Making Of 'Cold Sky'
Welcome to this Making Of. I'm Vlad Kuprienko and I'm Ukrainian 3D artist currently working freelance creating models, sketches, animations, fantasy and sci-fi illustrations, interior visualisations and working with web design. I've been working in the commercial CG industry for 2 years, now.
Firstly, I would like to mention the process, methodology and software that I use when I work. I normally do a lot of sketches before I start creating a scene or a model. The main software that I use is Carrara and Hexagon, which are not so popular, but I believe they're a good choice for creating great pictures in a short time, if compared with 3ds Max or LightWave XSI. Hexagon has all the tools you need to create and texture your model and render it in a great environment using Carrara. It has all new features like SSS, GI and so on, but it also has ultra fast and powerful rendering. In Fig01, you can see an interface of Skylab in Carrara. One day, I decided to create a picture called "Cold Sky", and after a few test renders I saw that Carrara couldn't give me the desired mood. Having done a lot of sketches using Painter in the past (I love this application!), I decided to give it a try...
In this Making Of, I'm going to show you how to make this kind of work using 10 colour palettes and using standard Painter brushes only. This work was made by adapting my experience from doing sketches for 3D, and applying them in Painter X using my old renders as reference material (Fig02).
Before creating this picture in Painter, I initially planned to include the surface of the sea, but then decided that a boundless would work better for the concept.
When I knew exactly that I was going to paint a sky scene, I started work on the background by filling a white sheet with a main colour, using Flat Colour Pens. You will see from Fig03 that I marked the darkest and brightest parts of the picture so that the composition began to emerge. This was the last time that I used blender brushes, until the detailing stage.Â Thanks to my friend, a professional artist, she advised me to use the "Just Add Water" blender brush. It was perfect for making this kind of image.
I already knew where the Sun was going to be, so it was possible for me to paint the brightest parts of the sky. With this type of picture, the contrast works well (Fig04).
While painting smaller clouds, I decided on what would be the main object in my scene. I looked to see if I had any old models or ideas that I would be able to add to this piece, and luckily I found an old 3D model of a steam-punk flying ship! Unfortunately, I didn't take any screenshots whilst I painted the ship, but it's not too difficult to make one afterwards. I thought that adding the small ship as the main focus for the piece would work, although some would say that the composition isn't the best. For me, the small ship works much better than a huge one because it shows the boundless sky, and shows what a human machine actually looks like when compared to nature which can be so kind and beautiful at times. Also, if you are drawing moving objects, it's important to remember that there must be space where the object is moving in to. I used a Layout Grid in Painter (Canvas > Compositions) to place ship correctly (Fig05 - 06).
At this stage, I was looking for the cloud shapes. As you can see, I started drawing in the borders of the clouds. You will also notice that the Sun is behind the clouds, which gives them that nicely lit border.
From here on in, I want to show you the brushes that I used to create this picture. I also wish to prove that there is no need to create extra brushes in Painter every time you paint a new piece...
Fig07 and 08 were painted using only the Flat Colour Pens brush, and the Blender brush for blurring. Do not be afraid to use large Pen brushes with the transparency near 10, as it will work great when blending colours! When you start to add some detail, just use smaller brush sizes and play with the transparency.
I decided to change the shape of the cloud near the Sun, and you can see that some small details were also drawn above the Sun, here. For this, I used another great and universal brush: Detail Oils Brush. I used spots of colours that stayed whilst drawing using big brushes, and made small clouds, or parts of clouds, from them by adding details (Fig09).
I then used the Artist Pastel Chalk brush when adding details and making the clouds fluffier - a really great brush for this type of work. Now, looking at the six steps shown in Fig10, the first and second picture captured colours using the Dropper tool and a big Pen brush. I started placing main colours and, in the third and fourth steps, I simply took a smaller brush and added more colours. Note: painting with high transparency helps you to achieve good colour blending. I then started on the details using the Oils and Blender brushes (Fig10).
Here, I wanted to show you how I created a speed painting of some clouds using only a Pastel brush and a Blender brush. By the way, don't use pure blacks or whites, as this will only make your picture look dirty. Instead, try mixing colours, like dark blues or browns, which will work much better (Fig11).
Again, for this, I started by filling a background with base colours. For the last step, I added some rain effects on the left. As you can see, using just the Pastel brush you can make some really nice clouds (Fig12 -14).
Moving back to the Cold Sky image, when all the details were painted and the main object was placed on the picture, it was then time to do some colour correction work in Photoshop. I decided that I should use a more romantic colour, and so I added a touch of red (Fig15).
So, for this image (Fig15), I've simply adjusted the contrast and brightness a little, which I think is something that everyone should do, even if you think that the contrast is OK. Try setting it to a higher level and you will see just how your image starts to look better. I didn't use the Crop tool for this image, but it's a good way to change the composition of your piece, if you need to.
And finally, here is the finished piece (Fig16 - Final Image). I hope you have enjoyed and found this making of useful. Before I go, I would like to give you some final tips and advice which I have learned through the making of Cold Sky...
- Don't try doing small details right from the beginning. It's the same principle as when painting with oils or acrylic: draw the whole picture first, and it will help you to draw from the soul of the image.
- Don't use pure blacks or whites! It will just make your picture dirty. Try mixing colours, such as dark blues or browns, and they will work much better.
- If you are drawing moving objects, it's important to remember that there must be space where the object is moving in to.
- Always try to use tools that will help you to create the right composition, like the Layout Grid in Painter (Canvas > Compositions) which can help you to place your main objects correctly.
- Using colour correction in Photoshop can help you if you used colour that isn't quite suitable for the final image.
Thanks for taking the time to read this making of. I am always open to advice, suggestions and critiques, because I am still learning myself and wish to improve my skills, so I'd be happy if you dropped me a line or visited my portfolio: www.dreamlab.comgran.ru/~portfolio
Fig.16 - Final Image