How can I paint smoke re­al­is­ti­cally?

ImagineFX - - Imagine Nation | Artist Q & A -

Kather­ine Batts, US

An­swer Tan replies

Smoke is a fairly sim­ple ma­te­rial to de­pict, be­cause the air­borne par­tic­u­lates are typ­i­cally matte. Yet it dif­fers in thick­ness and tex­ture, and there­fore re­quires a va­ri­ety of brushes with dif­fer­ing Opac­ity lev­els. You can use a sim­ple Round hard brush for the task, but it’s of­ten more ef­fi­cient to use cus­tom brushes for wispier ar­eas.

Search for photo ref­er­ences for dif­fer­ent types of smoke, which can vary from thick smog to wispy in­cense smoke. The Liq­uefy tool comes in handy for adding ran­dom move­ment to the smoke. Adding a crea­ture into the mix makes for an in­ter­est­ing vis­ual ef­fect, con­trast­ing the solid­ness of the crea­ture with the transparency of the smoke.

For this ar­ti­cle, I’ve cho­sen to de­pict a myth­i­cal crea­ture that’s a mix­ture of a horse, stag and ze­bra, to re­flect the mys­te­ri­ous smoky at­mos­phere.

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