Making Of 'The Beserk Flash'
Hello friends! My name is Le$hiY or Oleg Shekhovtsov. This art was created for the Comicon Challenge 2011.
In the beginning I had completely forgotten about the competition, but then I saw a message in a forum saying "The Comicon Challenge 2011 has started!" and so decided to take part. At this Comicon the brief was wide:
"This year's theme for 3D Character Artists and 2D Concept Artists is "Alternate Universe." You can either change the time period of your comic book hero or his/her gender. For instance, you can make a 1842 Western styled Captain America (cowboy) OR a female Captain America OR you can do both - an 1842 western-styled (cowboy/girl) female Captain America. If you decide to mix and match, it's your choice!"
The task for 2D concept artists didn't include a modeling sheet, which was sad in my opinion because it demands a more exacting approach to illustration.
Next it was necessary for me to choose a character to change. I always choose work that's going to help my artistic evolution and I knew I wanted to try and draw detailed fantasy clothes or armor, so after looking at various DC and Marvel characters, I decided to go with The Flash (Fig.01).
The competition lasted four weeks, with a possible one week extension. For an illustration, one week, with a second one in case of random problems, is necessary for me. Because the modeling sheet had been removed, the rest of the time on this project was taken up on the generation and development of a general idea. This is the most important part of any work, so don't neglect it. Ideas are everything!
While I was searching for a clear idea, I started with the elements that made up the original character (skills, style, symbol etc) and things I wanted to have in the image (fantasy clothes and armor). I then began to brainstorm; gathering references, reading up on the original character, inventing stories etc. At the end of the first two weeks I had some sketches, a big folder of references (the main references I collected on a single sheet) and a clear idea in my head: a fantasy berserker. Also, I began to associate my warrior with a wild red fox (Fig.02 - 03).
The fantasy element was there because I wanted it, and the berserker was based on the character and ability of the Flash - all of his incarnations have possessed super-speed, which gives him the ability to run extremely fast, use superhuman reflexes and seemingly violate certain laws of physics. Berserkers (or berserks) were Norse warriors of Odin who are reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury; a characteristic that later gave rise to the English word "berserk". They were very fast and strong, and fought in light armor. Both concepts combined well and complemented each other.
Before I go on to talk about the process of drawing, I'd like to share some technical advice. When you're working on a piece of art, you need to create a comfortable environment. I'd also recommend listening to music as this helps to create the necessary mood and rhythm. Next, make sure your software is configured properly (here I'm using Photoshop). I'm a hardcore gamer and used the WASD hotkey system in Photoshop too (Fig.04) because it lets you work with the usual part of the keyboard.
Typically when I work, I try to keep to a minimum number of layers (three-four). When the composition is established, I merge all the layers and continue to work with two (the second acts as a temporary buffer). Also I used two-three simple brushes (Fig.05).
So I started drawing the character, and the more I worked on it, the better I began to understand how it would look and what items of clothing it would be wearing. The most important thing at this stage was to keep the character recognizable. If you lose the key design elements of a basic character, what makes it unique, then it quickly becomes meaningless (Fig.06).
The most difficult decision was to use a fox skull as a mask. It gave the desired character and style, and stressed his "beastly" nature, but I knew it might displease some fans of the hero. Moreover, it completely covered the face, which was not good for the game concept. But I liked it, so I decided to take the risk.
Now I'd settled on the appearance of my hero, it was necessary to come up with an illustration. After analyzing the results, I decided I did not want to change the position and view. So I just drew an environment that complimented the character and could be his dwelling. The environment, together with the details and nuances of the character, helps the viewer to think about the story behind an image. I chose a triangular composition: I lined the walls on each side to form a dynamic wedge-shaped frame, which is included in the ground and pushes the character into the foreground. It was important that the background didn't interfere with the readability of the image and formed a silhouette of the hero himself.
I threw a bunch of colors under the sketch and changed the color and brightness of the layer with the sketch, and also changed it to Multiply or Linear Burn mode. This allowed me to get rid of dirt in advance. I expanded the canvas and the drawing was done with a margin on the subsequent crop. If possible, I always work in the 5k pixels range (no less than 3k). This gives me the freedom of not having a pixel limit and also allows you to avoid potential problems when printing (Fig.07 - 08).
I used colors based on the original colors of the Flash, and added appropriate materials and accents, to create the fiery character of the fox. To keep the work authentic to the eye, I used a saturation of color, keeping in the limits of 80% and worked on the contrasts between the colors until I'd achieved the desirable accents.
Next was the hard manual work. Pixel by pixel I drew on top of the sketch. I worked on spots and shading. Sometimes I merged the layers and continued to work on the new surface. During this kind of work it's important to monitor your results and listen to criticism (Fig.09 - 12).
As a final step, I correction the brightness and colors. I also created some stylized titles, made a border and then left the image alone for several days. The day before the deadline I came back and made a few more changes, composed the workflow sheet and uploaded the required resolution and compressed it for a few hours before the deadline. And with that, the image was done (Fig.13).
For self-improvement, I like to periodically review my progress and remember my mistakes. To sum up, here are some corrections for this image:
1. There is some discrepancy between the post and the environment, because the environment was made after
2. The illumination is badly defined
3. There are errors in the anatomy (left leg).