Lately I’ve been working on incorporating environmental light/color in my work. I’ve never been an outstanding colorist—I actually think I missed color theory in college when I transferred before my sophomore year. It’s something I’ve been more conscious of IRL and in my sketchbook this year.

Light and color in a Friday night dive bar: Illustration of friends in pink lights and purple shadows

A mixture of blue/yellow light coming in an off screen window (used a photo reference): Illustration of woman in greenish light and shadows

The illustration I made for the top of my online store is one of the most technically interesting things I’ve ever drawn. Here’s the basic illustration: Illustration of a woman reading comics

I think this is pretty decent as it stands, and it’s where I would stopped six months ago.

The thing I was really interested in here though was the light source. The final version uses light to direct the composition: Illustration of a woman reading comics in dramatic lighting

Much more complex and dramatic! The busy composition is easier to navigate and the mood is totally different.

While working on this piece I really felt like I understood how the light was playing the room—something I didn’t actually grok with the previous two drawings. For this one, I used two “gel” layers representing the light in the room: Screenshot of layers palette with basic lighting

The whole room is in shadow (the purple multiply layer) while the light (the yellow overlay layer) is coming in through a contained shape (the window). From there, I erased light and added shadow to show how the light was interrupted by solid objects (chair, person) and more translucent objects (leaves, curtains): Screenshot of layers palette with detail lighting layers

I’ve still have a lot to learn, but I’m really excited to be capturing this kind of depth! If you have any resources you really like for environmental color, give me a shout and I’ll add them to this post for folks to see.