The Making Of - Edition 1

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Ever wondered what the story behind a submitted piece of art is ? What was the inspiration ? What techniques were used ?
In this article artists share the secrets to some of DA's most loved submissions. Edition 1 features art and articles of YoukaiYume, cosmosue and kReEsTaL.
Thank you for taking the time to participate !

PotC 2- Peas in a Pod, Darlin' by YoukaiYume

PotC 2- Peas in a Pod, Darlin' - a deviation by YoukaiYume

When I first sat down at the drawing table, I had of course just came home after seeing the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, Dead Man's Chest.  I had long since been a fan of the Jack/Elizabeth pairing, and needless to say, that movie only put more fuel on the fire, if you know what I mean XD

I started out with a very rough doodle of the two characters in anime chibi form. Mainly because they were quick, easy, fun to do, and I hadn't done a picture in that style in a while. Initially, Jack was supposed to be all squealy over dear Elizabeth screaming "Lizzy Luv!!!" like a girl with hand flailing, lips puckered, while Lizzy looked on in disgust.

But...while giggle-worthy for me, I decided it was too out of character and opted to do something that would define their relationship a little bit more accurately. The new pose with a somewhat drunken Jack with his trusty rum and an arm around a flustered Lizzy (she didn't change very much from the original sketch) holding Jack's compass. It allowed me to portray how Jack could attract Lizzy and possibly be attracted to her himself, with his own witty charm and teasing behavior, while Elizabeth herself is confused, reluctant, and yet unable to really resist completely.

And even if the viewers didn't get the somewhat deeper meaning behind the disgustingly cute picture (laughs) it made good eye candy, right? (hopes)

It was sketched out on paper first, scanned, then cleaned up and colored in Photoshop CS (i had just recently got the program, and it was more for practice...). Usually, I use Photoshop Elements 2.0, a much older program that I've been using for the last two, three years since I couldn't afford anything better. Sadly, my coloring in CS doesn't look too different than what I usally do in Elements... (I'll try to change that with practice). I wanted the image to be really soft, so most of my techniques included using really soft brushes, blurring tools, and so on.

Detail to clothing was really important in the picture, even if it seemed simple, so I had to go find a lot of PotC reference pictures for their clothes, the compass, hair, and the like. Close to the end, I was about ready to kill the whole thing to be honest >.<

It came out just as I wanted though. Some pointed out their disproportionate hands and feet and some even asked if their hands had been amputated or something, lol. I can't really say much, except I did it on purpose... I love the stubby hands, I think they're adorable, and even though they were disproportionate, even for chibi characters it's just the style that I chose to do them in. Yes, it was on purpose (sweats). Admittedly, it's not everyone's cup of tea, and I'll keep in mind all of the criticisms and advice the next time I do something like it again. Feedback is still feedback, right?

Anyway, thanks for listening to my rant on how monstrosities are formed inside my brain and transformed into

~~Youkai Yume

Fairy Song by cosmosue

Fairy Song - a deviation by cosmosue

The idea and making of "Fairy Song"

Tools of the trade - Wacom Int.3 Graphics Tablet, Photoshop CS, Poser6

I draw inspiration from many many places.  I find that stock photos are a great resource for artists, and I enjoy spending sometimes hours browsing through stock to gather ideas for pieces of artwork I want to create, it gets my art juices flowing so to speak.  I love Lisajen-stock and find that looking through her gallery gets my mind really thinking when it comes to fairies and fantasy images.

So for this piece I started with an idea, found a stock photo to suit as a reference, and then laid out the basics of the background with trees and foliage, mostly hand painted, but some of the foliage was first rendered in poser and then incorporated and intertwined into the background and painted over.  I like to use whatever tools I have at my disposal to create my works, I'm not set on one specific technique, or against any techniques, I love to use them all and if I feel that this opens up my digital canvas even more.  I put this one in the digital painting category because it has more of that than anything else.  

After I have the base of the background in place, I spent a good portion of time on the figure, sketching, painting, working out patterns for the material using layer styles etc.  The wings were done first on a seperate file, once I had a really good sketch of what I wanted I moved them into the main image and adjusted them to fit.  A lot of work went into the wings alone, probably the most work I have ever spent on wings!  There was no reference used for them, I pretty much just drew until I had something I liked.
After the majority of the figure work was finished I put the final touches on the background which includes the grasses, fireflies, final highlights & shadows, flowers and so forth.  I also looked up exactly what Lily of the Valley looks like (the little white flowers in the front corners) so that I could paint them properly.  One of the last things I do is soften the entire image with various combinations of the blur tools (used very sparingly!) in photoshop, and I use the color adjustment tools to make sure I have the final hue and colors exactly the way I want them.  A few more tweaks here and there and I am usually done.  Sometimes I get a really helpful, good critique and feel compelled to return to the piece and fix a couple things, but more often then not I keep those tips and comments tucked away in my mind for future artworks.</blockqoute>

Miss Winter Remembers by kReEsTaL

Miss Winter Remembers by kReEsTaL

nighty kindly asked me for a making-of article about my work 'Miss Winter Remembers', a photomanipulation with bits of digital painting, from late 2004. I'm personally fond of making-of's, especially for movies, because they allow you to step behind-the-scenes from the director's or technician's point of view and because you always learn a lot of tricks, details and anecdotes which you would just have ignored if you hadn't watched the behind-the-scenes feature. That's why I took this exercise very seriously and wanted it to partly decipher 'Miss Winter'. As I was wondering how you can talk about an old artwork of yours which is, technically speaking, far from what I'd call "perfection", I soon realized you can't talk about technics without talking about the heart, that is to say about the psychological, emotional spark which lead you to talk through art. That's why this making-of is divided in two parts: first, the story, and then, technical inputs about some of 'Miss Winter' parts. I chose to explain only some parts of the picture and not everything for two reasons: first, I think an exhaustive making-of would have been far too long and somewhat boring to read (most of you know photomanipulation's basics); secondly, I think giving clues and not the solution itself is more useful: this way you have to discover the Source by yourself because art is definitely NOT copying what has already been done by someone else than you. I tell you which direction I took, but then you have to find your own path. In other words: don't imitate, innovate! :)

I - The Story
I would be unable to explain the technical making of 'Miss Winter...' if I couldn't talk a bit about the message I wanted her to carry. I think the emotional background of any piece of art is as important as the technical production: if you make art, it's because there are things you need to sort out, even though you don't necessarily want them to be clearly understood.

I like to compare 'Miss Winter Remembers' to Walt Disney's 'Bambi'. Remember when the young fawn can't use his legs, which he's uncomfortable with? He keeps on falling down and can't step forward. But he finally learns how to stand up and to walk with these legs, even though it's not easy at first. Well, 'Miss Winter' is about learning, too: it' about growing up and becoming different - from what you once were as well as from the others. To me growing up feels like you wake up one morning inside a brand new 'you' which you have to accept and then to adapt yourself to. It can be any kind of growing up - a natural growing up (i.e. accepting your body as a woman's and not a little girl's anymore), or an emotional growing up (i.e. when you've been betrayed by someone you blindly trusted; in this case, the wrath, disappointment and heartbreak you went through made you someone radically different than the one you used to be). There's a point where there is no possible coming back: you grew up, things will never be the same, period. But before you can accept that new 'you', there is this step when it feels like you suddenly lost the ability to adapt yourself to the environment and to the other people because of that sudden change; you need some time to find yourself again, until you're able to fight again. You have to adapt yourself to this new external and inner reality, to the new way people look at you now you've definitely changed. It can be very disturbing, even dangerous, when the mental and the physical sides of yourself don't become one; when you can't see yourself as who you really are, and, at last, when you can't love yourself as much as caring people do.

The title itself, 'Miss Winter Remembers', comes from a daydream where I imagined a woman remembering, at the winter of her life, all the trouble she had gone through in her life, when she realized how much time she did lose asking wrong questions to her reflect in the mirror. The rough version of the female character had a mirror in her hand (which was later replaced with a fan) meaning you can always look at yourself, you will never see yourself as others do: in a way, you become dependent from that outside look, as though it was the supreme law. But it definitely isn't. So yes, this picture is really about learning how to accept yourself as you are and not as people see you.

II - Technical commentary
As in most of my photomanipulations, I chose to represent an unusual female character (a very, very tall blind woman) in an imaginary place - this way it's easier for the people who will look at the artwork to imagine who this woman is and where she is because you're not being too much normative (even if I think that non-abstract art is always somewhat normative, which I try to circle with a touch of surrealism). When I create a new digital artwork, I usually choose the character before the place it will stand up in -- so let's begin with the making-of the woman.

1. Create hybrids. I choose one stock picture which is a good base to construct the character. Before I begin anything, I always copy and paste the stock pictures I work with on a new high resolution (always 300 dpi), white file which is usually about 3000x3600 pixels, more or less depending on printing purposes. White is useful for it allows you to see the shape of each element better. Like any photomanipulator, I often cut bits of photographs and then mix them with bits of other photographs in order to get a unique result. I like to transform the photographs I work with, to make body parts look thinner or thicker depending on what I want to express. Image of Step 1

Here I cut the upper part of the body and mixed it with other stock pictures (which I deleted since and can't show you, unfortunately): one for the face (the original stock picture got its face destroyed by the fan's cutting and rotation so it needed another face), one for the waist (where it's naked), and one for the dress.
I already knew I wanted the picture to be mainly black and baby blue: that's why I changed the saturation, levels and colors of each piece of photograph I gathered in order to get something more homogeneous which then became the starting point of the digital painting.

2. Digital painted face. [Before we go on, please note that you will need a graphic tablet to be able to do something similar to what I'm going to explain: of course, using a mouse and trying to paint with it is possible, but you'll never get such a smooth digital painting than with a tablet. I'm personally using a Wacom Graphire 4 XL, not the best, but perfect for my level in digital painting.] Now that I have my character base, I want to enhance it with digitally painted skin, eyes, make-up and hair. I create a layer for each of them, and begin to paint: <a…">Image of Step 2</a>

I re-do the eyebrows, the eyes, as well as the forehead shading. I start painting the hair, though I will complete it when I have the other elements of the photomanipulation such as the branches so that it's easier to figure the lightening and to paint accordingly.

3. The dreamscape. Now it's time to place the character in its environment. I talked about a black and baby blue dreamscape which I constitute bit by bit, first adding raw stock pictures to my white base file, in order to get a general idea of what the final artwork will look like. On the third picture, you can feel the picture lacks of objects/elements on the left and on the right. Moreover, the upper part of the sky looks a bit dull, and I'd like to hide the birds because I don't think they fit here.
First, I create a new layer and paint over the birds: Image 1 of Step 3

Once the birds are hidden, I'm adding more colours to the sky, by creating a new layer over it and painting with a soft edged brush with some purple (in the middle) and green (on the left and on the right). When I'm done, I also add a translucent texture so the sky looks better: Image 2 of Step 3

4. Weird perspective and objects. The next step will be the ground, where I'm adding a translucent chessboard texture, as well as appropriate shadows at the bottom of the skirt. I add new elements on the right (a castle, branches, and a kind of sculpture in the bottom right corner), then on the left (a tree and walls). I wanted the castle to give a feeling of depth in the picture, but finally it just mismatches the already wrong perspective of the scene. I think it's okay because this artwork depicts a deformed vision, a kind of dream, as though everything was about to become liquid and to vanish. Image 1 of Step 4

That's precisely the moment when I decide to polish the hair off that I began to paint in step 1. I love mixing natural elements such as branches with hair. In this picture, the branches will determine the direction of the hair highlights as though they were caught in them: Image 2 of Step 4

5. The artwork is almost finished. To strengthen the feeling of space and perspective, I add columns in the background, beside the small black character you can see in the bottom left part of the picture: this way, it looks even smaller in comparison with the columns, which look smaller than what they really are in comparison with the woman. Then I add a few more details such as the clock face on the fan, as well as some lightening on the dress, in order to finish the artwork, which by now will be known as 'Miss Winter Remembers'. Image of Step 5

Thank you for reading this Making-Of til the end! I hope you enjoyed it. :)
For more pictures and more in-depth descriptions, please visit my online portfolio, Aenemya.

If you have any suggestions, please contact me via note. Thank you, nighty
© 2006 - 2024 nighty
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margui's avatar
awesome idea!