My en­vi­ron­ments al­ways seem flat. How can I give them more depth?

Miriam Hal­stram, Canada

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

An­swer

Paul replies

There are a few key tech­niques that’ll help you to cre­ate be­liev­able en­vi­ron­ments, such as at­mo­spheric per­spec­tive, re­peated shapes and us­ing light to help cre­ate 3D forms.

At­mo­spheric per­spec­tive is a tech­nique used to mimic the way dis­tant ob­jects are af­fected by the Earth’s at­mos­phere. Find some land­scape pho­to­graphs and no­tice how moun­tains in the dis­tance be­come blue/grey and less de­fined. Recre­at­ing this haze will help your mid- and fore­ground to feel dis­tinct.

Use of re­peated shapes is one of the eas­i­est ways to demon­strate the scale and dis­tance of an im­age. Hu­man fig­ures are par­tic­u­larly help­ful here, be­cause the viewer will un­der­stand how large ob­jects are in re­la­tion to a hu­man be­ing. Try adding fig­ures through­out your paint­ing and scale them ap­pro­pri­ately. You can use a per­spec­tive grid to make this eas­ier.

An un­der­stand­ing of light and shadow is go­ing to help you out when it comes to ren­der­ing forms. I use photo ref­er­ence for my en­vi­ron­ments, pay­ing spe­cific at­ten­tion to how light lands on rocks or moun­tains. You can never study too much.

There are lots of other great tech­niques to learn such as lay­er­ing ob­jects, adding mist to sep­a­rate forms and un­der­stand­ing where to add tex­ture and where to hold back, but the three I’ve de­scribed here will serve as a solid base to start learn­ing!

Dis­tant is­lands be­come bluer and less de­fined, while re­peated wa­ter­falls im­ply dis­tance. I study rocks to help with the is­land ren­der­ing.

In this value study, el­e­ments close to the cam­era have higher con­trast and are darker than the back­ground.

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