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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

just one coat of it. add some white to the second container. Now. C. On a background of dark proplasmos. This is our intermediary color. The point is that D. Then add even more egg emulsion to it and paint the segment E. take equal amounts of both colors. segment C. and mix them together in a third container. divide the paint into two containers. and paint the segment B.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. . add some egg emulsion to this intermediary color C. Now. and paint the segment D. This brighter segment is the second light. 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. Now. paint a segment with the opaque color of the first light (A). and E are the same color.

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

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

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

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

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

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

. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

with proplasmos only.THE HAIR ON THE CRANIUM The hair on the cranium area is wavy. but fade out and leave enough area untouched by the first light. . These brushstrokes should not fill the entire cranium. 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. and the brushstrokes become thinner as they go towards the back. this is because the contour line is darker than any other line of the hair. The outer rim of the head is done by the widest line. the wider they become.

Figure 27. Finishing the face of Archangel Gabriel .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. Beginners usually have most difficulty with them. Psymithies must not be too bright and intense. this destroys a perfectly painted face. . These are done with thin parallel lines at the brightest places of illumination. but only selectively.After this. all is left to place the psymithies. PSYMITHIES ("Ozhyvki") We are now nearly finished with the face. 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. two hairs on the moustache. Draw these lines with a very fine brush. leaving all the lines in burnt sienna. In order to do psymithies skillfully. It is entirely an iconographer's artistic choice. a dash on the iris' lower part. the lines become smaller and thinner until they vanish into the second light. and as the light falls off. one has to study their form and placement on historic prototypes. the pupil. the holes in the nose. 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. and some don't even do that. and a few distant ones in the beard. Some iconographers never go to the black lines but stop at burnt umber stage. and of the beard holes in the nostrils contour of the hair near where it meets the background Then repeat the same. of the moustache. with black: the upper eyelid (in the middle only).

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

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

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

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