Now I understand why highlights worry many people. The lines and shadows demand a lot of patience, yet they’re only half the story. Till you’ve put the highlights in, your painted glass – however finely traced – is dull. It’s one-dimensional.
Highlights are the cure. The problem is, highlights also have a risk. A big risk: if you do them badly, they will wreck your work.
The easy option
The easy option is to fire your lines and shadows, then paint a matt, then highlight with an easy heart. If the highlights go wrong, you clean your glass and start again.
I agree: this is one way to build your confidence. In time (if you set your mind on it), you can graduate to tracing, shading and also highlighting in just a single firing.
(I belong to the school which says: living with the risk will definitely improve your skill. That’s why we mostly do it in a single firing. You’ve more to lose, and so you learn to do it better.)
But if you’re new to softened highlights – this is where you shade the highlights with your finger – there’s another way I recommend.
A simple plan
The simple plan is in this video. And you’ll get some bonus footage of David softening highlights on an owl.
So the plan itself is directed at beginners and teachers, and at people who haven’t yet used their hand to highlight.
The demonstration – whose music is called “Strip Tease” for goodness’ sake – is for everyone.
Here’s the video:
That’s it: a simple plan for beginners and for teachers to give their students), and for anyone who thinks stipplers are the only way to shade your highlights.
When you’ve done that for a week, you can move to the next stage. This is where, always on your light-box, you paint your undercoat, then trace some lines, cut some highlights with a stick, and finally soften.
Practising in this way – like a musician would learn scales – you’ll make steady progress in the direction you want to go.
All in all, there is one problem. Just one.
Routine and repetition demand you are ambitious.
Now I am ambitious.
So is David.
And I hope that you are too. It takes ambition to repeat the same process again and again. But ambition will pay off. You will succeed.