Please help me de­pict a scene in heavy, driv­ing rain

ImagineFX - - Imagine Nation Artist Q&A -

Michael Thomas, Eng­land


Hous­ton replies

Scenes fea­tur­ing heavy rain run the risk of be­com­ing too com­pli­cated too quickly: count­less rain drop de­tails, high­lights all over the place, re­flec­tions mak­ing a mess of the value struc­ture of a scene, and so on. When it comes to de­pict­ing a scene with heavy rain, the most im­por­tant thing to do is to sim­plify things.

View­ers don’t need to have ev­ery­thing spelled out for them to un­der­stand what is hap­pen­ing in a pic­ture. We can use this to our ad­van­tage when sim­pli­fy­ing a rain scene. If we choose spe­cific ar­eas to add de­tail, the rest of the pic­ture will be filled in by the viewer’s imag­i­na­tion.

For a night-time rain scene, we can use three things to achieve this: spot­lights il­lu­mi­nat­ing a few rain drops, a foggy at­mos­phere, and sharp spec­u­lar high­lights. Draw­ing ev­ery sin­gle rain drop in a scene could make the im­age too busy and mo­not­o­nous. By draw­ing only the rain­drops that fall di­rectly in front of strong light sources, the viewer can in­fer that the rain is fall­ing else­where. Heavy rain hit­ting the ground cre­ates a dense vapour in the at­mos­phere. Adding this into your im­age will make the dif­fer­ence be­tween light driz­zle and a heavy down­pour.

Adding spec­u­lar high­lights on things in­di­cates they are wet. Be care­ful though – this is very easy to overdo. Choose a few key ar­eas to put them, and avoid the temp­ta­tion to put them ev­ery­where.

Sim­pli­fy­ing the im­age en­ables the viewer to fill in the blanks. This makes it pos­si­ble to con­vey an im­age with­out over-stuff­ing it with de­tail.

In sil­hou­ette-heavy im­ages, I like to use clip­ping masks (Alt+click be­tween lay­ers) to keep lay­ers tied to their sil­hou­ettes. What I paint stays in­side the shape!

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