Spotlighting in Scenic Stamping by Kevin Nakagawa
Kevin Nakagawa is back as our guest designer this month with a tutorial on spotlighting techniques when creating with scenic stamps. Kevin is the owner of Stampscapes rubber stamps. If you love what you see and read here, we encourage you to wander on over to his website and check out the treasure trove of tutorials, artwork and rubber stamps availabe for sale. Be prepared to stay for a while when visiting the website! Awe-inspiring is the only word that describes what you will find there.
Spotlighting in Scenic Stamping
My illustration professor used to tell us to not attempt to do something in our artwork that a camera was so much more effective at. He was referring to different things, but one of them was to not look at a piece of artwork as a small piece of a greater whole --such as a photographic snapshot-- but more as a complete world unto itself. It means looking at a blank canvas or piece of paper as an empty stage where you are both the set and lighting director.
When it comes to scenic stamping, this concept frees us from questioning what would be likely in nature and we just have to concentrate on the notion of what looks good. While we do reference nature we're not bound by technicalities. One technicality is lighting. If I was outside on a sunny day at high noon there would likely be one dominant light source which would be the sun. The location of the sun would dictate where objects would be illuminated, shadows would fall, and how light and dark those areas would appear.
On a stage, a lighting director can employ as many light sources as they want such as spotlights, filler lights, backlighting, colored lighting, sharp or diffused lighting, etc. If a director wants to emphasize a thing or area, the lighting director can simply aim a spotlight or turn up the lights in that part of the stage -or- they could darken the area around that location.
"Black Beauty" before and after. 4.25" x 11" glossy card stock. In this scene the horse stands out in the tree clearing but all of the distracting texture is subdued with the use of value leaving only a single area of light within the scene to backlight the subject.
A very dramatic and deliberate usage of spotlighting can be used when characters are involved. Characters can be can be inanimate objects such as a mountain or structure but animals or especially people can be the strongest focal points that we can add to a scene. We can do an 11" x 17" scene composed with 20 different large stamps and as soon as we add a figure to a scene, that character seems to become the visual anchor for the entire space no matter how small. Emphasis and the directing of the viewers eye is done with the usage of lighting on a stage and in scenic stamping it can be done by representational lighting by applying shade. By simply adding value around the subjects that we want to stand out we can increase the drama and visual dialog of a composition.
"The Creatures" before and after. 5" x 7" Stampbord. Two areas of light focus the attention on the subjects of the scene.
The visual dialog between two or more objects within a scene can also be enhanced with the use of this "spotlighting." Visual dialog can be something such as a light source such as a moon or sun shining down on an object. What this visually states is that "I'm shining a light on you and you're reflecting the light." Another, more direct, example of visual dialog would be a figure actually looking at another figure or thing. By spotlighting these figures or objects, we can make it clearer to the viewer what is going on in the scene by emphasizing it.
"On a Moonlit Night... Two Lovers Meet" before and after. 4.25" x 11" glossy card stock. In this scene a light source and two areas of reflected light are created by darkening the rest of the terrain for a total of three "spotlights." The smaller snail really benefits from this lighting scheme where, otherwise, it has the potential of blending in too much with the rocks if it didn't contrast with the space around it.
This concept is utilized in several types of projects. In many of our pieces such as cards, tags, bookmarks, etc. we often darken the perimeter of the project with ink. This frames off the entire piece which draws the viewers attention towards the center. What spotlighting is doing is just taking that concept and doing it within the piece. In scenic stamping there are so many opportunities to increase the dramatic staging through this lighting vehicle.
What do you want your viewer to notice? What do you want to emphasize? What do you want to subdue by putting the focus elsewhere? In our work, from concept to final piece, we can control all elements within the worlds that we create. ~KN
You can also check out our archives for more great tutorials Kevin shared with us here on Stamper's Quest.
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