My latest short story Midnight Ghost (it’s being released Oct 24th) required me to draw a glowing ghost. This is something you can struggle with if you don’t know the rules but once you do, drawing and painting glow is very easy.
It’s all about values
Values are the lightness or darkness of a color. I wrote a whole post about them so if you want to understand a little better check it out by clicking here.
It’s impossible to get anything lighter than the paper or white paint you are using, so how to make something look like its lit up? The secret is in the contrast. If you want something to look like light you need to put dark around it. The contrast between light and dark is what makes it look like it’s glowing.
Here is the image I did of the Ghost in my new story. She needed to look like she was glowing so I added the dark area to the background and ta-daa! Glowing ghost. This image was all done with pencil. Since there is no color you can see the contrast in values easier, but it works with color too.
Here’s video of me doing the same thing with watercolor so you can see it in action.
Color can blind us. Sometimes we try to make something look like light by adding yellow, after all, the sun is yellow so it should work right? Nope. Next time approach the problem as something that needs to be lighter or darker rather than a different color. I bet you’ll be pleased with the results.
Have fun painting glow-y things!