Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tuesday 17th January 2012 - A splash of colour

A quick walkthrough of my Viking Hunteress piece (http://narcotic-nightmares.deviantart.com/art/Viking-Hunter-277752322) where I show the stages it went through.

Firstly; the pencil sketch. All my images still start like this. I love the feel of pencil on board, and the differing textures offered from the different papers. This was pencilled on Canson Comic Board, so it was relatively smooth.

As this was originally a project for university, the plan was to use traditional printmaking techniques (mono-printing, etching, screen printing, etc) to build up a catalogue of textures, then employ these over the image thusly.

But I wanted to paint it digitally, so desaturating the textured image above, adding a neutral grey over them to knock it all back, I began loosely blocking in darks and lights with a large textured brush - I wanted this piece to be looser than digital pieces in the past, and have a lot of gritty texture.

Only really using Black and White with a variable opacity brush, I built up a high contrast piece from which I could use the eyedropper tool and work into it more. The foreground rocks and sky take shape quickly and easily, as they take no time.

Changing brushes and decreasing their size changes the appearance of the textures I lay down, using a smaller chalk brush on the cloak's lining and the tabard I thought helped sell the idea that they were leather. I wanted the side illuminated (Her left, viewer's right) to be the focus, and have that whole flank really tightly rendered, and counter it with a lot of soft and lost edges with implied details on the opposite side.

I try to remember to flip the image i'm working on regularly, to spot if my character is boss-eyed or has a mashed up face. Luckily, this wasn't too bad, and switching to my favourite small detailing brush, set about really bringing out the details on her armor and adornments.

Oh sweet jesus colour.
I never use colour.
I wanted her to have really red hair, as a secondary way to pull focus to her face, and obviously, that can only be done with colour. So with much trepidation I layed down a colour layer and went to work, adding desaturated and recessive colours in loosely and quickly.

I done all the colour in one sitting, and was really getting into it at this point. Abusing Photoshop's layer styles to preserve the textures I had so laboriously introduced in the Black and White stage, Overlay, Colour, Soft Light and now and again Screen came to the rescue.

Countering the excessive 'lighten' styles, now came time to unify the colours and push them back, using low opacity multiply and hard light layers with a mid hue blue, this helped punch up the colours in the sky, and give the whole image a cool feeling.

I read somewhere that the last 10% of an image takes 90% of the time, and they weren't wrong. Thinking I was finished, I added snow in the foreground and background, and settled down with a coffee.

For about five minutes.

Now I just went really anal - the colours were too warm, the blacks not black enough, the skin too muddy and the hair not hairy enough.

But there's a time to stop.

Reaching a point where the changes I was making were not time effecient, and the differences so minor comared to the time put in, I flattened the image, added a very soft colour gradient, even softer grain filter, and slightly adjusted the levels and curves. Adding my new 2012 watermark, and submitting it onto deviantart, I left it and went and played Skyrim.


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