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adict_drek 01-29-2012 10:56 AM

Apocalypse take II
Hey guys,

So I disappeared for a while because I really wasnt ready to try any of this. At the time I posted before I didnt have a wacom, didnt really have any painting knowledge, and was just pasting pictures together hoping I could come up with something that looked semi realistic. A lot has happened since then. I have bought a wacom and have been practicing diligently on other small painting projects, I have been taking hundreds of landscape photos trying to get a feel for lighting, composition and building my reference library. And I have been just studying a lot on all subjects I can dive into to try and get good at this.

Well Im returning to this painting and would really like for this to come together. Ive tried a few things differently but would still like some help figuring out the details. Some things I decided to change. In order to make the grim reaper (currently the black brush stroke in the foreground) a manageable size I scaled the buildings up a little bit. He is still quite large but I like the size he is now. I set up a main light source as the break in the clouds on the right.

Besides all of that I did a lot of things I was neglecting before like setting up a color palette, perspective grid, etc. I am still having trouble with the lighting of the buildings, If you guys could help me with that I would be greatly appreciative. I really want to button this sketch up before I go any further with this.

Thanks again. Feels good to have come this far, hopefully it keeps getting better.

nickmarshallvfx 01-29-2012 05:00 PM

Hi adict_drek,
I think this is suffering from you trying to get far too much into one image. If you want to have the grim reaper in there then you need to make him the focus of the image at the sacrafice of the environment. We will never be able to see the grim reaper properly unless he is very clear in frame (maybe either 2/3rds grim reaper 1/3 environment or vice versa in your frame).

You mentioned studying lighting and composition, but this is definitely still lacking in those two areas. Things are almost totally symetrical at the moment which is rarely a good idea, and the dark wave at the back kills any depth that you could get into the image. There also are no discernable shadows in the painting, and light is almost more about creating good shadows than it is about the highlights. They work in tandem though - strong light will mean a strong shadow (unlessthereis a strong fill source or bounce light but that can probably come in later).
Lighting also plays a large part on your colour palette. I think you may be approaching your colour palette in the wrong way as it currently just looks like variations in value and saturation of just one hue. A good colour palette will have all the range and cohesion that a natural environment does. Have a look through your photos, I bet you have never taken a photograph that only contains lighter or darker red, even in the reddest of sunsets.

It sounds like your thinking is definitely on the right track, but it seems to not be quite coming together in your image. Can you post the studies you have been doing? It might be worth starting a thread for those so that some of the guys here can help guide those and make sure you are able to apply the principles to your own work.

Hope it helps, i didnt want this post to sound discouraging or anything, just to help get this to where it can be if you continue your dedication!

Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

rockhoppermedia 01-29-2012 05:38 PM

when I am having problems I build a virtual film set using a software program called sketch up. You dont need to build complicated sets in it. You lots of cubes to make the buidlings, you can even turn on shadows, and set the time of day.

heres a link to basic operation.

What I do is make a model, and move the camera to a position that I like and is dynamic. I use this framework to help plan and create a model. this is a thumbnail just blocking out the camera position so that it looks dynamic. I then go to photoshop and just use a couple of colours to block out forms. Once this is done I do a more detailed thumbnail with the comp I like. Then the moment comes when you start doing your foundation work and create the matte, this is the most important part of the process. My sketches are not pretty, they get better the further you go down the process.

You get to learn perspective, and create compositions which are dynamic. Sketchup is also free, there is a pro version but you dont need to pay out for that just yet.

A couple of quick tips,

never ever place your horizon line dead centre

symmetry kills a composition

look up rule of thirds.

There is tons of stuff out there to help you, plus there is quite a few of us on here that can help out.

Looking forward to more of your work

adict_drek 01-30-2012 03:36 PM

About the composition, This is for an album cover so the symmetry really comes from that. So really this piece is broken up into six parts length wise and three up and down. The front cover will be the right half. Logo placed in the upper left corner of the front cover. I thought I placed my horizon line at the bottom third line. I am trying to fit a lot into this piece, but its almost the entire point of this. Ill see what else I can do...

Im still learning a lot about color, before I started all this I was a black and white photographer and charcoal pencil drawer. Ill try to figure out a way to integrate more of the color spectrum in there. I was going to try and mess with some cold warm contrast stuff around the grim reaper. But ill look into it more.

Ive never heard of that program, but I do have a 3d program that I have stayed away from because I spent waayyy too much time trying to learn everything the last time I used it. I could see how it would be nice to use for this though.

Thanks for all the comments.

adict_drek 01-31-2012 09:05 PM

Alright, I thought about what you guys said and I busted out the 3D to help me visualize this shot. It made a world of difference. Well this is what I have. I realize there is a lot to fix still. Like I just noticed the mountain on the left is pretty much the same height as the reaper. But is this a better start?

nickmarshallvfx 02-01-2012 12:25 AM

This is about 10,000 times improved already! Kudos for being able to take the comments on board and effectively start over. Good spot on the scale issue too, fixing that will make a big improvement again.
This one still has a long way to go, but everything else can be fixed from this starting point, as long as you have a good compositional base. Next you need to think about lighting and colour palette. Get some photos of places like morocco/tunisia/egypt and study carefully the colours in the photos. That should help generate a much more natural colour palette.

Look forward to seeing progress!


adict_drek 05-23-2012 05:51 PM

Alright so how am I doing. I did a lot of work on just making a good 3d plate. I figure I will still be adding some 3D elements to the city later to kind of spread it out further into the desert and make the transition make a little more sense. I started working on color and lighting a lot, but Im having a lot of difficulties. If anyone has suggestions, im all ears. The sky especially is giving me issues. I want this to have a dark atmosphere well still being somewhat realistic so if anyone has ideas that would be awesome. Still have a lot of work to do on this concept. Like putting more color in the city to make it more natural, adding atmospheric haze, starting to paint the character, etc. But it think its finally starting to come along.

adict_drek 07-25-2012 10:08 PM

Just an update. Im not going too much further with this, but am still open for any critique.

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