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.


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Comment by Glenys Jones on April 16, 2015 at 16:01

thank you,  so glad I've found this great information. it's very helpful.

Comment by Dorian Aronson on March 28, 2014 at 11:21

You have a gold mine of information on these pages. Thank you so much..........

Comment by Richard Robinson on December 4, 2011 at 19:10

Yes pretty much - snow reflects the sky a little bit more in the shadows than sand does.

Comment by Catherine Spencer on December 4, 2011 at 15:02

Would this be the same technique for snow footprints?  I recently did a painting "walk in the woods" (posted) and thought about putting footprints in the snow but wasn't sure how. 

Comment by Barbara Sawyer on October 20, 2011 at 16:22
Hmm that is what  my first thought was  where is the person that made the tracks to the boat?      Thanks  for the info
Comment by Richard Robinson on March 8, 2010 at 13:00
maybe he/she woke up in the boat and walked backwards down the sand dune?
Comment by Richard Robinson on October 9, 2009 at 10:38
:-) Thanks Summer.
Comment by summer on October 8, 2009 at 23:21
I havetaken your advice on the footsteps look so much for inviting !!!!!. I cant thanks yoiu enought ., I go over and over your lessons and learn something new everytime . I look forward to the other artist and the blog to share insite into what they are doing with your work and theirs . have a wonderful day and God bless to all .

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