Question Help me paint a water sprite please
Isabel Hanson, Australia
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.