Please help me paint the glow of heat around an ex­cep­tion­ally hot ob­ject

Flo Randall, US

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An­swer

Tony replies

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.

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