Making Of 'Blue A Fool'
First of all I started with a rough Pencil-Sketch to depict the basic composition and the central idea of the picture.
As you see, I originally intended to make a Seagull the 'Star', but later I decided to swap it to a Gannet. I chose to do this basically because of his long neck gave me more freedom for compositing and helped avoid the elements looking 'squeezed' into the middle of the image. My sketch laid beside my monitor all the working-time, as an orientation and recognition of the original intention to create it. Tip : Never ever dump your first sketch; it's holy.
The second step, I tried to put the sketch into 3d. Some simple 4-6-poly-objects served me as dummies to emphasize camera position, lens size, etc. At this point I often make a provisional light setup to get a first impression of the general mood. In this case; a very bright Target Directional from outside, a soft Omni from the inside and a Skylight served me as fake radiosity.
With doing all the previous set-up, I can now start with doing the real work. For the wooden beams I created a box. with approximately a square intersection which I then started to shape out wood structures with the bevel, chamfer and the soft selection-tools. (I deleted the cap surfaces because they wouldn't be seen on the final picture anyway)
After smoothing and applying additional bumps and hollows, I gave some individual structure to the surface by displacement mapping. I modelled 4 basic beams, the rest are scarcely altered versions of those ones, for I knew, that I would rework the renders within Photoshop, so I didn't spend to much time on those details.
The rest of the major walls and the roof were pretty simple modelling, again using some displacement maps gave the individual touch.
Sometimes, I merge in the light setup, so that I can check if it still looks the way I wanted it to.
The picture frame was a tricky thing to do. First I tried to change the photo texture, the way that I could displace the geometry with it. But, indeed, displacement maps can't always be the answer, so I ended up with poly modelling the corner details and pulling out some vertices to model the shape.
So with the modelling done, I now can start with doing the textures. With most of the maps appearing in the scene are photo textures with dirtmaps.
I took this early spring forest picture (P_08) in January some 30 minutes from my house.
As experience shows, it makes a wonderful dirt-map, when set to 'greyscale' and alter the 'levels'. This has been used many times in the scene.
To give the textures more structure, I duplicated the layers, used the 'Emboss' Filter and set them to 'Overlay' so that now, all the surfaces have gained some bump.
I seldom made a separate Bump or Specular Map, most times the colour maps did there job well in all slots I wanted them.
Some words about the shading: There are nearly no objects with standard speculars in the scene. I prefer using a Shadow Light Falloff in the Reflection Slot. The highlights become much more controllable and plastic by that.
Lets talk about the Bird. Again a very simple Job, but if you know exactly, that you will never animate your scene, rework it with PS anyway. You can save so much time when questioning, How much work is really necessary? Based on a Photograph from the Internet, I modelled the rough shape and finally used the Picture scarcely edited as a texture and planar mapped it from the side. Some bones and skinning gave me freedom to define the exact posture of the throat and head.
The canvas in the lower left corner was a special thing to do. Originally I intended to create a naturalistic 'oil painting', but later I wondered, if the contrast to the rest of the rendering would be recognizable enough. Cubism would have taken too much time, so I decided to use the 'Miro' Style. With the 'pen' tool and some custom brushes the creation was done in one or two hours.
Some last light-adjustment and the scene was ready for rendering. I made two renderings one with just the wallpaper and one with just the bricks. Also an Alpha and Z Channel.
After applying the Alpha Channel to the basic Layer, I started with the basic detail correction. I then added the bloomy feathers, highlights and some deeper shadows to the bird. I amplified the wallpaper bump, which suffered by the 'Light tracer' Calculations, as you see on the picture. Again, the 'Emboss' filter did his job well.
The next thing that was painting was the glass in the window. I started with some freehand strokes on a new layer to define the major cracks and completely broken out areas. Refining and 'Minimize' Filter gave the right crack look. Next layer was about darkening the glass areas, then a cloudy sky background. Many others followed. Indeed, I ended up with 15 Layers for the window, including some shadow modification to receive a caustic effect on the wood. Fortunately the scene interior was much darker than the outside, so I hadn't care a lot about the reflections.
Some last steps were left. I added details to the wall by merging the brick layer and masking it. Some additional elements like the curtain or the little butterfly had to be hand painted. Darkening some areas and lighting others, adding sun rays and a soft colour correction (Highlights more blue, shadows more red-brown) made the Artwork complete. Film grain gave the last atmospheric touch.
I hope, I've given you a helpful glimpse at my work.
To see more by Tobias Trebeljahr, check out Digital Art Masters: Volume 7