Process: Lighting for Ruined #3


Indoor nighttime Regency lighting is tough! They pretty much relied on fireplaces and candles, and since wax candles were so expensive, even those were at a minimum. It’s a challenge to portray those limits while keeping the characters and environments legible so Sarah’s scripts shine through.

This worked to our advantage in issues three and four, thankfully. I looked at it as “mood lighting” to visually enhance the emotional rollercoaster Catherine experiences on her wedding night. Exaggerating the dark corners of the Davener house only adds to its mystery. This draws our attention back to the characters, whose facial expressions and body language are a key part of these scenes.

The obvious solution from art training is to go cool with bluer tones through most of the art, then use yellow highlights to insinuate the warmth of the lighting. I wanted something more sensuous than that, though –– after all, we’re waiting to see how the consummation of their marriage goes –– so I gave her room deep pink wallpaper. The characters are enveloped in this rosy warmth, but it’s deepened and desaturated, so the golden firelight both maintains its cozy allure and draws our attention back to well-lit areas with its higher saturation and contrast.

I do line art in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, then color and finish in Photoshop.

Technical steps:

  1. Get flats from color assist Justin, and they look great! I tweak the palette and clean things up a little.
  2. I add background lighting…
  3. Then foreground lighting in two steps: one to account for the glare of the candlelight on the vanity’s mirror, then another layer for the general environment.
  4. I add a radial gradient that deepens the corners of the panel, adding contrast and mood that draws our attention more intimately into the moment.
  5. Then I overlay some texture and adjust levels, which smooths out the gradients and reinforces an antiqued feeling in the art.

If you like this sort of thing, I share a lot more process posts over on my Patreon!