Can you help me create realistic, shimmering jewels?
Brandy Stenner, US
Painting jewels can seem tricky, but once you understand how they interact with light it gets easier. First, though, you need to design their shape and placement. Gems and jewels are generally functionless and used for decoration, so take time to design an aesthetically pleasing layout.
For the shapes, I suggest doing some research. There are a handful of stone cuts used most often (round, oval, triangle, pear, heart, princess and so on), but with a little research you can find hundreds of shapes that may suit your image better (I recommend looking up a ‘whirl cut’). Consider using the Lasso tool when painting your initial shapes, because if you bungle the hard edges the stones will feel soft and mushy.
The steps I’m using remain the same no matter what colour gem you’re painting, but I suggest keeping the saturation high. Anything that’s clear and colourful will absorb light, which means its local colour will be as saturated as possible. It’s easy to cut down on saturation towards the end if things are too bright, but adding colour to a dull painting can be a lot of work.
The warm-up sketch, while fulfilling the need to show foreshortening and overlapping forms, is a little bit too static for what I have in mind.
Gems are colourful and, if dark, involve lots of contrast. So be mindful of how you use them, because they’ll attract attention.