Making of 'Renaissance'
Editing The Base Image
The base image had to be cleaned up first before anything else (see Fig.04). The second stage was to create an extension of the image, following the concept of leading on to a matte painting in which the National History Museum would be set in a natural environment, as if in existence sometime in the future. I started off by taking the base image of the National History Museum and painting/stamping the people out (Fig.01). The Lasso tool was used to select parts of the image, which were then copied, rotated, flipped and scaled to fit into another location (Fig.02). Making selections of a shape by guessing how it would continue in a covered/extended area, and stamping in some noise from a similar part of the image and colour correcting it, is another nice way to work (Fig.03).
It is important to give some visual variation to duplicated parts. You can easily achieve this by painting some dirt, erasing things, or using the Sharpen brush. The idea is to imitate the colours, and the overall sharpness and grain, of photography. After cleaning up the image, perspective lines were used to extend the image. Concepts were made to get an idea about how to put the museum into a natural environment (Fig05 and 06). Stamping some photography into your painted concepts might help to imagine the desired look very quickly.
For the concept to work it is important to colour correct the building in a way that it is integrated into the background scene (Fig07).
I should have spent more time thinking about perspective issues in the concept phase. As you can see here, I didn't take a lot of care with the rocky shore concept (Fig.08); I wanted to sort of zoom out of the building to give the viewer a glimpse of the surrounding landscape, although I expected a lot of problems with the lens distortion of the original photography. I decided to do the rocky water landscape concept because of the drama that it expresses, and so I started extending the rocky shore photograph. Sharpness, shapes and colours were imitated, without copying elements 1-to-1 from the landscape image, by painting and stamping (Fig.09).
After extending and colour correcting the image, a sky and several objects were then added. The National History Museum was roughly adjusted into perspective and shaped to match the look of the concept. Adding rough reflections and shadows helped tie the image together at an early stage, and allowed me to see any further problems (Fig.10).
I then decided to get away from the dark mood and went for a warmer colour. Adding the sun and lighting the whole scene was done by painting light on different layers, with some set to Dodge. To achieve the glossy look of the stones, I painted sharp highlights, such as on the water's surface. I used a custom brush that scattered the tint depending on the pen pressure, and used a motion-blurred noise layer for most highlights (Fig.11).
I was then able to add all of the really fun details. Finally some more perspective correction of the building was done, without destroying the drama of its alignment in the whole image. Seaweed and water movement was painted around the foreground rocks to get some more variation in the whole piece. The cityscape on the right was added as well, and the background rock besides Big Ben was given a more realistic, hazy look. The stairs of the National History Museum were then broken down into pieces and the lighting was adjusted (Fig.12 and 13).
Sometimes it's hard to keep photorealism in photographic parts when colour correcting and painting. Of course, the perfection of those skills comes with time, so I'm always learning and trying to improve. I hope this Making Of was interesting and helpful. I'd like to thank Dave Edwards for providing the photos and hope this Making Of can give others an interesting insight into how an image like this can be created (Fig.14).