Final Painting – Finishing off

Ok, for better or worse, here’s the finished painting of the Golden Gate Bridge:

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Here’s a side-by-side with the previous stage, so I can describe the changes:

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So first of all, I still wasn’t quite happy with the sky, so I worked on that some more, making it even brighter, and emphasising the warm glow of the sunrise.

Once that was fixed to my satisfaction, I finished detailing the bridge, adding the final highlights on the left of the bridge itself, and an indication of the vertical cables against the sky on the right. For those I just used a slightly darker version of the sky colour, as they shouldn’t stand out at all. They’re just an indication of what is there, and your brain does the rest.

I then worked on the detail of the mid-ground landscape. Looking at it now, I think I may have gone a bit too detailed and it’s ended up looking a bit messy. That’s something I need to work on – simplify everything!

I added some reflections I had missed in the water, below the rocks on the left, each piece of land jutting out, and below the far bridge tower.

Finally I added some detail in the foreground, with the bush on the right, and some warmer areas where the light is hitting the ground closest to us.

I’ve signed it, and I’m calling it finished for now, unless I spot anything that needs fixing in the next few days.

Overall, I’m reasonably pleased with how this turned out. I know the notan and value studies I did initially helped a lot with getting the final painting right, so that’s something I’ll be trying to do a lot more of in future.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any more questions about the process, just leave a comment below.

Final Painting – Adjustments

Here’s the painting as I left it yesterday:


As I mentioned, I noticed quite a few things wrong with it after I finished painting, and when I came back to it today I noticed even more, so before I get into adding too much detail, I wanted to make some adjustments and get things back on track before I finish off the painting.

Here’s the painting after my adjustments, for comparison:


The main thing I changed was the sky. It was much too dark before, and didn’t have that arm glow that I had in the colour study, so I really brightened it up with some ultramarine blue and white, and emphasised the warm yellowish glow.

This meant going over the far bridge tower, so I had to redraw that, and I fixed the drawing on the near tower too, and added a highlight on the left side of the tower where the sun is catching it.

After brightening and warming the sky, I then had to repeat that colour in the water in the distance to make sure the reflection looks right.

I started to add detail with the cables coming down from the bridge, but that was before I adjusted the sky, so they got a bit messed up. I kind of like them a bit broken like that though, I might leave them as they are.

Anyway, now I’m back on track, I can get on with finishing the rest of the painting. Stay tuned!

Final Painting – Blocking in

I decided to stop procrastinating and get on with doing a proper painting from my Golden Gate Bridge study.

Again, I started with a canvas I had toned after a failed painting attempt earlier in the week.

I wanted the drawing to be as accurate as possible, so rather than sketching it in with paint, I decided to use a pencil to sketch in the shapes, so I could be more precise:


Then I blocked in the entire painting, using my previous colour study as a guide. This made it much easier to mix the colours I needed and quickly check that I had the value relationships right from the start.


The final stage of the block-in is to go around the painting using a dry brush to soften certain edges. In general you don’t want any sharp edges in the far distance, and edges of shapes with a similar value can often be softened, especially in the darks.

You may not see much difference between this image and the previous one, but there are quite a few less sharp edges, giving the painting more of a feeling of depth.


I can already see certain areas that I’ll need to adjust in the next stage. The drawing isn’t quite right on the closer bridge tower, so I’ll need to work on that. Also the dark accents on the pieces of land jutting out into the water, shouldn’t be as dark as the shadow on the closest rock, so I’ll need to lighten those up a bit.

The rest of the painting will involve adding detail and colour variation, to unify the parts of the painting into a pleasing whole.