Q&A: mag­i­cal ef­fects

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

Mai Yeoh, Canada

An­swer

Char­lotte replies

It can be tricky to de­sign and paint mag­i­cal ef­fects from scratch. This is why there are so many cus­tom brushes out there that have been cre­ated to make this process eas­ier. How­ever, if you take the time to un­der­stand how dif­fer­ent spec­u­lar ef­fects are sup­posed to work, you’ll find that draw­ing your mag­i­cal ef­fects by hand will make your paint­ing not only more unique, but also more in­ter­est­ing to ren­der.

The first step to mak­ing be­liev­able mag­i­cal ef­fects is re­search­ing the way that light be­haves in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions. Flames, fire­works, spark­ing, bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cence, wa­ter frac­tals… all of these things make good start­ing points for light ef­fects. Once you’ve cho­sen your ref­er­ences, think about how you can com­bine these ef­fects. It be­comes eas­ier to make one ef­fect flow into another if you add di­rec­tion to your brush­strokes; make a de­ci­sion about where your magic is mov­ing to and stick to it. This will add re­al­ism to your paint­ing.

When it comes to mag­i­cal ef­fects, blend­ing modes can be help­ful, par­tic­u­larly Color Dodge. If you find your pic­ture is look­ing a bit life­less, you can cre­ate a new layer in Dodge mode and gen­tly add paint with a soft Round brush to in­crease the sat­u­ra­tion of your other lay­ers and give them an ethe­real, glow­ing ef­fect. Re­mem­ber that the best-look­ing mag­i­cal ef­fects al­ways pre­serve some translu­cency, so don’t go over­board!

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