What’s the best way to de­pict a scene set at night?

Sarah Til­loite, France

ImagineFX - - Imaginenation Artist Q&a -

An­swer Ville replies

An im­por­tant thing I keep in mind when paint­ing night-time scenes is avoid­ing lim­it­ing my val­ues too much. In paint­ings we have to ac­count for the smaller range of val­ues that we have to work with, com­pared to the huge range our pupils can per­ceive (by their abil­ity to al­low in less or more light, depend­ing on the am­bi­ent light­ing con­di­tions).

I don’t nec­es­sar­ily go all the way to pure white or black, but I keep the value range broad enough for the form to read cor­rectly. I also keep the colours fairly de­sat­u­rated, es­pe­cially reds, which ap­pear much darker and less sat­u­rated un­der moon­light. This en­ables me to add de­tails to the paint­ing while still main­tain­ing a night-time set­ting.

I re­strict my­self to not go­ing over­board with adding de­tails. Our eyes aren’t very good at see­ing small de­tails in low-light sit­u­a­tions, so sim­pli­fy­ing larger masses and us­ing a lot of soft edges can help to sell the night-time mood. Put the de­tails where they re­ally count: the fo­cal points

I start the paint­ing by block­ing in the main forms, keep­ing the val­ues tight and nail­ing down the colour pal­ette.

I add de­tails around the head of the crea­ture, which cre­ates a fo­cal point in the dark scene.

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