A city in the clouds...
Hey everyone. This is my first time posting. I've been slowly working my way through the courses here at SVSlearn and have learned so much. What you're about to see is my latest piece that is what I consider to be a "level up" piece for me. I wish I would have paid attention to the time it took, but many things came together for me in this one. I still have much to learn, though. My question for everyone is this. What are your digital techniques that have worked well for rendering clouds? These kicked my butt and I'm still not pleased with them!! This is all digital, created in Photoshop with a Wacom One tablet and pen. Thanks for the feedback
@Tony79 Great piece!
Clouds are a tough one because I think we tend to over think them. Just a few thoughts:
The foreground and background clouds are all roughly the same size. The billows don't seem to vary so much. The thing about clouds is that they're really, really far away so if you look at a lot of reference of a really busy cloud-scape, you'll see a lot of size variation. Since your designing it, I'd focus specifically on that and try and follow the big, medium, small approach and make sure there is a distinction there.
Your lighting doesn't seem to be following the same rules. You've got highlights kinda hitting every angle on every side. Pick a direction you want the light to come from and apply those rules across the entire background.
I'd strip all that down and try and focus on the shapes first. The "details" of clouds are simply what the light is doing to them. All their variations, colors, highlights, etc are not them, but the environment around them. So think of the shape first, then what colors they might be picking up, then tackle where the light is coming from. Based on that you can work on where the shadows should be. By the time you get to that point they begin to look a lot more natural.
Lastly, get a LOT of reference together!
I'm by no means an expert or anything, so take this all with a grain of salt. I'm curious what others suggest also!
@jdubz Great tips! You described everything I hate about those clouds perfectly. lol. I really like the big, medium, small approach. It's so simple, but really makes sense. Thank you for breaking down cloud structure in an easy to understand way. Now I'm off to gather more reference!
Welcome, @Tony79 ! Really cool piece! As a fellow cloud-novice, I don't have any rock-solid process to share, but I thought I would point you to the following mini-tutorial: https://theetheringtonbrothers.blogspot.com/2019/08/how-to-think-when-you-draw-clouds.html
Etherington obviously has a more comics/cartoon-oriented approach, but I think his method of really focusing on differentiating the underlying volumes used for the clouds may be helpful. Obviously I wouldn't push the shapes as far and wacky as he does for this more realistically-rendered style, but "chunking" up sections of the clouds may help them read better and give you more opportunities to show the form of the clouds in shadow and light. Maybe a better way to summarize all of this is that I agree with Josh
More than anything, I wanted to say welcome to the forums and great job on your painting!
@Mike-Marttila Thank you so much. I'll definitely check out that mini tutorial.
I went back and took another pass at the clouds. I like this much better, but have a long way to go. Thank you for the feedback!