The Christmas of The Little Snowmen – part 3
And finally we’re here! It’s time to finishing the illustration with some lighting concepts, extra details, and the post production process. To start, we’ll add extra details because yes… we need to add them for the purpose of helping the illustration. After that we'll begin the lighting.
To finish, we'll retouch in Procreate to have our final illustration ready!
And more details…
I was close to finishing and starting with the lighting process, but I couldn't get happy with the composition – maybe the illustration needed more Christmas decorations. I thought of unusual props we can find in this season, and the giant candies was a good idea. With the model ready I needed to compose my image again, keeping in mind the natural composition directions, but now adding some variations in the rotation and direction of the candy canes to give dynamism.
Even when you have finished your composition, go back and compare it with your moodboard, it can help you to find more elements to add.
We’ll start to create our lighting! Like the other steps, we need to think of the purpose of each light. Creating illumination isn’t only putting down random lights, each light has a reason to exist, that is why I point out each type of light and its direction.
When we have the general shadows ready (HDRI) it’s time to start with the lights, normally we’ll start with a sun light (right) which can help us to visualize our secondary shadows too. At the same time will be the light with more incidence in the general scene. It is normal for this light to create hard shadows too, but we’ll fix it by adding another light (circle left) to the scene to reduce those shadows. The extra lights (lines) have the function to mark the shape of our objects, the tree, and house.
The shape lights (lines) have the purpose to separate each element to the background.
Even when the light works by keeping the attention on our focal point, there's an empty space at the bottom. You can see the difference with the amount of light in both places, and that can be a distracting factor in the illustration.
Fixing it was one of the hardest parts because I needed to add lights to that part of the composition, but it can’t be a random light. For consistency I thought of more holiday lights, but a different color. At the time of adding it I tried to use them like guides towards the direction of my focal point, helping me with the cable too.
Creating a path with lights can be a good way to guide the eyes to our focal zone, as long as they are discreet.
Actually the characters weren’t a problem to me, because I knew what would be my protagonists since my first concept. The snowman was the first of the characters to be created, it’s exactly a snowman but a little “chubby.” The original idea was to create normal snow characters, but the fact of “cute” came when I transformed them to snow kids, translating the common characteristics of kids in winter, into snow kids. The colors are based on Huey, Dewey, and Louie, but to the Latin-American people, Hugo, Paco, and Luis.
Many times I recommend having a moodboard for the environmental art and another for the character art, let yourself be inspired by the characters of your favorite artist, also be influenced by other types of characters, everything can work.
If we take the decision to add one or more characters we need to know that characters’ lighting? Because a character has a special place in an illustration. He’ll become the protagonist, and our task will be to find a way to separate it from the rest of the elements.
In the first image you can see our characters in the scene, without lighting to separate them from the background. Now add lights, normally behind our characters, to highlight, but be careful where you add your lights. Try it to be near other emissive objects that will add coherence – in my case I put it below the street lights.
Character lighting can really make a big difference, but be subtle with them.
Before rendering, I thought I needed more Christmas spirit, because even when I thought the illustration was ready, I felt uncomfortable with the detail. I only added some details like Christmas globes and little door decorations.
With my changes made, I rendered it while I was playing Solitaire (I lost), and when the image was ready, I changed to a Composition window, adding two important nodes, “Glare,” in ghost option, and “Lens Distortion.” Trust in me, it makes the difference.
The composition window will be your best friend because it will add a special look to your final renders.
I remember from a conference a long time ago, an image is never finished if we don’t make give it a post-production process. Why is this important? Because we can add the little touches to make the difference between a good or bad atmosphere.
In my image, using Procreate, I fixed the color and saturation, and the light curves, but the most important, I added some effects like the snow, and I used only 3 planes to do it; two out of focus to add depth and one in focus.
And after of many hours, our illustration is done!
The post-production is fundamental, don't forget it. You'll have the final mood control in this process.
Top tip 1: Take some rest from work
We are not robots, we need rest. Get up off the chair, walk, and take some water; this will help us to work in a better way and care for our health
Top tip 2: If you’re stuck…
I won’t lie you, I was stuck for some moments of the illustration, but take it easy, go t play, read a book, watch a series, anything to distract you. Our mind needs work in passive mode too.