-By Dan dos Santos

Here is a piece of mine that just went public not too long ago. This painting is for the cover of the graphic novel adaptation of ‘Alpha & Omega’, by Patricia Briggs.

I wanted to share this piece with you because it is a really good example of why value and saturation control is so important.

I often get asked how I get my colors so bright. Well, I’m going to show you how.

Most of you probably understand the concepts of contrast when it comes to value and complementary colors. For instance, if you want something white to stand out, surround it by black. Likewise, if you want something blue to stand out, surround it by orange. But there are many other means of contrast, and in this case, saturation is doing the heavy lifting.

I knew I wanted to have glowing blue eyes in the image, in fact, the entire concept revolved around it.
But I also wanted to have a blue tint to the background. This means I couldn’t rely on a complementary color to make them pop. So instead, I had to do it with value and saturation.

By placing the darkest values right in the pupils of the eye, I made the whites appear much whiter than they really are. Even at the drawing phase, the whites of the eyes already appear whiter than the board they are drawn on. This is obviously impossible (and in fact they are actually a little bit darker than the board), but our eyes perceive it otherwise. Go ahead, zoom in on the image above. You would swear the eyes are whiter than the rest of the image, but they are not.

As I painted the image, I took special care to make sure every single color I mixed was just a little darker, and a little grayer than I would normally paint. The duller I made things, the more the eyes stood out.

So how I get my colors so bright?
The secret is… I don’t.

If you want something to look bright, you just need surround it by really dull stuff.
(I’m sure there is a politic joke in there somewhere)