Making Of 'Loftslag Blade'
Here is the story behind this character Loftslag Blade. Loftslag means weather in Icelandic:
An expedition travelled from the northern tribes to the most remote parts of their land. During the journey most of them passed away, until only two of them remained alive. They reached an area with very low visibility because of a strong blizzard. They finally caught a glimpse of a small area that seemed to have calm and peaceful weather, like an oasis in the desert. Both of the travelers made their way to the peaceful place and found what looked like a black stone sword. One of them held the blade in his hands, and the peaceful place suddenly became frozen.
The one holding the blade remained frozen for a long time, turning everything surrounding him into ice, even his friend. One day, life came back to him, but he wasn't as human as he once was.
From that day on the winter has followed him, the black stone blade allowing him to master the cold weather at his will. He is sometimes seen in storms and blizzards by careless travelers. He will never be able to leave the blade or winter alive.
This image was started quite a while ago and over time I revisited it, making changes each time I looked at it. I wanted to create a character that looked like he ruled the winter. I wanted him to look a little different as if he was a ruler of something other than humans. Fig.01 shows the first concept that I came up with.
I continued to develop the original concept by making him look like a warrior king whilst still focusing on making him dynamic and interesting. This, however, was starting to look a little too human, but I still really liked the face so I kept that from the original design (Fig.02).
After looking carefully at my painting I decided that I wanted to put more of the focus on the blade, to make it look more like an important part of the image. I also wanted to change the overall appearance of the character so he looked more like a monk or mystical character than a conqueror or ruler. I kept everything in black and white to start with to work out the general appearance of the character and establish his new pose (Fig.03).
In Fig.04 you will see that I started to add some color tones and darkness to the image. I also refined some of the details. The changes that I made are subtle, but I was starting to form the idea of using warm colors on the armor, to avoid making it look too knight-like. For all of this process I used standard Photoshop brushes.
I then started to add brown and dark green to areas of the painting. I decided that to achieve the feel I wanted the character had to be in a neutral place. I tried in front of an ice chamber, but that looked a little too obvious. I really wanted to avoid him looking hidden or surrounded by too many different features. I wanted him to look as if he was free to roam any environment he chose (Fig.05).
I got rid of the cave and placed him in an open, neutral place. I tend to change my mind quite a lot when painting but I always try to keep the same concept in mind. I added some icy forms to his back that looked a little bit like wings. The idea behind this was to adjust his form and make him look less like a typical human soldier (Fig.06).
I got rid of the details in the background to make it look a bit like a wall that wasn't too defined. I started to add some lighting and played with some different colors so that the character contrasted with the background whilst still looking integrated with it. I also continued to develop the clothing (Fig.07).
The next step was to start making the image clearer and define more of the details. This meant that I had to work with more colors adding to the interest in the image. I also added some natural hints at the type of environment the character would be in. I made a large color correction to make the overall image tone look blue (Fig.08).
Fig.09 shows that I continued to adjust the image nearer to a bluer tone. As always I continued to add more detail to the image and adjusted things such as the position of the head of the character as I felt that it was too low on the character.
I then started to add dark and warmer tones on the top layer of the image so there is more to look at on the character. This is particularly clear on his head.
I decided to add some ice to his face, which helped sell the overall idea. I took some tones from the background and applied them to the main character. This is so that he looks like he is part of the environment that surrounds him. I also started to add some snow and dirt to him.
Fig.10 shows the final image. To get to this point I simply did a few color corrections and lowered the strength of some of the saturated blues. I also added some warmer grays to the lower part of the character to tie it in with the background, but to also make the image have a warmer edge to it. I finally added some small white dots to make it look like it is snowing. This isn't actually what snow looks like, but it is enough to give the viewer the right idea.
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read this Making Of - I hope you enjoyed it.