Q&A: ghosts

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Siân Leven­son, Wales


Char­lotte replies

The fun thing about paint­ing ghosts is get­ting to play with su­per­nat­u­ral light sources and am­biance in your scene. This is par­tic­u­larly true of any paint­ing set in a tomb, cave or other dark en­vi­ron­ment.

If you’re try­ing to paint a ghost ris­ing from a tomb, try to light the tomb or ef­figy as if it’s the ghost it­self that’s il­lu­mi­nat­ing the stone. With this in mind, choose a cool, sat­u­rated colour such as green or aqua to act as your source light.

The next stage is to add ten­drils of colour trail­ing from your ghostly fig­ure to the stone ef­figy on top of the tomb, pay­ing care­ful at­ten­tion to the way that you place your brush­strokes. Try to al­ways use your brush in the same di­rec­tion that your char­ac­ter or ob­ject is mov­ing, be­cause this will make the mo­tion in your im­age much more con­vinc­ing. I’d ad­vise se­lect­ing a Soft brush or the Smudge tool to gen­tly soften the edges of your fig­ure to make them ap­pear in­cor­po­real. Care­ful use of the Mo­tion Blur fil­ter can also en­hance this su­per­nat­u­ral ef­fect.

As a fi­nal touch you can use a large cloud brush to add an am­bi­ent fog to your scene. If you set your layer mode to Color Dodge it’ll im­me­di­ately be­come more ethe­real. I rec­om­mend play­ing with the Layer Opac­ity to find the best blend.

Keep your edges soft and use a lim­ited pal­ette to give the im­pres­sion of a ghostly char­ac­ter. Con­trol­ling your light sources will also en­hance the scene.

Mo­tion blur, a Cloud brush, the Smudge tool and Color Dodge are all use­ful tools, but don’t let them ob­scure your fig­ure en­tirely!

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