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Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

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Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

Edit: This work has been completed.
Follow each step in the  making of this work:  Linework ColoringShading and Highlights and Extra Details and Final Atmospheric Shading.

So close and yet so far… If you’ve followed my work in progress using Adobe Illustrator, you’ve already seen me complete the lineworkcoloring, shading and details for this image. But while it sounds like a completed artwork, the reality is lacking.

The problem with the work above is that the shadows and highlights they don’t integrate into the rest of the image. The result is that there’s no difference between the lighting on a shiny piece of metal or on soft fabric, and no difference between hair and human skin.

It’s completely flat.

So how do we go about fixing this? In this case I worked from the lowest layers up: working from the background towards the foreground. By layering gradients with different opacity setting over each other, you can create depth in the same way that color washes add depth to a canvas.

Theses kind of atmospheric light effects are a really subjective thing so there’s not really a right or a wrong way to go about this. You just have to play with the image until you’re satisfied with it.

So let’s get started. While coloring I sometimes use temporary colors as filler, resulting in a leather seat that’s a fabulous shade of lavender, as well as a turquoise desk. The first thing I need to do is get rid of it.

In the background that meant using gradients for the Venetian mirror as well as the mirrored desk and the metal legs. For the walls and floor I got rid of that hideous pinkish red and added a bit of depth by casting the background into shadow.

Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

To add some colour to the walls, I used a gradient to get those sunset colours: orange, red and purple.

Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

Now it’s time to add some lighting. A radial gradient was used to cast a shadows over everything while keeping the area around the lamp lighter than the rest of the background. The dark color help to link the walls and furniture as objects that all share the same space. At the same time it helps to emphasize the divide between background and foreground.

Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

Now that the background shading is dark enough the highlights can really pop. On the shiny surfaces I used gradients for the highlights. Radial gradients were used for the lamp and the ceramic balls of the lamp base While linear gradients on the desk and mirror help to create the illusion of light spreading away from the lamp.

Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

Since I’m satisfied with the background I can now get started with the figures. To begin with I change the colour of each object’s shadows to match the local color. What this means is instead of having a light blue shadows against the figure’s skin (which gives a sickly looking complexion) I use a pinkish brownish hue that matches her skin tone. I repeat this process with other objects, changing each one individually to either add or remove emphasis to the shading.

Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

After the shadows I can repeat the same process with the highlights: changing the highlight color to match the local color. On the hair the highlights are done with gradients to make it look shiny. Although I also experimented with gradients on the black dress to create the illusion of satin, in the end I decided that it would accentuate the dress too much, and take away attention from the rest of the image.

I’ve also added some other small details to the image like blushing cheeks, lipstick and nipples, while light gradients on the skin to act as subtle highlights.

Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

We’re almost done. All that’s left to finish the image off is a bit of tweaking. An orange color burn over everything helps to mesh it all together, although I do keep a few blue highlights in the hair and the obi.
Voila. Check out the finished image in my portfolio.

Doll: Final Atmospheric Shading

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