Could you show me how to paint a re­al­is­tic ar­moured character?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Your Questions Answered... - Max Cas­jens, Ger­many

Tony replies

Paint­ing ar­mour is all about light and how it re­flects off the metal plates. When you look at char­ac­ters in pol­ished, shin­ing ar­mour, those high­lights are all re­flec­tions of the en­vi­ron­ment around them. If the sur­face is buffed to a mir­ror sheen, it’s ba­si­cally like tak­ing an ac­tual mir­ror and bend­ing it around the wearer. Sky, trees, the per­son point­ing the cam­era and any­thing else around can all be found in the re­flec­tions. It is for this rea­son, though, that light doesn’t fall across pol­ished metal the same way that it does on most sur­faces.

If you place a lamp above a man­nequin in cot­ton robes, the por­tions of the cloth that face the light will be the bright­est. With a pol­ished hel­met, how­ever, the bright­est point won’t be on top, but at the ex­act point where the light re­flects off the steel and back to­wards your eyes.

Imag­ine shoot­ing an imag­i­nary laser or anti-grav­ity bil­liard ball off the hel­met to hit the lamp. You wouldn’t want to graze the top, be­cause then if would just glance off at almost the same an­gle and end up far be­hind the ar­mour. Shoot it straight for­ward, and it’ll bounce back to­wards you. Aim be­tween the top and the straight­for­ward po­si­tion, though, and you’ll have an an­gle the bounces right up to­wards the light. That’s the spot where the lamps’s re­flec­tion will be, and where you should place the high­light. The colour, shape and in­ten­sity of the re­flec­tion will all match the light source if it’s stan­dard sil­ver plate mail.

If you imag­ine the ar­mour as a col­lec­tion of bent mir­rors at­tached to each other, you'll have a good start­ing point.

In­creas­ing the in­ten­sity of the high­lights, shad­ows and sharp edges will make the ar­mour ap­pear more pol­ished. Low­er­ing the con­trast makes it seem dull.

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