Can you help me paint chrome in 2D please?
Barry Carter, England
The key for painting chrome is the same as for any other reflective surface: you need to paint the reflections realistically. Chrome acts almost like a perfect mirror, and it reflects everything in its surroundings. Therefore, the main point to keep in mind is to show what’s behind the camera in the reflections.
Because chrome won’t reflect all the lighting in a scene, the reflection is going to be between 10 and 15 per cent darker in value, but crucially it’s going to keep roughly the same colour temperature as the original. The sky is still going to be blue, but it’s going to be slightly darker in the reflection and you also have to think about how the sky could look like behind the viewer.
You also have to keep in mind the location of the light source – or sources – and that the light has to appear in the appropriate section and direction of the reflective surface. Chrome surfaces work best if you vary them with other nonreflective materials, such as matte metals or organic matter. These can create a pleasing contrast to the high-tech chrome surface and strengthen the visual interest of your piece.
Notice how the chrome surface of the alien object reflects the environment behind the camera, as well as what the viewer can see.
I decide to paint a roguish male thief running through a crowd. It’s important to set the scene in a functional way. Using a perspective view from below means that I can suggest the presence of a crowd in a simpler way, by just using a few visual hints.
I choose the centre of the image as the focus of the action, where I’m going to draw my running hero. This usually makes the picture less dynamic, but I can balance this by tilting the perspective plane.
I lay down a fast sketch while bearing in mind the character’s pose, his anatomy and dynamism of his body language. He needs to look as natural as possible; a forced pose can reduce the impact of this action-orientated composition.
Once I’m satisfied with my hero, I sketch the surroundings and begin to draw hints of a crowd around him, always keeping in mind the perspective. I add part of an arm and a hand in the foreground. This informs the viewer that the crowd exists beyond the edges of the scene, and, perhaps more importantly, immerses them in the action.
When I feel that there are enough elements in my drawing, I finish it with some crucial details, such as the cloak and hair fluttering in the wind, giving the feeling of dynamic movement. When choosing colours I leave his cloak and hair undefined, which I think emphasises the speed of my thief. And to make the crowd appear lost in the distance, I paint them in with a colour that appears in the background.
To make the bubbles look convincing in this image I decide to create a realisticlooking environment, which also helps balance out the abstract creature. I avoid depicting underwater rocks, ruins or vegetation, because I want to keep the image as simple as possible. However, this means I’m obliged to put extra effort into painting the water, so the viewer instantly understands that it’s an aquatic scene.
After blocking in the creature and establishing its main shape and value structure, I introduce scattered lights coming from the water’s surface. I add blurred light shafts in the background to help sell the lights on the creature’s body.
The key for painting underwater scenes is to show the inverted aerial perspective (the scene becomes darker as it shifts from the foreground to the background), as well as particles and bubbles. I paint a group of bubbles on a new layer and sample it with a Mixer Brush. I increase Angle Jitter and Scattering in the Shape Dynamics dialog, which enables me to paint random clusters of bubbles. It only takes me five minutes to paint all the bubbles. It would have taken me hours to paint them one by one!
As a finishing touch, I add multiple layers of small particles (scattered dots) to the image, using Overlay and Color Dodge layers. I blur them slightly to add an extra level of depth to the scene.
Double Reflections Some of the surfaces are going to reflect back each other’s image as well, not just the surroundings. These double reflections are what can make your creations look even more realistic.
Pay close Attention to the aerial perspective Focusing details on the protagonists of the scene helps to guide the viewer’s eye through the crowds. I reduce the level of details as I move further
action. I do the away from the centre of the
their intensity. same with the colours, reducing
I start by painting the hero of the picture. That helps to give him more relevance in the scene.
Using the Mixer Brush tool you can vary the size, shape and orientation of the bubbles. Play around with the different options, such as Shape Dynamics and Scattering, to achieve the best possible results. To inform the viewer that it’s an underwater scene, show the bubbles created by the movement of the creature, and various layers of the particles
floating in the water.