Please help me paint the glow of heat around an exceptionally hot object
Flo Randall, US
There are a few things to consider first when painting a glowing object. If heat is a goal of yours, then take advantage of colour temperature.
The whole concept of colour temperature is based on how hot or cold a hue feels, and when you put a warm colour in front of a cool one the contrast alone can heat things up. Not only that, but it also gives you a definite focal point. Half the colour wheel is generally considered warm (orange, red and yellow), while their complements (blue, green and violet) are cool.
Beyond colour, you’ll want to focus on value and light. Anything that’s glowing will probably be high in value (how light or dark it is) and giving off light. If your glowing object is a colour that has a low intrinsic value (indigo, for example, is naturally very dark) then I suggest painting the hottest parts with something higher in value but still saturated (like a bright electric blue) so you don’t take all the vibrancy out. The colour gradation looks great, too.
To achieve that soft glow effect I prefer to duplicate the layer I’m working on, place it below the main one, and then use Filter> Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjusting the strength of the blur effect will increase the size of the halo. You can also paint the light that’s bouncing off of any nearby objects, such as the sword stand (pictured above). Be careful, though, because the drop-off for that sort of glow is pretty severe and doesn’t travel very far.
I use a rough brush to in paint some light texture in and around the glow of the blade, just to add a little more interest.
This final composition combines the contrast in colour temperature (warm orange on cool blue); value (bright swords
on dark background); and bounce light.