Painting crystals, gems, etc.
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Thread: Painting crystals, gems, etc.

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    Painting crystals, gems, etc.

    I thought I'd post this here since I'm going to practice this a little bit later, after I finish my core studies.

    I can't figure out how to paint crystals and gems and things like that. Especially if they have any color. I know, "look at reference" I have, but I still can't figure out why the light interacts the way it does... and just copying a photo isn't going to help me.

    What I have here, looks like cheap plastic. And the colors are definitely pulled out of my ass... I can't even remember why I picked them.

    Any kind of help would be swell,

    cheers.

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    Well, I’ve never actually tried to paint crystals before, but I just googled them, and tried to find something similar to what you’ve got. This picture is really small, but just from looking at it I can see where you’re having trouble. I’d really like to see your reference. Anyway, the reason your crystals don’t look like crystals is because you don’t have any transparent areas toward the top. In this picture I found, it looks like the transparency of the crystals starts at almost the midpoint of the crystals, and you can also see that they have flecks within. Of course, there are going to be different rules for different crystal types. But for these crystals here, you want really hot desaturated colors towards the base of the crystal… if you want them to appear that they are glowing anyway.

    http://wickedwink.files.wordpress.co...stals2-gif.jpg

    My suggestion would be to get a hold of some real crystals and study them under various lighting conditions… the real thing is a hundred times better for reference because it allows you to study the subtle things that just don’t show up in a photo and it helps you to think of it in 3d.

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    Three main things I would consider:

    1. The light hitting your crystal is soft and being diffused across the surface somewhat (because you used a soft brush to paint the highlights). You want more specular highlights: shiny things = harder edges for the highlights. This will make it look less like plastic.

    2. Crystal and glass and such materials, when bulked up in mass, often exhibit light accumulating on the opposite of its point of entry - so if the light is coming from the upper left, accumulate a light (with a temperature shift) on the lower right (kind of like a glow with a soft shift in value, hue, and saturation) - you can use a brush set to color dodge to accomplish this temperature shift.

    3. No really, look at reference. Stare at it, paint it, and figure it out - this is the best way. I don't mean to be condescending; most of the answers are there in reference, and if you're not getting it, clear your mind and try a fresh approach, and don't be satisfied until you really get it.

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    TASmith is offline Registered User Level 16 Gladiator: Spartacus' Retiarii
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    It's pretty, and it's cartoony. If that's what you wanted, then good. Real crystals are very sharp, so they need crisp, sharp edges and points.

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    It looks like you're trying to paint amethyst crustals. Check these out and compare the colours with the ones you've chosen. http://www.mineralminers.com/html/amemins.stm It might help to introduce more blue to your choices to give transparency.

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    There's some weird FX on a crystal, certain inner walls seen from the outside are mirrors reflecting some weird angle, you can use this to your advantage to add realism.

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    Keep in mind that crystals in the natural state (i.e. not cut) usually display a mix of rounded edges and hard edges with very geometric shapes. This is especially true for the common translucent crystals such as quartz and gemstones:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Un...crystal_66.JPG
    Your mineral's shape reminds of quartz:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Quartz,_Tibet.jpg
    for which hard edges a very distinctive trait. I think the plastic feeling has more to do with the lack of hard edges in the drawing than with the color choice, since minerals reflect/refract light in a huge variety of ways and may actually look like plastic sometimes.
    Also real minerals always have some small scratches and traces of impurities.

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    Ilaekae is offline P.O.W.! Leader, Complete Idiot, Super Moderator Level 17 Gladiator: Spartacus' Dimachaeri
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    Most crystals are transparent to some degree, and gems that have been cut and shaped for maximum brilliance are definitely transparent. The problem you're having is caused by the fact that you seem to treat the object as a solid opaque shape that you "do something to" to make it a crystal/gem. This won't work.

    You have to really study gemstones, and learn how the light is reflected and transmitted by the transparent surfaces that act like mirrors inside the stone. This is almost impossible from memory for most people, no matter how good they are. Get yourself some reference of something close to what you want to do, as far as color and light direction are concerned. Then rough in the shape you need for your purposes AS AN OUTLINE of all the surfaces, both in front and "hidden." This is your "throw-away sketch guide." then build the gem you want from back to front with layers, messing with both the brush and layer transparency to achieve what you want.

    This is NOT EASY, so don't get discouraged or try to pull off perfection in a couple of hours. Just keep sharp edges, overlaps and layering in logical places and you'll get there.

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    From the top of my hat, you usually see inside edges reflect something. Say you had a green object to the right of the crystal some edge in the inside left of the crystal shafs might reflect that green.

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    I try to imagine crystals as glass objects with the center more transparent and the edges more reflective, with things inside like flakes and cracks catching light. But I also think they're actually really really unpredictable. So the best thing IMO is to use a photo as reference and imagine it in the environment of your choice. Background and environment lighting influence much transparency and reflections of crystals.
    I googled "purple crystals": differences in colors, transparency and contrast are so big they are upsetting...
    I made a quick paintover of the image, I hope it helps. (A suggestion: drop soft-edged brushes...)

    PS I copied and pasted the big crystals to make the small ones, so there can be some inconsistencies with shadows...

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    Last edited by revenebo; July 14th, 2010 at 08:04 AM.
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