Making of 'Another Rainy Day'
In this tutorial I will be showing you how to paint a rainy day scene without having to paint any weather effects, but rather the feeling will be conveyed purely based around colour, mood, and some reflections on the street. I took the photograph on the right myself, a long time ago. It is a good idea to always shoot your own reference material, because that way you don't have to worry about any copyright issues, especially if you want to sell your painting. When you are taking your reference, be sure not to use the flash. Using the flash will destroy any kind of lighting scheme you wanted and will also wash out the subject. Now that I have my reference I can get started...
The Block- In
(Fig01) For the most part of this tutorial I will just be using two different brushes for this painting; a round brush and a rectangular brush. When I am painting from reference material I open the reference and place it next to my canvas. This way I can always look over at the reference while I am painting. I start out by painting in the colour of the sky, and then block in the main silhouettes of the buildings in a dark colour, but not pure black. Right now I am using the natural, rectangular brush. I like using this brush because it is very versatile in the fact that you can get soft shapes as well as hard edges. You can also rotate the brush to get brush strokes in different directions. After I have all the main shapes in place I need to put in the base colour of the buildings (Fig02 - 03).
Using the same brush I paint the buildings in the background with less pressure, as opposed to the buildings in the foreground. Usually things further away are softer, and things closer are sharper. Even when I know a building isn't going to be dark in colour, I will still block in the silhouette as a dark colour because that way I can get some of the dark colour to show through (Fig04). This will give the surface some more texture and depth otherwise it will look too flat. I continue to work all around the canvas and try not to focus on any one particular element (Fig05). This will allow me to get a greater feel for the image as a whole and not to worry about spending too much time on something, only to have it be out of place or in the wrong perspective.
Adding The Detail
One of the really cool elements in painting a cityscape is the lights (Fig06 - 07). The red tail lights of the cars act as a directional element that lead the viewer's eye throughout the piece. Adding lights will also give your illustration a livelier feel to it, almost as if it were alive itself. The brush I used to simulate rain droplets on the rear window of the car is a type of speckled brush (Fig08) (I also use this brush a lot when I am painting facial hair on men).
The red tail lights look OK right now, but I really wanted them to feel like they were glowing. An easy way to do this is the use the "colour dodge" setting on the brush (Fig09). Do not use the actual Dodge tool because this will desaturate and wash out your painting, but instead use the Brush tool, and from the drop down menu select "colour dodge". Using this setting will preserve colour in your painting and will make it glow. I usually pick a darker colour than what I want, because otherwise you will risk over-exposing your image. In order for this to work you will need to use this brush on a layer that has your entire illustration on one layer. If you are working in layers just hit the Ctrl + A hot keys to select the entire canvas, and then again hit Ctrl + Shift + C to copy all layers. Now just hit Ctrl + V to paste the illustration into a new layer. Now you can use the colour dodge brush on this layer. The other brush that I used a lot in this illustration was just a Photoshop, default, round brush, with the Opacity set to Pressure (Fig10 - 12).
Using this brush will give me some harder edges than the rectangular brush I used for blocking in the main shapes. Edge control is a very important aspect of a painting, and can cause an illustration to either succeed or fail. Most of the time I use the hard, round brush for when I am painting elements such as railings, poles, and wires. I try not to use the Shift key for drawing straight lines, but instead I just do them freehand. Doing this will give more life to your painting and it won't look so mechanical. Some of the lines look pretty straight, but that is only because I will keep redrawing the same line over and over until I am satisfied with the way it looks. Remember that the Ctrl + Z (Undo) hot keys are your friends. For many of the colours I have been picking colour directly from the photo, simply because it saves a lot of time. I would actually advise against doing this because it doesn't require any thought. In time you will start to lose the understanding of colour and you will not be able to identify which colour is which. You will begin to catch yourself thinking, "is that colour more blue or yellow?". It is good practice to look at a colour in a photo and try to pick the colour yourself just by looking at it. Also picking colours from a photo is generally bad practice simply because colours in photos are usually not very accurate, and can be washed out or dull. But anyway, I am being bad and colour-picking here! I wanted some more colour harmony in my piece, so I decided to change the Colour Balance of the illustration (Fig13). An easy way to do this without actually changing your painting is by clicking on the half-black, half-white circle at the bottom of your layers palette. Doing this will open up a window, inside which you can then change the different options - I chose Colour Balance. The colour balance dialogue box will open, and it is here that you can change your colours. I pulled the sliders towards more Yellow, Magenta, and Cyan. You can also change the tonal balance by selecting Shadows, Midtones, and Highlights. It is fun to play around with these different settings.
The Final Touches
All that is left now is to add in some of the final details to the buildings, like the windows, signs, and railings (Fig14 -17).
I am also adding in the rest of the cars on the left-hand side. These steps only take a few minutes because I am painting pretty loosely. One of the things I always battle with is how refined I should make the illustration. For this painting I wanted a more painterly feel, and not something that looked too photo realistic. You can see by the detailed shot that the cars are pretty loose, especially the ones that are further away from the viewer (Fig18).
Even when I am painting something this small I still paint zoomed out to about 25%. This allows me to keep things looser, and I can also judge what it will look like zoomed out at the same time. I think the hardest thing that I battled with in this illustration was the sign on the right (Fig19 - 21). Adding lettering to any illustration is tricky, because people like to read things in paintings, and often they take a lot of focus away from the rest of the piece. I didn't want the sign to be too much of a focal point, and I have been avoiding finishing the rest of the text. In the end I finished the text, but I tried to keep the value range between the letters and the background fairly similar so as to not call too much attention to it.
To see more by Daarken, check out Elysium: The Art of Daarken