Any ideas for de­pict­ing an at­mo­spheric for­est scene? Eti­enne Tro­ufaut, France

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Este­fa­nia replies

An in­tense source of light in a dark land­scape can be an ex­cel­lent com­po­si­tion ap­proach to cre­ate an ob­vi­ous point of in­ter­est in your land­scape.

As with any paint­ing, the only thing you need to see apart from the light is some shad­ows, or in this case some dark tones to con­trast it with. This could be eas­ily achieved in Pho­to­shop by us­ing dif­fer­ent layer modes, such as Screen, Soft Light or Over­lay. You can also paint them tra­di­tion­ally, just by choos­ing colours with a high value of lu­mi­nos­ity.

Be aware of the depth in your land­scape, though. Ob­jects in the dis­tance tend to be paler and bluer be­cause of the air in the at­mos­phere, while el­e­ments that are closer to the ‘cam­era’ will look darker, with more con­trast and sat­u­ra­tion.

Paint the scene as if there were no ob­vi­ous source of light in the scene. The in­tense ray of light will be your last step. Bear in mind that any for­est or veg­e­ta­tion scene is made up of open shapes, so let the brush­strokes do the work rather than de­pict­ing ev­ery sin­gle leaf. In other words, sug­gest rather than de­scribe lit­er­ally.

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