I have decided to enter the ImagineFX monthly challenge with the theme of "Beyond the Darkness". Along my journey of creating this piece I have pushed myself and have seen the fruits of my labors. You too can learn the secret to good lighting.
Several ideas popped into my head for this great theme and I sketched out several variations of different ideas. However, I realized I was entering the competition very late in the game (with a little over a week to go) and with a newborn in the house it would be better to do something less complex and more closeup. In the end I chose a rather typical image of an angel looking up into the light. The reason why I chose this is simply because I was itching to digitally paint a child and it seemed to fit the magazine's usual imagery well with emphasis on sci-fi and fantasy characters (which you should always think about when entering a competition) and it seemed to fit the theme best though rather straight forwardly.
The theme of "beyond the darkness" was the perfect opportunity to stretched my lighting skills even further. In my studies I have discovered that the secret to great lighting is knowing the difference between cast shadow and form shadow and NOT being afraid to create hard lines in your illustration. Don't be afraid that the shadow is going to look weird, just DO IT! You'll soon find that hard shadows in the right place makes your illustration look far more realistic.
I plan to do a tutorial very soon on lighting as it is one of the most successful tools in my arsenal. It was one of the most important things I learned during my classical art training in college but I didn't know how to properly implement it in an illustration setting until recently.
Next I want to push my illustrations to show more depth like the works of Glen Rane, Patrik Hjelm, and Steven Argyle.