How can I paint smoke realistically?
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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