What tips do you have for depicting a volcanic scene?
Sandy Skelton, US
When painting an environment I always think about the mood and story I want it to convey. An important factor in creating a convincing story for an outdoors setting is the weather and temperature.
In the case of this volcanic scene I want to enhance the feeling that it’s a dangerous place to be. This is because it’s full of redhot lava! One way to do this is to use sharp, pointed shapes instead of soft, rounded ones. It also helps to use a warm, orange colour scheme, with a hazy yellow, almost poisonous, sky. Once you have an idea about the mood you want to convey it’s important to have every element in your scene support that choice.
My process for painting lava is fairly straightforward. I start by blocking out the bigger shapes of the rocks and mountains and then add a layer on top. I then paint the lava in a dark, warm orange on top of this. Then I add an Overlay layer on top and use a big Soft brush and a warm red to go over the lava and give it a glow to heat up the elements surrounding it.
After that I add another Overlay layer on top and go back in with a smaller brush and a bright yellow to boost the lava in places where the streams are thickest. The denser the lava, the warmer and brighter it will become. Finally, I add small details such as rising smoke, embers wafting along on the warm air currents and a dragon to the environment, which helps to give the image some narrative.
The key to making an environment feel warm is in the colour temperature. Using a lot of warm colours such as red, orange and yellow helps
to make it feel just right.
Making lava feel hot isn’t particularly difficult. Just keep on adding Overlay layers on top of each other to boost the heat coming off of it.