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Making Of 'Pier Duty'

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Hi everyone, my name is Graven Tung. This particular piece is a simple study that will hopefully explain some of the thoughts and techniques during my painting process. I'm usually not in the habit of questioning myself why I do things a certain way. In fact this is the first time I'm asked to paint for a tutorial, so bear with me here.

So lets start

I started off by Googling for some ideas. I try to avoid jumping into a painting without at least having a general direction. This is to prevent myself from falling into the "safe zone' and repeating similar subjects over and over. So I dug up few interesting shots after some random image search. (Ref.1, Ref.2) There's something cool about those waves crashing on the pier. I haven't done anything like that before, and it looks like fun.

Ref. 1
Ref. 2

Before we start, here're the 2 brushes I often use, especially for blocking in rough sketches. As you can see they're simply the 2 default chalk brushes that come with Photoshop CS, with a little change in settings. (Brush.1, Brush.2) Some people ask why I only have the "opacity" set on pen pressure and not the "size" as well. It's simply a personal preference. I tend to adjust the brush size with the "["and "]" keys anyway, so it all works out.

Brush 1 - Click to Enlarge
Brush 2 - Click to Enlarge

I open up a random canvas and loosely sketch in something that looks like a pier leading into a washed-out misty background. (Fig.01)

Fig. 01

Continuing on with the block-in, (Fig.02) I extended some rock formation to the left to balance out the composition, also scattered some warm highlights across the background sky. I figured the cloud/wave/moisture in the air would likely catch the sun here and there. It also helps to emphasize the light source. At this point that shape jutting out to the right is starting to look like a tall wave going over the pier, which is good.

Fig. 02

Next I planted a building on the left to give it some focus. (Fig.03) It also serves as something that leads us from foreground to the background. I'm not worried about its details yet. At this point it's better to focus on the right palette than trying to work out any specific designs. Right now the building is nothing more than a bulky shape with a touch of highlight, which is all we need.

Fig. 03

The composition is starting to take shape, but we're still missing something in the foreground. Since it's already looking a bit military, I'll go along with that theme. Here you can see a couple of attempts to work in some figures and maybe a vehicle. (Fig.04, Fig.05) I eventually settled on the bike because I wanted to paint a biker chick carrying a big bazooka. J (Fig.06) I wish there were other deeper reasons but sometimes you just gotta go with your guts.

Fig. 04

Fig. 05

Fig. 06

continued on next page >

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