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Step 2: Setting Up a Still Life and Sketching on Colored Paper

To begin this step, set up a still life next to a window, arranging the subject so that shadows will help to lead the eye into the composition and give the painting more depth. For the painting in this example, I designed a complementary color scheme, using a varied purple background that would set off the yellow and green pears.

When you’re happy with your still life design, open a new file. For this project, I chose a square file format, which complements the rounded forms on the pears and the circular flow in the composition. Choose File > New and set up the dimensions for your painting. My example is 4x4 inches and 300 ppi. Next, specify a colored background. To set the paper color, click the Color preview square in the New Image window and choose a color in the Colors dialog box (see Figure 3). To select a new hue or adjust its saturation, click or drag in the color wheel. To make the color darker or lighter, adjust the value slider on the right side of the window. When you like the color, click OK.

Figure 3

Figure 3 Setting up a new file with a purple paper color.

Now the pastels: Click the Paper preview square in the New Image window and select the Sandy Pastel Paper texture (see Figure 4). Click OK to close the dialog box. From the Color panel, select a color to use for sketching (I began with a warm yellow). Select the Real Soft Pastel variant of Pastels from the Brush Selector.

Figure 4

Figure 4 Choosing Sandy Pastel paper.

The Real Soft Pastel incorporates Hard Media features, which allow you to make thin strokes when the stylus is upright, and broader strokes when the stylus is tilted (see Figure 5).

Figure 5

Figure 5 The Real Soft Pastel variant of Pastels incorporates Hard Media capabilities.

Make a few practice strokes to get a feeling for the brush. Now increase the size of the brush to about 50–60 pixels, so you can block in the base colors easily. Using broad strokes, lay in the base colors (on the pears, in my example), choosing new colors as needed, and suggest a horizon line. Figure 6 shows my horizon line (an angled table top); in Figure 7, I’ve painted the table base color.

Figure 6

Figure 6 Loosely sketching with the Real Soft Pastel variant of Pastels.

Figure 7

Figure 7 Blocking in base colors on the pears and foreground to begin the underpainting.

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