Any tips for de­pict­ing clouds at sun­set?

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Your Questions Answered... -

Char­lie replies

Sun­set skies are a great op­por­tu­nity to play around with a gen­er­ous colour pal­ette and push your val­ues to cre­ate a dra­matic fin­ish. If you’re aim­ing to cre­ate a re­al­is­tic cloud for­ma­tion then ref­er­ences are a must-have, but even if you want to make a more stylised scene, de­cid­ing on wind and light di­rec­tion early on will help to sell your fi­nal piece.

Con­trast the shape of heavy, dark clouds with long thin ones to guide the eye across the im­age and cre­ate more vis­ual in­ter­est. Cre­ate cre­pus­cu­lar rays by hold­ing Shift and mak­ing long strokes of colour with a Hard brush. Re­mem­ber to al­ways make these lines orig­i­nate from your light source – in this case, the sun – even if it’s en­tirely hid­den be­hind the clouds. The closer the clouds are to the sun, the more colour-sat­u­rated they will ap­pear. It’s harder to go wrong with light ef­fects here, so this is a good time to ex­per­i­ment with layer blend modes such as Color Dodge, Over­lay or Hard Light to find some­thing with the in­ten­sity you need. Small de­tails such as rim light­ing around the clos­est clouds to the sun, and cool washes of de­sat­u­rated colour over the outer edges of your im­age, will en­hance the over­all ef­fect.

Use the Lasso tool for pre­cise con­trol over the di­rec­tion of light­ing. Use a Soft round brush to erase away un­nat­u­ral hard lines and make the light ap­pear more ‘fil­tered’.

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