I need help getting the translucence of my ghostly character right
Kenny Gilbraith, England
Answer Sam replies
Before I go into it further, there’s one key rule to bear in mind when trying to achieve this effect. You’re painting the light hitting your ghost and because it’s not a solid form we don’t see anything in the shadow areas that the light doesn’t hit.
No value on your ghost should be darker than the background behind it. You can achieve this effect by painting on a Lighten layer, making it impossible to paint anything darker than the background.
There are also a number of tricks to achieve the ghostly effect you’re after. You can use the Opacity function, found in the Layers window, to create the effect of light passing through your ghost. This is good for showing shapes in the background, driving home the message that we’re looking through the ghost.
This will, however, create a washed-out feeling, which leads me on to the next trick. Try outlining your ghost character with bright edges that soften on the inside edge, to create a glowing effect.
This is the best way of creating a silhouette because you’re not able to use darker values. In addition, try losing edges around the silhouette to create the impression that the ghost isn’t a solid figure.
Your choice of colour palette has a huge part to play in creating a creepy and ethereal ghost girl.
I recommend blurring textures or shapes to create believable depth. Perfectly soft transitions can feel fake when used in the wrong circumstances.