Ques­tion Help me paint a wa­ter sprite please

Is­abel Han­son, Aus­tralia

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An­swer Nick replies

When I hear the phrase ‘wa­ter sprite’, my imag­i­na­tion sum­mons up a small, skit­tish and hard-to-spot crea­ture that skims across the wa­ter. Their shy na­ture would mean they’re more likely to be found in re­mote lo­ca­tions, but one which still gets sun­light. The wa­ter sup­ply should ide­ally be, or seem to be, en­chanted.

I plump for a wood­land set­ting, where a longne­glected wa­ter­spout carved in the form of a lion’s head might be found. Us­ing ArtRage, I lay down a pre­dom­i­nantly brown-tinged base, so that I can con­trast blues as a mag­i­cal colour for the sprite it­self. I con­cen­trate on build­ing up fairly solid-look­ing rocks as a sur­round­ing for the lion-head spout, and paint a pool of dark wa­ter be­low, us­ing the Chalk tool. I work up some tex­ture us­ing photo sten­cils (worked through with chalk) and also use a Sticker brush or two. I also use the lat­ter to bring some im­pres­sion of veg­e­ta­tion.

Next, I cre­ate an­other layer and flood fill it with a blue-based gra­di­ent. By set­ting the blend mode to Mul­ti­ply it’s ideal for work­ing back into with lighter tones for larger ar­eas of shadow and light. I build up the back­ground us­ing, chalk, wa­ter­colour and line. I tackle the sprite last, try­ing to bal­ance wa­tery trans­parency and its slight blue glow. Fi­nally, I add a rip­ple re­flec­tion to ground the sprite in the scene.

By giv­ing the ma­jor­ity of the scene a brown­ish yel­low bias, the blue used on the sprite can be made to seem more mag­i­cal in con­trast.

As I de­cide to make the sprite small, the mag­i­cal set­ting be­comes more im­por­tant. Take time to build up some tex­tures and vis­ual in­ter­est.

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