is made up with multiple pigments to derive a hue.
    This gives unpredictable results when tinted or shaded.
    Try to find paints containing single pigments.


  • If you are viewing your color checker in the same studio light as your canvas, it shouldn't matter what the shadow box light is doing, right. Am I missing something?
  • Kodiakwood

    Yes. You are missing the crucial fact that the cc assists in the determination of the shadow box values.
    This process is the primary factor in how the values are assembled and appear on the canvas.


  • PaulBPaulB mod
    Color checker and palette in the same bright, white, consistent light.  Shadow box is trying to create an effect.  The white light is trying to eliminate misleading effects.

    Theoretically, the canvas does not matter either, because as a follower of DMP, you'll not care how it looks, and you'll cover the canvas before you start getting critical about it and making adjustments.
  • I just want to be sure I'm understanding this: light the shadow box with still life inside however you want. then light the studio with bright white consistent light. then hold the color checker in the studio light, at arms length, 3 to 6 feet away from the still life, and check the color against the still life as lighted in the shadow box. That way, when the painting is done and viewed in regular balanced white light, like ideally museum quality lighting, the colors will be the same as they are in the still life as it is lighted in the shadow box. Right?

    that probably doesn't make any sense, but I think i understand now!
  • Marta

    The shadow box needs a light source that is proportional to, balanced with and temperature matched with the studio light.

    There is a much shorter distance between the shadow box light and the still life, than exists between the studio light and the canvas, palette and color checker. Shadow box light should be about 10 to 20% of the strength of the studio light.

    A titanium white test strip in the center of the still life should match exactly the the same titanium white on the color checker under the studio light. You may need to use a dimmer or diffuser to achieve this equality.

    Both light sources should be as near to 5000k as possible.

    This should make the painting appear normal in daylight or museum quality lighting.


  • PaulBPaulB mod
    dencal said:

    The shadow box needs a light source that is proportional to, balanced with and temperature matched with the studio light.
    That’s not right.  The shadow box, just like a photo or a life subject, can be illuminated any way you want.

    The 5000K lighting on the palette and color checker is to improve our chances at perceiving and matching the colors correctly.

    marta got it right.
  • The critical part is keeping studio light out of the shadow box. In the shadow box, all you need is a candle for lighting. You can't balance 5000k with candle light. This is perhaps the only technical question that Mark didn't explain fully EVERYTIME it came up.
  • Ah so as long as you match the light strength/white value on the colour checker and piece in still life it will work regardless of the light in the still life box? Could that be difficult if the light in the box is orange/warm?
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    @CJD: Close, but the still life is completely independent.

    The still life is illuminated any way you want, which should include light effects, shadows, reflections, everything you need to get your desired effect.  Suppose a green apple under a red light.  It appears dark brown.  Strange, but go with it.  This is the equivalent of painting a nocturne from a photograh, or a flower in the dark.

    Your color chcecker and palette are in 5000K light of the same strength for each.  This is white, and it lets you properly judge that brown color of the apple, then properly mix it.

    If the shadow box were lit with 5000K light, ithe apple would look green, and not the effect you were going for.  If your color checker were under a yellow lamp, you’d be misjudging the brown, and having problems mixing it right.  Similarly if the palette were under a yellow light, you have trouble getting the brown right.
  • I just started painting again after a long time. I bought a small canvas and stained it. Did the foundation drawing with the Stabilo 8044. I put in the deepest color, a near black that I matched to the photograph. Then I started the first of the lighter colors, mixed my paint and thought I had the color perfectly. I was very confident that it was correct, but just to be on the safe side I checked it against the photo.
    It wasn't even close. I spent the next 20 minutes adding colors till I finally got to the right value and color.
    Glad I didn't just paint it on the canvas. Plus I have to get a studio light.

  • @JohnDevine, yep, that about sums it up.  That's me for the last 18 months.  I mix, think, look, adjust, and right when I think it's perfect I touch the photo and nope, not even close.

    Sometimes though, I do get it pretty close.  That's the hope, that I can get it right, without the color checking, one day.  Not yet though.
  • @PaulB My lighting is not good. And my paint is so old some of it won’t come out of the tube. I have Geneva paints ordered. Shoild be here Thursday.
  • @JohnDevine, yeah, lighting is important, otherwise you won't even be able to get the color right.  You're going to love that paint.
  • How can I be sure the color tube I'm getting is made up of one pigment only?  And not 3 colors making one color? 
  • PaulBPaulB mod
    misael71 said:
    How can I be sure the color tube I'm getting is made up of one pigment only?  And not 3 colors making one color? 
    Read the label it will list the pigments inside.
  • Some brands come in boxes that's where the info is. If you buy in a real art store the people there have access to that info if it is not readily available on the tube. You can also contact the manufacturer most of them have staff on hand to answer questions even if it is just email.
  • Hi All,
    I am new to all this and still a bit confused about the CC lighting thing.  I have set up a still life under low, yellow lighting.  My canvas in under good white light with no glare. If I do the titanium strip test they obviously don't match as they are different lights - however I don't my still life to be lit with strong, white light and I can't paint under low, yellow light so what am I supposed to do?????
  • dencaldencal -
    edited April 2019

    Suggest you tune your SB to match canvas in light strength and color temperature.
    This will handle the majority of still life creations.
    Dim or altered light situations can be handled with filters, diffusers, reflectors and dimmers.

  • Is this a bit long winded to check your colours?
Sign In or Register to comment.