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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Let There be Light

Until now, you have learned about shadows, but the title of this chapter is "Lights and Shadows." What about the lights? There are times when the light source is in the image. Other times, it is outside of the viewing area, but makes a cameo appearance some where in the image. The painting on the cover is a good example of the latter.

The image on the cover of the book depicts a scene that is lit by the late afternoon sun. The sun is the light source. It is located outside of the window, way off on the horizon. If you look closely at the edges of the mirror, you see the sun reflected on one of the angles (Figures 4.60 and 4.61).

Figure 4.60Figure 4.60. The sun is visible on the edges of the mirror.


Figure 4.61Figure 4.61. Darkening the other layers makes the sun easier to see.

Creating that tiny reflection of light (the sun) is an easy task. Two clicks with the Paintbrush tool is all it takes. The first click is the large brush with a soft edge. This creates the glare effect. The second click is the smaller, hard-edged brush that represents the sun.

I use this technique in many of my paintings. Figure 4.62 shows the "Studio theater" painting, which utilizes this technique several times.

Figure 4.62Figure 4.62. The sun's light is visible in several places in this painting.

Have you ever attempted to take a picture of the sun? It's a bit hard on the film. Likewise, I tend to stay away from including the sun in the painting. The moon, on the other hand, is a great light source because it can be placed directly in view without blinding the viewer. The moon also has different reactions to the atmosphere, creating some cool effects.

In the "Moonlight at Shasta Gate" painting, the moon is visible above the treetops (Figure 4.63). It is a clear night, and the shadows that are cast over the road are crisp. Note the tiny reflections of the moon on the shiny leaves of the bushes next to the road (Figure 4.64).

Figure 4.63Figure 4.63. The "Moonlight at Shasta Gate" painting shows the moon just above the treetops.


Figure 4.64Figure 4.64. The bushes next to the road have shiny leaves that reflect the moon.

In the "night walk" painting, there is a halo around the moon, as shown in Figure 4.65. High in the atmosphere, under certain conditions, ice crystals form—millions of them. As the light of the moon passes through these crystals, it is refracted, hence the halo. I was stunned the first time I saw this!

Figure 4.65Figure 4.65. The "night walk" painting has a halo around the moon.

The moon is placed in a layer above the layer that contains a deep blue gradient for the sky (Figure 4.66).

Figure 4.66Figure 4.66. The moon is placed in a layer above the layer with the blue gradient for the sky.

A bright blue color is selected for the Foreground color. Using the Gradient tool (Figure 4.67), in Radial Gradient mode (Figure 4.68), set the gradient for Foreground to Transparent (Figure 4.69).

Figure 4.67Figure 4.67. The Gradient tool is selected.


Figure 4.68Figure 4.68. Radial Gradient is chosen for the technique.


Figure 4.69Figure 4.69. Foreground to Transparent is chosen for the type of gradient.

A small, circular gradient is created in a new layer that is behind the layer of the moon (Figure 4.70).

Figure 4.70Figure 4.70. A gradient is created behind the moon.

The opacity for the layer with the gradient is decreased to soften the effect (Figure 4.71).

Figure 4.71Figure 4.71. The opacity is decreased for the layer with the gradient.

Using the Elliptical Marquee tool, a large circle is selected around the moon. This circle is the basis for the halo that surrounds the moon in the painting, as shown in Figure 4.72.

Figure 4.72Figure 4.72. A large circle is selected around the moon to serve as the basis for the halo.

The halo is a ring around the moon. The current selection is a big circle so it is necessary to modify the selection. Select Border from the Select menu (Select>Modify>Border), as shown in Figure 4.73. I set this at a high number, 40 pixels.

Figure 4.73Figure 4.73. Choose Border from the Select menu to outline the selected area.


Values entered in dialog boxes that are specified in pixels are dependent on the resolution of the image you are working on. For example, if you want an effect to occur over a half-inch area, then you should set your pixel dimension based on the resolution. 72 dpi requires a measurement of 36 pixels to achieve a half-inch; 300 dpi requires 150 pixels.

Apply a feathered edge to the selection to soften it (choose Select>Feather). I gave it a feather of 20, which is half the amount of the border size.

In a new layer, the selection is filled with a soft blue color, as shown in Figure 4.74.

Figure 4.74Figure 4.74. The selection is filled with a soft blue color.

The opacity is decreased for the layer of the halo to soften the glow, as shown in Figure 4.75.

Figure 4.75Figure 4.75. The opacity is decreased to soften the halo.

Figure 4.76 shows the painting "view1." In this picture, the moon is visible through the fog. The process is identical to the one shown in Figures 4.674.70. The moon itself has no detail and is simply a white circle. There is a small, dark glow around the moon, which is then surrounded by the larger, light-colored glow.

Figure 4.76Figure 4.76. The "view1" painting shows the moon through the fog.

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