Friday, May 14, 2010

The Victor (Plus Process)

I know I swore I wouldn't be producing finished illustrations for a little while, but it somehow turned out to be unavoidable. So, as long as I'm making paintings, I may as well be sharing them. Since I had the good sense to use Photoshop's iterative save for once, you can get a look at the process in addition to the final.


The beginning sketch isn't much more than an idea. Normally I'd generate a lot of thumbnails and pare down, but this piece really began as an experiment in perspective around the foreground figure.

I begin by refining the forms and layout. Photoshop makes it easy to nudge, shift, scale, build and rebuild. I also begin to detail the foreground character. I'm not great at line work in Photoshop (okay, I'm terrible), but adding details gives me a better sense of where I'm heading. If I'm uncomfortable with the forms, I occasionally make a light print out and draw over it in pencil.

Refining the scene. Earlier versions of the soldier character seemed diffuse–I refined the overall look using reference from Roman and Japanese armors. I also straightened the stairs to clarify the figure's upward direction and removed the small plateau in the background.

First color pass. A lot of Photoshop users begin with grayscale washes; I like to start with color. It takes more work to place the values, but tends to give a more brush-like impression when color and value are applied with the same stroke.

Refining the colors. I use a lot of cloning and layer effects to get the right feel. At this point, all that's left is detailing. A lot of the piece is painted over to help separate the planes and control the focal points.

The final piece. It's possible to go on refining a piece forever, but for personal work, I usually call it quits when it seems less educational to continue than to move on.


David DeCoster said...

Very nice. How long did it take?

Brian Wells said...

Thanks! I worked on it in pieces over a few days–maybe about 15 hours total.