Making Of 'Twisted Room'
For this making of article I would like to take you through the steps I took when creating my image, "The Twisted Room". It's an older image, but it is a piece that I had a lot of fun creating and I'd like to share that process with you, from concept to completion. I will be talking about how the image came to be and what steps were taken to create the final piece. Hopefully you'll be able to get something out of it that will aid you in your own artistic endeavors!Â Now, for the sake of entertainment and the fact that I'm super hungry, I'm going to present this "making of" in the form of a sandwich! So first let's set out the plate.
The initial spark for this particular image began with the two words: twisted and room. Sometimes when you're stuck and looking for an idea, mixing and matching random words can be a great solution to the problem. I no longer have the time or luxury of getting "stuck", but when I did I had a lot of fun with random word pairings and phrases, such as "valley of the ghost king", "waffle canyon", or "sloppy slayer". So if you're struggling for an idea, give it a shot! You'd be surprised at how many mouth-watering combinations you can come up with!
I had a lot of ideas floating around in my soupy head for this image; some fairly straightforward - bet you can guess what those would be - and some more obscure in concept. Eventually I decided on one that was somewhat in-between. I also wanted to keep it open so the viewers could add in their own interpretations as well. For some, it would represent the secluded state that can result in a poor and unchecked gaming habit; for others it would bring back fond memories of the time they stayed up all night finishing their favorite game. These thoughts ran through my head as the concept developed. I wanted the viewer to question the motives of the demons outside the window. Are they real? Are they simply part of the boy's imagination? Has the game come to life? Or are they the lost players that the boy is soon to join? Once the concept had simmered a bit it was time to put it to paper!
Let's lay down the first slice of our sure-to-be-delicious sandwich: the sketch
This piece was done in a very short period of time, so the sketch is very simple. Normally I sketch everything out to make it easier for me later on, but the scene was simple and I had a clear vision of how I wanted it to look. In Fig.01 you can see the resulting simplicity. The perspective was also pretty straightforward, but in more complex setups the Pen Tool can be very helpful in setting up guidelines.
Next up: the meat (or Tofurky, if you prefer)
I threw in some values to see how I wanted the focus to present itself (Fig.02 - 03).
I knew the boy would take the center stage, so I filled the surrounding area behind where the boy was going to sit with darker values. I also wanted the window to be a point of interest, so I decided to keep it in a midrange value. Once I had the ground work in I could start adding in the details (Fig.04).
Since the piece had to be completed in a short period of time, I kept with the grayscale for a bit longer so I could focus on one thing at a time and get as much in as I could. Generally I don't spend this much time in the grayscale stage, and depending on the complexity of the colors involved later it can be a waste of time because you are most likely going to paint over it at some point anyway. In this case, however, I knew the colors could be solved fairly easily through various glazes and overlays. I also finalized the boy's positioning in this stage, as he was far too small in the earlier sketch.
Time for the toppings!
As I mentioned previously, the colors were brought in through multiple Overlays. The palette is fairly simple, focusing mainly on the colors red and blue (Fig.05 - 06). I felt they could represent the theme quite well: the red could accentuate the dark and twisted elements, while the blue would set the stage for boy's mental state. These colors also helped greatly in pulling him out from the background.
Now for the last slice of bread!
I'm almost finished at this point, but there are a few things that need to be added and adjusted. The bottom right corner was feeling a bit heavy so I decided to flip the image. The reasoning behind this is that the bottom right corner is generally seen as the heaviest, so the quick fix to this was a flip. I also added in the last bits of detail, such as the phrase behind the computer, "Play for H..." (Fig.07). What does it say and what does it mean? And why is it backwards?! Is the room playing tricks on the boy or did the artist simply not notice when he flipped the image? It's all part of the mystery! Stepping back I noticed that the corner under the window was a bit dead, so I added some lighting from the window to add direction for the viewers' eyes. Otherwise they may get stuck there, and that's not a good place to be stuck! Last but not least, I finished up the boy, giving him his creepy, spaced-out demeanor, and therefore completing the theme of the painting.
Finally, it's time to eat and digest!
I hope you've enjoyed the making of my twisted room sandwich. I must say, it's been a pretty tasty experience. Looking back there are a few ingredients that I would have added and changed, but as a whole I feel it still makes for an entertaining and fun painting to enjoy, so I hope you do! I've learned from it, and more importantly I had a great time doing it. Thanks for reading!
To see more by James Wolf Strehle, check out Digital Art Masters: Volume 8
and Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection