lundi 24 juillet 2017

Ol' Daddy's Fishin' - Story Telling and Technic

Ol' Daddy's Fishin' - Final version

Today I'm going to talk about this picture. I've been working on it for several weeks. I really took my time to choose a story I wanted to tell, a scenery I wanted to show, to take care of the composition and of the characters. And to detail it. A lot :P
Through this article, we'll talk about the story of the illustration, but also technics I used to achieve the final result. Let's get started :)

1/ The Story.

First of all, I'd like to say a few words about what feelings and mood I wanted to convey. I made this illustration as a personal work for one of my series called Twisted Kids (a derived series from "Twisted Beauties", which the first work is Deadly Daisies").
In this series, I want to tell stories of weird kids. They are always different characters but they all have something in common : they're always couples, at least one of them has deformity, and they're always doing something naive while a danger is watching out for them.
I let you imagine what you want about those stories because it's part of this processus. Even the viewer has to be an actor of the picture.

Deadly Daisies - First illustration done for "Twisted Kids" series.

I will make an isolated case for this picture and tell you how I see things. The story is the following : A father and his children (or maybe just his son, and we can assume the girl is his lover) are fishing. But the children don't see this activity in the same way and instead of trying to capture any fish, they just want to free those the father is fishing. So the exact moment that the picture shows is when the boy is releasing a fish from the bucket. And that moment has to demonstrate several things about characters for us to understand.






The son is smilling and throwing up his hands to project a captured fish far enough for it to get free from the bucket. The fish is also smilling. It's not a realistic reaction for a fish but I wanted the viewer to be concerned by it, I want us to have empathy for this animal. So adding a smile on its face is an option to create that empathy ( + it's cute :D ). So basically, the son is really happy to free the fish but he does it with promptness. We can imagine his dad won't be satisfied if he catches him doing it.





The girl is standing next to the boy and she has a very both surprised and worried expression. The open mouth is here to convey the surprise and the wide open eyes with anxious eyebrows orientation are here to show her anxiety.
Indeed, she's surprised by the fast action of the boy, but she understands instantly what it's involving. Her expression shows us that this is actually more serious than we could think. So now, we're curious about the dad. Why is she so worried?


The father is looking away, and we can't see his entire face. It creates a bit of mystery and we can be tempted to zoom on his face to try see him better. I drew him this way on purpose : we only can imagine how he looks like, but we can see enough of his face to have a first idea : he has huge boils on his cheeks, some very rough hair on the face and an empty eye with flies flying arround. He is also very huge compare to the kids. So we can imagine he represents a real threat to them if he gets angry.
And that fish's escape is apparently totally the kind of thing that could make him mad.

So this is pretty much all I have to say about the story I wanted to tell with this picture. I hope it makes sense to you and I hope I didn't say too much about it :P

Let's talk about digital painting technics I used now :)

2 / Technics and Steps.

I'll show you some technics along the process of the painting. This part is just informative. I don't pretend to have a great technic to teach you, I just want to share my experience of realisation with you. Feel free to give me any advice or critic if you want :)


This is the very first sketch I made when the idea came up in my mind ^^ This is very basic and ugly. It is just to don't forget it, like a kind of note.
You can see I was absolutely not knowing what to put in the background and I imagine a kind of lost city with huge buildings... Maybe I'll keep that in mind for another illustration because I like that.



Those are the next step : the first picture is a very basic line work just to nail down the overall composition. The second is a more detailed sketch and I finally started to paint from it.

Studies I did before skecthing. I learned how to draw people with those kind of deformities and then I sketched the boy from memory.

Here are the different faces I drew for the boy. I finally kept the one from the top.


An attempt to nail the gesture.

Final gesture.







I also drew the fish a few times before getting something I liked ^^'
You can see color tests below. I tried a few moods and lighting. Finally I started with a mix between  the first and the third ones. The second sketch was inspired by Miyazaki's movies. I like that but I wanted something more dramatic.











This is indications about the composition. You can see eyes directions and "flow" of the elements. I tried to make them highlight the focus of the picture which is the boy releasing the fish.

Here are the steps of creation (below) with a few captions.


Basic colors (flat)
The colors are mainly inspired by photos I took myself in Montreal, this is a sunset lighting I like a lot. I didn't used the color-picker to take colors but I took those as references.





I tried to achieve a first level of rendering everywhere.

This is the final level of rendering.

I added grass to the 1st plan. It kinda makes it heavier but also less distractive in my opinion, so I decided to keep it this way.

This is the final picture with all adjustments (contrasts, colors).









Those are variations of the girl portrait. As you can see, she looked really weird for quite a long time xD I finally took a reference to paint her because it was very tricky. There are several things I can draw/paint from memory. But this is another business when it comes to detail it. Here I could have done it without references because I draw a lot of characters, but it definitely helped me to nail it and to achieve it fast.







Here are parallels between versions of the picture. On the third picture, you can see the image without any values adjustments, and below its simplified version (left) + the image with all values adjustments and its simplified version (right). As you can see, after I put the adjustments, the simplified version looks more readable in terms of values and plans : the shapes and silhouettes are standing out. The first version is too much blend. For instance, the girl's face has the same value than the background. Same for the father's shirt.


Painting Strokes Effects -

If you zoom on the picture, you will probably notice that I tried to simulate a traditional aspect. I used sfumato technic to control some edges. In the following pictures, you will see a few examples of lost and sharp edges. The more you control your edges, the more your painting can stand out and looks convincing. I hope to improve a lot on that technic because I know it can achieve great results.





You also can notice there are a few painting effects. I tried to simulate brush strokes in some areas of the painting, like if I was painting the picture with oil and some of the painting left traces after drying. If you want to try that, you just need to have a "painting" brush that looks traditional (personnaly I use Bastien Lecouffe Deharme's brushes set, but they are plenty of those on the internet and you probably already have some in your photoshop ^^). Then, you create a new layer in normal mode. You put a few strokes on it and double click on the layer. Then you pick Bevel and Emboss and can adjust the settings the way you like. You'll find an example of the settings I used for the following crops of the picture.




This is an example of settings I made to simulate the brush strokes effects.

Here we are. I think this is pretty much it :) Thank you very much for reading. I hope you like this illustration and this article was interesting to you :)

Cheers! :)

samedi 27 mai 2017

Oliver Twisted - How to create an original character from studies

Oliver Twisted
Here is a design I created, based on Charles Dickens' famous character. My idea was to come up with a freaky version of Oliver Twist. I try to not use references to draw his face because I wanted it completely "original". In this article, I'm going to show the process I used to get this final design.





1) You can see a page of my sketchbook (Horrid light, sorry) where I did a few drawings. Those are studies from photos I found on the internet. Those people have a Treacher Collins syndrom and it causes deformities on the face because the skull basically lack of some of its bones. Those anatomies are pretty much what I was looking for to study. So I drew a few of them in my sketchbook, trying to understand the topic. Those are not supposed to be pretty drawing, just studies that show how the volumes work, and how the face features are, compared with basic human proportions.




2) Here is the drawing I came up with, after my studies. I drew the face from imagination, without taking a look at my previous references because I studied them on purpose. This is the face I imagined for that character, but I can try variations now (maybe I will :D). I drew his gesture and clothes using some photos, but that part of the process can be done with the same workflow (studies + drawing from memory). In this particular case I was especially interested in the face but it could be great to work on outfits too!




3) I drew him an open mouth digitally to give him a little smile and make him more unique; because I thought he was looking a bit like Daniel Craig!

4) Here is the drawing selected with polygonal lasso tool to make the edges very clean. I also put a flat gray layer under the drawing, to block the shape of the silhouette and work on this, as a base for my painting.





5) Now I picked some colors to give more life to the character. I choosed desaturated colors because I didn't want the clothes to take too much attention. I also added a very bright rim light on the right side of the character to make him pop a little bit more and to give more informations about the volumes.

6) This is basically the whole character rendered. I already described some of my technics in previous articles, and this is not a tricky part this time, all I had to do was to paint skin and clothes (not weird and fantastical textures).

Zoom on the face - I gave him freckles with a particle brush and a vivid light layer, but soft light should work good as well.

7) Once all is rendered, I can put all layers in a group. I duplicate the layer group (to save it, just in case) and merge it. Then I can add some adjustments like a curves layer for values (I lowered the blacks, mostly) and a few color corrections with a color balance layer. I also added textures with some custom brushes I like, then I put the layer on soft light and presses ctrl+u to make it darker. I also made desapeared it in the darkest areas and lowered the opacity of the whole layer.



Finally, this is pretty much it :) Thanks for reading, cheers!