Pixel shading uses the power of optical blending (creating new colors by visually mixing them) to create shading. It’s wonderfully adaptable because you can use it with any thread. In this series, appearing on Mondays, you’ll learn how to do pixel shading using this Lynda Cook canvas.
This canvas was picked because it’s stitch-painted and the painting gives you a road map for creating a shaded flower. Today I’ll talk about the principles that make single-strand shading work. As the series continues, we are going to use this characteristic to create shading in our piece. By making individual stitches of two different colors, we’ll create a third.
It sounds tremendously scientific but optical blending is something you do all the time. It’s the principle behind a painting by Seurat. His pointillism consisted of making tiny dots of color. Stand close to one of his paintings and you see the individual dots, stand far away and those dots blend into shimmering blocks of color. I’ve actually tried it back in the early ’80’s when Impressionist exhibits weren’t such mob scenes and it really does work.
You can kind of see it here where the dots are larger (this painting is available for needlepoint from Art Needlepoint).
More prosaically, you can also see this effect when you see a pixilated picture. Compare these two photos of a sunset. The top one is the original photo of a sunset from NASA. The bottom one is a pixilated version. When something is pixilated it is divided up into blocks with each block is a different color. Your eye blends these pixels together to create a new color. The pixelated version was created using PineTools pixel effect.
Optical blending is the technique used whenever you are not able to create intermediate shades by physically blending more than one color. You’ve probably seen it many times: comic books, newspaper photos, and even older televisions all used this technique. A great way to see the dots of optical blending made large is to look at a painting by Roy Lichtenstein. In this painting, you see he painted blue and red dots on white. But if you looked at the painting, you’d see a blue eye, a light blue tear, and pink skin.
Such is the power of optical blending.
Next week, we’ll look at why you want to shade and begin stitching the canvas.