To create a halo of light use a combination of layers in Screen, Soft Light and Overlay modes. If I get the illumination wrong now, everything else fails. If you add two sources, you should create two different areas in your painting with two different colour palettes (warm colours in one and cold colours in the other, like orange and blue), because chromatic contrasts always look great when applied to this type of image. When this is done well, the rest is straightforward – it just takes time. Then, in a new document, I create a reference colour palette to maintain the colour harmony of the image. Obviously, you can choose to illuminate the scene from above and still create a scary-looking painting, but illumination from below is always associated with terror, so it’s a good choice if you want to enhance that mood. So I don’t waste time trying to polish the image or adding details, I simply focus on illuminating the scene. 04. Bring the light
Now I start to paint the scene, trying to achieve realistic and interesting illumination. Remember, though, that a flame doesn’t produce a lot of light: only the closest objects or characters will be affected by its light, and not to any great extent, either. To create a sensation of foreboding, the easiest way is to illuminate the scene (or the characters) from below. 03. 02. Take the time to look through as many references as necessary – the final result is the only thing that matters. 01. This article originally appeared in ImagineFX. Paco creates this striking night painting in four easy stepsWhen illuminating a night scene, try using a single flame, like a match, cigarette lighter or candle. It’s also important to place the lights and shadows in the right places. Words and illustrations: Paco Rico Torres
Paco Rico Torres is a freelance illustrator living in Spain who’s produced art for several card games, magazines, books and role-playing games.