I take the opportunity of having a first WIP post about a “not totally but” rejected early concept art. So ; I will explain here the key moment of my workflow for 2D environnement , It will probably sound strange ; but I’m using mainly at first not Alchemy or Mypaint in this case but …. Blender ! Let’s me show you how and Why:
1- Build my “lego” like toy : low poly object library
Why start with Blender ? Simply cause it’s time saving. as a drawer a city represent a lot of work for the perspective / the design / the light and the angle of camera ( composition too ) ; with the help of Blender I can compress this time to a couple of hour.
First job is to create some toys ; and have a little library of some objects ; I started here with a subdivided cube for each of those objects ; after removing some faces of the cube to preserve 1/4 of the shape , I apply a mirror modifier and most of the time apply to the Y and X axis. I model this way only 1/4 of each building.I use the last layer of “Blender layers panel” to stock my blocks, and I take care to name them correctly. When finish ; I do a first Alt+D copy ( linked copy to the original ) , and move the copied object to the first layer. Why I named them correctly ? ( ex : Building_1 / City_Wall / etc… ) Simply cause this kind of simple 3D object I like to reuse them in other works with a simple “append”, so it’s always faster to know what to append in the long long object list.
2- The story of a simple 3D town
On my first layer ; I set up a first square of houses and building ; and play to invent new building while combining them ; I still use Alt+D to copy my object ; If I want to add a detail to one in edit mode ; all other will be updated at the same time.
It can save time if I decide to re-use the scene and just change the shape of roofs ; or add only rounded windows.
For the moutain & floor ; I just sculpted fastly a plane with some textured brush ( musgrave ) ; I choose the “grab” option to be more speed ; and I keep it not too much subdivided to have a light-weight file and a happy computer. ( even if a scene like this grow fastly to more than 2.000.000 polygon ) . My laptop still handle it , so I can turn around easily and find a good shot with a Camera.
3- Material & rendering
I didn’t setup a lot the lightning , and usually I prefer to let the Ambiant Oclusion ( ray traced ; with the max ‘samples’ ; it take may be time ; but the job is always perfect to me ) and I add just a simple grey gradient for the background.
Sometime , I save more than one rendering ; I try just a simple sun light ; or a approximate ; Just to have more information to work on Gimp after.
For the material ; I use a white smooth material that don’t have specular point ; very simple to create.
4- Time for a Gnu Image Manipulation Program ; GIMP
I just open my result on GIMP 2.6 ; patched with gimp-painter , and the brush presets Gimp Paint Studio ( you will find links in one of my previous post here ) . I grabed a photo from the wikipedia page about Mountain , and pasted it ; playing with blending modes ; shadowing with a big brush on Multiply ; and highlight some other part with Softlight or Dodge to obtain the result above. Notice that I didn’t work on the details ; I keep it global and zoom in very rarely in my picture.
When I finish this step I double the size of my files to get more pixels ; cause the step after require some digital painting.
5- Digital painting ; or paint over
Final step is to patiently paint all the details to make the picture look like what I had in mind ; ( ok another mountains from wikipedia added on the background before having a paint over ) . But painting details is fun is the details are not just some rendering , or just to add more resolution to the piece. I used mainly the brush preset “Oil1-Small ” from Gimp Paint Studio ; and played with the opacity a lot. For textures ; I used the Brush ‘foliage_1’. I finish with a airbrush simple round brush in the blending mode “Dodge” to make some glowing point ; Fire, cave and little misterious little bioluminescent dragon.
You can see too how I simplify the picture to get a uniform background back the character in the foreground to read the silhouette better ; or how I set the value of the town to be darker than the moutain background. All in all it’s just a simple 3 ground composition ( Foreground / Middleground / Background ). And all the elements are placed on a curve that’s start at the bottom of the left part to finish on the top of the right part. ( eyes are leaded with the value of the points on this “reading axe curve” ). This axe is always the best to place somes elements for the cultures that read from the top-left to the right-bottom ; cause our key elements come in an opposite direction as the usual way to read , and the result is a better dynamic in the picture ; and almost the feeling in our exemple above that the snail move to the town. Just a composition trick 😉
6- Rejected …but ! We have cool news
To start concept while waiting a script is always stupid risky ; and this illustration suffered from the last version of the script. But not in all is loosed ; cause I hope this WIP helped you to imagine better how I work for a complex environment and may be give you the inspiration to start your own imaginary town this week-end as a cool hobby.
And the cool news ? …
We talked this evening Brecht, Colin , Ton and I about keep on the blog the total work in progress week after week of the first sequence of the Durian movie ; this will still keep secret the surprise of the movie ( story / Design …etc ) and you will got some direct feedback on the Storyboard / Concept Arts / Modeling / Texturing / Rendering & Test for all this first sequence in realtime ! Simply amazing . So, I imagine the best way to follow our production from inside and react about. Prepare to get some WIP about more concept art and Storyboard next week 😀
I will let Colin post the script of this first sequence and decide as a director what to show or not, the good news is the main character and the giant snail are in the first sequence 😉