Painting the Water

Water is another one of those elements in a landscape that can give an artist fits. Like clouds, water moves and changes shape constantly. Also like clouds, it is often best to paint the impression of water instead of trying to paint the actual shapes of water that you observe.

Again, because we are not using any reference material, the technical accuracy of the reflections and such is not as important as convincing the viewers that they are looking at some painted water. Painting the water is a process that depends on other areas of the image being finished or close to finished. This process will take several steps and cannot be completed in one block of work dedicated to just painting the water. We will do the initial work now and then return later in the painting process to finish.

The first steps when painting the water are not nearly as intensive as painting the clouds. The work is more along the lines of pushing the correct button in the correct sequence to get the right effect. In this section, we'll use several Painter X features in sequence to easily create a basic water effect. Later, we'll paint on and over this layer as the painting progresses.

We want to create a reflection of the clouds that will immediately give the impression of water to the viewer. To do this, first duplicate the Cloud layer.

1. Access the Duplicate command either by right-clicking on the Cloud layer and selecting Duplicate or by selecting the Duplicate command in the Layers menu on the menu bar at the top of the screen.

2. With the Duplicate layer active, navigate to the Effects menu and select Orientation > Flip Vertical. Figure 2.11 shows the location of the Flip Vertical command in the Effects menu.

Figure 2.11 The location of the Flip Vertical command

3. Once again, go to the Effects menu and select Orientation > Free Transform. Free Transform creates a Reference layer from the Duplicate Cloud layer that can be scaled, distorted, rotated, sheared, and generally changed to your heart's desire without ruining the original. The icon for the new Reference layer in the Layers palette is different from a normal layers icon. Figure 2.12 shows both a normal layer icon and the Reference layer icon.

Note: It is important to remember the difference between the layer icon and the Reference layer icon, because you cannot paint on a Reference layer.

Figure 2.12 The Layers palette showing both a normal layer and a Reference layer with their icons in the top-right corner of each layer

4. Scale down the Reference layer in the vertical dimension until the layer fills the painting from the horizon to the bottom of the image, and position it correctly along the bottom of the image.

We are trying to quickly create the base for a reflection of the clouds. Figure 2.13 shows the Cloud layer flipped, scaled down in the vertical axis, and positioned below the horizon line.

City Under Horizon Line

Figure 2.13 The Duplicate Cloud layer is flipped, scaled, and moved into position below the horizon line to give the illusion of the clouds reflected in the water.

Figure 2.13 The Duplicate Cloud layer is flipped, scaled, and moved into position below the horizon line to give the illusion of the clouds reflected in the water.

When you have finished transforming the Reference layer, you must convert it back to a default layer. To convert the Reference layer back to the normal layer, right-click on the layer and select Commit or, from the Effects menu, select Orientation > Commit Transform.

zow we need to make the reflected clouds look a bit more like water. If it is not already visible, launch the Patterns palette. Click on the small black triangle in the upper-right corner of the palette. Then highlight Make Fractal Pattern from the pop-up menu. Figure 2.14 shows the location of the Make Fractal Pattern command in the Patterns palette.

Figure 2.14 The location of the Make Fractal Pattern menu item in the Patterns palette

The Make Fractal Pattern window appears. Set the sliders to the following values:

Power: -21% Feature Size: 12% Softness: 79% Angle: 90 Thinness: 9%

Then click 512 for the Size button.

Click OK. Figure 2.15 shows the Make Fractal Pattern window and the correct values for the sliders and Size button.

Figure 2.15 The Make Fractal Pattern window with the correct values set in the sliders and checked in the buttons

A new image will be created with a seamless fractal pattern. Seamless in this case means that the edges of the image can be tiled or wrapped around on itself without a visible seam where one edge meets another. This image is going to be the base for creating a water-like effect in the reflected Cloud layer.

9. Once again in the Pattern palette, click on the small black triangle and highlight Capture Pattern. The Capture Pattern window appears. Leave all the settings at their default, but name the new pattern Water. Click OK to close the window.

10. Close the pattern image. Save it or just throw it away since we no longer need it in this painting.

11. Back in our main painting, make sure that the Cloud Reflection layer is active, and duplicate it so you have two Cloud Reflection layers. Click on the top Cloud Reflection layer to make it the active layer if it is not already, and click on the small plug icon at the bottom of the Layers palette to activate Dynamic Layers. Then select the Glass Distortion effect (see Figure 2.16).

The Glass Distortion Options window appears, and the effect is applied to the current layer using the active Paper texture (Figure 2.17).

Figure 2.17 The Glass Distortion Options window

Currently, the effect being applied is based on the active Paper texture. This texture obviously does not make the reflected clouds look like water.

To create a more convincing water effect, click the down triangle in the Using box and highlight Original Luminance.

Original Luminance points the effect to the currently active pattern to create the distortion. If the Water pattern created earlier is not the active pattern, go to the Patterns palette and select the Water pattern. Figure 2.18 shows the distortion switched from using Paper to Original Luminance with the Water pattern active.

Figure 2.18 The Glass Distortion effect using Original Luminance based on the earlier created Water pattern

The distortion in the cloud reflections is now looking a lot more like waves in water.

14. You can refine the effect with a few adjustments of the sliders. Move the sliders to the following values:

15. Also, in the Patterns palette, scale the pattern down to 65% of its original size. When you've made all the adjustments, click OK in the Options window (Figure 2.19).

Figure 2.19 The Glass Distortion Options slider settings, the Scaling slider in the Patterns palette, and the resulting change in the effect

One of the nice things about Dynamic Layers is the ability to adjust the effect at any time. As long as the layer has not been converted to a default layer, you can double-click on it, and the options box will open. Here you can experiment with different settings. When you are satisfied with the Dynamic Layer, you can convert it to a default layer by right-clicking on it in the Layers palette and selecting Commit. You can delete the first Reflection layer that is not distorted. Figure 2.20 shows the complete painting to this point.

Figure 2.20 The complete painting with cloud reflections in the foreground water

Adding Perspective

The water is pretty convincing except that it does not recede into the distance as you would expect. It would be tedious, though possible, to make multiple layers that each had the watery effect applied slightly smaller. In this particular painting, I will opt for an easier solution. Instead of receding water, we will add a dark fog bank to cover the larger wave shapes as they get closer to the horizon line. Follow these steps to create a dark fog bank.

1. Create a new layer. Make sure that the Preserve Transparency box is not checked and Pick Up Underlying Color box is checked.

2. Using the Dropper tool, select the darkest color that is close to the horizon. In the Color palette, make the selected color slightly darker.

3. Select the Brush tool and then the Airbrushes category. Choose the Digital Airbrush variant.

On the new layer, paint a slightly darker strip of color that covers the larger wave reflections that are close to the horizon line.

If the painted Foggy layer does not completely cover the reflections, duplicate the layer. Adjust the Opacity setting of the Duplicate layer until the reflections are hidden. Adjusting the opacity of a second layer gives much greater control than trying to paint additional color over the reflections. The image now has four layers above the canvas background: two Fog layers, one Reflection layer, and the Cloud layer. Do not drop any layers yet. Save the file.

Figure 2.21 shows the painting with a foggy strip painted over the large reflections.

Figure 2.21 The painting with a foggy strip painted over the large reflections in the water

Dimming the Cloud Reflections

We have only one more step to take before we complete this stage of painting the water. The cloud reflections are a bit bright. Generally, reflections in water pick up some of the water color and are not as bright as the objects they reflect. Follow these steps to make the reflections slightly less intense.

1. Create a new layer above the Reflection layer but below the Fog layers.

2. Create a rectangular selection from the horizon to the bottom of the image.

3. Fill the selection with a light bluish color.

4. Change the composite method of the layer to Darken. Setting a layer to Darken causes that layer to darken only the things that are lighter on the underlying layers.

5. Change the Opacity setting of the Darken layer to 50%.

Anything that was lighter on the Reflection layer has been subtly darkened and is slightly less intense. Figure 2.22 shows the painting with the water finished.

George Carlson Artist
Figure 2.22 The water in the painting is now finished as far as possible at this point.

Drop the Cloud layer onto the canvas and do an Iterative Save of the image again. For the rest of the painting, you do not need the clouds on a separate layer. Saving this new image with a new sequential number lets you go back to the original and access the Cloud layer if you need to.

In the next section, we will add rocky cliffs and outcroppings to the scene.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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