Q&A: Mus­cles

ImagineFX - - Contents -

David Lu­cas, Eng­land


Sara replies

A mus­cu­lar character whose body is il­lu­mi­nated by fire­light is a clas­sic fan­tasy com­po­si­tion. The trick is find­ing an ef­fi­cient way of paint­ing such a scene. First, I have to de­cide where the fire is. If I’m por­tray­ing a bar­bar­ian then a light com­ing from be­low will help to em­pha­sise the strength and power of the character. Fur­ther­more, us­ing a cold am­bi­ent light will make him stand out even more.

When a light source is very strong and bright, the orig­i­nal colours of any af­fected ob­jects are sig­nif­i­cantly al­tered by the hue of the light. In this case the mus­cles of the bar­bar­ian will fea­ture a range of warm colours: browns in the shad­ows, and or­anges and yel­lows in brighter ar­eas. It’s cru­cial to keep in mind the light source and where the shad­ows are pro­jected.

A light source at floor level means the top of the scene will be in shadow and I can build on this ef­fect with am­bi­ent light. Clothes and var­i­ous ob­jects will cast their shad­ows up­wards and this will help to give cred­i­bil­ity to the character. I de­fine the mus­cles of the belly, en­sur­ing that they’re anatom­i­cally cor­rect, and in the ar­eas of bright light I add touches of very pale yel­low to ac­cen­tu­ate the three-di­men­sional ap­pear­ance of the bar­bar­ian’s ab­dom­i­nals.

Paint­ing a rough sketch of the light-shadow con­trast and then slowly adding de­tails helps me to de­fine the bar­bar­ian’s anatomy. Once the art­work is fin­ished it’s easy to see how shad­ows and am­bi­ent light make the fire-lit mus­cle struc­ture stand out ef­fec­tively.

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