Tuesday, February 17, 2015

"Sir Neculai, The Forlorn" Process

Hey guys,

Today is going to be a short post about how I painted one of my most recent illustrations.

Sir Neculai, The Forlorn



Like all my paintings, it starts with a simple idea. For this, I wanted to paint a knight, specifically a pathfinder campaign character I had made. I started with rough sketches, wondering what he might look like and why. 
1. Spiky bald guy. 2. Stuffy "pretty" boy. 3. Tough, cave dwelling anti-hero. 

I started off more human, but realized I was playing a race with vampire heritage, so why not elaborate on that? A monstrous, noble knight? Sounds like fun. Once I hit that third sketch in blue, I knew what lie ahead. On to phase 1!

Phase 1

In phase 1, I do 3 things. I have always done, but only recently am I settling in on a set routine for this. Of course, this is retrospective, which means I've changed it up a bit since I finished this. Regardless, the 3 things are as follows:

1. Shoot reference informed by my sketch, never the other way round. Ideas and imagination first, and if you read the previous blog post you'll know that I am elated that many professionals strongly suggest this.

2. A tight line drawing, emphasizing key form elements in armor, shadow shapes, and contours where I should pay attention to what I am painting.

3. Make selection layers, and masks for all key elements. Armor, skin, tabard, belts, cloak, etc. I make these as forward thinking as I am able, and if I need more later I make them. Really helps isolate forms, and keep things fresh. Otherwise I am prone to noodling on something and really losing the drawing underneath.

Ain't he just a doll with magenta armor?

Phase 2

This is the nitty gritty phase. A lot can happen here, and if phase one wasn't smart/strong/good enough, it can be tough.

Phase two typically involves:

1. Blocking in all local colors of objects/elements. Skin get a color  different than the armor, and both are separated by layers. Rinse and repeat.

2. Shadow shape layers. Every local color gets a corresponding shadow layer. I keep in mind my light source and block in the shadow shapes accordingly.

3. Paint the face.

4. Paint the face again.

5. Block in the background, separating foreground, middle ground, and background.

6. Refine background with some color and value searching for atmosphere.

Phase 2.5

7. Adjust overall value structure with background in place, looking for harmony over the whole image.

8. Make adjustments. Overlay layers to increase shadow intensity non-destructively, and screen layers to increase light intensity non-destructively.

9. Add some rim-light and cool mist/fog if applicable. (When is it not though, am I right?)

10. Call it done, and get a crit.

11. Make some changes, add watermark and firmly tell yourself it is done.

12. .....

13. Profit? 

And that is that! Thanks for reading guys. I've got another process piece coming up in a bit so I hope you'll stay tuned.

Got a suggestion on something you'd like to see? Send me an email: phillips.nicholas9@gmail.com

Keep painting~!

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