Help me paint muddy footprints

ImagineFX - - Your Questions Answered... - Ava Stone, Aus­tralia

Mark replies

First we have to un­der­stand what’s hap­pen­ing when we step into mud. It’s ba­si­cally soft, wet soil that forms af­ter rain, melt­ing snow, flood wa­ters and so on. When we step into mud, we’re com­press­ing the soil lay­ers to­gether and squeeze out the wa­ter from be­tween them. It’s this wa­ter that fills up the footprints.

The most im­por­tant art el­e­ments for mak­ing this be­liev­able in an illustration is to shade the edges of the footprints cor­rectly and to show the dif­fer­ence in the re­flec­tive­ness or spec­u­lar­ity. The viewer has to be­lieve that the footprints are sunken and filled with muddy wa­ter.

I start by cre­at­ing the line of footprints as sim­ple sil­hou­ettes, be­fore dis­tort­ing them into the per­spec­tive I imag­ine for the scene. Af­ter that I loosely paint in the win­ter for­est road with the sur­round­ing trees to es­tab­lish both my over­all colour pal­ette and my com­po­si­tion. Next, I add the shad­ows and wa­ter to the footprints, cre­at­ing other ex­tra pools of wa­ter on the road and paint­ing in the child for scale.

From this point on the whole process is only about in­tro­duc­ing more de­tails to my key ar­eas and to fine-tune the edges and re­flec­tions. I in­tro­duce small de­tails around my fo­cal ar­eas and en­hance the tran­si­tion be­tween the footprints and soil sur­round­ing them.

As a fi­nal step I add some fallen trees to show the dev­as­ta­tion of the crea­ture, along with a layer of ex­tra fog to help sell the feel­ing that the viewer is ex­plor­ing a for­est on a win­ter’s morn­ing, on the trail of a leviathan.

The key for paint­ing footprints in mud is to show the dif­fer­ence be­tween the ma­te­rial qual­i­ties. Fo­cus on the rough­ness and re­flec­tion and the edges, where the mud and the wa­ter-filled footprints meet. I blocked in the footprints as sim­ple sil­hou­ettes on the loosely painted back­ground. This helped me to see them in the com­po­si­tion and I used these as layer masks in the paint­ing process later.

Ar tist ’s s ec ret Adding scale ref­er­ence ref­er­ence to my I al­ways like to add a point of of scale. If you’re im­ages to strengthen the sense generic ob­jects, us­ing a hu­man fig­ure along­side case, you can such as trees and bushes in this illustration. also help the sto­ry­telling of your

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