Concept Art Lighting Guide - Daylight, Sunset, Moonlight

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DAYLIGHT

Some important things to note when drawing a character in the sunlight are the direction of the sun and the harshness of the light.

Since sunlight is yellow (a warm color), the most natural looking shadow color would be a cool color like blue or purple. Sometimes when sunlight interacts with skin, a band of color (usually orange, red, or purple) called a chromatic fringe appears at the edge of the shadow.

When using the sun as a light source, remember that it is usually coming from overhead (except at dawn or dusk). The harshness of sunlight can be affected by the weather, since clouds diffuse the light. The more clouds, the softer and less harsh the light is.

(left to right)
IMG 1 - base colors
IMG 2 - warm yellow Overlay layer
IMG 3 - cool blue Multiply layer
IMG 4 - orange Darken layer
IMG 5 - warm yellow Add Glow layer
IMG 6 - warm yellow Overlay layer (soft airbrush)

SUNSET

Some important things to note when drawing a character during a sunset are the direction of the sun and the depth of the shadows.

During a sunset, the sun sits at the horizon line of the scene. The light will usually be behind the character and will show through on their sides. If the sun is behind them, the front of their body will also be cast in shadow.

The later it is in the evening, the more diffused the sunlight gets and the deeper the shadows become. The sunlight during a sunset is usually a red color with a cool (blue or purple) shadow.

(left to right)
IMG 1 - base colors
IMG 2 - red Multiply layer (low opacity)
IMG 3 - orange Add Glow layer
IMG 4 - cool blue Multiply layer (soft airbrush)
IMG 5 - orange Overlay layer (soft airbrush)
IMG 6 - warm yellow Overlay layer (soft airbrush) and cool blue Multiply layer

MOONLIGHT

Some important things to note when drawing a character in the moonlight are the direction of the moon and the harshness of the moonlight.

In real life, moonlight is very diffused and soft compared to sunlight. Reflective surfaces like eyes look extra shiny. Drawing a harsh moonlit edge isn't always realistic, but makes characters stand out against dark scenery.

Like sunlight, moonlight is an overhead light source. Because everything gets dark at night, there is less contrast between areas in light and shadow (except for things directly under a bright light, like a street lamp).

(left to right)
IMG 1 - base colors
IMG 2 - blue Multiply layer (high opacity)
IMG 3 - light blue Overlay layer (soft airbrush)
IMG 4 - light blue Add layer
IMG 5 - blue Overlay layer

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