Q&A: a lan­tern

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38

Mike Ever­ley, Eng­land

Cor­rado replies

With just a cou­ple of art tricks it’s pretty easy to cre­ate a re­al­is­tic de­pic­tion of lamp light. For this ar­ti­cle I imag­ine a lamp on a ta­ble in a dark room. I rec­om­mend search­ing on­line for some photo ref­er­ences, which should help you to un­der­stand the work­ings of a real lamp.

There are two key points to bear in mind: the halo ef­fect and the light di­rec­tion. The halo ef­fect is fun­da­men­tal be­cause this gives the scene a re­al­is­tic feel­ing. It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that the halo ef­fect must ex­tend all around the light source. The lamp’s glare be­comes more in­tense the closer you are to it, so you must use colours such as white and yel­low. Move fur­ther away from the lamp and the colour also changes: the white fades into another colour, such as red or blue.

The sec­ond im­por­tant point is the light di­rec­tion. A lamp is a point light source and this means that shad­ows are pro­jected all around the lamp. Con­sider this as­pect when you cre­ate the shad­ows on the ob­jects around the lamp. Try imag­in­ing a se­ries of lines with one point in the cen­tre of the lamp and the other point that touches the edges of ob­jects near to the lamp. I de­fine the halo and the shad­ows on the ta­ble. I se­lect the back­ground layer and de­fine the halo ef­fect with the Char­coal and Smudge tools. Note the colour vari­a­tions: yel­low on the cen­tre of the lamp and red all around. I use a sim­i­lar tech­nique on the ta­ble and un­der the lamp. I cre­ate a cir­cu­lar shadow. On the ta­ble, the light grows more in­tense closer to the lamp. I add some de­tails to fin­ish the work. I re­fine the glass by adding re­flec­tions and high­lights. Re­mem­ber that glass re­flects all the el­e­ments in the room, so it’s cru­cial to re­pro­duce some dis­torted shapes on its sur­face. It’s not nec­es­sary to re­pro­duce pre­cise re­flec­tions; some lines and fast brush strokes will con­vey the fact that the lamp isn’t the only ob­ject in the scene.

Gather ref­er­ence pho­tos and you’ll no­tice how the lamp’s in­tense light fades into the sur­round­ing dark­ness.

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