I sat down to do a little doodle, and doodled a raptor. I seem to default to them when I’m tired.
I wondered what to do with it, then thought of James Gurney’s latest post on his blog about How to get a feeling of misty light. I’ve been reading that the best way to learn from someone is to copy their work, which is why artists a hundred years ago used to copy the old masters until they learned their technique. Then they went on and applied that to their own works. (They never claimed the copy was their own, though! That’s where the internet gets messy.)
Anyway, I decided to copy the light in Gurney’s pic and follow his directions as closely as I could. The best way to learn is by doing, after all. Take a look at it.
Isn’t that so very pretty? I want the book this is in, Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.
Anyway, I laid in a similar background on my pic, first with a pinkish flood fill, then laying in colors with the oil paints > wet brush (my favorite!). (I’m working in Corel Painter, by the way, but you can do this in Photoshop or some other painting program, or with real paint, whichever you’re more comfortable with.)
Then I made my raptor into a silhouette.
Looking carefully at Gurney’s, you can see that the brightest parts of the silhouettes (the orange bits) actually have bright yellow highlights on them that make them look solid. Gosh, his art just makes me want to cry, it’s so beautiful.
He says that this effect, with the orange silhouette close to the light source, is easy to do digitally, but in real media, it takes some careful planning. Let me tell you, it took quite a bit of fiddling in digital to get it right! I painted over and painted over until I was satisfied.
Then I threw in some mid-tone trees to indicate some kind of background, and turned off my sketch layer.
Experiment done for now. I’d like to go back and try this sort of thing on a serious illustration of some kind and really put some time into it.