Saturday, September 5, 2009

Alien Savage Concept

Here is a tutorial I decided to do for the heck of it to show my process. This tutorial shows how to go from a sketch you might like to a final render. Keep in mind that one step missing might be the very first step which is thumbnail ideation and experimentation.
A. Here is a messy rough image I made, originally on the fly for my sculpture. I liked it enough to go with it, and skipping having to create several thumbnails and choosing between them. The idea usually should be suppliment the needs of a story but in this case I just needed to create a cool creature. What is going through my head is that I want something original in anatomy and provocative. I want it to feel plausible but very strange, and somewhat relatable. I gave him an upright posture to make him feel relatable and added a weapon. In the end I think I want this guy to feel savage and semi-intelligent.
B. After messing around (and I do mean "messy") to find a good sketch, I begin to clean it up a bit and figure out how exactly I want the pose and anatomy to work together. I don't care for the arm on the right bent up and the hand on the left limply holding the stick/weapon. I also fixed the shoulders to give him more perspective and the illusion of contraposto.
C. I add a midtone overlay layer, underneath the drawing which is a multiply layer. This is to give me some range in the higher keys and lower keys. This will allow me to push and pull forms with lighting. I adjust the pose.
D. Here is some more clean up, this time of the overlay midtone layer. I'm probably looking at the general silhouette alot to see if it's worth moving to the next step. This overlay midtone layer also acts as a great way to "ctrl select" your silhoutte to paint within the boundaries and make a clean painting.
E. I establish the lighting direction and begin to bring out the forms based on that direction. I mainly use a source light and some kind of rim. This allows me to drop off detail in the less important areas like the feet and lower body. This is called "vignetting".
F. I push back some forms with shadows and experiment a little with a crest on the creature's chest. I did something similar already on Posiedon so I ditch it later. These steps are my "sculpting" steps, becauseI am focusing on making this creature feel dimensional and real. I usually use some relevant anatomical reference to remind myself of how certain body part should fit together.
G. I play with a duotone color arrangement, similar to something you might find on a colorful amphibian.
H. I don't like the weapon because it doesn't say much about the character's savage quality so I go with something closer to a spear. I also play with interesting ways to break up the monotony of his silhouette. The spines are too long and distracting. I want the attention to be primarily around the head area. I spend a litte more time punching up the lighting in subtle ways with shines and shadows.
I. I experiment with a different spear shape, but this one feels too metallic, regal and well-engineered. I add chest gills that speak to his somewhat amphibious nature.
J. I push back the further extremities with "fog" to give a little depth. I change the materials of the spear to be wood, leather, and bone to make it feel more savage. The minimal storytelling I do with the spear is to make parts of it look like it could be made from a spine, broken ribcage, and a larger bone sliver. I could have added some costuming to the creature but I decide that I like him more as a creature showcase than creating him for a specific story. Voila!

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