Speed Painting 'Cracking Earth'
Hey folks! The topic for this speed painting is "Great cracks split the earth as the ground shook beneath them". I will be using Adobe Photoshop CS3 exclusively for this tutorial.
I'm going to start by roughing out my basic composition and ideas. I usually need to start with some sort of preliminary drawing otherwise my piece ends in disaster! I'm thinking of having a spacecraft rushing through a crumbling canyon/mountain, with the earth continuing to split and shake above and beneath it, sending rocks tumbling down towards the ship. I would like to try to add as much excitement to the piece as possible and also a sense of danger and urgency, as if the viewer isn't sure if the ship is going to pull through or not. In terms of color, I would like for there to be a nice transition between the warmer, dangerously hot lava rock at the bottom to the cooler tones and safety of the sky above (Fig.01).
My rough drawing is mostly complete and I am laying in some preliminary tones and colors. The inside of the canyon is going to be a hazy gray-brown, somewhat neutral, so that the ground and sky can really pop out and contrast with each other. I'm not too worried about the ship right now, mainly the landscape around it (Fig.02).
Here I have started to put in some of the warm hues of the lava down below and have added some of the reflected light to the bottom of the falling rocks. I'm also solidifying the shape of the canyon walls and experimenting with some rock textures (Fig.03).
At this point I feel that I should go ahead and include the ship before I get too far along with the rest of the painting. I add in some bright yellow and orange hues and then put a Color Dodge layer on top of that to get the glow from the rocket boosters using the airbrush. The fiery exhaust will trail off into smoke (Fig.04).
Having just one single ship is a little boring, so I add in another in the middle ground, trying to work it in so that it leads the viewer's eye up towards the other ship. I like how the dark shape of the second ship is silhouetted against fire trail of the first. For interest I add in some pieces breaking off; dark shapes against the bright exhaust trail (Fig.05).
In this step I'm refining the drawing and adding in texture bits here and there for interest, shaping the rocks and pulling everything together. I copy and paste the smoke from the first rocket onto another layer and use the Smudge tool with a textured brush to blend the layer into a grainy smoke effect (Fig.06).
I've added in some more atmospheric perspective at the top of the piece with the airbrush to push that area back a bit and give it some distance. Since the two largest rocks are in the foreground, I want to make the edges of their shapes as tight as possible. I use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to select the silhouette as best as I can and paint inside the selection to keep the overall shape clean and crisp (Fig.07).
The piece is coming along but it lacks that bit of urgency and excitement I was hoping for. I figure it might be cool to have the lava actually spewing up from the cracks in the earth, and maybe one of the falling rocks clipped one of the wings on the bigger spacecraft - will they still be able to make it out? Hopefully! After a few color and level adjustments, I think I'm ready to call it done as a speed painting. There are a few things I would like to change should I decide to take the piece further; for example, the bigger ship, unfortunately, somehow ended up right in the middle of the page. Other than that I think the piece reads well enough and echoes the feeling of the original topic (Fig.08).