Capture natural light in your paintings

Painting outdoor scenery is a great way to discover new painting techniques and the best way to learn how to capture the essence of natural lighting. One of my favourite exercises is painting urban street scenes with cars. It may seem complex at first, but if you treat them as just simple shapes – either squares or box-like forms – they become a lot less intimidating. 

To help simplify the shapes and focus your attention on the lighting in your scene, group big masses of value shapes together and don't worry yet about the likeness of each element. This also helps you narrow down your composition and avoid painting too much of the scene. Then you can approach the painting almost like a colouring book, filling in the shapes with the colours that closely relate to the value in those shapes. 

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Peter is originally from Taiwan, but now lives in Los Angeles where he works at Sony Pictures Animation. Previously he was at Pandemic Studios as a concept artist, and at DreamWorks Animation where he was a visual developer.