Thursday, March 17, 2011

How to get a feeling of misty light

This painting from Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara uses a simple device. The subject is placed in a high-key silhouette near the sun. The silhouette colors shift to warm hues as they approach the sun.


The color corona around the sun spills over and influences both the colors of the sky and the silhouette colors. The color mixtures are actually fairly low-chroma (not very saturated), but you can get a feeling of great brilliancy this way. This is very easy to do in digital, but it takes a bit of deliberate planning in paint.

A silhouette treatment is good to use in a sequential work like an illustrated book, comic book, or animated film, especially if you want to give the viewer a break from looking at a lot of detail.

Good rule of thumb: the most brilliant impressions of light are achieved in paintings when looking toward, not away from the light source.
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Previously: Color Corona
Color and Light, page 166-167.
Dinotopia: Journey to Chandara

12 comments:

Mark Heng said...

Beautiful...Turner goes to Dinotopia!

P.T. Waugh said...

James, I have a question about your technique in this painting. For this area shown, did you do the background first and then paint the figures onto it or did you lay down a dark spot and carve out the figures?

David Glenn said...

This doesn't look like it was easy.

Adam Rex said...

I think it's interesting the way an image like this can serve a different storytelling function as well. Apart from simply giving your reader a break from a lot of detail, does anyone else think this also implies a long passage of time? A more detailed rendering might only convey a moment, but I think this kind of rendering conveys the entire journey.

Tom Hart said...

Interesting point, Adam. I think I somewhat agree. The silhouette conveys something like a passage of time to me, too. But I'm not sure it's time specifically. There's some sort of general distance being conveyed...hard to put my finger on it though.

James Gurney said...

Adam and Tom, yes, the idea of throwing in a few silhouettes probably comes from comic artists who do that sometimes as a change. As I recall it was a transitional scene where the emphasis was on the dialog.

P.T. The paint is quite thin, scumbled over a pencil drawing on illustration board (sealed with acrylic matte medium). I would have done the sky first and then the figures.

Thanks, Mark--Turner is de Man to look at for this sort of thing.

Maximo said...

amaaaaaazing mr. Gurney. Congrats for this little but useful theory about light. I'll keep in mind the rule of thumb, it really makes sense...

See ya!

soutchay said...

Beautiful painting! Exactly what I needed to see today. Thanks! I'd love to see the maquette reference setup for this someday? :)

Michael King said...

I find it interesting that you would use unsaturated colour in the silhouette. I will have to adjust some old studies to see how this works.

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James Gurney said...

Soutchay, in this case, I didn't make a maquette.

Alax, you have quite a gift for small talk.

MrCachet said...

LOL. It looks to me like Alex is drooling.