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Breakdown of a pair of studies from “Joker”


The Joker movie, which was released about a year ago (October 2019) was a hit in the sense that it evoked a series of emotions in viewers around the world. It wasn’t my particular favorite but it was effective in describing perhaps the darkest side of humanity in that we have a destructive potential that is hidden from sight within us. Since I have been doing a series of practice shots from movies, I decided to capture the movie in a couple of paintings that somewhat describe it well visually.



I think it is interesting to create a series of quickly done paintings of consecutive shots from a movie for me personally so that I am better able to visualize the color sequencing and how a character acts in the scene. These shots are descriptive of a character that is slightly careless and dancing along the stairs, waving arms freely. There is a sense of delight and lightness that is being conveyed by the character.

Even when the “resolution” of the painting is low, meaning that the brushwork is rough, the overall scene is noticeable. For the second scene, the staircase is painted with a blueish gray tonality, following the original approximate color from the screenshot of the scene. We are able to make out the individual steps because of the tone variation that becomes darker in some spots and lighter in others consecutively. The rough brushwork for the face that is looking downwards is visible because of the hint of black that outlines the eyelashes. Because the Joker is wearing clown makeup and the ambient light points towards a blueish gray tonality, it shows in the face as well as a blueish tone instead of closer to a creamy, yellowish white.

The top background after the end of the ascending stair case is kept white, somewhat like a watercolor, hinting that the day is cloudy and grim but enough ambient light is able to get through the clouds to light up the scene that is shown. Another detail that is worth mentioning is the contrast of tonality that is noticeable along the handrail of the staircase. The reason for it being such a stark contrast is that metal tends to have a very high level of reflectivity, and so in this case is reflecting a high amount of light even when it being painted a close to black color. This high level of reflectivity is represented in this quick painting with the stark switch in tonalities from the black strokes to very light gray ones.

The first painting that shows a close up of the joker is visually interesting because it allows the viewer to spend some time appreciating the expression that the character is making. When painting, an intuitive but powerful way to describe a character with greater detail is to create a composition that is mostly focusing around a facial expression. To enhance this effect, more details like wrinkles on the skin can be added to create more realism, and by keeping the background out of focus with less detail and perhaps less color.

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