Making Of 'Xing Tain'
Hello, everyone! I'm glad to share the creation process of "Xing Tain" here. The original concept was based on a Chinese mythical character who I read about in a book: a brave warrior who was defeated in battle. After he'd had his head cut off by his enemy, the warrior's anger turned his nipples into eyes and he stood up and still fought in the war. He was symbolized as brave, tough, and determined; a hero born of a tragedy. I thought the description was interesting and I started to do more research on the internet, so that I could represent this character in my painting.
Concept / Sketches
I came across this image on the internet (Fig.01) and found the character looked really cute and interesting.
I also collected some references that I thought I might use (Fig.02). I imagined the character to have simple, but still sharp-looking armor and so I thought that punk rivets might suit the style of the armor. I also wanted his skin to look solid, like rock, and for him to not be wearing very much - like a boxer.
Here is the rough sketch of "Xing Tain" based on these ideas (Fig.03).
I put the sketch layer on the top and set it to multiply mode. I also set a light in the top at a 45 degree angle (Fig.04 & Fig.05).
I started working with black and white values first. By doing this, it's easy for me to determine where the lighting and shadows will be placed. I didn't used the brush tool in this step, instead I used the burn tool and dodge tool to add light and shadows up and down the shape. Then I used the variety brush tool to add some texture and stroke details (Fig.06 & Fig.07).
Here is the skin brush I download from the talented Chinese artist Yang Xue Guo (Fig.08). It's called the "Blur's Good Brush" and it can be downloaded from his website
I used these three brushes over each other to produce a subtle skin tone.
Black and White to Color
Once I was satisfied with the black and white figure, I started to play with the color balance, selective color and replace color tools in order to turn the black and white into a color scheme that I liked (Fig.09 - Fig.11).
Back to 3D
I opened Maya to build the horn and wristband. I find it's an easier and efficient program to use when you want to get the right perspective (Fig.12).
Beside the pose, all the emotion from this character had to be conveyed through his eyes. So I emphasized the expression of the eye to reflect his anger. I made the eye itself bigger and the pupil smaller and I also chose a shade of red for the eye's makeup. This was the highest saturation of the whole image and helped to attract the viewer's gaze to his eye first (Fig.13)!
I used the texture brush to paint the stone and metal (Fig.14 & Fig.15).
The hand Magic Lighting
To create a lighting effect surrounding his hands, I chose the magic brush in the FX Brush category. I duplicated the layer a couple of times and turned the upper layer to linear dodge or color dodge mode to produce the bright lighting effect shown in Fig.16 & Fig.17.
I produced two different background color palettes: one bright and one dark. I now had a choice - which one best let the viewer read the character? I took a step back and considered them. The eye stood out well on both, but when I narrowed my eyes while looking at the dark one, it was hard to make out the whole figure and pose. Also, the magic hand light was standing out more than the eye, which wasn't my wish.
Because of this, I chose to go with the brighter background in the final composition (Fig.18 & Fig.19).
I should probably mention the abstract shapes in the brighter background. I used two brushes to make these basic abstract shapes and then used the wrap tool to change any shape I wanted. I also used the smudge tool to break out the shape and create spatter shapes as I wished (all of these brushes can be found in the "Blur's Good Brush" package) (Fig.20).
I added more blue flow effects to enhance the armor and add more interest to the image. I used the color balance tool to correct the color palette and give it more contrast between the warm (bright values) and cold (dark values).
And finally it was done (Fig.21)!