Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Cosmic Dust, and step by step

So before I start, let me talk a little but the girl. A good friend pointed out that she looks like the grown up version of my flower girls, and that she looked a little unpleasant from all the dotting and the extra lines around her eyes. 

'Sun damaged', or if you want to go romantically, 'Sun kissed' is what I was going for with her. Lately, I've started to adore character designs with deep inset eye lines, and I've always thought freckles were nice on any kind of skin tone. You're not going to look like your teen days forever, might as well embrace all the wrinkles and sunspots! I think I lost that feel when I started colouring, but that was the intention I set as I started drawing her on paper :)

With the colours, I wanted to go for- end of summer vibe, little lonely silhouette with atmospheric nature background. ....Like this song by Naotarō Moriyama, except with more of the woodstock/indie feel. I like summer. But I love the end of summer~autumn feel. I'll stop the rambles and go on with how I created the image!  

So first of all, set up your line art. 
(I drew her in 0.05 copic multi-liner on 150gsm sketchbook paper. Original about 10x15.)

1. I scanned her in at 300dpi, and got her cleaned up in Photoshop CS3. Although you could do this on pretty much any drawing software. Just make sure it has an ample amount of layer blending options! 
2. Started with simple colour blocking and added bits of light and shadow. (Forgot to separate this step, whoops!) But you get the idea :) I kept it super simple since I was just experimenting. I tried to stick to a colour swatch, but didn't really work. But it's good to have an idea before you start colouring to get the overall mood and setting.
3. Texture time! I've overlayed a watercolour stock I've painted up for to get the hazy, dreamy look. 
4. She was looking a little washed out, so I added couple of colour layers and played around with the layer options, curve, and saturation. I still wasn't sure about the colour palette, so there was lots of subtle hue changes through out the process.
5. This is a good trick for drawers of mystics and magical :P (If you haven't already known so of course!) You copy 4, and apply a gaussian blur, apply the amount of pixel blur you wish (about 3 for mine?) and set an appropriate layer option. It's annoyingly subtle, but every little subtleness adds up at the end I think. Added bonus if you can get each of the subtleness in the least amount of time!

On with the background!

1. I really didn't like the top of her head, so I cropped the figure into a landscape frame. It would have been a better composition if I had shifted her more to the right (using the rule of third, should have shifted until her left eye was around into the 2/3 of the frame. Or alternatively, centre the dominant eye to the middle.) Added the background picture using the bg from this photo taken by the amazing photographer from Rachel May Photography :) (The feel of the photo reminded me of 'end of the summer' feel, which was what I was going for from the start. Perfect.) Since it's already a bokeh background, I didn't worry too much about getting pixelated. I stretched it and added couple of textures on to it. 
2. Coloured in the shading for the girl. Since the light source is from the back, I gave the girl a light silhouette look. 
3. Adjusting the saturation and hue again. I wanted a muted matte look, but saturation seemed too high so I kept editing. Edited the background a little - desaturated, and adjusted the photo on the top right corner. 
4. Comes the fun yet endless possibilities of Photoshop! Seriously, the stages from this step is all up to you and what you want to convey with the picture. Here I  went for a dramatic look by colour grading, but I didn't think it suited what I wanted to do with it.
5. Desaturated a little. More colour grading.
6. Merged 4&5 into one image. Added a layer of grey to the background, and brown to the whole picture. Also softened the lighting around the girl to a warmer colour. Finally finished! 

I guess I could have gone further, but you need to stop somewhere otherwise you'll either go over board, or you'll never finish. 

So, that turned out to be much longer than I intended! Hope this helped anyone at all. I basically learnt 90% of everything I know from these tutorials, and will continuously learn from them. It would be nice to pay it forward by helping anyone who is looking into start digital colouring.

There was loads of trial and error between the steps. Like, it would have been 20 step by step explanatory guide if I didn't condense it. What I'm trying to say is that most of the stuff works through trial and error, especially if you're still exploring your style and technique.  I think the main idea is just have fun and go with your gut feeling :)

Apologies for the grammar. That was never my strong point, and I usually write as if I'm talking. Something I always get called out for by native speakers in real life... But hey, this whole blog is supposed to be casual, so just pretend that a friend is talking all these steps to you on a lazy Sunday afternoon or something :) 

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