Friday, March 7, 2008

"Deployed" - Step by Step

I had a request to show some inbetween steps of how the painting in the last post was done. I'm more than happy to do so and will probably go overboard ;) In general I wanted to go for a fairly photoreal style and have it be a little bit funny. As much as I like futuristic cities and huge spaceships and will do paintings like that again (and am working on one right now) I wanted to do something different.

The idea for this painting was flying around in my head for a few years. I made a few very, very rough sketches in the during that time, but nothing really satisfying. I always imagined the statue being some kind of Tiki. So, I jumped into SketchUp Lite - an architectural 3D program you can download from and threw around some geo. You can see the result on top. Basically I just wanted to use it as a perspective guide, but I liked to 8-bit charm the layout had and decided to stick with it. SketchUp (the Lite version) is free, easy and a lot of fun to use. Give it a try! :)

Next I threw in a background plate I shot on the southisland of New Zealand. I wanted a guide for general lighting direction and athmosphere. It had the water on the bottom already, a detail I strayed from while working on the painting, only to return to it in the end.

After putting the background in, I started loosely sketching on the 3d render, trying out different things. Very quickly though, I started dropping photo reference into it. Below is one of the photos I used. Over the course of the painting I must have used around 30-40 photos for sure. Except the soldiers I shot them myself.

Here I'm playing with different things - a waterfall to the right, a photo of my dad studying the statue and some more greenery in the background. The Tiki is fully textured now.

I always wanted to have another statue in the background, so I put in a placeholder before I got to the real one. I lost the waterfall to the right and replaced it with a very steep rockwall. In hindsight the waterfall might have been a nice choice. On the other hand I wanted nothing to distract from the scene in the middle.

If you look carefully, you can see a big planet in the sky. I despereately wanted to improve the feel that we're on a different planet - and used the oldest trick in the book - celestial objects one doesn't see in our sky.

I also droppedin the group of soldiers I stole from the web. They were part of a much bigger group. I rearranegd faces, added helmets and did a lot of other work to make them unrecognizeable. I tried a lot of different people / persons, but that group seemed to fit the best. Maybe I'll make another version where I take a photograph of a friend dressed as an intergalatic tramper. ;)

Here is the finished painting. I returned to the water, which I think is much nicer than the rocky floor I had in there before. Additionally, I realized, that the rock was way too detailled, rough and distracting. So I went ahead and smoothed the whole thing. I put another statue in the back and changed the background to something nicer. I also wanted a darker sky, so the two moons I added would stand out a tad more than in the previous background.

I also let a shadow fall onto the statue to tie it into the background some more.

Before publishing the painting I did some post processing and added some grrrrrrain. Voila - done!
The whole thing took me three (long) evenings. The original is 2450 pixels wide. I did it in 8-bit color space, since my machine is reeeaaaaly slow in 16-bit mode. This image is hopefully the first part of a series, based on an idea I had a while ago.
Well, I hope you liked this 'walkthrough'! Here's an original resolution crop of a detail as a bonus ;) Cheers.


eldritch48 said...

Thanks for the detailed account of what you did! I agree with your choices, and as I already said, really like the final picture.

Firecrab said...

thanks eldritch!

Timmay said...

I saw this painting on matteorg which lead me to your blog. Nice works on here! I'm trying to break into the vfx industry as a matte painter so it's great to see a step by step process. Bookmarked!

Radhakrishna said...

I saw this painting on matteorg.Nice work its inspiring me.thanks!

tek! said...

hey loki
thnx for posting the work process for this sweet picture

proconpictures said...

This is a great inspiration.
The approach more than anything.
After seeing this I got motivated to create a matte from scratch.

proconpictures said...

...the actual painting: