Drawing Tips | The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories

- Tip -

Painting characters in water


This tip is not about painting under water.  That might be difficult without the help of a giant clam with a window in his shell.  This tip is about painting scenes that take place underwater!

It can be mystifying to figure out what we need to do to make our drawing look like it is taking place in, for example, an ocean.  Here are a few suggestions:

*  Bubbles!  Bubbles are a wonderful, simple and easy way to convey that a scene is under water, so be sure to add some bubbles.

*  Learn about colors and depth!  Did you know that when you are 10 feet below the surface of water, the red colors disappear?  And when you are 25 feet below the surface, the orange and yellow colors also disappear!  Be sure to subtract these colors, depending on the depth of your illustration.
Looking above, you can tell this character is at least 10 feet below water because there are no red colors.  However, there are still some orange tones—although, in truth, my orange color is actually looking more like a murky gray.

*  The main colors you find underwater are gray, blue and green. This is because we need light to see colors, so where there isn’t as much light, we see less color, and the warm colors are the first to disappear!  This same thing happens when you turn off the light at night in your room. Just try looking at your arm when you only have the light from the moon through your window. Your skin color is suddenly more gray, like my underwater elf.

*  Tone down the contrast.  When things are underwater, there is lower visibility because of algae and water impurities, so you won’t be able to see as far as you can on land through air.  Therefore, you will want to tone down the contrast.  Notice how my illustration above is a little murky and there are no bright whites or lights in it?  That is how the contrast is toned down.

* Colors are very much affected by other colors around them, so if you have very little orange or yellow present, you only need a slight tint towards orange to make it look surprisingly orange.  Because my diving elf is mostly surrounded by blue and green, I only had to turn my fish ever so slightly orange gray to make it look fairly orange in these surroundings.

Why not give an underwater scene a try!

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The Story Elves - Help with writing, editing, illustrating and designing your own stories