Friday, December 12, 2008

Atmospheric Study

When you're planning a fantasy landscape painting, it often helps to do a quick atmospheric study. Here's one I did for the painting Waterfall City: Afternoon Light, from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara.

If you make a 3-D schematic maquette, you can do the study while looking at the model. This study uses white and black charcoal on brown Kraft paper. The goal is to study the chiaroscuro: and to consider which things are light on dark and which things are dark on light.

An atmospheric study also gives you the chance to think about the mist and atmosphere. In a scene like this, not everything should be crisply lit. Some areas should be in shadow, and others half hidden behind veils of atmosphere.

5 comments:

Jon Hrubesch said...

I love waterfall city. Am I right to assume that you also use other photos of say water, palm trees and even the mountains in the distance, as you have suggested doing in other posts, to capture a sense of reality?

Josephine said...

This is so helpful for all of us that are just starting out in our art. I have a bachelor of arts from a University in Canada and you really never hear tips like this. The focus is always on the post-modern idea behind the piece. Realism was a dirty word.

James Gurney said...

Thanks, Josephine. They didn't talk about this stuff when I was art school either. There's a lot of talk and work with the figure, but not much with fantasy or landscape.

Jon, yes, I looked at a lot of reference photos (clipped from magazines) for all the water effects, foliage textures, and architectural details.

Stefan said...

Haha, very cool to see the beginnings of this piece. I remember being just astounded at it when my mother gave me a Dinotopia calendar; this was the piece that made me really, really want to read the book. You made my adolescence better :)

One thing I've always thought about, looking at Waterfall City-- imagine the size of the caissons they had to use to build it...

A. Riabovitchev said...

Your blog fantastic!:o)