Painting Complex Gems

Okay, I am posting this with a short write up about painting complex shaped objects as though they were gems or semi transparent substances. I was very inspired by the thread in the forums here called "A challenge to all painters" I believe, where Goatman had started painting an entire figure as if she were a huge gem. Now you may or may not be familiar with my Totem bearing Druid from I-Kore, but you can see her on my site here:

Now the whole premise behind this is to make a very solid and opaque object APPEAR to be glass or gem like. It all comes down to the placement of the highlights and as it were, "lowlights" based upon a fixed light source. For this example, I have used a lightsource directly above and to the righ tof the lady, so that light will shine down evenly upon the objects and at a slight angle to enhance the curved shape of the totem. Because the substance reacts with light (or vice versa) in such a way as glass or a gem, I have done very bright and pinpoint highlights onupper surfaces, much like you would a normal gem. This is a DIRECT reflection of the light source. The lowlights as I dubbed them , are where the light has been refracted through the medium (in this case, glass or gem) and are somewhat diffused. This means they need to be wider, and less sharp obviously.

In the write up, I use this step by step picture to help:

So from my understanding, the light passes into the object, where it is somewhat diffused and then what you see as the "lowlight" on the bottom is really the light reflecting off of the inside of the object. Very similar to an entry and exit wound created by a bullet if you will :D The light hits the top part full force and leaves a nice sharp reflection. What remains travels through the object, dispersing slowly until it hits the other side, where it shines through in a much wider area and far less brightly. In the end of course, the totem looks like this..

In the end, I think the actual reflections painted along the bottom surfaces, would depend on several factors, including the actual opacity value of the substance, the color of the substance and perhaps the thickness at various parts of the object. Of course, thinner areas would have different levels of brightness than thicker areas.

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