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