Q&A: trapped

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Karl Hen­ning, US

Tony replies

There are a lot of ways for a character to be­come cap­tured in a story, but in most epic sci­ence fic­tion or fan­tasy sagas at least one per­son ends up in a bub­ble. It could be an in­de­struc­tible di­a­mond sphere, a rubbery bal­loon bounc­ing across the hills, or just a very re­silient soap bub­ble. Ev­ery ma­te­rial has its own set of prop­er­ties, although each ver­sion will most likely be at least clear. When­ever you’re paint­ing some­thing that’s trans­par­ent, the main idea is to fo­cus on the high­lights and out­line.

If you think about your line of sight from a bird’s eye view, you’ll no­tice that it goes through the least amount of ma­te­rial when aimed di­rectly through the cen­tre of the bub­ble. Ergo, the sides will be more opaque as the sphere turns away from the viewer (cre­at­ing an out­line of sorts). Even if the character inside is bend­ing their prison into some­thing other than a sphere, just re­mem­ber that the more per­pen­dic­u­lar a sur­face is to the viewer, the less vis­i­ble it will be.

I sug­gest putting the out­line on one layer and then cre­at­ing two sep­a­rate lay­ers for the front and back of the main sur­face. This en­ables you to ma­nip­u­late their trans­parency. Place who­ever or what­ever is trapped on lay­ers be­tween those two and you’ll have com­plete con­trol over how opaque the bub­ble is. Then paint in the high­lights, keep­ing in mind that the more shiny the sur­face is, the more hard-edged the re­flec­tions will be.

Fe­bru­ary 2015

Since the sur­face of the bub­ble is mostly trans­par­ent, use high­lights and re­flec­tions to cre­ate a feel­ing of depth. The thicker and more opaque the skin of the bub­ble is, the softer edges will be on any­thing inside.

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