Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lux In Tenebris - step by step

I have been meaning to document my process for quite some time now but tend to get caught up in the work and miss various stages or get sidetracked on experimenting with different techniques not in my normal set of tools. However when I was asked by a good friend to create some artwork for a custom playmat I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to take the time to show how I work.

I was asked to illustrate a scene that shows an Angel and Vampire fighting in a style and setting that has a similar visual style to the Innistrad block of Magic: The Gathering.

1 - Thumbnails/Ideation
1. This is where almost every image starts. I try and do at least a handful of small sketches called thumbnails just to work out the basic composition of the piece and how the elements interact. It it important to not get bogged down in details here, rather just get a feel for the energy of the piece and what 'reads' well. If you get a good feeling at this size/complexity then there's a fair chance you'll have a solid structure when you work it up to a larger size.
2 - Composition Sketch
2. Once I have selected the thumbnail I wish to continue with I enlarge it to the size that I am going to be working and make sure that the aspect ratio is correct for the final image. Still make sure that you don't dive into details too early but instead refine the large shapes and work out any compositional issues. Make sure all the elements required are present.
3 - Rough Sketch
3. This part of my process I find is the most fun! It still feels like the image has alot of potential but I'm not getting bogged down in technique or details. On completing this stage the sketch should give a good indication of how the final image will look and have enough detail to be able to switch my brain from the creative ideation mode to a more technique based application. It is at this point I would normally send a sketch to the client for approval.
4 - Line Drawing
4. The refined drawing, here I am concentrating on making all of my lines of a nice quality and refine all the details within the image. I like to have all of the drawing resolved at this point so that when I move to values or colour I don't have to re-draw anything (obviously there are always minor corrections and revisions).
5 - Value Study
5. I don't always complete this step in my work as often I like to work with colour and tone together. But in this instance I worked up the tones of the image thinking about light and design without having to consider colour yet.

6 - Colour Study
6. Here I have applied local colours to the various elements within the image. The colour then gets varied according to the lighting effects, atmospherics and details I apply in the last stage.
7 - Final Artwork

Presto! Hit the finish button in photoshop and collect the money ;) Actually this last stage takes the most work and can be very frustrating trying to finalise all the little details and get the whole image working together as a whole. Hopefully I managed to get there!

The final step is thinking about what you learnt from the process and how to apply those lessons to the next piece.

Onwards and upwards! I hope someone gets some benefit for this.

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