My cozy bar lacks atmosphere. Help!
Kerri Wicker, Scotland
Answer Tom Fox replies
First, I consider what sort of lens and perspective to use. Here I’ve chosen to draw the characters with a mid to long lens. The vanishing points converge relatively slowly: it’s very close to drawing in one-point perspective. A long lens creates an observational feel to the image, as if viewing from a distance and zooming in. Second, I think about designing the light. I want a cozy scene so I chose a warm, evening light, which implies a comfortable setting and lack of danger. This lighting, combined with the choice of lens, helped to create a relaxed scene before I even considered the subject of the characters.
Drawing people drunk is a challenge. Observing drunk people, you’ll see often they talk in an intense way. They gesticulate, wave their hands around, stamp their feet and do just about anything to support what they’re saying. It’s hard to make yourself understood when you’re drinking, so they use all the tools at their disposal. There are also varying degrees of drunkenness and it can be easy to misjudge it. Here, the characters are leaning in towards each other: they’re relaxed and comfortable, but not dancing on tables just yet. I’ve painted the background loosely, to help draw attention to my figures.
Keeping the palette of the background muted and increasing saturation within the figures helps to draw focus on where you want to viewer to look. Use Photoshop’s Lasso and Paint Bucket tools to fill in a flat silhouette layer. Above, add colour layers for separate elements: skin, hair, clothes… and beer!