Well hello there, this is Tamil. Today I wanted to share how weather and light can completely change the way a painting might feel like!
I will paint a very simple house inside a forest, which will have different versions. Each version will have different weather and lighting conditions. This will lead to a completely different mood in the landscape, which is a lot of fun to play around with. I will share some tips and tricks on how to approach it as well.
As per usual, watch my video with commentary. It is easier to understand when you can see what I am doing.
Let's get into it!
To play around with the weather, I need a painting to start off with ( surprise surprise ). I decided to make a relaxing house inside the forest. Something I can easily fix and change as I want.
You can pick any idea you want. Just make sure you have enough air space for clouds and other weather things.
First I start with the house sketch before anything. I know it will be the focus point, so I want to make sure that it looks good.
Just keep on sketching and trust the process. Find a nice reference and think about how you can simplify it for the drawing.
Made some adjustments to proportions and added more details. Think about big medium small. In this case:
Door - Big
Chimney - Medium
Windows - Small
A house might need a tiny fence. It will let us separate the foreground and mid-ground.
I also added a lamp in case I want to add a second light source. We will need it. Think of ways to have separate light coming through different objects just in case. Sometimes weather can be very dark and gloomy.
Always can have a tree next to a house. Trying out different shapes and changing the feel for it. Don't be afraid to experiment. I have redrawn the tree a lot of times. Zoom out if you feel stuck.
Let's add some mid-ground. Add farther away trees and rocks. Add some grass in the foreground too.
Then just refine the line art. Find big shapes and add textures where it feels natural. Looks for references and good ideas. I think changing weather with no line art would have been easier, so I wish I did not have clean art in a way. Either way, I think it was a good learning experience.
After that, I just laid some flat colors. This will help us to start with something simple and keep adjusting it until we are happy with the results. This is just for practice, so do not worry about making it super polished.
The main thing here is to make sure you have divided your image into at least 3 values. Foreground, midground, background. You can always add more.
Usually, the foreground is darker and it becomes lighter as distance goes away.
What can be nicer than a rising sun in the morning? Maybe only a coffee after you wake up :)
Let's make it sunny! There are many ways to make start, but here was my process.
I do recommend finding sunrise pictures and how it is portrayed in tv shows and movies. See how they do it and try to copy it, see how you can do it in your own special way.
I started with a soft light layer. You can also use overlay or color. Started with sunrise sky and kept adjusting it accordingly.
The sun will come from the horizon, so the angle will be very harsh. Let's add some strong yellow light on the edges of objects.
Add shadows. I think I went too light with shadows, but sunrise will usually have very hard shadows. Very warm ones. In the end, I used some color dodge on the sunrise with a soft airbrush. Do not overdue it! Use it carefully.
It might look dull, but it is okay. After I am done I can always go back to it and add some more brightness to it. Use curves or hue saturation filter.
Gloomy clouds can be the best when trying to show sadness and being tired. Think of what your painting should feel like in the end.
I used the same base for every painting, so that way I do not have too much to work on.
Add some gloom. Usually light is very soft and very little contrast when clouds are there! Think of blues and grays. I really enjoy working with a small color combination.
Adding some soft shadows with multiply layers using an airbrush. I also added some small bird for the perfect gloom mood :) he is very tired
Here is what I meant by secondary light. The lamp and window help us to add more variety to the scene. I tried to keep it as soft as possible.
I can push the mid-tones with curves or overlay if I want to add more later.
Rain is very similar to cloudy weather. You can add bigger clouds and more direct light though.
Starting with the same multiply, but this time keep more color. If cloudy is grayer, the rain might have sun peaking through more. Depends on your reference and what you will feel works the best for your painting. Experiment with your colors and follow your instinct :)
Let's add some rain!
I just added a new layer and painted some lines with a normal hard round brush. Just make sure the color is slightly brighter than the rest of the image.
Just duplicate it and spread it everywhere. Do not put too much. Change the angle slightly to make it feel more organic though.
What is the next step? A good way to add variety is to duplicate this rain. Make it smaller and put it behind the foreground. Then duplicate again, make small and add behind mid-ground. Just keep doing that to add more depth feel to it.
I also felt like the small rain was becoming very busy, which is a common problem. A way to fight it is to add blur to the entire layer. I added more blur to the rain that was further away.
HERE IS the IMPORTANT part! Adding rain drops close to the top of the object where the rain will land. This will make it more realistic.
Just grab a brush and start adding small drops on top. You can always make it bigger or smaller depending on the effect. There is probably also a good chance there is a brush for it, but painting it manually is always an option.
I adjusted the multiply layer to make everything darker, so the rain stands out more now. The image is way too dark now, so I will add more light through the window again.
Think of where the light is coming from and how it will affect the environment.
Based on the rainy image, I just decided to keep painting and add LIGHTNING to it. It will let us add more light and make the scene more dramatic.
For the lightning, I simply used the lasso tool with felt as a start. If you watch my timelapse you can see I redrew it a lot of times too. It's okay to make mistakes and keep trying until it feels right.
Using the same principle you can see that I added blue light to the tree and the house. Where will the light hit will depend on the form and the placement of the object. That's why I drew such a simple scene. It makes it easy to figure out most of the light. Once I feel more comfortable, I try to tackle more complicated work.
For the lightning, I just added an airbrush with a cyan color on glow add a layer. You can use overlay and other layer options. As long as it looks natural. Find some photos of real lightning and see how it feels like. Usually, the inside is very bright white, while everything else glows with blue/cyan/purple.
Just keep painting and see if you need to add more. If it looks better or worse after a few hours of work. Don't be afraid to paint on top of already finished parts. You can always remove it later.
I also increased contrast on this one and I think it benefited from it a lot. Simple curves or levels will go a long way.
Last but not least - snow. I had lots of snow when I was growing up and I really do feel like it is worth it visit a place with snow at least once in your life time if you haven't.
The air is so fresh, the ground is so crunchy when you walk. The nights are so long and the steam comes out of your mouth. Feels good to be a dragon at least for 3 months a year. I have big nostalgia for snow.
To be completely honest, the snow was one of the hardest to paint right. It's very white and usually it's hard to see the shape / form for it, so if you feel like you are not doing it right, you are not alone! I felt the same way and just kept going. It helps to get references and find where the light is coming from.
Let's paint some!
As per usual I just started off with a purple-ish multiply/overlay layer. Darken everything and make it look more like a snow night.
Start adding a white coat of snow on top of things. The snow usually comes from the top and moves only if there is a strong wind.
For the timelapse, I just used a standard Thin Gouache Brush that comes with ClipStudioPaint. Never overlook standard brushes from your software.
Also do not go over to the whitest white too fast! Start the build-up slowly, so you can add more variation to the snow later. If you start with pure white, then it will be hard to go brighter in case you need to.
You can see that my edges are fading away with the snow. An easy way to do this is textured erasers. I just picked a simple knitted eraser from default CSP brushes. You can use any eraser that has some grain to it. Look at how real snow becomes faded and try to copy that.
Start adding more snow. As you can see I added more white snow on top of what I had previously. I also move my brush the way the snow is lying, which is a very important part of the landscape. Create perspective by using the brush at an angle that you will feel the object.
You can see this more clearly near the tree. You can feel the direction the snow is formed even though there is not a lot of color changes.
A very easy way to get this effect is to create a selection with the lasso tool and just paint in the direction you think the object will curve too. It's a pretty common way to achieve it, let me know if you need a separate tutorial for it. You can see me do it in the tutorial timelapse.
I added some smoke at the top with an airbrush. I also added some darkness to the smoke and red glow. If the chimney is working hard it will create that sort of color sometimes. I feel like it is more fitting for a winter scene.
Start adding some grass sticking out. It happens rarely, but when the snow melts, the grass will show sometimes. It creates a nice texture to it and gives variety to your painting.
Do not forget to add frost and textures to some objects. For example rocks or trees. Frostbites never stop, even for dead objects.
Adding some snow on trees and snowflakes. It's the same as adding the rain to the other scene. Paint small circles and duplicate and spread them far apart enough.
I also added some overlay with white and added highlights to the snow.
A small thing I did differently with this one is that I painted on top of my line art. For each previous artwork I was doing coloring underline, but here I did it on top. I wanted to make sure the snow stands out and covers everything.
A cool trick to improve your paintings is to put them next to each other. See what feels natural and which sticks out too much. Working on each one separately might make you lose track of what is important.
Plus it feels great to know you finished something on your own. Look at it from a distance and fix small things. Like right now I definitely can see that the chimney is way too strong on the bottom right. I need to lighten it and add contrast to a lot of images here. I will keep painting it and see what works better.
Keep working on it and find cool inspirational references! If you feel stuck you can always take a break and come back to it. Find better references and maybe ask around for feedback.
There are lots of things you can do with the weather! Bring a certain mood into play or just change the environment the person is living in. Each region in the world has very different weather, so that can always be used as a storytelling device. For example, deserts will feel more eastern-related. Think of who will see your work and try to guess how would they would feel about weather changes. It's always fun to share your work and see how people will react to it.
There is a lot of material that is going to be in the video. In a way, I painted too much too. The timelapse became way too long, so I will try to show only the main parts. Hopefully, you can learn something from it and let me know in the comments if you have questions!