Making Of 'Transformers Deathblow'
It's very crucial for a creator to foresee the image in his own mind and be able to know if it will make a good artwork, or not. I wanted to create a scene filled with tension and drama, just like a still from the film itself.
Designing the Movement
Planning the work, I wanted to bring out the tension and conflict as a priority, which led me to an explosive duel scene that would draw audiences into the work. What troubled me was deciding whether the duel should take place during the day or night. In the end I picked daytime, meaning that my background would have a strong contrast and variation of lights. First of all, I started with a sketch, designing actions (Fig01). Because the first character pose designs were not very good, I decided to re-design the composition and drafted the sketch of the surrounding buildings. It was at this moment when I began to think of where the source of light was coming from (Fig02).
I re-designed the poses and polished up the buildings. Even though Transformers is based on science-fiction and they come from outer space, the story is set on Earth. So I wanted to bring in architecture that has a traditional feeling, something like a museum, in order to emphasise the contrast between high tech. machines and classical images (Fig03).
In the film, Megatron is pictured as the destroyer, and Optimus Prime as the protector. Therefore, if Optimus Prime is placed closer to the camera when defending the attack, it would create the feeling of "being protected" for the audience. I was imagining Megatron dashing out from the explosion, lunging at Optimus Prime with a "crackdown". Optimus Prime is prepared for the attack; he raises his fist and slides forwards - causing sparks on the ground - ready to give Megatron a death blow. The aim of this composition was to create a complete frame filled with drama and action.
To enhance the tension of the scene, I chose a radial composition that was similar to the basic perspective. The whole composition would therefore look like an explosion itself, or an extending radiation (Fig04).
Painting & Progression
Colour-wise, it took me a long time to consider the colour of the sky, and it also went through a lot of changes. Originally, it was sky blue. However, after many adjustments, the colour of the sky became much closer to yellow, which makes the whole tone of the picture more unified.
First of all, I polished up the sketch a little and increased the position of Megatron on the canvas, in order to strengthen the feeling of him about to "crackdown" on Optimus Prime (Fig05). I then painted the base colour using a brush, under the Color brush mode. This was done in order to create the basic tone of the colour (Fig06); by detailing Optimus Prime first of all, paying attention to the reflections of the sparks, it was strengthened (Fig07).
Altering the Arms
Since the pose was designed by myself, it was difficult making sure that Prime's parts were true to his original design. I did a lot of research on the Internet; some were public still photographs from the film, and others were character designs for marketing purposes. But these sources were all done in various stages, so there were a lot of differences. For instance, Prime's head and arms already had many different versions; I had to pick the most suitable one that would look good from the angle I had designed, and of course added some of my imagination, too. So Prime's arm went through many adjustments before it was complete (Fig08).
I created the mask of the fire pattern first by selecting it and drawing within the selection - this way I was able to keep within the lines (Fig09 - 10).
Adding the Sparks
I painted in the details of building on the right-hand side, added the columns and decorations to the museum, and increased the brightness and contrast of the whole building in order to enhance the overall lightness (Fig11). I then worked on the sparks under Prime's feet, being sure to pay attention to the reflections on his feet and making them spray outwards, as if he's skidding at a high-speed (Fig12).
After all the other building work was basically done (Fig13 - 14), I hand-painted the explosion and added the reflections of the flames to the car in the lower right corner. The buildings in the far background and the sky were also tinged with the colour of the flames (Fig15).
To add more texture to the picture, I added many brush strokes - more like a foggy or dusty kind of stroke. This thickened the feeling of a battle field and also made the perspective more distant (Fig16 - 17).
The centre of attention should be more in the middle of the picture, so I moved Prime and Megatron a little to the right (Fig18).
Problem Solving for Optimus Prime
The biggest problem I came across with Optimus Prime was handling his appearance and comparing my design to the originals. I took two pictures for comparison (Fig19); the left one was before and the right one was after. Originally, Prime was not as eye-catching as I wanted him to be, and that really bothered me. Moving him closer to the middle, there were many more problems that then needed to be solved...
The first problem was 'the look'. Prime's outline was definitely the key point; it determined whether he looked like Prime, or not. His waist and thigh on the left side were thicker. His broad shoulders, thin waist and the curves of his thigh also need to be indicated. His ears seemed a little short, so in the right picture I made some adjustments, making it closer to the original design.
The second problem was the design of light and shade; the shadows had to effectively push the main character out from the background. I purposely painted a white highlight on Prime's left side, not only giving him a more 3-dimensional look but also adding the metal tone to it. I also had to pay attention to the reflection under his feet, which was another key point. The head was too dark before, so I increased the brightness and also brought in the light of the flame from the explosion to add more contrast, making his head much more noticeable. The glass on Prime's chest should have had a brighter reflection, too, so I emphasised the contrast more on the chest by giving it a better perspective.
The Flame Paintwork
For the flame paintwork, the character designs for marketing use were different from the public still photographs of the film, and even the designs of the paintwork itself were not always the same. In the film, Prime has the paintwork on his arm, but on the poster he doesn't. Some flame paintwork has white outlines, and some don't. I therefore picked the one with a white outline in order to make my picture much more interesting (Fig20).
Polishing up Details
When working on the details, I used a very small brush for the scratches on the metals. Adding stains also made objects much more realistic. By filling objects with brush strokes it enriched the picture, and also helped play a part in catching the audience's attention. Usually, default brushes are enough for me (Fig21 - 25).
For the sparks, apart from using a small brush for the leaping sparks, I used brushes that had many tiny dots in order to give it a spraying feeling, in motion (Fig26).
In order to make the scene more tense and stressful, in the end I changed the shape of the explosion, as well as Megatron's pose. He is now looking more like he's jetting out of the flames, making him and the explosion more related (Fig27).
I also moved the character on the right side a little further to the right, and changed his pose so that he would not interrupt the audience's focus (Fig28).
On the lit and shadowed parts, I strengthened the reflections from the flame on the left building to make them both carry the colour of the environment. This ensured that the whole tone became more consistent. Comparing this final image to earlier, the saturation was also increased, overall. Now it is complete. Thank you all for following this Making Of (Fig29).