Summer Lacey asked me how to paint those little indents and footprints in the sand.
Here's some of what I wrote back...
I had someone who sent me a link to this viewing software: http://www.prvsoft.com/movie-player.html
This allows you to slow down some of the detail painting in the sand in my Ruakaka Beach
video. Haven't tried that out myself yet though - he said it worked well for his dvds, I guess it would work for downloaded files too.
The indents and details in sand are really all about subtle variations in light on the sand. If you have a footprint for instance you must know what direction the light is coming from first. Have a look on your own beach and you'll see the obvious things like a shadow inside the print, and a highlight on the inner side which faces the light, and then you'll see some more subtle things like the way the sand gets pushed up slightly at the edges. The size and spacing of footprints is very important to get right too because they give scale to your whole scene.
When it comes to painting that I would be using 3 or 4 colours - the sand ('local' colour), the sand shadow (sand + ultramarine + little bit of cadmium red mid), the sand highlight colour (sand + white + touch of yellow if it's warm light) and possibly a darker shadow colour again for extra deep footprints.
The most convincing illusion of reality will be obtained with the most accurate observations of the relationships between the subtle variations in colour, value and shape. So as always, the more you look at your subject, the better your painting will be.