Concept Art – Digital Painting (1)

Following on from my initial thumbnail and final environment sketch, I then scanned in the image in preparation for digital colouring.

Once the image was scanned in, I adjusted the black / white levels within Adobe Photoshop to allow for the guidelines to become more visible, also using the eraser to remove any unwanted lines or blemishes.  Furthermore, removing the white areas to make it transparent, allowing me to paint behind the guidelines using separate layers.

Choosing the Colour Pallet

I wanted the image to appear as a night scene, using the colours of the northern lights as my inspiration.  Northern Lights have always seemed magical to myself and thought it would translate a mystical / magical feel to the image.


I used the above website to create a swatch, using an analogous colour harmony which how the northern lights would appear in nature.  The colour scheme also provided plenty of contrast for painting the remainder of the scene.  I then exported the swatch as a .png file, ready to use whilst painting over my sketch.


However, I also decided to add a complimentary colour to my swatch in case I required any further contrast from any extra detailing or light sources.


Digitally Painting the Scene

I decided to paint the layer furthest back in the scene first, that being the sky.  I also chose to do this first as with it being a night scene, the moon would be the main light source within the environment and would provide the information to where highlights and shadows would appear.

Using the blues and purples at different shades from the swatch, I used a medium sized brush with varying opacity and flow to paint the base of the sky.  I wanted to use purple along the lower edge to provide a nice glow along the horizon, reminiscent of the northern lights.

I then used a light shade of blue, almost white, with a brush with a wide “scatter” setting to provide an paint splatter effect.  I used this method across the sky to provide the stars.  I may return to this and add different shades to add more variety and interest.

Lastly, I was going to add the green swirl-like hues to the sky, as seen in the northern lights, however I had the idea of creating the clouds and moon using these colours to provide something different.  I simply used a hard, circular brush to create the simple shape of the moon, whilst using the soft brush again, at varying flow and opacity to create the clouds. Ensuring the clouds appeared lights the near they got to the moon and vice-versa.  Overall, I was really happy with the effect, whilst I may return to using a lighter shade for the moon to make it appear lighter and provide more contrast.


Finally, I began to block out the colours for the architecture in the foreground and mid-ground to allow me to visualise where the highlights and shadows would appear.  Also, I began to test out brushes and paint techniques on the left handrail, deciding on how to best blend these colours together to provide a smooth transition.


I am really happy with the colour scheme I have chosen as it provides me with a lot of contrast to play with, whilst also creating the mystical look I was going for. Once complete, I may adjust the saturation and colour levels to make the image more vibrant.

One thing I am having difficulty with is finding / creating brushes that I feel comfortable and satisfied with. I may begin saving my own library of brushes for future reference, allowing me to select brushes quicker in the future and saving me time.



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