Making Of 'Unicron'
I've always wanted to paint tributes to my favorite childhood cartoon characters and I chose Unicron to be the first in the series. I wanted to do something pretty high res because I wanted to print the series and hang them in my workspace.
In this tutorial I will demonstrate how I used both 2D and 3D tools for production. Since this wasn't for a client there wasn't a deadline and so I could afford to experiment. I wanted to show how big and powerful this character was by placing the viewer low to the ground looking up at him. I started blocking him out with just a plain square brush and then I started to find detail within the shapes (Fig.01).
Next I enlarged the rough sketch to start defining the line art even further. I tried to flip my canvas on occasion to check my perspective (Fig.02).
Next I created a layer under the line art and filled the image area so I could quickly isolate the character for adjustments
I then started to implement value to help define the shapes more. I just used one of the standard soft brushes for this task (Fig.04).
Next I started to think about the surface texture. Based off the old Transformers movie he has a lot of moving parts, so I thought of old metal panels as a good texture solution. Since the line art was well defined it was easier for me to find points for my texture placement. Here's a breakdown of the texture placement (Fig.05).
Here's what the layer stack looked like (Fig.06).
Here's more of the same technique applied to different areas (Fig.07).
I'd gotten far enough now that I needed to revisit the background and try to define what was really going on. The idea was Unicron destroys not only planets but whole solar systems. In this scene he is resting his hands on two dead planets and is sitting on a solidified sun that he has depleted. He is so big that he creates his own gravity, so debris would just move around him (Fig.08).
I actually used 3ds Max to help generate a throne. As I projected the model on the painting I realized that my perspective was off and my foreshortening didn't look right. I didn't like the direction it was going. I got lazy with my fundamentals in the beginning and it came back to haunt me. Rather than attempt to fix the current illustration I decided to try to model some parts and see it if would give me different results. Again, since it wasn't for a client I saw this as an opportunity to get some practice in.
As you can see I'm not that good at modeling so I tried to get to a point that was good enough to start painting on top of (Fig.09).
I quickly painted over a render to see if this was the direction I wanted to go in. I then felt better about investing the time to actually finish this piece (Fig.10).
I applied textures similar to what I'd done on the first iteration. Bending and stretching textures on top of the render and then painting in lights and shadows (Fig.11).
I copied the head from the original drawing and modified it a bit to fit the new illustration. I also start to play with color (Fig.12).
Here is the result of the paint-over (Fig.13).
Now to work on the environment. Because I wanted to imply that he creates his own gravity, I painted planet debris moving around him. I also started to pick a color palette (Fig.14).
Now that I felt pretty good about the direction I could relax and work on the detail. I just used the standard round brush for the debris and any of the soft brushes for the dust (Fig.15).
And it's done (Fig.16)! This was a fun piece to do. Even though I ended up basically creating this piece twice I picked up some good lessons and found some bad habits to kick. Thank you for viewing this tutorial. I hope it can benefit some of you. Click Here to watch a time-lapse video of the first half of the process if you're interested:
Time Lapse Video