Robh Rup­pel shows how to cre­ate depth

Ed Pheromone, US

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Front Page -

Robh replies

This is one of the fun­da­men­tal chal­lenges in art: over­com­ing the flat­ness of the pa­per or the screen by in­di­cat­ing as much di­men­sion as pos­si­ble. There are con­ven­tions for this, taught to artists and pho­tog­ra­phers alike, that are pos­si­bly get­ting over­looked nowa­days with the in­creas­ing need to teach spe­cific soft­ware rather than con­cepts. Yet the prin­ci­ples of read­abil­ity re­main.

Ap­ply­ing per­spec­tive in your ba­sic de­sign is just the start. Get­ting a shape to look three-di­men­sional can be done in tonal val­ues with the 1-2-3 side read: each plane is as­signed (or lit with) a value to show off its dif­fer­ence in space. If you light them all the same, the scene re­mains flat and lacks depth.

This holds true if you’re look­ing into a space as well. You want to show depth by hav­ing the 1-2-3 side read on an in­te­rior. If you ren­der all planes with the same value and same falloff, even though this can oc­cur in the real world, it looks bad. It flat­tens out the space; it makes the space con­fus­ing and am­bigu­ous. This, more of­ten than not, is not what you want to do. So, the se­cret is to pick a dom­i­nant di­rec­tion for the light and sub­or­di­nate the other planes to the dom­i­nant one. That way the im­age re­tains depth and read­abil­ity on the flat sur­face. Ex­ag­ger­ate di­men­sion, elim­i­nate flat­ness.

In an al­ley­way, even with soft, nat­u­ral light, I pick a dom­i­nant di­rec­tion for the light and keep the other planes lower in value re­gard­less of the tex­tures or lo­cal colour. To add depth, al­ways look for the 1-2-3 side read­ing. Make the planes read with dif­fer­ent val­ues, even if the changes are small ones.

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