Can you help me paint a night scene with at­mo­spheric light­ing?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Your Questions Answered -

Ge­orgina Hil­lier, US

Bram replies

The key to paint­ing at­mo­spheric light­ing is to un­der­stand how light is trans­formed when mov­ing through the thick layer of at­mos­phere. Think about the way sun­light casts dark and sharp shad­ows on a bright day. Now imag­ine what that same scene would look like on a foggy day. Shad­ows be­come blur­rier and less in­tense, while high­lights are nearly non-ex­is­tent.

The first step when paint­ing an at­mo­spheric night scene (in this case an old misty inn) is to start with a limited dark blueish colour pal­ette. With ev­ery colour you add, think about how the dark blue at­mos­phere would in­flu­ence it. Don’t worry about sec­ondary light sources or fog – those are ef­fects that can quickly be added later. In­stead, fo­cus on the over­all val­ues of the ob­jects in your scene and avoid us­ing ob­vi­ous cast shad­ows or high­lights.

Once your scene is blocked in (this is about 80 per cent of the paint­ing process) you can start adding your sec­ondary warmer light sources on sep­a­rate lay­ers. An easy trick to boost the bright warm colours – and the at­mos­phere around them – is by adding over­lay lay­ers of the same colour on top of them. Fin­ish it up by cre­at­ing a new layer on top, and then with a big soft Round brush and a colour picked from the back­ground, softly paint around the edges of your ob­jects to make the dense at­mos­phere en­gulf them.

March 2015

Cre­at­ing a con­vinc­ing at­mos­phere be­comes easy if you plan your ap­proach.

Eighty per cent of the paint­ing process in­volves fo­cus­ing on the scene’s pri­mary light source.

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