What advice can you give me for depicting molten metal?
Billy Ramirez, Chile
Molten metal is an amazing thing to see. It almost looks tasty – or perhaps that’s just me! The most important thing to get right is the fierce glow – that bright orange/yellow that’s so great to look at. When metal becomes hot enough it starts glowing at a saturated brown/orange, and as it gets hotter, starts moving towards yellow and then finally to white. So, as I paint I keep in mind which parts will be hotter and cooler.
I start by drawing what the molten metal will be held on or in. I want the container to look interesting so I give it angles and spikes. I plan out a picture that will show off the glow to best effect, and keep the rest of the image dark. The molten metal acts like a viscous liquid, and as it cools starts to act like melted wax. I use a bright, saturated yellow paint for the liquid metal and give its surroundings a deep saturated orange from the light it gives off. It’s important to have a full range of reds, oranges and yellows, otherwise it’s just going to look like melted banana ice cream. I paint the areas of the metal that are cooling down a cool grey silver colour.
To give it a realistic glow, I use an airbrush with an Overlay or Color Dodge layer with a saturated orange colour selected. Then I paint around the hottest parts.
The background has a subtle cool blue colour to complement the warm oranges and yellows of the metal.
This image shows before and after the glow layer is applied. In Painter, you can use the Glow brush with a dark orange colour. In Photoshop, a Color Dodge or Overlay layer will work nicely.