What are oc­clu­sion shad­ows, and how should I ap­ply them to my art­work?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imagine Nation -

Sara Pierce, Eng­land

An­swer

Bram replies

When do­ing de­tailed light­ing work I’ve got­ten into the habit of sim­pli­fy­ing each step of the paint­ing process as much as pos­si­ble. Fo­cus­ing my at­ten­tion on one as­pect at a time helps to not be­come over­whelmed and al­most al­ways re­sults in a much more thor­ough job.

One step in that process is con­cen­trat­ing on oc­clu­sion shad­ows, which oc­cur where sur­faces come to­gether. A ba­sic rule of thumb is that wher­ever ar­eas are closed in by sur­faces, shad­ows will oc­cur. The in­side of a mouth or an eye socket for in­stance will al­most al­ways be darker than the top of the nose or the fore­head. They’re a form of shad­ows best no­tice­able when there’s no di­rec­tional light present. So you can paint them on a sep­a­rate layer with­out hav­ing to worry about the di­rec­tion of the over­all light­ing, and then set that layer to Mul­ti­ply to have it dis­trib­ute the shad­ows on the ob­jects be­low. In my ex­am­ple how­ever, I do have a light­ing scheme in mind with di­rec­tional lights and cast shad­ows, but these build upon the oc­clu­sion shad­ows rather than re­plac­ing them.

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