View Full Version : Desert scene

04-25-2010, 07:59 AM
I imagined this as a barren desert scene with a person floating above and watering the desert. However I cannot seem to make the person float above the scene. I added plants to try to show the plants anchored with shadows, then added a old tree anchored with a shadow, but I can not seem to make the person appear to float. Any ideas how that is done?

04-25-2010, 12:27 PM
He appears to be floating to me. I think your painting is great.:)

04-25-2010, 11:23 PM
This is really great as it is. I think I see what you mean, though. It tricked me at first, and I suspect the reason he does not appear to be floating at first is because his legs are in a position normally associated with standing on the ground. So your eye assumes that he is. If he was sitting Buddha-style or maybe legs swept back like he was flying? But actually I liked the discovery of finally realizing that he wasn't touching the ground. The water stream drew me to that with its connected shadow. Really interesting work - concept and execution.

04-26-2010, 12:20 AM
This is an awesome piece, i love its surreal feel. :cool::)
RankAm has a fantastic suggestion too.
I believe the disconnection between his body and his shadow does give the feeling of floating.
I was thinking that perhaps as he was further away from his shadow it would become less sharp. Perhaps a feathered edge might help on the shadow. I've attached a quick fudged together version to show you what i mean. You'd need to do the water too if this idea appeals to you (which i've not done in the example)

04-26-2010, 03:43 AM
I agree with Juz, your shadows are much sharp and too detached from the feet. But it's a great work, I like it very much;)

04-26-2010, 04:52 AM
Thank you all so much for your kind words.

RankAm, you thought enough of my work to make it your first post on the forum. Thank you for your ideas. I am going to make another layer and try them.

Juz, Thank you for taking the time to show me the example. I am going to work with that when I change the posture of the man.

Some really great ideas!! They all really help. I was stumped and couldn't think of what else to try.

04-26-2010, 04:59 AM
You're most welcome Carlcath, I look forward to seeing where you take future incarnations of this fantastic concept. :):)

04-26-2010, 06:18 AM
A very fine work, Carlcath! Im looking forward to seeing what you finally decide--as well as waiting for your next piece.

04-26-2010, 08:52 AM
Yes the shadows seem a bit off. If you look at the angle of the shadow its awkward and is seems to have a different light source than the stumps shadow. A bit sharp too. but I really like the painting of the man, very good.

04-26-2010, 09:25 AM
A different and interesting image. I think the view from the top down somewhat complicates the interpretation. If it were the contrary, perhaps the floating sensation was better observed. The idea of Ramka is good. The concept is absolutely staggering. :eek::eek::eek:Carl

04-26-2010, 11:20 AM
I like the painting

As to your question, I made a quick painting to show some effects.

Ones binocular vision works to judge distances close up. Over longer distances one eyes are too close to each other to measure distance so the brain used light/color changes to judge distance. Painting one can use that to trick the brain in to seeing distance.

The atmosphere has moisture and as one looks threw it toward the horizon the more it changes the color of the objects viewed with distance. A bright red car for example will tend to have more and more gray/white added in time to the red color as it travels on its way to the horizon. How much gray/white color change is the measure of its distance from the viewer. The white is from the moisture and the gray is from dust and other airborne pollutants.

One may note a slight blue in the gray/white. Red and yellow may come in to play in the gray/white as the sunsets.

If the colors in a painting are close in light/darkness values there is little or no measure of visual depth and the senses reason/argue out a depth. That is true for shadows too.

The sun emits light from every point around it. That causes some interesting effects. Even though a object might be blocking part of the sun the sun will still be seen and it will appear to eat in to the object being viewed. One can look at sunsets and it looks like part of the sun is shining magically a little below the horizon. It also shows up during a eclipse as two shadows of different light values. The width of the light plays a role in how shadows fall on the edge of a shadow. The atmosphere refracts light so shadows tend to gradiently lighten shadows from the center out. The more distance from the object to the shadow the lighter the shadow will become until it can no longer be distinguished.

In your picture the placement of the person is hard to judge for a distance in part because of solid colors. If the ground beneath him changed color and he remains a uniform color then he will have a distance that is not in relationship with the ground so the eyes will move him to a place he fits the color better, even if that magically puts him in the air.

The persons shadow is starting at a about plumb line below the person like the solid to earth shadows on the plants. The shadow on the plant shows its height and placement. The shadow grounds him next to the plants while the detached shadow sends a conflicting message that he is floating.

Using the plants for reference one can adjust the shadow to help establish a unity to his height off the ground and his shadow. For example, if you want him two plant lengths high then start his shadow two plant shadow lengths away from light source, measuring plumb below him to the shadows starting point.

I made the quick painting showing 4 balls at different depth and heights respectively.

I hope this will help.


04-27-2010, 02:52 PM
The vast amount of knowledge on this forum is staggering. I really appreciate the ideas, the information, and the encouraging comments.

I worked on those shadows so much I finally reached the point where I could not see the forest for the trees. Thank you so much for the comments on those shadows. Until it was pointed out, I just could not see what was wrong with them. Thank you again.

Orianelima, I do not understand the reference to "Ramka". I did an Internet search and came up with a software company, music sharing, and photo sharing. Who or what is "Ramka"

EB, I sincerely appreciate it when someone takes the time and effort to offer detailed information and advice as you, Juz, and other have done. I printed the comments out so I can apply them to this and future work.

Thanks everybody, extremely helpful and encouraging comments.

04-27-2010, 04:11 PM
Dear Carl, I'm sorry if I missed the name ... I was very interested by your image, I downloaded it and changed a little as suggested by Ramka. As you pointed out "Rank, you thought enough of my work to make it your first post on the forum. Thank you for your ideas. I am going to try and make another layer Them". I found a good idea too ... Sorry:o

04-27-2010, 05:25 PM
hi carlcath..:), believe me, this got my attention, i like the idea a lot, good work on that and i know what kind of issues are u facing. other friends have given you very good tips, to have your problem solved and it does.
i thought to work over your image a little and share with you the solutions i can think of. let me write a little on that:
firstly i changed the pose of the figure, his legs, he had a clear walking pose before and keeping that wouldnt have worked at all. then i changed the direction of the shadows and that worked in the start. then, i got rid of the path shape under the figure, that shape actually gives an impression of a walkway, u know what i mean..:). later, i enhanced all the other shadows, so the absence of the figure's shadow starting from his feet gets felt. to make that stronger, i even added little grass with shadows. i then put some light on the figure, made it intense and darkened him from this side, cause this situation gives a good shadow coming in our direction and here when the viewer sees no shadow he/she get the floating idea immediately. lastly, i gave a hint of shadows on the distant mountains and added more space for the sky.
ull even notice that ive played with the composition a little, cropping and all. that was the last thing i did..:).
i do hope that helps a little. pls see these as quick suggestions for an idea.
all the best.

04-27-2010, 05:26 PM
Here is a little more info.

Pic below

The eye level (horizon line in pic) of the viewer also can determine the placement of objects in a picture. one does not actually need to always show it. (A hill in the way) The elements in the picture can tell the story by their view. If it shows the under side of a tree it is above, if it shows the top of a rock it is below, etc..


Mairzie Dotes
04-27-2010, 06:03 PM
"Desert scene" has a most interesting and benevolent theme that I might
interpret as a floating figure possibly representing nature in an attempt
to replentish a parched landscape which theoretically could include any
situation that might call for positive intervention. Your artistic concept of
a healer is quite admirable. :)

04-27-2010, 08:42 PM
It's a really intriguing image. Very beautiful!
I was just wondering whether the shadow darkness depends from the distance of the obscuring part from where it casts the shadow, in such a bright sun.

04-28-2010, 03:40 PM
Orianelima, I read "The idea of Ramka is good" and thought the "idea of Ramka" was some sort of historical, religious, or metaphysical idea of someone watering a desert. WOW!! talk about missing a point. Thanks again for your comments.

EB, thanks for the additional info. I actually considered adding more sky to elevate the figure so he appeared to float but I felt it raised him so high he could not logically water the desert unless I removed the hills. I didn't like the feel of that. I like the idea of subtle optical illusions in art and I appreciate this additional info.

Waheednasir, I think you hit it right on. That is exactly what I was trying to achieve. Changing the posture, the light source, softening the shadows and some higher plants to use as anchor shadows is exactly what I needed. Thank you for your help and the time you spent to do this.
Adding the additional sky however seems to open the image up and to me it changes the feel. I added that hill on the left side because it seemed to make the image more closed in and gave it more of the feel of the barren desert that I was aiming for.
I liked that comment about "healing the barren desert". I think I may change the title from "desert scene" to "Healing a Barren Desert".

Mairzie and Caesar,I appreciate all the help and encouragement more than anyone can imagine. What a group of really great people.

04-30-2010, 04:11 PM
Following all the welcome advice, I think it looks much better now. I added a gray/blue gradient to give it more depth, changed the light source, adjusted the height based on the height of the plants, added some detailed plants and a log in the foreground, adjusted the color on the shadows and faded them along the edges, then reluctantly, followed the suggestion, and added more sky because it seemed to make a better composition. I added a dark cloud to close it in a bit because I think the open sky changes the feeling of the piece. Also noticed I had a long diagonal that cut the composition in half so changed that some to allow the eye movement into the image. I am much happier with it. Could not have done it without all the help. Thanks so very much for all the terrific help.

Also, changed the name to "healing the barren desert". I'm glad that was suggested.

I was trying a method I have not used before in that I started with large blocks of ill defined color I smudged with the knife that I used to define the general theme on the bottom layer, then painted on many layers above that but the large blocks of paint always showed thru so there was never a white canvas that showed thru the paint layers. Good thing I did not have to buy the tubes of paint.

04-30-2010, 04:56 PM
Your painting has a easy to view feel.
Your gent is clearly and believably buoyant.

I've asked questions my whole life and I don't mind answering those I can.
waheednasir did a very nice demo and gave solid advice to bring the all info dumped on you together.
One of the great joys to me is watching others progress.
You did that.