An informative insight into 3 Dimensional and technical painting (by Lovepusher)
With the help of Molotow I aim to provide an informative insight into 3 Dimensional and technical painting. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to use various brands of spray paint which I found in all cases were fit for purpose. However, as times changed I found myself requiring a line of paint that would enable me to go further with concepts of narrative, style and technique. After 8 years of painting traditional illegal graffiti, I decided I would attempt to paint in a format which in many cases was perceived to be extremely difficult and hard to master. My choice of style was to paint in what we currently know today as 3D.
More often than not whenever we hear about 3D in graffiti many people are often put off by the thought of hours upon hours of mind numbing laborious work. Hopefully I can dispel any negative thoughts previously held about 3D by providing a layman’s approach towards painting this style.
Over the years I’ve found that there are two main reasons why writers tend to refrain from painting in 3D. The first reason is fear and the second is terminology. We tend to feel discomfort or fear towards the things we don’t understand. Usually, many of us have seen 3D pieces finished but are often baffled as to how the artist managed to achieve such an effect. By the sharing of knowledge of 3 Dimensional painting, together we can effectively eradicate the fear or lack of knowledge in this area and thereby give everyone the confidence to at least explore this area and style of painting. The second form of resistance comes in the form of terminology. When writers hear the word ‘technical’ or the abbreviation ‘3D’ it often triggers a negative thought process or a negative response towards artists thinking or painting in such a way. I believe the only reason people react in this way is because no one has actually taken the time to explain the terminology to them simply and clearly. By sharing some of this knowledge I hope to lift the veil on 3D, making it more open and available to new and existing artists wishing to venture into the 3D realm.
Although there are many ways to define 3 Dimensional painting, I personally think the simplest way to describe this is: the use of perspective and tonal scales, to create the illusion of a 3 Dimensional object on a 2 Dimensional plane (Flat surface). This simply means that you’re working with certain visual angles, and moving up and down the tonal scale (Light to dark) of a select colour to trick the human mind into thinking that what you’ve drawn or painted is actually a physical, tangible object.
One of the best ways to fully understand perspective is by observation of the world around us. If we take a city centre for example, you’ll notice that the buildings which are in your direct line of sight are large but as you look off into to the distance, you then begin to notice that the buildings despite in some cases being the same size will actually decrease in size and converge towards a vanishing point somewhere on the horizon. This is an example of what would be known as ‘single point’ or ‘linear perspective’ (Fig 1). Personally, I would recommend using this type of perspective first as logically it’s the easiest and most conventional way to begin. As time progresses with your observation of the 3 Dimensional world around you, you’ll begin to gain a stronger understanding of how perspective works but also how it can be used to enhance your graffiti.
Tones are extremely important when painting in 3D. Tone helps to express the overall effect of light and shade on an object and ultimately defines 3D form. Many writers/artists currently painting traditional graffiti styles will find that they’re already working to some degree with tonal scales; you can imagine a standard graffiti style, base filled with four tones of blue, horizontally faded, going from dark to light vertically. You only really need 3 tones to describe the volume of a 3 Dimensional object. An example of this would be; black, middle grey and white (Fig 2).
Three tones are sufficient but you’ll find with time that the inclusion of few more tones (Fig 3) will allow for easier colour modulation and will enable you to create an almost hyper realistic look to your finished work.
One of the key aspects that often goes missing or isn’t taken into consideration when painting in 3D and yet is so intrinsically important is the correct use of light. It’s crucial to have a direct light source or point of origin from where light is being emitted when creating a 3 Dimensional object (Fig 4). This is important because a direct light source helps the audience to see the dimensions, edges or physical attributes that make up an object. Light ultimately helps to reinforce the optical illusion, by making the 3Dimensional form seem more believable. There are countless examples where 3D artists have omitted the use of a direct light source when painting. In some cases you can get away with this but you’ll find that if you work with a direct light source, it will be much easier to lay down the colour tones in relation to light intensity. An example of this would be that the closer the object, form or 3 Dimensional letters are to a direct light source, then a selection of lighter tones would be best suited to emphasise this area.
The opposite also applies in that the further away an object is from the direct light source, a selection of darker tones would be best suited to for this area. The correct use of light can dramatically enhance your work. It can be used to describe a physical form but also to tell a story. Low light for example, could be used to represent a sad time or situation, whereas the use bright light can symbolise a positive good time. Light can sometimes be a tricky area to master and requires a degree patience, but once you understand it you’ll be able utilise it to best of your abilities. Aside from technical books on lighting I would also recommend looking at the works of Caravaggio who was the master of painting in light and dark (Fig 5 and 6). Studying the works of the old masters and Renaissance painters can really help to broaden your mind, not only on the subject of light but also in areas of colour, composition and narrative.
Understanding perspective, tones and light are the prerequisites to painting 3D. Often there’s an urge to jump in at the deep end and attempt by some means to achieve perfect results first time. I would recommend a much slower approach towards painting in 3D. If you invest time, have patience and concentrate on the basics first, it will most certainly pay off later. You will find that you’ll be more grounded, knowledgeable and have the ability to manipulate all you know regarding 3 Dimensional painting to create graffiti that will be dynamic and ahead of the curve.
The following is a list of books I would recommend for further information on perspective, tones and light. All of these books can be purchased from Amazon at a reasonable price:
• The Fundamentals of Drawing (Barrington Barber) ISBN-13: 978-0-572-02879-4
• Drawing for Designers (Alan Pipes) ISBN-13: 978-1-85669-533-6
• The Art of Perspective (Phil Metzger) ISBN-13: 978-1-58180-855-1
• Caravaggio (Taschen) ISBN 3-8228-6305-X
• Dali (Taschen) ISBN 3-8228-5989-3
• HR Giger (Taschen) ISBN 3-8228-1318-4
As cliché as it might sound it’s important to have an open mind about graffiti and be willing to try new things. To rule out anything during the creative process because it’s ‘not cool’, ‘keeping it real’, ‘orthodox’ or ‘traditional’, only limits the true potential of your work. It’s important to look further afield for inspiration and not just within the graffiti culture. I personally draw direct inspiration from music, spirituality, film, nature and dreams. It’s understandable that initially you may be concerned about what others may think about you venturing into this new area but in time, as you develop these concerns will disappear. No matter how strange your ideas may seem, put them into your work. By doing this, your work will reflect you and will help to define your overall style. Remember that a technique can be applied by anyone but a style is something truly personal.
We live in an extremely fast paced world, where we want everything yesterday! Everything is at the touch of a button and in many cases we desire things or results but we’re not prepared to spend time or put the effort in to acquire them. I want to put emphasis on the fact that mastery of 3D or technical painting is not something that can be acquired in a short space of time. It will require patience, persistence, passion and a strong will to never give up. You’ll definitely find that there will be occasions where things will work out perfectly and in other instances, you’ll reach a wall. Keep pushing on and eventually you’ll smash through all walls and barriers.
I also want to reiterate the fact that you shouldn’t be put off because you don’t initially have any knowledge in 3D, technical painting or the fact that you haven’t been to art school. I myself am self taught and believe that each and every one of us has all the human faculties to enable us to take any subject we wish and eventually grasp the total understanding and mechanics of it.
When painting a more technical style of graffiti it’s important that you don’t compromise on materials. It’s essential that you seek out high quality products which will help in your progression.
Based on my knowledge and experiences I would recommend the use of Molotow Premium colours for painting 3D or a more technical form of graffiti. To create 3D form, it’s important that you have a colour palette that allows you to create a tonal scale from 3 to 9 shades of the same colour. Restriction on the number of colour tones shouldn’t be as a result of a limited range of colours within a palette. There should be a sufficient number of tones in each colour; this enables the artist to make a choice as to the number of tones they wish to use to create a picture. The Molotow Premium range offers a palette of 251+ colours so any variance in tone, hue or unique colour can quite easily be found.
To create the illusion of a physical object paint opacity is extremely important. Molotow premium colours have 4 times as much colour pigment as conventional spray cans which means coverage isn’t something you need to worry about when painting but it also mean that lighter colours(Such as Beige) can be used without the application of a white base coat.
You may wish to paint in unfavourable weather conditions and if your country’s climate is anything like that of England (Wind and rain), then this can sometimes be awkward. I’ve personally found that Molotow Premium works exceptionally well in pretty much all weather conditions, with guaranteed positive results every time. Once again the quality of the spray paint shouldn’t restrict the environment or weather condition you choose to paint in.
With a more technical and clean approach towards painting you will very likely want to reduce the amount of overspray and drips that occur whilst painting. This can quite easily be dealt with; with a decent level of skill and can control. However, one of the main benefits of the Premium line is its unique paint consistency and formula; which allows for an anti-drip application with very little or no overspray.