Artist Q&A

Ad­vice from pro artists on body lan­guage, glass dis­tor­tion, stone col­umns, pol­ished metal, re­al­is­tic smoke and more.

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Contents - Emilia Yuryeva, US

An­swer Nick replies

Light trav­els fast. How­ever, some trans­par­ent or translu­cent ma­te­ri­als slow it down. Wa­ter and glass are like that. They re­fract light: that is, they bend it be­cause of their com­par­a­tive den­si­ties to air. Some­times they can even splin­ter it into its com­po­nents, which are pure colours. Re­mem­ber those ex­per­i­ments in class with a prism? Sure you do!

All that said, the main thing about glass is that we can see what’s on the other side of it. When the sur­face isn’t flat like a win­dow, re­frac­tion causes dis­tor­tion. I’m work­ing in ArtRage, mainly us­ing Pen­cil, Chalk, Wa­ter­colour, Wet Blender and Eraser tools.

Our scene is a hun­gry ogre eye­ing his next snack in a jar in the fore­ground. For ref­er­ence, I take a cou­ple of pho­tos of empty jam jars with a few ob­jects be­hind. I start draw­ing while re­fer­ring to a few pre­lim­i­nary sketches. I want to con­trast the back­ground de­tail with the ob­scur­ing qual­ity of the glass. I keep the back­ground sim­ple and clear. Don’t for­get that re­flec­tions on the outer glass sur­face help de­scribe the ma­te­rial.

Think about the bal­ance be­tween outer sur­face re­flec­tions, shad­ows and what you can see through the re­fract­ing glass.

Ref­er­ence is there to in­form and guide you, not dic­tate ev­ery mark. It’s best to com­bine the in­for­ma­tion it sup­plies with what you al­ready know and what you want your im­age to say.

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