Making Of 'Happiness is a Blue Bird'


"Happiness is a Blue Bird that one afternoon settled on our warm palm and left us something like a trace of a lost paradise that never was reached by anyone and that everyone dream with at some moment, sleeping or in wakefulness".


From some time ago I was interested on making an allegoric picture with the theme of happiness, or happiness' absence. The idea was making a stimulating, oniric image, that together with the title and the shown elements, allowed the watchers to make their own interpretation about what they see. The image moves us to that lost paradise, home of the blue birds (that symbolize happiness), to discover with our own eyes how a mysterious figure go exterminating everyone of these beautiful birds. On the original idea, the intention is getting the watch to feel as playing part of the scene, since we see the "happiness hunter" making a break on his path of death, when he realizes about our presence. Are we just watchers of a dream or are we the hunting mates?


Designing a hunting day - I normally use to work with colour sketches, but in that work I started from a really basic initial sketch, mainly for making a little study of the lighting and the general composition of the scene. The dusk light gives the environment a welcoming aspect, in opposition with the character. Independently of the the scene's sketch, I worked on the main figure's design, the hunter. On the first designs the clothes were more prepare and the hat worn has adorned with the blue birds' feathers, but I finally decided to give him a more sober and less smart aspect.

Main Painting and details

Using pencil - The first step of the final image is the drawing. We keep the same composition that we have on the initial sketch, separating the image in to two parts, on one side the main figure and on the opposite side the forest clearing, where the last birds escape. During the drawing process, I made the definitive changes on the hunter's design. For the forest we make the drawing of the principal lines of the trunks and we just insinuate the place where we will set the leaves mass, but it will be on the colour phase when we will detail the branches and vegetation.

Applying the paint

The following process is the same that on my previous works, with some differences. We create two layers over the pencil drawing. A normal layer that will be filled with white and a multiplying layer, where we will apply the colour. The white layer will be hidden while we are painting and its function will be to eliminate the line drawing as we are progressing on the colour work. For choosing the colours we will use the HSB Slider tools. It is very comfortable to work with this and making changes of colour and shades is quick and easy.

It is time to front the colour layer. We start painting quickly all the scene, with colour stains, with no details, for getting a global vision of the scene's tone. On this rough colouring we can use Dry Media Brushes for creating some bas texture. We will use through the drawing normal brushes mainly, and it is on the vegetation zone where we will create special brushes. On the initial phase we will paint basically the trees main trunks and we will mark with colour stains the leaves masses. Once we have applied a good colour base we start adding shades and marking them with more detail light and shadow zone; we will also create a more detailed vegetation and will paint branches and little leaves. For this we will activate the brush size by pressure option. with no doubt, the more complicated part of the image is the vegetation, for the great amount of details and shades; that is the reason why we will go more deeply into this point.

These are the properties of the main brush which we will paint the vegetation base with. With this
brush we can make quickly a first part that we will detail later with a normal brush. For the
grass we can modify this same brush adjusting its properties for making more little stains. Once
we have defined the vegetation zones, we can start to add detail to them, painting the light spaces
between leaves, the branches, loose leaves masses, stems and the flowers.

An important difference with other previous works is the use of a Hard Light layer for adding lights and making the scene richer in shades. On the "step by step" can be appreciated the shades added to the face, shadows (including the golden details), sky vegetation and on the forest clearing, adding intensity to the light zone. On this type of layer we will also paint different colour shades on the contours of the objects burned by the lights intensity. With these last details we can consider the paint part to be finished.

Effects and Final adjustments

Lets make a little noise - On more or less quantity, all my work i tend to have some granule or noise. It is something that I like to add, as it makes the image feel less "cold" and gives it a very pleasant"imperfection touch". This is the process that I followed for this image's noise:

- First, we create a Overlay layer over the rest of the layer. We fill this layer with grey colour with value RGB:128. With this grey tone, the layer will be completely transparent.
- Second step, we apply the Add Noise filter. In "Amount" we will put the maximum value: 400%
- Third step, we apply three time the filter "Brush Strokes-Spatter", obtaining irregular shapes and stains on the initial noise.
- Forth step, we apply the "Blur - Blur" filter for getting the shapes to be less hard.
- And the last step, we adjust the opacity degree of the layer, on this paint is 7%, a high degree as I normally use 3% or 4%. On this particular case I also added a transparency mask, for making the granule more subtle on some zones, for example the characters face.

Now we are ready to call this image completed, and this will no doubt give a little moment of happiness.

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