Author Topic: Light in Profile Drawing  (Read 2562 times)

Offline AGRA

  • Took the opportunity to tease us with a RAAF F-82
Light in Profile Drawing
« on: May 07, 2012, 12:29:14 PM »
I'm having some fun drawing profiles in PhotoShop. While I have no problem with the line work, colour schemes and solid shadows its having that look of light shining on the aircraft that I can't work out. Is it possible to generate this effect in PhotoShop without labourisly drawing it in? Or do I need some better software?

Any tips or comments would be greatly appreciated.

Offline Logan Hartke

  • High priest in the black arts of profiling...
  • Rivet-counting whiffer
Re: Light in Profile Drawing
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2012, 01:24:40 PM »
Hey AGRA!  Glad to see another profiler trying their hand at it.  It's really not black magic, it just takes a while to figure out, and you'll never be "perfect".  As for how it's done?  Well, there's really no right answer there.  I'm sure all of us profilers on here have a different preferred method.  I know mine changes with almost every profile I do.

A few things starting off.  Photoshop is fine.  Photoshop and Illustrator are really as good as it gets in the profiling world and have everything you need to get the job done.  I use Photoshop, personally, but many of the "pros" use Illustrator.  I can, but I'm sticking to what I know for the moment.

As far as hand drawing it goes, that's how I started off, but I don't have a steady enough hand to really pull that off too well.  If I had a WACOM tablet, I'd give another whack at it, but with just the touchpad and mouse, it's not practical for me.  I have two main methods that I prefer at the moment.  One is a single pixel wide "shine line" on the aircraft.  This is where the shine is greatest on the airframe and all light on it radiates from that point.  You can see that in real life on this picture I took on a recent trip to Wright-Patterson AFB.  It's that bright white line starting at the nose and going all the way to the tail.

I generally draw that line as a path, then use the "Outer Glow" layer style to give a white light radiating from it.  I then use the eraser to eliminate parts that don't look quite right.

There are a couple other methods that's I've recently grown fond of, but some are semi-advanced with tools and are confusing if I try to type them out.  They start with Inner Shadow, but take a good deal of combination and manipulation after that.

I HIGHLY recommend a good "remove white" plugin, though.  It's been invaluable for me in both lighting and shading (with extensive use of the Invert command, obviously).

I also do two lighting layers per element, too.  One is either Normal or Lighten (my lighting layers are generally white-only, so both have the same effect), while the one underneath it is Overlay.  I got this tip from Damian.  I think it's the only way he and Clave light their aircraft.  I just use it in conjunction with the Normal white layer.

Here's just some general tips, though:

Look at photos.  Always.  They are right.  Other profiles, lighting studies, tutorials, etc are not generally right.  Trust your eyes not someone else's work.  Find as many photos of your subject (or the closest thing to it) in bright light, preferably with the light coming from the right direction and preferably in flight.
Start with too much, then erase gradually until it's right.  It's easier when doing lighting to take away than it is to add without the eye noticing.
Try different methods.  Some will work for you, others won't.  Experiment constantly.

As some inspiration, you have to start somewhere and it's hard to start worse than I did!  I've attached a Gripen that was my first profile just a few years ago.  I've also attached my most recent He 100, so you can see how far I've come.  I'm also linking to my He 100 Build Thread so you can see how the lighting on that one evolved.

Adolf Galland's He 100D-2/N Build Thread

Feel free to PM me or update this thread if you have any questions as you work your way through it.  I hope that helps!



Offline AGRA

  • Took the opportunity to tease us with a RAAF F-82
Re: Light in Profile Drawing
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2012, 01:30:10 PM »
Thanks a lot for the info and leeds. I've used outer glow before on text layers and thought it was the sort of thing that could be used for shine highlights but hadn't worked out how. Now I know, which is apparantly 0% of the battle.