Can you give me any tips to help me quickly paint a huge crowd in a vast environment?
Gary Chaloner, Australia
The trick to painting a huge crowd is undoubtedly to avoid painting each figure individually, because it would be extremely time-consuming and difficult to balance out the impression of a big crowd within the composition.
If we look at some paintings by Craig Mullins, for example, who is renowned for detailed scenes on a large scale, we can see that he focuses more on how to give the impression of a big crowd, instead of painting the people in the big crowd. By giving a few visual hints, you can easily trick the viewer’s brain to read carefully planned colour noise and corresponding highlights as a crowd. Knowing how to create the right illusion can significantly speed up your efficiency during tight production periods, which is key in the entertainment industry.
Here I’ll take you through the steps involved in making some custom crowd brushes, which can really speed up the crowd painting process.
In order to give some variety to the crowd, I’ll make three different crowd brushes. Each of them will have specific setup: different Jitter sizes, Scattering effects and Dynamic Color effects. With the right setting applied, pressing the brush softly makes the crowd small and light to mimic atmospheric perspective, but when you press the brush hard the size of the crowd increases and values become darker values. You can download my brushes from this issue’s collection of resources.
One basic crowd brush can already produce a fairly convincing visual representation of a crowd. Create a few different ones to add more complexity and realism to your image.
Tweak your brushes’ settings to make them slightly different from each other – it will add even more
visual variation to the crowd.