Fan Art: Courage Under Fire Digital Art Tutorial

Discussion in 'Creative General Discussion' started by GrungeWerX, May 23, 2006.

  1. GrungeWerX

    GrungeWerX Well-Known Member

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    Hey, guys. I'm on my lunch break, so I thought I'd do something interesting to keep the interest for myself as well as anyone trying to improve their digital art experience. The following is a commission I'm working on for our very own resident Drivaar of his fan character Quartz. I chose the name and theme Courage Under Fire after the dope comic created by the aforementioned Drivaar. So let's jump in and have some fun.

    Stage One:

    (Digital Pencils)

    There's many ways to approach digital art. Many artists start out with a pencil sketch of near completion, scan it into a photo imaging software application such as Photoshop. I use Photoshop CS and CS2 respectively. CS is my favorite since CS2 removes the capability of merging linked layers. For those who draw as erratically as myself, adding layers when needed to test new ideas, the merge link ability is key in producing art and rotating it, similating using traditional paper. I use a 6x8 Intuos 2 Wacom tablet for my work. I basically sketch the main look, erase here and there to refine specific areas. When I want to try a technique or look, I create a layer above the main pencil layer and test it out. If it works, i erase what's undeneath and then merge the linked layers. Again, this can only be done with CS. CS2 can "merge down", but you can't rotate the pic with linked layers like you would if you were drawing with paper. Cool stuf in CS, i love it. Anyways, I sketch everything in blue. Why? I think it just looks cool and it makes it easier to ink over it without confusion the work that was done in pencil versus inks. Anyways, here's a look at the digital sketch:

    (For those of you interested in settings, I start my pics off at around 10x15 inches, 150dpi. I use a standard airbrush at around 4px, 100% opacity and 39% flow. Or it might be vice versa, I forget. The blue is a standard swatch from the swatches pallete)


    [​IMG]
    Stage Two

    (Digital Inks)

    The next process is pretty straightforward. I create a layer above the pencils and select black as my brush color. Settings are 5px, 100% opacity and 59% percent flow. I just go over the pencils making the inks as i see fit:

    [​IMG]

    Stage Three

    (Digital Flats)

    This is the most time consuming and for some the most boring. I create another layer below the inks and name it flats. Then I just begin laying down colors based on the lighting I anticipate from the shot. In this piece, I'm going for a somewhat hellish warground look. The colors are slightly muted, earthy type colors. It's never good to oversaturate colors as the look is often too strong and too much difficulty to fix. The ink layer is always DUPLICATED above the flats. So i have two ink layers to strenghten the lines. Notice also, that I don't go around the bots with darker lines around the edges. This looks good for comics, but I'm going for a high production cel shaded look found in anime feature films, so the lines need to be uniform. Also, it's really important to start choosing your light source. It actually affects the tone of colors for me as well.

    There's another stage that I often do before this, shading the shadows, which I plan on showing tomorrow after completing them tonight. I think you guys will like this technique as it helped me out tremendously in speeding up coloring, not tomention it really allows you to have more of an artistic flair to your shadows. I used to just pick the polygonal lasso tool and lay down shadows bit by bit, but this was time consuming and oftentimes the results were not the best they could be. More on this later. Anyways, here ya go:

    [​IMG]

    Well, more to come later. This piece will have some really nice effects placed in it including electrical shorts, flames, ricocheting laser fire, explosions and moody war lighting. It will also include dirt, grime and more. This will be an effect heavy shot, but will not over do the effects. Muted effects add to the allure of the piece and it's always important to choose what effects will stand out over others as each attracts the eye.

    More to come soon. Enjoy!!
     
  2. Motor_Master

    Motor_Master Lets the balls touch TFW2005 Supporter

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    I love reading these tutorials.

    Keep 'em coming :thumb 
     
  3. Brave Magnus

    Brave Magnus Hecho en Argentina

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    Oh man, this is great. More tutorials I read, more I learn. Thanks.:thumb 
    BTW: that pic is awesome. :rock 
     
  4. Lonewolf

    Lonewolf Well-Known Member

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    Man that tutorial is plain awesome. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
     
  5. GrungeWerX

    GrungeWerX Well-Known Member

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    As promised, here is the continuation to the tutorial:

    Stage Four:

    (Shadows)

    This step is normally done before adding the flats, but I did things a bit backwards this time, namely because I was really interested in the approach I would take in the colors.

    Shadows is really the most fun for me because it's a good way to get the feel of the piece early, before colors and effects are added. Not to mention, it's very important to ensure your light source before laying down the shades which we'll dive into later.

    So anyways, I basically added another layer below the inks named "shadows". Next I begin to lightly sketch the shades taking into consideration the light source. The shade technique I'm using here is mostly used for human style anime characters, but it also works for bots. Notice that some of the shadows have sharp edges. This is used to give the effect of erratic light coming from the blast source. I basically imagine what parts of the bots wouldn't see the light source and go from there.

    Anyways, reference explains it better so take a look:

    [​IMG]

    Next up, adding the shadows digitally, the on to hightlights and ultimately effects. I don't mind sharing my FX techniques so many will find this useful. Also, there's a very useful technique I just learned recently that will absolutely give your artwork that "anime movie" feel, which is similar to lense effects with digital cameras, but it's as simple as using an airbrush.

    Keep watching. More to come soon! :) 
     
  6. Firestar31

    Firestar31 Banned

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    A very constructive tutorial. Thanks for sharing.
     
  7. GrungeWerX

    GrungeWerX Well-Known Member

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    Okay, let's continue:

    Stage Five:

    (Shadow Theory)

    This is a really important part that will determine the mood of lighting as well as the direction I'll take in the next few stages. The most important part is to view the shadows over the flats as shown below to get an idea of the 3-dimensionality of the image as well as the feel of lighting with the absence of light.

    Also, at this point, the coloring really gets fun. Shadows and flats are done, so we have a Mignola-esque image that completes some of the more difficult and main focuses of coloring. Everything after this is icing on the cake. Even some of the more difficult effects will be fun since, regardless of how many mistakes are made because, hey, the hard stuff is done! :0

    Anyways, the next step will be coloring the shadows based on the flats. This is a new technique I made up recently and the results are amazing. It really gives off the range from anime cel shade. It's kinda tricky to understand, not to mention you want to have a good eye for color, otherwise the results can be disastrous. The good thing is that it's MUCH better than the "new layer in black at 40-45% opacity" technique that is way overused. Mainly because the effect leaves the colors looking a bit muddy. Color is a priviledge, so why not take advantage of it?

    Here are a couple of initial observation tips:

    The lighting is somewhat dark and warm, reddish hues and such. Also, away from the blast we'll contrast with cooler colors to give the feel of night erupting. Electricity will flow slightly from the injured bot. Blue is always nice and cool. But we'll make it subtle. We'll also need a big glare of light from the blast.

    More to come soon!!

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Dreweido

    Dreweido Veteran TFW2005 Supporter

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    cool interesting take on things... i'm definitely gonna keep checkin for more!
     
  9. Josh

    Josh Comic Color-guy

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    definately awesome

    i almost like it enough the way it is xD
     
  10. Infosaur

    Infosaur Well-Known Member

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    sweet!
     
  11. GrungeWerX

    GrungeWerX Well-Known Member

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    Stage Six

    (GrungeWerX Funk)

    Finally, we can dig in. Let's have some fun. First, let's dig into highlights. Highlights can be overused or underused. There must be a balance in the Force. what I do is choose the part of the frame or structure in which the light would be the strongest and add a shine or glare there. I look at light also as physical, and the way it reacts to objects , it seems that way at times. Think of it as a liquid that concentrates itself along the apex of the lighted structure. Might sound a bit weird, but that's my highlight theory.

    Take a look at this image. Notice the subtleties of light placed on the chassis:

    [​IMG]

    The lighting on glass doesn't change drastically. It's the same principle. But do to the placement of shadow, it gives off a different feel, namely feeling more like glass/plastic than metal or any other substance:

    [​IMG]

    Coloring the shadows:

    I can't go into much detail on this one, it's really playing it by eye, but the first step is to use the magic wand and select all the same colors in the pic that you want to "shadowcolor" first. Holding down the ctrl button and clicking each solid color on the flats layer will allow you to select the multiple solid colors. See the image below for a better idea of this. Notice the "marching ants" around the same colors:

    [​IMG]

    The next step is to hide the marching ants by clicking ctrl+H for Hide. Marching ants distracts me when trying to adjust colors at times so this just works for me. remember to ctrl+d when completed with this process so that you can continue with your work.

    Next, you want to click on the shadows layer. Even though you can't see it, the colored areas are still selected on the shadow layer. So basically, you can play with the shadows that are only in the area of the color you've selected. Get it? If not, reread, because I'm sucking at that description, LOL.

    Here's my trick. What I do is, I brighten the shadow layer by going into brightness/contrast (see help or guide for directions. I'm at work and can't remember. I think it's image>adjustments>brightness/contrast) I brighten it until is a light gray, then i go to color balance and add color based on the flats and how i want the shadows to be colored. Play it by eye and before long this will show good results. It's better than opacity at 40% in black on a new layer, trust me. Anyways, keep in mind that dark colors should have dark shadows, like colors should have "light colored shadows". Before long, you'll be a master.

    Finally, once I've completed this, I ctrl+d to deselect and go back to the flats and select same colors for next area of image and so on.

    Next we go to the background. i don't have time to go into detail because the background has no standard format. I usually wing it based on what I like to see. There are too many steps to this and no clear formula. I almost "paint" my backgrounds when they're done using a combination of brushes and effects that change from piece to piece. Even the blast took a while to do, sampling different effect layers that oftentimes are tedius. However, i can give you a tip on the electric bolts, which are very simple.

    Create a new layer above all the layers. Use a white airbrush at about 4px and 59% flow and just draw on the bolts. Next go to layer>layer style>outerglow and choose blue from the swatch area and then adjust the settings. I normally give it a bit of spread and play with the dials. As you play with them, you can see the effects. Keep playing with them until you get desired effect. Be sure not to make the bolts stand out too much, which usually happens when you learn a new technique and get "effec happy" like I used to all the time. :) 

    Anyways, enough talk. Here is the near finished result. I only have one more FX technique to do, which I'll complete tonight. That will involve glass on Quartz's right leg and having the blast reflect in the glass. I'll also be adding a slight glare on the glass as well, so I'll try my best to work another tutorial on that, as well as on the smoke. I didn't have much time last night to grab screenshots, not to mention, I'm typing all of this while at work. Leave your comments and enjoy!!


    [​IMG]
     
  12. Rattrap587

    Rattrap587 Maximal Ground Operations

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    WWWWOOOOWWWW!!!! I need to read this very carefully... You are the man!!!
     
  13. Cobra_Commander

    Cobra_Commander Master of tactics TFW2005 Supporter

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    holy crap thats alot of excellent info man and its one amazing pic
     
  14. Cheebs

    Cheebs Well-Known Member

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    Rock dude. I love that you don't use the "standard" comic book inking/coloring that 10,000 other people do. Great info.
     

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