My crash­ing waves look odd – please help

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imagine Nation Artist Q&A -

Gabriel Mann, Aus­tralia

Paco replies

The key to paint­ing waves is to un­der­stand their shape and how the light af­fects them. First let’s con­sider their shape. The ocean is just one big mass of wa­ter, so all the waves are con­nected. I tend to think of a wavy sea as a moun­tain range: there are moun­tains and there are val­leys, and all of them are con­nected to each other. A wavy mass of wa­ter has a sim­i­lar shape

When paint­ing the light in the scene, you should bear in mind that the wa­ter will re­flect the light much like a mir­ror, but also en­ables the light to pass through it. The wa­ter will also re­flect – at least par­tially – any sur­round­ing colour (nor­mally the sky’s colour). Be­cause light passes through wa­ter, the high­lights aren’t al­ways on the sur­face. If sun­light is pass­ing through the wave, you should paint a light in­side the wave, with an in­tense colour such as blue or green, depend­ing on the wa­ter’s colour. This will be dif­fer­ent to the colours of the re­flec­tions of the sun­light or the sky.

If a wave is crash­ing, then you should paint sea foam and a big splash. Avoid soft and blurry brushes: in­stead, paint the main body of the foam with a hard, ir­reg­u­lar brush. Be sure to paint high­lights and shad­ows, and don’t paint it all white just be­cause it’s sup­posed to be white. Then add the splash us­ing a “splashy” brush: ei­ther cre­ate one or down­load a free one (search on­line for ‘wa­ter splash brushes’). Paint all over the sea foam.

To paint a wave crash­ing you should paint a big splash and a lot of foam. A lit­tle foam on the sur­round­ing waves can look good, but be sub­tle.

Start with solid, ba­sic shapes and ob­serve how light af­fects sur­faces. Just be­cause wa­ter and foam aren’t hard el­e­ments doesn’t mean that you can skip that part.

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