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How to paint materials : the ultimate guide (6 proven tips )

Isometric cube
If you want to paint colors and light with a good understanding. You must allow yourself to dig deeply into how light behave. It behave differently depending on the object you have to paint. That's what we will see in this article. 

In this article you'll see

How to paint materials :

Material definition :

The golden rule here at ashes is : always understand what you are painting. Materials are what things are made off, we can call it the texture if you want to simplify but it's more than a simple texture.

Difference beetween material and texture ?

When we talk about materials we talk about optical and physical properties of an object in nature. The color, the reflectivity (how much it reflects light ) unlike texture that can be resumed to the pattern breaking up the uniform appeareance of the material. Painting material texture mean painting in two time. First you have to figure out the property of the material. Second, the texture ( pattern ). How to paint materials

How reflected light behave with materials :

How to paint materials in digital painting ? You have to know something. Almost everything in our environment can reflect light. The sky for example act as one of the most famous secondary light source you can find on a painting. Then the mix of the reflected light of the sun and the ground bounce on the object that stand on it. painting materials for beginners is not easy, that's why we prepared you some good relevant examples.

Few examples

reflected light on materialThe more a light source is intense, the more the reflected light will be visible. Reflected light cannot be stronger than the original light source. Otherwise it mean you have a problem in your value hiearchy. How to paint materialsHere, the clouds under the fish reflect the light of the sun and light up the belly with a warm tone.painting material textureIn the image on the left, some rules to follow when painting light on material depending on environment. Not all warms tones are limited to red and orange. You can provoke cold feeling with red-magenta. It depend on how you balance your colors with adjustment layers in photoshop. Another interessant example. There is no atmosphere in space because of the lack of oxygen. Therefore, the only light that is reflected on the moon is sun. That's why you will find a flat moon with an absolute black side. Unlike earth where everything bounce here and there. 

How to paint materials ( specific part ) :

Clothes :

Clothes materialfew specular (highlight ) just shadows and light. Sometime clothes can be transparent because of a strong light penetrating them. We call that Translucency.

Leather :

How to paint materials Leather textureIt can have some specular point. The key point you have to focus on is to avoid using saturated color when it comes to painting leather. 

Stone :

You can consider stones like clothes. the surface is a bit irregular, whether you see it from far or closely. That mean you are limited in the way you can represent specular ( highlights ) Stone material

Gold :

Lot of beginners make a mistake when painting gold. They include lot of orange tones. Gold is not orange. Gold is a fair mix of black, yellow and desaturated orange with little bit of green and white. Add to that some reflected light of the ground it's standing on. Keep that in mind when you'll paint gold next time. 

Silver :

Paint it the same way you would paint a mirror of glass. 

Metal

Lot of dark areas, avoid putting lot of midtone. A good armor is a perfect balance beetween highlight and shadows, midtone are not that present as you can see in the example below ! Metal digital painting

Glass

Most of the time it's transparent with lot of distorsion of the reflect on it. Highlights on it are random. The difference with other materials is that specular ( highlights ) can easily reach absolute white value. Retain there is some interessant case such as glass of a car. You'll notice that when the car is in the shadow, we see more easily what's inside. Because glass reflect lot of light and usually blind the viewer. Painting glass

Water

Water color depend on what is above it (in term of source of light ) if it's blue sky with warm sunset. You'll end up having reddish, orange tone on your water. Always retain that some bright spot standing on the waves always make the difference, see the image below to understand.Painting water

Conclusion

The article stop here. We hope you learned some basic tips about How to paint materials in photoshop or any other software. If you want to see more ressources, here are the most relevant ones : 
  1. Understanding color : The complete guide for beginners.
  2. Understanding perspective : the basic guide for beginners
  3. Understanding how to draw cast shadows properly
Video/ external ressources :
  1. How to paint materials like a pro by marc brunet (artist from blizzard entertainment ) 
  2. How to paint metal and reflective textures by galen

If you want to paint colors and light with a good understanding. You must allow yourself to dig deeply into how light behave. It behave differently depending on the object you have to paint. That’s what we will see in this article. 

In this article you’ll see

How to paint materials :

Material definition :

The golden rule here at ashes is : always understand what you are painting. Materials are what things are made off, we can call it the texture if you want to simplify but it’s more than a simple texture.

Difference beetween material and texture ?

When we talk about materials we talk about optical and physical properties of an object in nature. The color, the reflectivity (how much it reflects light ) unlike texture that can be resumed to the pattern breaking up the uniform appeareance of the material. 

Painting material texture mean painting in two time. First you have to figure out the property of the material. Second, the texture ( pattern ). 

How to paint materials

How reflected light behave with materials :

How to paint materials in digital painting ? You have to know something. Almost everything in our environment can reflect light. The sky for example act as one of the most famous secondary light source you can find on a painting. 

Then the mix of the reflected light of the sun and the ground bounce on the object that stand on it. painting materials for beginners is not easy, that’s why we prepared you some good relevant examples.

Few examples

reflected light on materialThe more a light source is intense, the more the reflected light will be visible. Reflected light cannot be stronger than the original light source. Otherwise it mean you have a problem in your value hiearchy. 

How to paint materialsHere, the clouds under the fish reflect the light of the sun and light up the belly with a warm tone.

painting material texture

In the image on the left, some rules to follow when painting light on material depending on environment. Not all warms tones are limited to red and orange. You can provoke cold feeling with red-magenta. It depend on how you balance your colors with adjustment layers in photoshop. 

Another interessant example. There is no atmosphere in space because of the lack of oxygen. Therefore, the only light that is reflected on the moon is sun. That’s why you will find a flat moon with an absolute black side. Unlike earth where everything bounce here and there. 

How to paint materials ( specific part ) :

Clothes :

Clothes materialfew specular (highlight ) just shadows and light. Sometime clothes can be transparent because of a strong light penetrating them. We call that Translucency.

Leather :

How to paint materials Leather textureIt can have some specular point. The key point you have to focus on is to avoid using saturated color when it comes to painting leather. 

Stone :

You can consider stones like clothes. the surface is a bit irregular, whether you see it from far or closely. That mean you are limited in the way you can represent specular ( highlights ) 

Stone material

Gold :

Lot of beginners make a mistake when painting gold. They include lot of orange tones. Gold is not orange. Gold is a fair mix of black, yellow and desaturated orange with little bit of green and white. 

Add to that some reflected light of the ground it’s standing on. Keep that in mind when you’ll paint gold next time. 

d4d13996081b828b60a2ec54cc1d3d30 How to paint materials

Silver :

Paint it the same way you would paint a mirror of glass. 

Metal

Lot of dark areas, avoid putting lot of midtone. A good armor is a perfect balance beetween highlight and shadows, midtone are not that present as you can see in the example below ! 

Metal digital painting

Glass

Most of the time it’s transparent with lot of distorsion of the reflect on it. Highlights on it are random. The difference with other materials is that specular ( highlights ) can easily reach absolute white value. 

Retain there is some interessant case such as glass of a car. You’ll notice that when the car is in the shadow, we see more easily what’s inside. Because glass reflect lot of light and usually blind the viewer. 

Painting glass

Water

Water color depend on what is above it (in term of source of light ) if it’s blue sky with warm sunset. You’ll end up having reddish, orange tone on your water. 

Always retain that some bright spot standing on the waves always make the difference, see the image below to understand.

Painting water

Conclusion

The article stop here. We hope you learned some basic tips about How to paint materials in photoshop or any other software. If you want to see more ressources, here are the most relevant ones : 

  1. Understanding color : The complete guide for beginners.
  2. Understanding perspective : the basic guide for beginners
  3. Understanding how to draw cast shadows properly
Video/ external ressources :
  1. How to paint materials like a pro by marc brunet (artist from blizzard entertainment ) 
  2. How to paint metal and reflective textures by galen
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