I can’t get the hang of paint­ing dust in my en­vi­ron­ments. Please help!

ImagineFX - - Imaginenation Artist Q&a -

Wal­lace O’Brian, Canada

Dave replies

Dust is made up of many things, some of which you’d likely rather not know about! From common house­hold dust to hazy desert scenes, a key char­ac­ter­is­tic is that dust obeys the laws of grav­ity – even if very slowly at times. Dust kicked up into the air will even­tu­ally set­tle. When this hap­pens it’ll re­veal and ac­cen­tu­ate forms, much like a light snow­fall.

Let’s look at a common de­pic­tion of dust: heavy ac­cu­mu­la­tion of in­door dust over time. In most in­stances, in­door dust will set­tle on hor­i­zon­tal sur­faces and is roughly mono­chrome. Wash out the colours on vis­i­ble sur­faces to ac­cen­tu­ate this ef­fect. When you han­dle the de­tails of your scene, re­mem­ber to keep vi­su­al­is­ing the dust set­tling from above. Heav­ier dust can gather in cor­ners, and cob­webs can be placed strate­gi­cally to en­hance the ef­fect.

I paint the ta­ble and ob­jects on top of it, and then make a Screen layer for the dust. I use a grainy brush to cre­ate in­stant tex­ture, and choose a blueish grey. Once I’ve painted the main dust layer, I make another layer with a lighter grey for high­lights. In­tro­duc­ing de­sat­u­rated darker blues in the shad­ows gives a sense of depth to the dust coat­ing. If things start look­ing too bright or snowy then re­duce the Opac­ity of your dust lay­ers.

No­tice how the dust ac­cu­mu­la­tion ta­pers off as the sur­face of the bot­tle curves slightly to­wards the ver­ti­cal. Here’s the sketch with the dust lay­ers re­moved. Cre­at­ing the scene helps me to vi­su­alise where and how the dust will ac­cu­mu­late.

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