Help me il­lus­trate an un­der­wa­ter light source

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Jim Cur­tis, Eng­land

An­swer Lorena replies

Light be­haves dif­fer­ently un­der­wa­ter than it does above it, which af­fects not only the light­ing of a scene but also the colours. The first thing you have to keep in mind is that be­cause wa­ter is much denser than air, light doesn’t travel as far and thus doesn’t il­lu­mi­nate the en­vi­ron­ment as it would out in the open.

As for the colour, ev­ery­thing re­ceives a blue or green-ish tint and the deeper the scene is set in the wa­tery en­vi­ron­ment, the more in­tense and darker this be­comes. That’s why deep in the ocean you won’t see a lot of red, if at all. Keep this in mind when paint­ing!

De­cide on what kind of light source you want to paint, and ex­per­i­ment with Layer and Brush modes to cre­ate dif­fer­ent ef­fects. Soft Light and Color Dodge can help you achieve in­ter­est­ing glow­ing ef­fects. Red light is very rare in un­der­wa­ter en­vi­ron­ments, but it can at­tract the eye, so try it if this suits the scene.

If you want to keep things straight­for­ward, a teal or blue light source will en­able you to light up your fo­cal point more eas­ily.

Though the light won’t travel very far, you can use an un­nat­u­ral light source to put the fo­cus on a spe­cific part of your im­age.

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