Advice from pro artists on body language, glass distortion, stone columns, polished metal, realistic smoke and more.
Answer Nick replies
Light travels fast. However, some transparent or translucent materials slow it down. Water and glass are like that. They refract light: that is, they bend it because of their comparative densities to air. Sometimes they can even splinter it into its components, which are pure colours. Remember those experiments in class with a prism? Sure you do!
All that said, the main thing about glass is that we can see what’s on the other side of it. When the surface isn’t flat like a window, refraction causes distortion. I’m working in ArtRage, mainly using Pencil, Chalk, Watercolour, Wet Blender and Eraser tools.
Our scene is a hungry ogre eyeing his next snack in a jar in the foreground. For reference, I take a couple of photos of empty jam jars with a few objects behind. I start drawing while referring to a few preliminary sketches. I want to contrast the background detail with the obscuring quality of the glass. I keep the background simple and clear. Don’t forget that reflections on the outer glass surface help describe the material.
Think about the balance between outer surface reflections, shadows and what you can see through the refracting glass.
Reference is there to inform and guide you, not dictate every mark. It’s best to combine the information it supplies with what you already know and what you want your image to say.