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Color sketching and color breakdown helps to visualize the overall composition.

In this case, the following example is from a picture I took in Shinjuku, Tokyo. What is interesting about this picture in particular is the interplay of the remaining evening light that comes from the far background sky and how it competes in a sense with the darker spots of the image on either the left or right side. The billboards in Japanese that cover almost the entire space of the scene are starting to emanate their own artificial backlight into the surrounding space, creating a general impression of a time of twilight.

Photograph taken at Shinjuku, Tokyo

1 Hour Color Breakdown practice.

The particular interest of color sketching is to breakdown the image as much as possible to find the elements of the scene that attract the most attention, as well as those elements that use the most space. Even though the exercise I use as an example does not look at all finished, it gives off the impression of more of an abstract painting, in which the elements are still recognizable. The intent is to also get as close as possible to the original colors of the photograph without picking the tonalities directly from the image. Instead, part of the exercise is to use the color pallet and pick the colors that most closely resemble the original ones from the photo.

Since I am using a square brush, it fits with the nature of the square billboards, meaning that I do not need to spend as much time making those shapes rectangular, by for instance making the impression of a billboard on the canvas with a single digital brushstroke from the square brush that I am using. Because this exercise is about breaking down the composition into its core elements, I have not added the Japanese characters of the billboards into the composition because I would consider them to be details in this case. There is not too much time to add details in a one-hour practice.

Since this exercise is about breaking down the image into its bare compositional elements, the emphasis of this one-hour study is not really to be precise and spend time finding the details, but instead to keep to more general brushstrokes and a gestural style of work. The exercise can be intended in a sense to relax a tendency to be a perfectionist, and instead to have a more messy and imprecise workflow. Making studies from photographs also help to change the mood into other types of imagery that are not necessarily cinematic or action-oriented.

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