Artist insight Composition advice
Fold your clothes
If you want to depict folds in cloth realistically, make every shape different. An object is made up of a range of shapes, such as a triangle or rectangle, and diverse shapes occupy varying amounts of space in the real world. If you make two shapes too similar, then in the eyes of the viewer they would occupy the same space, and the outcome would be visually jarring.
Fur is like grass, and should be painted with random brush strokes. However, this is no excuse for messy or chaotic strokes. As shown here, every stroke appears loose, but if you study them more closely you can see that they all concentrate on one point. Note that this point only exists in my mind’s eye.
Zoom in to the details of the composition and you’ll notice my use of complementary colours. This is very important if you’re aiming to create a realistic-looking painting. Remember that such colours should be placed on different greyscale areas.
Different shapes in a space necessitates depicting different levels of contrast – not only using colour and black and white, but also with blurring or sharpness. Sharp brushes such as Photoshop’s scattering dots or a specific shape will grab the viewer’s attention, while a blur brush will instil a sense of distance in their mind. I call this visual psychology. So when I use clean and blur brushes together, it naturally creates a strong sense of space.
A back-lit character will help to give them an air of mystery, and also ensure that the scene doesn’t end up looking flat. To do this, create a Multiply layer and then paint on it with a pale colour. If you find that the face becomes too dark, draw a light line that follows the side of the face nearest the background, as shown here.