How can I recreate the effect of an angelic backlight on a character?
Painting bright light can often be a challenge, but mastering a few simple techniques will make this much easier for you. A mistake I used to make was to push my bright light source as white as possible, but since we can’t get whiter than white, where does one go from there? It’s actually simpler to create the illusion of brightness by careful handling of the areas around the light source instead.
Direct light scatters, both in the atmosphere and in the human eye. Learn to simulate this corona effect in your art instead of blowing out the contrast in your light source, and you’ll produce a much more satisfying result. If you combine this with careful edge lighting, you can produce a powerful visual effect.
Crepuscular rays, or sun rays, are perhaps the most obvious effect, but it’s easy to overdo them. A soft touch with these can do the job very well without things growing out of control. In addition, a hint of bounce light from your foreground can contribute to the sense of a scene being bathed in light. Let’s look at how adding each one of these effects drives the image closer to our desired result.
Using several simple optical effects, you
can turn a staid character portrait into something
Here’s my line art, scanned
in and applied to toned paper. I’m going to change
the drawing’s impact.