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Vocabulary usage:
proplasmos (Greek) = roskrysh (Slavonic) = base tone
psymithies (Greek) = ozhyvki (Slavonik) = bright accents and parallel lines in the brightest areas
pyrodismos (Greek) = rumyantsy (Slavonik) = a reddish color, a vey transparent glaze of vermillion with added first light, a "blush"

When we mix dry pigments with egg emulsion, the transparency and opaqueness
depend of the paint on the ratios of these two components. The more emulsion is there,
the more transparent the paint is, and vice versa. On top of the dark base tone,
transparent paint will have very little color and little saturation. The more pigment we add
to the mix, the thicker and more opaque it becomes. Then such lighter - opaque - paint is
less affected by the underlying dark base tone, which we call "proplasmos."
In the proplasmos technique, we suggest the following. The first light has to, on the
one hand, to stand out brightly and opaquely over the dark base tone in the places of
illumination, but on the other hand its edges and boundaries have to blend seamlessly into
the proplasmos.
Here is a way to do it effectively: when you model a specific spot, color it with opaque
paint in the center, without blending the edges. However, do not cover the entire area but
leave around enough unpainted space. This unpainted area is where the two colors will
eventually blend into each other as a soft transition from light to shadow. Take now some
of the thick opaque paint of the first light and add a few drops of egg emulsion. It becomes
more transparent. With this diluted paint, paint over the bright spot and then extend it
into the unpainted area. Let's assume the bright spot is circular; keep extending this lighter
but transparent color away from the bright area in concentric manner. Note that the
transparent color is rather toneless and is not as vibrant as the central opaque spot. Add
even more egg emulsion to the mix, and extend this transparent overlay even further into
the proplasmos. This extended area is even more subdued in terms of color saturation. So
basically, by adding egg emulsion to the initial opaque paint, we achieve various degrees of
transparency. When we lay these in a row with overlap, we can create a scale from the
most saturated tone to the barely visible one.
When we first cover the area with an opaque paint, there is a sharp distinct edge to
the brighter area. This sharp edge disappears once we cover it with a few glazes of
transparent color. If the edge is still stubbornly there, let it dry, and then pass this

transition area over again with a transparent color. Repeat this, until the transition of color
is gradual, and the bright color fades gently into the dark surface of proplasmos.
It is very important how we use the brush and how we apply the new color over the
base tone. First of all, the base color should be completely dry before application of a
brighter color on top of it. Make sure that you do not brush over the same spot repeatedly
because the underlying paint might get dissolved or softened by the moisture from egg
emulsion and will be lifted and dragged by the brush.
To prevent this, simply avoid applying brushstrokes in the same spot over and over
again. Put the brush aside, and let the area dry. If you do not want to lose time, work on
some other area that needs the same color and tone, and then when it is dry, test it by
touch, then work on it again.
When we take transparent paint and apply two coats of it, there is a small build up of
paint. As the result of this build up, the color becomes more saturated and less
transparent. And when we pass over the area the third time, it will become even more
saturated. We use this quality of egg tempera to create gradients between light and
shadows. This is only applicable when the base tone is dark and a brighter color is applied
on top of it.
The study of merging the two colors begins with making the correct tone for the
proplasmos. Do the following: combine 1/3 of yellow ocher, 1/5 of burnt sienna, 1/5 white,
and add some raw umber to it. This is the recipe of Panselinos for the proplasmos, typical
in the 14-th century, a somewhat dark grayish green. With this paint, cover a piece of
cardboard and let it dry.
After this, make another color - 1/3 ocher, 1/5 vermilion, and then add some white to
it. This will be the color of the first light, characteristic of the 14th century, and comparing
to the darker tone of the proplasmos, it is quite bright. With this second color, in an
opaque consistency, paint a large circle over the base tone. Dilute the second tone with
egg emulsion and extend the circle outward further into the proplasmos. Let it dry. Then
pull paint in parallel stokes - parallel to the round border of the opaque circle - outward.

Make sure that these parallel (or, should we say, concentric) brushstrokes are not
joined together as they are placed farther from the circle. The farther away from circle
they are, the lighter they get, and more widely spaced they are.
The purpose of this exercise to learn to merge the light and the dark tones. Now look
at the results and decide whether in some places the color is too weak where it should be
brighter. Should this be the case, add a few more brushstrokes to bring about the desired
results. Such corrections are often necessary if the merging of the two colors is not right,
and also the opaque paint may not be opaque enough, which could result in the dark
patches of proplasmos showing through. Passing transparent paint over the center of the
circle ensures that this does not happen. We work with the brush over the boundary
where those two colors meat until this sharp boundary disappears and is softly diffused.
This is a classical, smooth transition from light to dark. All brush strokes must be
executed in the direction parallel and concentric to the circumference of the lighter color
and never from the center of the circle, in a radial fashion.
Work on this exercise diligently, to get the smooth transition of the lighter color into
the proplasmos. We spend so much effort on detailed description because this is the
second major skill in iconography, second only to drawing and composition.
When you feel that you have finally mastered this exercise and learned how to make
seamless transition from light to dark, try to do the same on an actual face. The principles
are the same i.e., the only difficulty in this process is the smooth transition from the light
area to the proplasmos. We would like to reiterate here that all the brush strokes of the
color transition must be parallel to the edge of the opaque area, and never radiate from
the center, perpendicularly to the edge of the bright spot, unless there a specific reason for
This way of transitioning from color to color is not the only technique known in
Eastern iconography.
Another way of merging the two colors is to fill some part of the transitional area with
transparent, ultra-thin, wispy lines of lighter color; this was a staple of the Cretan school.
In some other schools, the iconographers did not use the linear interpolation at all.
Instead, they applied very diluted and transparent colors with a flat brush, passing over the
area many times expertly, until the two colors merge perfectly. This was a method

developed by the Macedonian school in the 14th century and became a staple of the
Russian school of iconography.
Experiment with all these methods, practice these techniques diligently, and very soon
you will find that sky is the limit.
The lines of the beards are drawn in such a way that they approximately line up
towards and converge onto the center of the nose. To create an effect of hair growing from
the skin, thin out each line gradually until it disappears into the proplasmos. Do this
exercise first with a pencil, then with a fine brush using burnt umber.
When painting the mustache, make sure that the lines of the hair stay within the
darker area of the proplasmos and do not encroach upon the lighter areas. These hairs
should be longer and wider near the mouth. Make sure the ends of these lines are as thin
as possible; this gives the mustache their beauty and emphasize their volume. If these
ends are blunt and thick, the effect is as if the mustache is awkwardly glued to the face as if
it were stage make up.

. we have the same paint but we added a few drops of egg emulsion to it. and definitely less saturated. it is not as bright as the brushstroke A.TECHNIQUE OF SEAMLESS TRANSITIONS At first. The brushstroke A is done with a thick mixture of pigment and egg emulsion. Here. Figure 1 Here we have two applications of the same lighter color over the darker background of proplasmos. Note that the color is very bright and light because it is opaque. examine the brushstroke B. The paint becomes more transparent. Now. with lots of pigment in it. some theory. showing through. This is because its color is affected by the color of proplasmos underneath.

without adding lighter pigment or making the paint more opaque. (More about this in Figure 4) .in fact.Figure 2 Using a diluted mixture of brighter color. in all nine points where these six brushstrokes all these points. we make three horizontal and three vertical passes with a flat brush. This helps us to understand how to build a range of shades using the same pigment and the same degree of dilution. there is a double layer of the paint. Observe the brightening of the tone at the point C . The reason for this is obvious .

In order to soften this abrupt transition. At the outer boundaries of the intermediate color (the lines A and B). Make a note of this last important brushstroke as it covers the boundary line and makes it invisible. Now. When the surface is dry. The broadloom brushstrokes painted near the boundary line end up being brighter. we cover more space on both sides of the color band. in a manner similar to broadloom. otherwise pressure on the brush might dislodge some of the paint. . they are placed farther apart. By pushing on the brush slightly to make the hairs spread. The red dashed line shows where the intermediary color should be placed in two coats. If the boundary line is still visible. show the area where the two lights join. we painted the first (1) and the second (2) lights over the color of proplasmos (3). above and below. making unsightly holes which will be difficult to fix. The total of these brushstrokes. which we get by mixing the first light (1) and the second light (2) together. skip ahead and look at the vertical lines in Figure 9. we make a third pass with the intermediary color over the boundary line only. keep passing over it with intermediate color until it disappears. gives a smooth transition from dark to light. These lines differ in thickness. because they overlap each other two or three times.Figure 3 In this example. especially if observed from a distance. and as they become thinner. we need to fill the space between (b) and (a) with the intermediate color. This really helps to smooth the transition between the two lights. the intermediate color becomes more transparent and thin and blends with the first and the second lights. Do this only when the surface is dry. The two arrows (at C).

from side to side.four layers. After it dries. we use somewhat transparent paint. And this is one of the secrets of egg tempera which allows us to do so much with very little.Figure 4 Do the following exercise. Make one pass with this color. with lots of egg emulsion in the mix. construct the following color scale. Continue with one more pass. in segment 2 . The result is that in segment 1 you have one layer of paint. take the same paint. This exercise teaches us that the more layers of transparent paint are applied. . the brighter and more opaque it becomes because of the loss of transparency. Let it dry again. and in segment 4 . For this.two layers. The lighter transparent color is affected by the color underneath. Over a darker proplasmos. First. stopping before the brush reaches section 3. in segment 3 . and pass over the section for the third time. this time leaving the sections 1 and 2 unpainted. and draw another band on top of the first one. while opaque paint remains unaffected. paint with a flat brush a rectangle ABCD. but this time stopping before where it is marked 1.three layers.

. The colors B and C we call "intermediary" because they contain in themselves both colors. Earlier. 9. the segments 7. undiluted paint but with some color of the proplasmos added to it. and 10 are each joined with a smooth transition. we have a range of lighter colors painted onto the base tone. Intermediate transparent colors were used to create these seamless connections. dark and light. until in the last segment D we have a color very near the tone of the base tone. more base tone is added and so on. If you skip ahead and look at Figure 7. Using intermediary colors. becomes transparent and looks darker because the dark undertone shows through. when diluted with egg emulsion. we smoothly connect light and dark areas. in the figure 4 we have shown how the lighter color ("first light"). 8. The segment B is the same opaque. The segment A is a bright opaque paint. In this example.Figure 5 Here is another way of understanding how to build gradual transitions from dark to light. We can use this quality of egg tempera to create smooth and seamless transitions from dark to light. In the segment C.

Figure 6 Modeling of the cheek This is how the same principles of color transition work on a face ..

The color of the second light is made by taking some of the first light and adding white to it. With this diluted intermediate color. hence all care must be taken to do the first light correctly. In the area under the eye. we paint the first light. The second light and the psymithies are only a small addition to the first light. The same mistake is often repeated with the second light. and when the gradations of light and shadow are not there. This smooth transition of tone between the light and the proplasmos (representing shadow on the face) is made with the technique described in explanations to Figure 7. when it completely covers and obfuscates the first light. we paint the smooth transition between the first light and the proplasmos. Then we construct the intermediate color from the equal amounts of the proplasmos paint and the first light. the second light is painted. If the entire face is uniformly covered with white light.First. Notice that the stokes are applied in a curved fashion. put a few horizontal brushstrokes of intermediary tone. the face looks like a whitewashed wall. This is how modeling is done. with the first light even touching the ear. and add egg emulsion to it. a beginner extend the transition area all the way to the jaw line. when we paint the first light and connect it smoothly with the proplasmos. but also of the hands and the body. Never should the second light cover the area of the first light fully. there always should be an area of the first light left clearly visible and untouched by the second light. For that very reason an experienced icono-grapher will take great care where to put the first light and how much of the proplasmos should be left uncovered by the transitional tone. Under the eye. The small illumination in that place is made with a horizontal line of the first light. but only a part of it. covering the entire proplasmos area. . following the shape of the first light area. The same principle applies to the relationship between the proplasmos and the first light: you can see in Figure 6 that there is a substantial area of proplasmos by the jaw line left untouched by the transitional color. Oftentimes. it loses its lyrical beauty and its form and becomes flat like a pancake. And this just the first light. After the proper transition from the second light to the first light is made. If one makes the first light too big and the shadow areas of proplasmos are all covered. this would be difficult to correct. Continue this curve down the cheek and pass it onto to the chin applying the brushstrokes in the same direction as the shape of the first light. in the area which we call lacrimal sac. 85% of job on the face is practically done. In fact. This presents a significant difficulty to many a beginner. paint a large curve starting from the outside edge of the eye. It is important to remember that the basic underlying shape of the face is a sphere. and not just of the face. Under the eye.

Since the area 7 was painted with opaque color. the first coat of transparent paint should not be pushed too far into the next darker area so that little of the darker area remains visible. extend the paint from area 7 into area 8. When we work over the boundary line. do it for the other two colors. passing over the boundary once. 8 and 9. it become less and less distinct. As you work over the boundary line. The next step is to eliminate these sharp boundary lines with intermediate colors. Area 10 remains the pure proplasmos color. Then add more proplasmos color to it and paint the area 9. Step 1 Replicate Fig.Figure 7 Here is a practical exercise in tone blending. and paint the area 8. Step 2 .blending the four tones Take some of the paint 7 and add a little egg emulsion to it. 5 with four bands of color. In Figure 7 these distinct boundary lines are softened and blurred over with thin vertical brush-strokes of intermediary colors. Two common mistakes beginners make 1. However. in Figure 5 the shades of color are not blended into each other but have a distinct boundary between them. that is. then make the paint for the first light (area 7 in Figure 7. In exactly the same manner. . First. These patches of intermediate colors are skillfully and judicially applied over the boundary lines to create the smooth transition from one tone to another. adding same transparent color on top of it will not change it. or A in Figure 5). In figure 7 we have the exact same colors that we have in Figure 5. making it transparent. and after a number of repeated brushstrokes the boundary line disappears altogether. dilute the color 8 with egg emulsion and extend it into the area 9 and so on. With this transparent mix. There will be distinct boundaries between all four colors. Mix this first light color in half with the paint for the proplasmos. but it will make all the difference when it is extended into the area 8. prepare the background with the proplasmos color.

When you finally are able to execute a smooth transition from the proplasmos to the first light. At first. smooth transitions from dark to light are one of the most important skills. second only to drawing. The correct shapes of the eyes. the zeal. In the very immediate area of transition.    Practice this technical exercise many times. Hours and hours of work. but with time and practice you will achieve the needed sense of how to targeted specific areas. The subsequent coats of transparent paint should not cover the first coat of the intermediary color completely. spend your time practicing these two elements . and do it often. copying icon patterns correctly. From day to day. this first coat of the intermediary color should remain transparent.drawing of faces and light to dark transitions. . and how much paint to use. These seamless. and if we keep adding coats to it.2. it will lose its transparency and become brighter. and the mouth infuse the face with expression. the nose. and patience will bring about the revelation contained in the sacred art of iconography. but only in part. Do not quit practicing until you master these elements. At its edges. the first and most important skill is under your belt. this might seem to be daunting. The correct and skillful modeling infuses the face with beauty and light. Remember the experience that has been affirmed by many: work creates a master painter and shapes an artist. all we need is a few faint brushstrokes which can barely register over the darker background.

Then add even more egg emulsion to it and paint the segment E. and E are the same color. segment C. The point is that D. . take equal amounts of both colors. On a background of dark proplasmos. This brighter segment is the second light.Figure 8 This exercise demonstrates the difference between intermediary color and transparent color. but they don't look the same because of difference in opacity/transparency. Now. paint a segment with the opaque color of the first light (A). just one coat of it. and paint the segment D. Now. All three paints are opaque at this point. divide the paint into two containers. C. Now. This is our intermediary color. add some white to the second container. and paint the segment B. add some egg emulsion to this intermediary color C. and mix them together in a third container. This difference is because of the varying degrees at which the tone of the proplasmos is showing through.

and even though the colors are related. on both sides of the divide. By using this intermediate color C. make this paint transparent by adding some egg emulsion to it (D or E in Figure 8). Lightly brush it over the junction area. In the lower part. we see how the second light smoothly transitions into the first light. You may use the technique of placing thin parallel strokes. the first light and the second light. (C) is the intermediary color mixed from equal amounts of A and B. Let us take another look at Figure 8. A and B. In the upper part. we will create a smooth transition between the first light and the second as seen in Figure 9. and making occasional brushstrokes to the right and to the left of the divide. you see the color (C) which is a mixture of the two colors A and B. then repeat the same procedure with the diluted intermediary color C over the boundary line. That is to say. thinning out and spaced wider apart as they extend into the darker zone (see on the left side of Figure). . covering also some of the areas of A and B. They are just butted against each other. we can see two colors. Take the intermediary color C. Let the area dry. transition between them is abrupt.Another way of making smooth transitions between the tones using a diluted intermediate color proplasmos first light transition A diluted C second light B Figure 9 In Figure 9. closer to the right side.

Should this be the case. let it completely dry. Do not overwork the area. and press it into a piece of scrap paper so it spreads like a rake. with the right amount of practice and exercise. Sometimes we may miscalculate and dilute the intermediate color too much. Shaping the brush in this way is called "training the brush". load it with diluted color C. the boundary line might stubbornly show through after many repeated applications of the intermediate color. Pass with thusly shaped brush over the boundary with a wide stroke.    . you will learn very quickly how much egg emulsion is needed to create this intermediary diluted color. keep layering coats until it is all joined smoothly together. However. and repeat it for the third time. As the result. but only if needed. Then take the brush.Again.

Copy and draw this form in pencil so many times that you memorize it and eventually draw or paint it from memory. we add a little cinnabar (vermillion) and a little proplasmos color. and make an outline of the mouth. . Here are two pencil renditions of a classical mouth shape: Study the shape of the mouth from frescoes and icons of great masters.THE MOUTH Figure 21 Using burnt sienna.

However. We do not just draw a dark wavy line across the mouth line. we make this line lighter and redder. These shadows are done with the same paint we used to draw the mouth shape but with more burnt sienna added (or even burnt umber). the best way to do a glaze is to make a very dilute solution first. where the lips meet. where the dark line is. with the same paint.Observe that the darkest shadows are at the corners of the mouth on the line where the lips touch each other. Make the color of the second light by adding some white to the color of your first light. but leaves some proplasmos tone exposed. illuminate only the upper half of the lower lip in the middle. making sure that the first light does not cover the entire lip. . illuminate the upper half of the lip. and we make it darker closer to the corners of the mouth. so that the upper part of that lip is illuminated. fill the entire lower lip. With the first light. The whole beauty of the mouth is at this point: the mouth is illuminated in the middle and gets darker towards the corners. and if the mouth is big enough. The line between the lips is wavy . In the middle of the mouth. as shown in Fig. and then becoming gradually lighter towards the upper lip's line. There should be a noticeable difference between the dark line in the corners and the light line in the center of the line between the lips. Use a generous amount of egg emulsion. where they touch. However. On the upper lip. Another element to watch for beginners are these dark corners of the lips. It is made of a bit of vermillion plus a small drop of the first light. With the second line. use the darkest color at the base and then transition it upward with an intermediary transparent color. Do make sure there is no dark line showing in the center between the lips. accent the line between the lips. The last step is to glaze the lips with a reddish color called pyrodismos. That is. and lots of egg emulsion in the mix will ensure that. use intermediary or transparent color to extend it from that bright spot to the rest of the lip. add just a little cinnabar. 21. Making the lips too red is not a good idea. this tone is extended all the way to the lower lip. without getting it to the corners. and only in the area of the lower lip. if you see that the resulting color is not red enough. The effect of the shadows on the upper lip is created by line being the darkest at the line between the lips. model the area above the upper lip. add the second thin line at some distance from the first. With the second light. Also. in the center. from edge to edge. The upper lip receives light only in the upper central portion of the lip. and the lower remains the color of proplasmos.

but the whole image always expresses the most important virtue of all: holiness. glaze it over one more time with the original diluted pyrodismos. we always find that faces . covering the shadows too. If they are still too pale. A small mouth is suggestive of avoidance of idle talk and unnecessary laughter. . With this redder pyrodismos. but only in the center.With pyrodismos. Many small brushstrokes will not give you a uniform coverage. and with one pass cover the lower lip from one side to the other. Large eyes express vision. Take a very small portion of the pyrodismos paint and add to it just a little of cinnabar and an equal amount of sienna.and bodies in general display individual and specific virtues. Do the same for the upper lip. There is an expressive reason for that. We often see in ancient frescoes that the eyes are larger than in realistic paintings. on the right and on the left. draw a thin line between the lips in the center of the mouth. these eyes behold the Eternally Living God. using a brush with a fine point. In ancient images. This red line does not go over the entire mouth line. gradually terminating where the dark shadows begin. and the mouth is smaller. pass over the lower lip with a single wide brushstroke.    A few words on the dimensions of the eyes and the mouth in classical iconography. Look at the mouth again and determine whether the lips are red enough. so take a soft wide brush. it is evocative of reserved speech and fasting.

21a). And that would be enough for small mouths. we should say much with very little. In rendering a small mouth. brighter light and draw a few thin lines right at the line where the lips touch. In this case. . the mouth will also be very small. we illuminate the lower lip and add the same paint to the upper portion of the upper lip (see Fig. as seen on the enlarged schematics. go over the mouth with a transparent glaze of pyrodismos. With the first light. When the paint is dry. Then prepare the second.actual size enlarged schematics Figure 21a When we work on a small icon. we cannot do all the above described steps and procedures.

Observe in this illustration the use of the "first line" and "second line" tones.Figure 22 The first stage in painting the mouth of Christ The mouth and moustache of Christ begins with painting the first drawing onto proplasmos. .

from the top edge almost to the bottom of the lip. Take some of it. However. The darker lines of the mouth and moustache should be of the same color as the lines of the dark hair and beard of Christ. 20). a mixture of the first light and a bit of vermillion. as was described above. on top of the reddish under-painting. . and add egg emulsion to it (very little). Then work in the second light. Take now the some of that mixture. In this example. we used a reddish under-painting on the lips. Make a note of the two white areas/lines to the right and to the left from the lower lip. without the use of this under-painting. and paint the lower lip. paint the face. Make the color of the first light.Figure 23 We cover the lower lip with a reddish paint. These illuminations are always placed on the faces of the saints if there is a desire to emphasize intensity of facial expression. add to it more vermillion. and color the entire upper lip with it. we can also follow the classic method (described as pyrodismos in Fig.

. With this third light. that we already have. two light accents on the both sides of the mouth. Make a note how the area around the nostril is modeled. we paint all the psymithies on the face.Figure 24 The final highlights on the mouth of Christ We make the third light by adding some white to the color of the second light. and a small horizontal brushstroke on the lower lip. we place two accents on the philtrum (the concave area above the upper lip) as shown. With the same color.

Figure 25 The head of the Archangel Gabriel. Proplasmos and first lines of the face and hair. .

it tapers off at the corners. the lines must be opaque and prominent. and the pupil . The pupil of the eye just barely touches the lower edge of the upper lid's line. our right). the serenity line. THE MOUTH Observe the precise shape of the lines of the mouth. the angel's left. THE EYEBROWS are thicker and darker near the nose. This element should always be present in all icons. and as they go towards the temples. The nose is generally painted with lines of a lighter color. The two outer "waves" are dark (as if in shadows). The line former by the touching lips has three undulations or "waves".e. In your work. The upper and the lower lip lines are of lighter color and somewhat reddish. as they approach "weaker" shadows. Notice how the three lines . redder color.are done with burnt umber. where the line of the forehead transitions into the line of the cheek. The shape of the pupil is oval. the iris. THE OCULAR RECESS Near the left eye (i. not round. The hole in the nostril is flat and dark. These three elements . .the serenity line. and they thin out towards the ends. In the illuminated portions of the locks. the upper and lower eyelids. or whatever is used for the proplasmos of the hair. several other lines converge. These lines are thicker in the middle.flatten and are nearly horizontal in the middle. and the eyebrow.Explanations to Figure 25 THE EYES The curve of the upper eyelid flattens and becomes thick in the middle. The lines of the lower eyelid and the "serenity line" (the skin fold between the brow and the upper eyelid) are done with a lighter color such as natural umber. think of them as three parallel lines. Observe how these line come together at that point: the forehead.think of this as an enlarged shape of the iris.. THE HAIR Never forget a cardinal rule of painting the hair: in the shaded area. This element gives the face a peaceful and royal expression. too . The shape of the iris is oval. the upper eyelid. and the lower eyelid . The line of the nose gets gradually darker towards the eyebrow. the cheek.the upper eye lid. and the bulb of the nose is even lighter. from about the middle they get lighter and thinner. The middle "wave" is lighter than the upper and lower lip and more reddish.

not of a circle. Observe the spherical shapes of the curls above the forehead. When modeled. The lower part of the "sphere" is done with thick lines because there is shadow.    .these lines are either drawn very thinly or are not drawn at all. the lines are written thick and dark because this area should be most heavily shaded. this area will blend better. but they too thin out at the ends. too. The hair. The whole shape of the head has to convey a form of a sphere. should participate in this shaping of the head. The face is illuminated in a way to bring this about (see Fig 26 ad 27). The thickest and darkest lines are in the area behind the ear. In the back of the head. that is where the shadows are the darkest.

Figure 26. The first light on the face and on the hair .

First. First you'll notice fairly the illuminated part being copied. The spherical curls above the forehead fall like a cascade. Each brushstroke continuously tapers off throughout the length and ends with a fine point. You'll see that the enlightenment separated sharply from proplasmos and the union of light and shadow is extinguished with intermediate color. where the shadow is darker. and very little proplasmos. Between the eyelid and the light. Do not rush to pull strokes with enlightenment. the lines become broader. color of the hair's proplasmos 2. The dark lines represent shadow side of a sphere. The reason for that is because it approaches the shaded part.mixed from while. Very important: this eye light should never touch the upper eyelid. build the bright areas of opaque color where you need it. The proplasmos color of the hair is a mix of burned sienna with the proplasmos color for the face. where the light should be the most intense. there should be some distance. These have spherical shapes. MODELING THE HAIR THE FRONTAL ROW OF CURLS Look at the row of curls over the forehead. little vermillion The illumination is painted with the following consideration: in those spots. Each brushstroke begins as a round spot and then spirals around and falls downward. Do not rush to blend this first light right away. This light can be slightly bluish. These brushstrokes encircle the illumined area of the cheek and the chin. and these circles take the most intense light. The first light on the hair is done with a combination of 1. and then smooth over the sharp transition with an intermediate color. .LIGHT ON THE FACE Observe the brushstrokes in the area where the first light transitions into shadow of proplasmos. The areas filled with lighter brushstrokes are on the opposite side of the shape. the brushstrokes are the widest. black. The sclera of the eye is accented with a separate gray light . the first light used on the face 3.

These brushstrokes should not fill the entire cranium. this is because the contour line is darker than any other line of the hair. but fade out and leave enough area untouched by the first light.THE HAIR ON THE CRANIUM The hair on the cranium area is wavy. and the brushstrokes become thinner as they go towards the back. The outer rim of the head is done by the widest line. The bright brushstrokes are followed by dark lines of the shadow. The farther into the shadow these dark lines go. Each wave row is thicker closer to the face. the wider they become. with proplasmos only. .

Finishing the face of Archangel Gabriel .Figure 27.

and also place a very tiny accent on the line next to it. and only in the brightest spots of the face. applies to psymithies. In both corners of the larger eye. mix them together. The second light should cover a small area and leave much of the first light's area it large or small. The psymithies that are a row of long lines with wider middle and thinning ends such as on the neck. just barely visible. because you need some space to smooth out the transition of it into the first light. Abide the holy law of the second light: "Thou shalt not cover the entire area of the first light with the second light!" Always leave some area of the first light untouched by the second light . and on top of the next line to it . There is a diminuendo of intensity. . Take equal amounts of paint from the first and the second lights. illuminate the nose. and the nearest line to the eye is the brightest. and add some egg emulsion to make it more transparent. This third light requires precise calibration of color. (never cover the entire line). Observe the psymithies near the outer corner of the Archangel's right eye (our left).barely a touch. paint an accent on top of the largest white line. PSYMITHIES On top of the second light. the forehead. With this nearly white paint. only in the middle where it is wide. What was described earlier for the hair. Using the same principles. This transition is done with an intermediate color. accent only the largest one. but only half the length. the longest.On top of the first light. we accent the psymithies themselves. With light and elegant brushstrokes execute the transition. The same principles: in the those spots which emit the most light. the area of the mouth. It is a big mistake to make the psymithies too bright. There are three lines. paint the psymithies ("ozhyvki"). The relationship between the color of psymithies and the color of the second light should be analogous to the relationship between the second and the first light. depending on where on the face it is. These lines will look foreign on the face as if something was painted on top of skin like a tribal face painting. at the places which should be illuminated the most. which is essentially the third light. For the final step. the psymithies are painted larger and wider. we take some white and mix into it the third light (the paint we used for psymithies). paint the second light. and the ear. and three times as wide as the third one. The area of the second light has to be smaller than you think.

the ears.For the hair. This error spells disaster.are tonal extensions of proplasmos). just like on the face. the serenity lines (the skin fold between the upper lid and the brow). remember that the first lights of the face. the shadow on the neck. we use the color of the second light to cover only small part of the first light. and give go over the following areas: • • • • • • blush on the cheeks. In the hair.first. the second light is made by adding some white to the first light used for the hair. The same rules applies to the modeling of the garments. Again and again we must reiterate: never. the proplasmos for the hair was darker than the proplasmos for the face. all subsequent lights . the shaded side of the nose along the bridge. and the nostril. the nose bulb. and the sclera are all different paints. the mouth (a transparent glaze) THE EYES The second light of the eyes (the sclera) is made by adding white to the color of the first light of the sclera. [Nota bene: do not confuse the first light for the face with the first light for the hair. ever the second light goes outside of the first light's area. Remember. Take some of the pyrodismos color (a transparent mixture of vermillion and the first light). the hair. [Again. second . Do not confuse them] .

D) (B) .the reference chart (A) PROPLASMOS raw umber + yellow ocher + green + burnt sienna + white LIGHTS (B.First light: Yellow ocher + cinnabar + white (C) .Second lines: burnt umber Note: for the first lines and hair (E) instead of pure burnt sienna.First lines on the face and the hair: burnt sienna (F) . we can use also a combination of burnt sienna + yellow ocher . F) (E) .Second light: first light (B) + white (D) .Third light: second light (C) + white LINES (E. C.Colors of the face .

re-apply your paper drawing onto the surface. including hair and beard. With this color. and feet. the eyebrows. and the mouth . arms. We shall call this color "the first lines.face. this has to be done with a very light touch. Watch this step carefully as pressing too hard may damage the paint layer. and legs. . The same applies to the neck. the eyes. The facial features .Modeling the face .step by step Even though the face is the most important part of the icon. hard enough only to transfer the powdered pigment from the back of the drawing onto the surface of proplasmos." With this mixture. and not all around the face but only on one side.the nose. When proplasmos is dry. the rest of the image should not be neglected and underworked. The contour of the face (as well as the neck and other parts) should not be painted linearly but blend into proplasmos. Still. Mix some burnt umber with burnt sienna and some yellow ocher. FLESH PROPLASMOS We make proplasmos for the flesh using the following proportions: 1 measure of raw umber 1/3 measures of yellow ocher 1/4 measure of burnt sienna 1/4 measure of white If we use a very small measuring spoon. paint the lines of the drawing. where the shadows are. hands.should be done with a very fine brush and diluted paint. here is another way to make this proportion: 4 spoons of raw umber 1 1/2 . the face is to be central to the icon.2 spoons of yellow ocher 1 spoon of burnt sienna 1 spoon of white This is the recipe for flesh proplasmos which Panselinos used. cover all areas of the flesh that are not covered by garments . and reiterate the lines. neck.

the bridge of the noew. To create seamless transitions. making sure we do not encroach upon the transitional area. making it a bit more transparent. Application of this color should be done in such a way that the light fades gradually into proplasmos rather than transition abruptly. Apply this to the part to be illuminated as seen on the prototype . with the intermediate color. with the same color. thickly. where it should be illuminated. hands.Then. gently pull the liquid edges of the paint away from spot. we always work with these two devices ." Take some of it and dilute with egg emulsion. the chin. using the undiluted portion of our first light. a mixture of • 1 part white • 1/2 part yellow ocher • 1/5 part cinnabar Take some of this color and mix into it some of the proplasmos color to create the intermediate color. Also. and lower part of the nose (the nostrils). in a soft and feathery way fill the junction between the light and the proplasmos. Then. To make this transition. not perpendicular to it. the forehead. reinforce the lines of the eyebrows. Again. the cheeks. here is another way to make this proportion: • 5 spoons of white • 21/2 spoons of yellow ocher • 1 spoon of cinnabar These first constructed light (white + ocher + cinnabar) is "the first light. the movements of the brush must be parallel to the edge of the lighter spot. the eyes. diluted with egg emulsion. If we use a very small measuring spoon. the area above the upper lip and so on. We can . FIRST LIGHT Then build a new color. Apply the same color to the lower lip. we pass over the areas that require more prominent light. we requires a special technique: with the brush.transparent colors and intermediate colors. not in radial lines. Apply it also to the ears. however. the line between the lips. and also to the neck. this should be done by moving the brush in concentric motion around the edges of the spot. and the hands and feet where necessary (in shaded areas only). and feet. the area around the nostrils. The latter is traditionally called glikasmos or "sugaring".

the lower lip the area around the nostrils the chin (not too much). . This is the most important part of the face modeling. reinforce the shadow on the cheek (narrow side of the face). This will emphasize more the spherical shape of the head. place the lines more widely. With the second line. and add some white to it. It is important to remember that the head is a sphere and not a circle. We reinforce the shadows at the edges of the neck. hands. These are as follows: • • • • • • • • • • Bridge of the nose Lower part of the nose bulb the brow ridges on the forehead above the brows the cheeks near the eyes. In the areas closer to the background. make it transparent. at the edges of hair. With this darker color. hands. The same principle is extended throughout the body . Do the same for the moustache and the beard. Now we take a small portion of the opaque first light. painting lightly and elegantly on top of the first line color. paint three or four lines of hairs over the eyebrows. and dilute it with egg emulsion by adding a few drops. Apply a couple of passes of the second light to the brighter areas of the flesh to reinforce the form. If correction is needed. and legs. take some of the proplasmos and work over the shaded areas. make the outline of the iris. take some of the color for the first lines and add to it some burnt umber. which should be brighter. it must not look like a cartoon. and lightly cover the entire this a few times to build up the opaqueness. torso. This is the second light. if there is no beard (male youth. female) earlobes some area on the neck hands and feet Make sure you connect the second light with the first light in exactly the same way as you connected the first light with the proplasmos using the techniques of transparent color and intermediate color. With the second lines color. Now. cover only a small part of the first light.the forms on the face. With this color. and the iris. With thin lines. Under the jaw. paint the curved lines of the hair. and feet. paint over the lines of the eyelids and the lower part of the nose (not the bridge of the nose!) With the same darker color. we paint with transparent first light and then reinforce it a bit with opaque paint of the same color. Take some of the first line paint.

After this. It is better not to have them at all than to have them painted badly. Draw these lines with a very fine brush. Beginners usually have most difficulty with them. all is left to place the psymithies. but only selectively. two hairs on the moustache. with black: the upper eyelid (in the middle only). the pupil. and some don't even do that. a dash on the iris' lower part. one has to study their form and placement on historic prototypes. the holes in the nose. and as the light falls off. Some iconographers never go to the black lines but stop at burnt umber stage. PSYMITHIES ("Ozhyvki") We are now nearly finished with the face. the lines become smaller and thinner until they vanish into the second light. and a few distant ones in the beard. and of the beard holes in the nostrils contour of the hair near where it meets the background Then repeat the same. The color for psymithies is made by adding white to the second light. of the moustache. leaving all the lines in burnt sienna. It is entirely an iconographer's artistic choice. Psymithies must not be too bright and intense. These are done with thin parallel lines at the brightest places of illumination. The places for psymithies are as follows: • • • • • • • • around the eyes the bridge of the nose and the bulb of the nose the ridges above the brows above the upper lip the lower lip the neck the earlobes the hands and the feet The brightest spot receives the bigger and thicker lines. . but there is nothing a dedicated study will not remedy. we take burnt umber and reinforce the darkest lines on the face as follows: • • • • • • the upper eyelid the pupil the contour line of the iris a few hairs of the eyebrows. In order to do psymithies skillfully. this destroys a perfectly painted face.

In the Figure 3. thick and bright.The shape of psymithies is similar to many other lines on the icon. This style becomes popular after the fall of Constantinople. and then there is a gradual fall off of light as the lines get smaller and thinner. Figure 2 shows the psymithies near the eye. that is thin ends and wider middle. big. we have an alternating rhythms of psymithies. with two interpolated rows of lines. The brightest and thickest lines are closer to the eye. thinner and smaller between them. the top part of the psymithies is covered by another object. Figure 1 is an example of psymithies placed on top of a spherical shape. In the Figure 4. . the thicker middle. and are arranged in a parallel fashion yet slightly bending around the "sphere". and paler. These lines have thin ends on both sides.

in the shadow of the neck. The lines of the moustache are nearly parallel. only on one side. glaze it with transparent solution of yellow ocher. and feet. the areas have the color of the proplasmos for the face. add blush to the nostrils. If it is too red. black. if the face looks too bright. The line closest to the mouth is the thickest. under the chin. Now. and proplasmos tone. Usually. add blush to the cheeks. A smaller second light can be nested inside the first light. To master this. glaze it over with cinnabar. there are about four of these lines. These lines are thin at both ends but thicker in the middle. do the same to the upper lip. one can experiment with glazing the shaded areas with green. Add more of the first light into this color and illuminate the hair further. using red oxide instead of cinnabar. This green coloration is more common in frescoes. On this. glaze it over with a very diluted cinnabar. Draw the line between the lips in burnt sienna. All accents will harmonize better. Cover the lower lip with cinnabar a bit more prominently but still very transparently. This illumination touches the iris but never the upper eyelid. place two or three psymithies on the hair. and using a flat brush. The upper ends of the hairs thin out to the point they disappear into the proplasmos. BLUSH Make a very diluted paint of cinnabar and lightly brush over the shaded part of the bridge of the nose and the holes in the nostrils. hands. Using this color. Also. OCULAR LIGHTS Mix white. dilute it with egg emulsion. gently brush over the brightest spots only. .With the color of proplasmos. place fine dark lines of facial hair with burnt umber. After many studies. THE LINES OF THE MUSTACHE AND THE BEARD First. place illumination onto the eye balls. we cover these areas with the same color as we use for the hair. and those above it gradually diminish and taper off. and the illumination will be more mellow. Very lightly. The lines of the beard's hairs are visually oriented unto the center of the nose. paint the lights on the hair. the brushstrokes should be wider in the front. take some of the first light. If the face has yellow overcast. but thinner as they radiate towards the edge of the head.

Again. The hair lines of the beard are thinnest near the mouth. and then with a very fine brush (burnt umber). this gives the beards and the moustache their beauty and volume. . It is also important not to stretch the hairs into the first light of the face but keep them confined within the area of open proplasmos. Make sure the ends of the hair lines are the thinnest possible. then get wider towards the neck.draw the lines first with a pencil. near the mouth the hairs are longer and wider. but again thin out in the neck area. Painting a beard on young adult's face is particularly challenging as the connection from beard to the skin has to be very smooth and seamless. as we said. The beard does not start right under the mouth but a bit lower and thickens there closer to the neck. This is facilitated by drawing these lines are finely drawn orienting toward the mouth and have proper "radial" direction.

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