Today’s Art (22nd September 2020)

Well, thanks to having a bit more time and feeling a bit more inspired, I ended up making this stylised 1990s-themed painting 🙂

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Shopping Arcade 1998” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (21st September 2020)

Well, today’s digitally-edited painting is based on this photo (although, in the version posted here, I blurred a number plate) I took near Fareham during some wonderfully gloomy and rainy weather last September.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Fareham – Autumnal” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (16th September 2020)

Well, this digitally-edited painting was kind of random. Originally, I’d planned to make a gothic fantasy painting and then, halfway through making it, I decided to add some pirates. Unfortunately, this didn’t work and the only way I was able to make the painting look even vaguely ok was with a lot of digital effects.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Ghostly Coast” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (15th September 2020)

First of all, if you want to see a “work in progress” version of this painting, then take a look at this article 🙂

Anyway, thanks to feeling a bit more inspired, today’s digitally-edited painting is a 1980s horror movie style painting that was a lot more fun to make.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Attic 1983” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (11th September 2020)

Well, today’s digitally-edited painting is based on a dream I had the night before I made it. You can read more about the background of this painting in this article I posted here in May (and, yes, my art and article schedules have drifted apart a bit).

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

“Westbrook In A Dream” By C. A. Brown

Two Techniques For Painting Rainy Cities At Night

Well, as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve recently found myself fascinated by Youtube videos filmed by people walking through rainy cities at night. Naturally, I wanted to make some original art inspired by this genre of video – and, in the process, I learnt a couple of interesting traditional and digital techniques that I’ll be sharing today. These basically just involved figuring out the “rules” of how light acts in various situations and then working out how to replicate this with the tools I had.

So, I should probably talk about art mediums before I explain these techniques – since I use a mixture of traditional and digital tools. One of these two techniques can be done “100% traditionally” using waterproof ink pens, watercolour pencils/paint and watercolour paper. The other requires the use of an image editing program – I’ll be using this free open-source one, but you can probably replicate it in any other editing program that allows you to alter the opacity of digital airbrushes.

Anyway, let’s get on to the techniques:

1) Rainy roads and pavements: One of the things you’ll notice if you really look at pictures or footage of rainy cities at night is that the roads and pavements are very rarely the grey/black colour that you’d expect them to be. Because they are wet, they will often reflect nearby light sources – and will act like something of a mirror. And, since it is the ground, the reflections of light sources in city scenes will usually go downwards (albeit following the contours of the ground).

Of course, since the texture of paved ground is usually very slightly uneven and the layer of water on the dark surface is constantly being disrupted by raindrops, the vertical reflections will be both slightly blurrier and slightly gloomier than they would be in a “traditional” mirror.

The easiest way to replicate this effect using ink and watercolour is to use both ink and watercolour for the buildings, people and vehicles that are “above ground” or on the ground. But, everything “below” the ground, use nothing but watercolour and be sure to mix in a bit of grey too. This adds instant gloominess and blurriness to the roads and pavements, which also contrasts well with the more “precise” drawings above ground.

Here’s a rather quick and simplified MS Paint diagram to show you what I mean:

(CLICK OR DOWNLOAD FOR LARGER VERSION).

And here’s an example of the technique in action (albeit with some extra digital effects), as also featured in yesterday’s article:

The full painting will “officially” be posted here on the 7th March 2021 – although it will be somewhat smaller than this “zoomed in” detail.

Notice how almost none of the pavement is the grey or black that you’d “traditionally” expect a pavement to be. Because it is wet and reflecting the light sources above it, it appears to be a slightly darker shade of the pink, blue and yellow lights nearby. Study any footage of a rainy city at night and pay careful attention to the colour of the pavement and you’ll see what I mean by this.

2) Light pollution: Of course, with the multitude of light sources you’ll find in a rainy city at night, there is going to be light pollution. This is where light bleeds into the sky and blocks out the stars. Traditionally, this is usually rendered as a faint orange/brown hue to the night sky (with the colours usually being more intense at the base of the sky, since it is closer to the light sources).

However, the only reason that light pollution is traditionally orange is because older streetlights usually have a warm orange tone to them. If you look closely at footage of cities with lots of different light sources (New York is a good example), then you’ll see that the light pollution is often just a much darker shade of whatever colour the largest/nearest light source is – or a mixture of colours from several nearby light sources. In other words, if there is a huge glowing green billboard – then the night sky near it will have a dark green hue (which will be more intense closer to the light source).

This is something that – whilst it probably can be done with traditional tools – is surprisingly easy to do with digital tools. For this tutorial, I’ll be using version 2.10.8 of a free open-source program called GIMP, but I’ll try to write this guide in a way that will hopefully be useful if you’re using a different program (as long as it has the ability to alter the opacity of digital airbrushes).

Start by selecting the sky area of your picture:

Selecting the sky area of this example image.

Then, either using your program’s colour menu or – even better- using a colour selection tool (the icon for it usually looks like a pipette or dropper in most programs. It allows you to change the brush colour to the colour of any pixel you click on with the tool), change your brush colour to the colour of the largest or brightest light source in your picture.

Then select your program’s “airbrush” tool and lower the opacity of it – so that it will look fainter/darker. In GIMP, the “opacity” option is a slider at the top of the menu for the airbrush. After you’ve done this, make the airbrush larger (again, there’s a slider for this) in order to make it look a bit more diffuse – and then apply it to the sky near the light source and/or to the base of the sky. Like this:

Using a large, low opacity digital airbrush to add light pollution from the light source on the right.

Once you’ve done this, do the same with other large or prominent light sources and be sure to blend them together! Light pollution usually involves the mixing of different colours of light. They shouldn’t appear as separate areas of light (unless you’re using this technique to create a “bloom” effect instead). For the top of the sky, either lower the opacity further or blend some low-opacity black into the upper parts of the areas you’ve already covered, in order to give the sky a realistic gradient effect:

Blending in light from the nearby light source on the left (until the sky is a mixture of the two colours) and then using a low-opacity black airbrush to add a gradient to the sky.

And this is one way to create a slightly more realistic-looking light pollution effect.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂