Please explain how to create a misty environment
Brianne Burris, Canada
The first thing I do is to observe references of misty landscapes. Mist is translucent: in some places thick, in others thin enough to reveal objects. Depending on the time of day in which it occurs, it will influence all the colours in the scenery – dampening dawn’s vibrant colours or turning a sunset into pastel shades.
Mist usually desaturates colours into shades of cold or dark grey. So when I paint a misty setting I’ll work in greyscale. I use a separate layer for each element in the environment, which enables me to differentiate the shades and suggest depth and aerial perspective.
The further away an element is from the viewer, the more it’ll be affected by the light grey translucent patina of the mist. As such, tree trunks in the distance will assume this colour and lose detail, for example, only appearing as silhouettes. The kind of lighting is a cold ambient light, without strong contrasts, but I increase contrast when I paint elements closest to the viewer. I also increase the level of details to give depth to the image.
The mist appears at ground level, so to suggest fog banks I create a layer on top of one of the elements painted (here the roots of the oak), and with a light grey colour and a soft brush I roll out some brushstrokes. If the scene is too opaque I can adjust the layer’s Opacity.
I add details such as fallen leaves, moss and shrubs beside the tree to finish off this misty scene.
I need to be happy with the sense of depth I’m creating in the composition, before I move on to colours.