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4.3 Highlights and Shading

After the color conversion is completed, add life to your painting by immediately adding the first round of highlights and shading. Learn how to use blend modes to make this process much easier.

4.3 Highlights and Shading

Hello and welcome back to Surreal Digital Paintings. My name is Melody Nieves and this is lesson 4.3. In this lesson, we'll use blend modes to add more dimension to this painting with the first round of highlights. See how quickly your painting transforms and learn how to create beautiful, voluminous detail. Every time I break from a digital painting, I see something new. Before I get started with the highlights, I've decided to add a new adjustment layer for curves. Pay attention to the way these points effect the colors of your painting. By adjusting and experimenting with the shapes of this curve, I can create an interesting effect for the rgb green, red, and blue channels. One quick way to get a cool effect is to create two points that are moving in opposite directions. Depending on the result you can either stick with it or delete the points and start over again. Once you're satisfied with the effect, we can move on to the highlights. Keep in mind everything you learned while creating the thumbnails for color. Add a new layer, and set the blend mode to Linear Dodge Add. Select the Brush tool, and hold all to pick up the color from the hair section. Start adding highlights to the areas where you definitely know the light will hit. Refer back to your references for help, because they are ultimately there to guide you. The key to painting highlights is to not over do it. One quick stroke might be all you need to establish the light effectively. Notice that as I paint them in, I concentrate the highlights on the center parts of each curl. The bumps of hair that would be poking forward are the ones where the light would hit, so naturally that's where you want to put them. Highlights are the kind of details that immediately transform a painting. The hair went from dull and lifeless to looking like it could show up in a hair commercial. And because we want the model to have a high standard of beauty, this look really ties in well with the overall concept. Slowly move on to the rest of the highlights for each detail. Remember to pick up colors from each section to make sure you're not using the wrong ones. Like using the hair color to paint the highlights for the blindfold. Since the light source is low, the brightest highlights should be towards the bottom. This means that the light should just barely kiss the blindfold while almost washing out the model's shirt. Again, the light source is coming from the bottom left corner. So it's important to concentrate the light on the lotus flower on the lower left side I always knew going into this painting that I wouldn't paint too much detail for the fish that are actually trapped within the necklace. There are already quite a few fish to paint and if I concentrate on them for too long, I might not be appropriating my time effectively. So for the fish I quickly add spots of highlight. This way the viewer can tell they exist while letting the foreground elements shine. Continue cycling through your references for help. These parts get a little tricky because you're naturally inclined to follow the reference exactly how you see it. At least in the sense of how something is lit. The best advise I can give is to absorb what you can from each reference at least in regards to light and texture. Then try your best to transfer what you learned to this painting under these specific lighting conditions. Now for the glass necklace. I don't have any references for the fishbowl, but I looked at many online and tried to retain what I can. Add highlights to each bowl. Keep in mind that the circles on the bottom will be much darker because they're in shadow. Let's finish up this first round of highlights by adding bright streaks to the water. Liquids are shiny, so keep this fact in mind when applying these highlights. The brightest spots are closest to the light source, of course. But treat this section like how we treated the hair. And with the color thumbnail version you're by, all I have to do is reference it to see where they should go. Paint several strokes on top of each other, to intensify the bright effect caused by the blend mode. Extend this beautiful sense of lighting, all the way through to the bottom parts of the water, that move closer to the viewer. Take a step back to admire your work. Just that easy, we were able to speed up the painting process by relying on the linear dodge ad blend mode. The great thing about getting this far is that you can start to see the finish line. We still have a ways to go, of course, but this initial progress at least shows us now that we are on the right track. The next step is to add some texture. Incorporating texture brushes into your workflow is the easiest way to add more realism into your work. So join me in lesson 4.4, where we'll add texture to this surreal digital painting.

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