Can you help me paint a delicate, lace-like material? Beth Hubble, Estonia
Lace presents two challenges: the semitransparent fabric and the detail of the pattern. Whenever a material needs to show the form beneath it, I roughly render the underlying surface first. Here I use a sphere for simplicity, but the principle applies for any shape. With the basic form rendered out, select the area where the material will lie. Copy this to a new layer, colour, then flatten and work drape and fold into the material.
With the material area defined, add pattern detail. Don’t be tempted to paint in precise patterning across the whole material, because unless there’s similar detail elsewhere this will prove distracting. Instead, choose one or two highlight areas to show detail and allow it to break into broader marks as the material falls away from the light.
After colouring, use the Eraser tool while the new area is on a separate layer, to make some of the under-surface show through.
Add lace detail sparingly. That will be much easier on the eye and help support the form over which the material lies.