What’s a good way of adding drama and in­ter­est to a char­ac­ter por­trait?

ImagineFX - - Imagine Nation -

San­dra Sim­mons, Scot­land

Char­lotte replies

un­der­light­ing is a re­li­able way to add drama to a por­trait. the key here is be­ing able to en­vi­sion your char­ac­ter’s face in three di­men­sions and work out which parts of the char­ac­ter are fac­ing your light source. Start out by paint­ing your char­ac­ter with a soft, low fill light. avoid dark shad­ows or bright high­lights for now, un­less you’re us­ing mul­ti­ple light sources.

now cre­ate a new layer in color dodge mode with a highly sat­u­rated colour (pick a sim­i­lar hue to your light source) and ap­ply colour to the planes of the face that should be il­lu­mi­nated. For un­der­light­ing, this check­list nor­mally in­cludes the base of your chin, the up­per lip, the bot­tom of your nose, the lower eye­lid, the un­der­side of the cheek bone and just be­neath your brow.

By ad­just­ing the opac­ity of the layer and fine­tun­ing your edges with the erase tool, you can quickly cre­ate re­al­is­tic-look­ing light­ing in your por­trait scene. once you’ve blocked in your un­der­light­ing you can start to add im­por­tant de­tails, such as the shad­ows cast by the bot­tom lip and eye­lid, as well as adding spec­u­lar light to your char­ac­ter’s eyes and hair. Fin­ish up by cre­at­ing a lin­ear dodge layer and us­ing a large Soft brush to sug­gest a fill light from the source of your un­der­light­ing.

Septem­ber 2015

Un­der­light­ing adds

at­mos­phere to char­ac­ter art, us­ing

bold rim light to sug­gest the shape

of fa­cial fea­tures.

I’ve found that the eas­i­est way to ap­proach com­plex light­ing is to start your por­trait with a low con­trast fill light and build on that with new lay­ers.

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