Can you help me paint chrome in 2D please?

Barry Carter, Eng­land

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imaginenation Artist Q&A -

Mark replies

The key for paint­ing chrome is the same as for any other re­flec­tive sur­face: you need to paint the re­flec­tions re­al­is­ti­cally. Chrome acts almost like a per­fect mir­ror, and it re­flects ev­ery­thing in its sur­round­ings. There­fore, the main point to keep in mind is to show what’s be­hind the cam­era in the re­flec­tions.

Be­cause chrome won’t re­flect all the light­ing in a scene, the re­flec­tion is go­ing to be be­tween 10 and 15 per cent darker in value, but cru­cially it’s go­ing to keep roughly the same colour tem­per­a­ture as the orig­i­nal. The sky is still go­ing to be blue, but it’s go­ing to be slightly darker in the re­flec­tion and you also have to think about how the sky could look like be­hind the viewer.

You also have to keep in mind the lo­ca­tion of the light source – or sources – and that the light has to ap­pear in the ap­pro­pri­ate sec­tion and di­rec­tion of the re­flec­tive sur­face. Chrome sur­faces work best if you vary them with other non­re­flec­tive ma­te­ri­als, such as matte met­als or or­ganic mat­ter. Th­ese can cre­ate a pleas­ing con­trast to the high-tech chrome sur­face and strengthen the visual in­ter­est of your piece.

No­tice how the chrome sur­face of the alien ob­ject re­flects the en­vi­ron­ment be­hind the cam­era, as well as what the viewer can see.

Sara replies

I de­cide to paint a rogu­ish male thief run­ning through a crowd. It’s im­por­tant to set the scene in a func­tional way. Us­ing a per­spec­tive view from be­low means that I can sug­gest the pres­ence of a crowd in a sim­pler way, by just us­ing a few visual hints.

I choose the cen­tre of the im­age as the fo­cus of the ac­tion, where I’m go­ing to draw my run­ning hero. This usu­ally makes the pic­ture less dy­namic, but I can bal­ance this by tilt­ing the per­spec­tive plane.

I lay down a fast sketch while bear­ing in mind the character’s pose, his anatomy and dy­namism of his body lan­guage. He needs to look as nat­u­ral as pos­si­ble; a forced pose can re­duce the im­pact of this ac­tion-ori­en­tated com­po­si­tion.

Once I’m sat­is­fied with my hero, I sketch the sur­round­ings and be­gin to draw hints of a crowd around him, al­ways keep­ing in mind the per­spec­tive. I add part of an arm and a hand in the fore­ground. This in­forms the viewer that the crowd ex­ists beyond the edges of the scene, and, per­haps more im­por­tantly, im­merses them in the ac­tion.

When I feel that there are enough el­e­ments in my draw­ing, I fin­ish it with some cru­cial de­tails, such as the cloak and hair flut­ter­ing in the wind, giv­ing the feel­ing of dy­namic move­ment. When choos­ing colours I leave his cloak and hair un­de­fined, which I think em­pha­sises the speed of my thief. And to make the crowd ap­pear lost in the dis­tance, I paint them in with a colour that ap­pears in the back­ground.

Mark replies

To make the bub­bles look con­vinc­ing in this im­age I de­cide to cre­ate a re­al­is­ti­clook­ing en­vi­ron­ment, which also helps bal­ance out the ab­stract creature. I avoid de­pict­ing un­der­wa­ter rocks, ru­ins or veg­e­ta­tion, be­cause I want to keep the im­age as sim­ple as pos­si­ble. How­ever, this means I’m obliged to put ex­tra ef­fort into paint­ing the wa­ter, so the viewer in­stantly un­der­stands that it’s an aquatic scene.

After block­ing in the creature and es­tab­lish­ing its main shape and value struc­ture, I in­tro­duce scat­tered lights com­ing from the wa­ter’s sur­face. I add blurred light shafts in the back­ground to help sell the lights on the creature’s body.

The key for paint­ing un­der­wa­ter scenes is to show the in­verted aerial per­spec­tive (the scene be­comes darker as it shifts from the fore­ground to the back­ground), as well as par­ti­cles and bub­bles. I paint a group of bub­bles on a new layer and sam­ple it with a Mixer Brush. I in­crease An­gle Jit­ter and Scat­ter­ing in the Shape Dy­nam­ics di­a­log, which en­ables me to paint ran­dom clus­ters of bub­bles. It only takes me five min­utes to paint all the bub­bles. It would have taken me hours to paint them one by one!

As a fin­ish­ing touch, I add mul­ti­ple lay­ers of small par­ti­cles (scat­tered dots) to the im­age, us­ing Over­lay and Color Dodge lay­ers. I blur them slightly to add an ex­tra level of depth to the scene.

Dou­ble Re­flec­tions Some of the sur­faces are go­ing to re­flect back each other’s im­age as well, not just the sur­round­ings. Th­ese dou­ble re­flec­tions are what can make your cre­ations look even more re­al­is­tic.

Pay close At­ten­tion to the aerial per­spec­tive Fo­cus­ing de­tails on the pro­tag­o­nists of the scene helps to guide the viewer’s eye through the crowds. I re­duce the level of de­tails as I move fur­ther

ac­tion. I do the away from the cen­tre of the

their in­ten­sity. same with the colours, re­duc­ing

I start by paint­ing the hero of the pic­ture. That helps to give him more rel­e­vance in the scene.

Us­ing the Mixer Brush tool you can vary the size, shape and ori­en­ta­tion of the bub­bles. Play around with the dif­fer­ent op­tions, such as Shape Dy­nam­ics and Scat­ter­ing, to achieve the best pos­si­ble re­sults. To in­form the viewer that it’s an un­der­wa­ter scene, show the bub­bles cre­ated by the move­ment of the creature, and var­i­ous lay­ers of the par­ti­cles

float­ing in the wa­ter.

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