Making Of 'Mega Girl'
I did all the painting in Photoshop. At the beginning I started with a rough sketch. I started by setting the background to a deep cool color and painted simple lines to create the overall shape. Then I had the main idea for the final image, which is a robot girl floating in a tank, surrounded by machines. Like Rockman (Mega Man), one of her arms has been modified into a gun or some kind of weapon (Fig.01).
At this stage I used a large round brush to paint the main color of the character. The focal point of the image is the character, so I used strong warm colors like oranges and yellows to draw her. At this early stage there was no need to draw with too much detail; the pose and the position didn't need to be very accurate (Fig.02).
These are the main light sources in this scene (Fig.03). There's a warm light from the top, bottom and circle around the character. There is also a cool light from the background, which is much weaker than the warm light. Guided by the light source I used highly saturated, warm colors for the character so that the light and shadow worked well together (Fig.04).
At this stage I wanted to focus on the face, because I knew this would attract the most attention. First of all, I drew the main shape of the face and then decided to change the angle of the head, to make her look as though she was focusing on the screen above her head. I also changed her skin tone. The new face is pale and lighter than before, as though a computer screen is close to her face.
In order to give to background more depth, I added some lighting to it, which, in this instance, needed to be weaker and less saturated than the light source around the character. I didn't think too much about what these exact light sources could be as I knew I could work out these details later on. At this stage, I just drew in a small amount of light detail for the background (Fig.05).
Drawing the Area of Interest
During this stage, I mainly used a very small Round brush to add detail. I concentrated on her face and upper body, as I wanted these aspects to draw the most attention.
From then on, I started to think about the design of her armor. I added several deep lines to divide the armor into more intricate, smaller shapes. I concentrated on her upper arm and chest. I wanted the texture of her upper arm to be different to other parts of the armor and so I decided to make it into an artificial muscle (Fig.06).
Guided by large shapes, I made the edges sharper and put some cool lights on the armor. This added a very technological look and balanced the color of the whole picture. I didn't take too long making the surface smooth or working on the finer detail.
I then put more detail on the head, especially in her hair, by adding different shades. I drew more lights on her helmet; as it's the highest area of interest, I wanted it to have a greater technological look. I cleaned up her face and added some highlights to her eyes, so she had the expression that she is looking up into the sky (Fig.07).
Environment and Details
I then added detail to the whole image. Within the character, I concentrated on the rest of the body design and details. I decide to keep one natural hand, as two canon arms made her seem too much like a weapon. I opened up the back of her left leg to give the impression the machine is doing the repair (Fig.08). I used the default airbrush to add light and higher definition to make the surface of the armor appear smoother (Fig.09). For the head, I finished the screen she's looking at and with that the image was almost complete (Fig.10).
To finish I added more details to the background, such as some tiny pipes and stitches to make the whole scene more detailed and realistic. I shaded in some darker colors onto the machines, and made sure the contrast was weaker than that of the character. Because the environment should also be affected by the warm light source in the foreground, I drew some highlights on the machine to make it look more real. Also, because the contrast of the distant machines and objects should be lower than that of the character, I used a large brush and airbrush as there was no need to draw as much definition.
The foreground and focal point needed to have more intricate details. To make the lighting look consistent and believable was of major importance.
At last, I looked at the image as a whole and cleaned up any loose ends and missing details (Fig.11).