Can you help me paint fog in a scene that fea­tures a char­ac­ter?

ImagineFX - - ImagineNation -

Jang Car­son, Canada

An­swer Mark replies

The key for paint­ing a foggy scene lies in your fo­cal ar­eas and their tran­si­tions into the en­vi­ron­ment. Fog re­duces visibility and this will af­fect ev­ery­thing from the colours and light, to the edges and con­trast of any ob­jects in the area.

Us­ing a limited colour scheme is the first step to­wards a suc­cess­ful com­po­si­tion, be­cause the fog uni­fies the colours by ton­ing down the amount of light scat­ter­ing tak­ing place in the scene. This also ex­plains why you can’t see cast or hard shad­ows in fog, so it’s im­por­tant to use a limited value scheme at the same time. The edges of ob­jects be­come much softer in fog be­cause of the re­duced level of scat­tered light, and you can repli­cate this on the can­vas by us­ing var­i­ous lev­els of Gauss­ian Blur. Keep your fo­cal area (in this case the sol­dier’s head) as clean as pos­si­ble, and strengthen the con­trast by us­ing the dark­est and the light­est tones around th­ese parts.

Be­cause fog is a col­lec­tion of liq­uid wa­ter droplets or ice crys­tals suspended in the air near ground level, it am­pli­fies the ef­fect of aerial per­spec­tive in your scene. Imag­ine all the ob­jects, in­clud­ing your char­ac­ter, as huge moun­tains and then in­tro­duce var­i­ous lev­els of aerial per­spec­tive to them. This will en­sure your ob­jects re­main grounded. Use smooth gra­di­ents on sub-lay­ers with the same colours as the back­ground to lighten up the ar­eas fur­ther away from the viewer. This will stop the scene from feel­ing en­closed and claus­tro­pho­bic.

Fog al­ways re­duces the con­trast and visibility of ob­jects fur­ther away from the viewer. Re­flect this by low­er­ing the de­tail and con­trast in the back­ground – this will keep the fo­cus on your char­ac­ter and the main story. Imag­ine the fog as a stronger ver­sion of aerial per­spec­tive. If you add slight gra­di­ents of haze be­tween the body parts of your char­ac­ter, you can strengthen the foggy feel­ing, but also can keep the depth of the fig­ure.

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