Making Of 'Set Out for Lover'
It's a story about love, expectation and courage. When lights come through the darkness, they will meet again.
In the deep forest, there are some tree guys. They live happily, but some of them are interested in the world outside. So is Melody who is Jay's Lover. She left for the mysterious world and told Jay that she would come back when sun shone in the dark forest. Several years later, sunshine lightened the whole forest. Jay set out to prepare a big surprise for Melody even if he didn't know whether She would come back......
Yes, it's my new story about tree guys. They are hairy and shaggy. The story will become a CG Short later. I have dreamed to finish a real cg short through years. All the conditions are ripe now. I'm doing the concept of the story, which means that my project starts. "Set out for Lover" describes the scenario, where Jay is setting out for his lover. (Fig.01) It's the first scene design of "Tree guys". I think it will affect the entire quality and style of the short. So I painted many necessary details which seem to be over painted now. It took me several weeks to achieve that in my spare time. I realize that painting a rough sketch is different from painting details. So that's really a good experience from which I learnt a lot.
In this tutorial, I will show you some skills to accomplish the work. I haven't any art background before and totally self-taught. Two years age I picked up Maya. One year age I was involved in painting. So you don't mind if you are a hobbyist. You can have a command of these skills easily. Nevertheless, it's worthy to mention that 3D skills help me a lot. I'm working at shading and rendering. It's another efficient way for me to understand lights in the world. Everyone could learn from 3D applications for consideration, especially for lightening consideration.
Skill 1: Story makes work attractive
Someone told me that he saw something to happen in the frame. He could imagine the story outside the frame though his one is different from mine. "Set out for lover" owns its background story. I designed the expression and action for this tree guy, the plant and hanging bridge for the scene. When the viewers are told the tree guy story, they may look for some details in the work again. (Fig.02) That's exciting. If your work could catch one's eye over 15 seconds, it's a good work.
Skill 2: The atmosphere is visible
General speaking, we can't see atmosphere around us whose shape and colour are unpredictable. But when we forget atmosphere, our works will be flat and strange. Atmosphere makes your work more 3d-looks. You can feel the distance between two object in the scene. There are 3 ways to get the effects.
Firstly, the near object looks saturated and strongly contrastive while the far object looks desaturated and weakly contrastive. (Fig.03)
Secondly, cold colour looks further while warm colour looks nearer.(Fig.04)
Last but not least, light fog can emphasize the object you want to describe more. It increase the contract of the entire image, catch up your eyeball easily. If you want, you can also add some dusts in the light fog. (Fig.05)
Skill 3: Colour can help you travel further
It's difficult to describe the colour theory in such a short tutorial. But you can recognize the difference between the image with colour and the one without colour. (Fig.06) I think the first part of image06 is without colour though you could see blue tone in it since only one colour tone describes sketch relations rather than colour relations. Light is in all the guises in which we encounter it on a daily basis. There are hundreds of colours. Which colour shall we choose? It's a general rule that combination of warm and cold colour makes the image alive. Then, let's talk about "Set out for Lover". It is a green-tone image which belongs to neither cold tone nor warm tone. Most area of the image are filled with green and cyan, so the warm area in middle of the image which is the key area and visual Centre seems to be prominent.
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Moreover, we usually think the area without lightening should be dark. But extremely dark in the painting is uncomfortable. In fact, everything in the scene is illuminated. Some areas get less light while others get more. The less that receives the light from environment reflection is in cold tone rather than extremely dark.
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Then, how about warm tone. In my work, fire brings the warm tone. Red, orange, yellow are all in warm tone. The place near fire should be bright yellow while he place far away from fire should be dark red.
Skill 4: leaves
Here I will show you two photos. (Fig.07) The first one describes the back light effect of hundreds of leaves. The leaves on the edge are bright and saturated. The second one describes the different between the front side and the back side of the leaf. The front side appears darker with high reflectivity. The back side seems to be translucent. That's all! Actually, we can paint leaves now. But before we start, we'd better know something about shading.
Shaders are used to determine the relationship of colour and illumination. What is the relationship of translucent and colour? It seems to be more saturated near the terminator when objects look translucent. And the front side and back side of leaves have different relationships. The picture below shows five shaders.(Fig.08) The last one is the shader of leaf. You also can see the relationship of colour and illumination.
Then, let's get started. It's hard to get the breath-taking result by painting only one time. More times you paint, more levels you get. (Fig.09) You could paint leaves step by step:
- Define a leaf brush. Paint leaves' shape. If you have a tablet, it 's easy to use pan pressure . One stroke forms one shape.
- Add brighter saturated colour to the middle of every leaves.
- Drop rough shadow of every leaves.
- Add darker and saturated colour to the front surface of every leaves.
- Drop highlight of front surface. Attention to distributing of highlights.
- If leaves are less than enough, add some.
- Don't forget the backlight effects. The light is warm and bright. You can see the photo above for consideration.
- Blur the image and paint again...
Skill 5: Add some flavouring
When you finished your work, you can add some flavouring at last. They will give you more details and make your image real. I do sharpness, glow and lens blur. Maybe you have another choice (Fig.10, Fig.11 and Fig.12).
The smallest size of CG brush is 1 pixel. As you know, Because some of the details are smaller than even 1 pixel, they're hard to be painted by brush. But noise + sharpen can achieve that. When you use sharpen filter, you will always surprised with the details the sharpen filter brought.
Both glow and lens blur do the same thing which makes the image real. Images with glow and lens blur are supposed to be photo or a snapshot of a movie and reduce the appearance of Brushstrokes.
Skill 6: Keep patient
There is a Chinese saying "Painting can shape a person's temperament". I think it is justified. I kept up telling myself that I'm pursuing art, never give up until I feel satisfied during the period months. I'm convinced of the belief that constancy helps me do better. (Fig.13) I think it will help you as well.
This isn't a step-by-step tutorial with all the painting details. It doesn't discuss the applications, either. But it's a general brief of my work "Set out for Lover". I've told you the most important skills I've applied. I should apologize for my poor English that my cause some misapprehends. If there are any questions, please sent me a mail () or leave a message to me (tinyglobe.spaces.live.com). Any discussion and comment are welcome. Hope this tutorial is worthy. Hope you like it.