Q&A: mist and fog

Thomas Brewer, Eng­land

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents - Tony replies

Mist has the abil­ity to soften ev­ery­thing in an im­age, adding a calm, mys­te­ri­ous or mag­i­cal el­e­ment. The plumes that rise up with thick smoke have a lot of form and tex­ture, which add ex­cite­ment and move the viewer’s eyes around. Spend some time look­ing at pho­tos of each be­fore you start paint­ing any­thing.

For plumes of smoke, I sug­gest work­ing with sev­eral lay­ers in Pho­to­shop. Ad­just­ing the Opac­ity of each layer gives you con­trol over its den­sity, and en­ables you to ei­ther em­pha­sise or knock back the tex­ture in a given area. Start­ing with a rough-edged brush at a low Opac­ity (around 30), paint in the shape you’d like the smoke to take. You may no­tice that the edges of smoke can be both soft and com­plex, with lots of tiny lit­tle twists, turns and hard edges. Use the Blen­der tool to smooth things out, or­ches­trat­ing the hard and soft edges based on how nat­u­ral you want it to be. I’d also sug­gest us­ing a some­what rough brush, such as num­ber 14 or 39 for the blend­ing.

Smoke, mist and fog can be used to add in­ter­est to a pre­vi­ously dull area, and the shape and tex­ture can – and should – be cho­sen based on your spe­cific needs.

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