Paint a street scene

In part three of his series, Peter Chan shares his fill-in-the-shapes ap­proach with gouache, while cap­tur­ing a sim­ple neigh­bour­hood scene

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Issue 142 Christmas 2016 - Peter is from Tai­wan but lives in Los An­ge­les where he works at Sony Pic­tures An­i­ma­tion. He’s worked pre­vi­ously at Pan­demic Stu­dios and Dream Works An­i­ma­tion and you can see more of his work on his blog at www.pix­elp.tum­blr.com.

Paint­ing out­door scenery is the best way to learn about cap­tur­ing nat­u­ral light­ing. One of my favourite ex­er­cises is paint­ing ur­ban street scenes with cars. It may seem com­plex at first, but if you treat them as just sim­ple shapes – ei­ther squares or box-like forms – they be­come a lot less in­tim­i­dat­ing.

I like to start by group­ing big masses of value shapes to­gether and not worry about the like­ness of the ele­ments such as the cars, house and trees. By do­ing this, it also helps me nar­row down my com­po­si­tion and en­sures I don’t try to paint too much of the scene.

Then I ap­proach the paint­ing al­most like a colour­ing book. I start to fill in my shapes with the colours I ob­serve that closely re­late to the value in those shapes.

In this ex­er­cise, I paint a cloudy street scene with a bit of warm light hit­ting the dis­tant house. Most of the ele­ments, such as the cars and trees are rel­a­tively dark, so I group them to­gether. The next shape group is the street, which sits in the mid­dle of the value range. I group the sky and houses to­gether as my light­est value.

As you can see, just by do­ing sim­ple shape group­ing, I’ve al­ready made some­thing that was ini­tially com­plex look a lot more man­age­able. From this point on, I can fo­cus my en­ergy on ob­serv­ing, mix­ing colours and filling in those shapes.

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