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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

This presents a significant difficulty to many a beginner. a beginner extend the transition area all the way to the jaw line. but also of the hands and the body. In fact. Never should the second light cover the area of the first light fully. and not just of the face. Under the eye. when we paint the first light and connect it smoothly with the proplasmos. paint a large curve starting from the outside edge of the eye. With this diluted intermediate color. This is how modeling is done. following the shape of the first light area. If the entire face is uniformly covered with white light. and add egg emulsion to it. put a few horizontal brushstrokes of intermediary tone. Oftentimes. with the first light even touching the ear. but only a part of it. this would be difficult to correct. hence all care must be taken to do the first light correctly. The second light and the psymithies are only a small addition to the first light. The small illumination in that place is made with a horizontal line of the first light. the second light is painted. and when the gradations of light and shadow are not there. 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. . The color of the second light is made by taking some of the first light and adding white to it. And this just the first light. when it completely covers and obfuscates the first light. it loses its lyrical beauty and its form and becomes flat like a pancake. there always should be an area of the first light left clearly visible and untouched by the second light. Under the eye. It is important to remember that the basic underlying shape of the face is a sphere. 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. After the proper transition from the second light to the first light is made. 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. 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 under the eye. If one makes the first light too big and the shadow areas of proplasmos are all covered. 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. in the area which we call lacrimal sac. The same mistake is often repeated with the second light. we paint the first light.First. Notice that the stokes are applied in a curved fashion. 85% of job on the face is practically done. the face looks like a whitewashed wall. covering the entire proplasmos area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Observe in this illustration the use of the "first line" and "second line" tones. .

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

we place two accents on the philtrum (the concave area above the upper lip) as shown. . With this third light. that we already have.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. Make a note how the area around the nostril is modeled. two light accents on the both sides of the mouth. and a small horizontal brushstroke on the lower lip. With the same color. we paint all the psymithies on the face.

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

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

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

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

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

this is because the contour line is darker than any other line of the hair. Each wave row is thicker closer to the face. the wider they become. 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. . with proplasmos only. and the brushstrokes become thinner as they go towards the back. The outer rim of the head is done by the widest line. The farther into the shadow these dark lines go. These brushstrokes should not fill the entire cranium. The bright brushstrokes are followed by dark lines of the shadow.

Figure 27. Finishing the face of Archangel Gabriel .

and three times as wide as the third one. paint the second light. Observe the psymithies near the outer corner of the Archangel's right eye (our left). the forehead. The second light should cover a small area and leave much of the first light's area visible. but only half the length. the psymithies are painted larger and wider. The psymithies that are a row of long lines with wider middle and thinning ends such as on the neck. the longest. It is a big mistake to make the psymithies too bright. illuminate the nose. paint an accent on top of the largest white line. There is a diminuendo of intensity. applies to psymithies. What was described earlier for the hair. only in the middle where it is wide. (never cover the entire line).On top of the first light. which is essentially the third light. The same principles: in the those spots which emit the most light. and also place a very tiny accent on the line next to it. The area of the second light has to be smaller than you think. With this nearly white paint. 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 . at the places which should be illuminated the most. the area of the mouth. For the final step. In both corners of the larger eye. This transition is done with an intermediate color. and on top of the next line to it . PSYMITHIES On top of the second light. paint the psymithies ("ozhyvki"). accent only the largest one. There are three lines. mix them together. and the nearest line to the eye is the brightest. just barely visible. 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. With light and elegant brushstrokes execute the transition. These lines will look foreign on the face as if something was painted on top of skin like a tribal face painting. and add some egg emulsion to make it more transparent. and the ear. . because you need some space to smooth out the transition of it into the first light. Using the same principles. Take equal amounts of paint from the first and the second it large or small. we take some white and mix into it the third light (the paint we used for psymithies). we accent the psymithies themselves. depending on where on the face it is. This third light requires precise calibration of color.barely a touch. and only in the brightest spots of the face.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. The hair lines of the beard are thinnest near the mouth. This is facilitated by drawing these lines are finely drawn orienting toward the mouth and have proper "radial" direction. then get wider towards the neck. . but again thin out in the neck area. Make sure the ends of the hair lines are the thinnest possible. near the mouth the hairs are longer and wider. this gives the beards and the moustache their beauty and volume. The beard does not start right under the mouth but a bit lower and thickens there closer to the neck. and then with a very fine brush (burnt umber). as we said.draw the lines first with a pencil. 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. Again.

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