Poppy gets a re­vamp

Based on a Ja­son Chan comic orig­i­nal (see page 43), Josh Smith works up a strik­ing il­lus­tra­tion

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What started as a pro­mo­tional comic from the sty­lus of Ja­son Chan, for the new look of a cham­pion, ended in this beau­ti­ful and dy­namic ‘splash’ il­lus­tra­tion of Poppy, Keeper of the Ham­mer. Josh takes us on a step-by-step guide to how he cre­ated this last­ing im­age.

Clean and con­fi­dent

1 I orig­i­nally drew this for the cover of Poppy’s dig­i­tal comic, but ev­ery­one was so smit­ten by it that we de­cided to make it her splash as well. In this step I have my com­po­si­tion and story locked in. I’ve found that a clean and con­fi­dent draw­ing at this stage will make the rest of the process eas­ier and more re­li­able.

Rough colour and light­ing

2 With the help of masks for the ma­jor pieces, I do a rough colour and light­ing pass. My fo­cus is on find­ing a mood that suits the story and cham­pion. I’m look­ing for colours and set­ting up a light­ing sit­u­a­tion that makes me feel some­thing, while also com­ple­ment­ing Poppy’s unique el­e­ments. This is the vi­sion.

An am­bi­ent oc­clu­sion pass

3 Next is an am­bi­ent oc­clu­sion pass. A term gen­er­ally re­served for 3D ren­ders, it refers to nooks and cran­nies light can’t reach. By putting dark shad­ows with steep drop-off in ar­eas two ob­jects meet or over­lap, I get an il­lu­sion of vol­ume.

Block in cleaner light and colour

4 With my oc­clu­sion pass on a mul­ti­ply layer above ev­ery­thing, I cre­ate masks to sep­a­rate ma­jor ma­te­ri­als. I then block in a cleaner ver­sion of the light and colour from step 2. I mask out and treat the back­ground and sol­diers in a sim­i­lar way.

Refining de­tails

5 I start to see the fruits of my labours. Masks keep me sane while I ren­der ma­te­ri­als, zoom­ing out of­ten. Once it looks clear and be­liev­able, I suck it up and keep paint­ing. Our splash style is to feel like a pho­to­graph from a fan­tasy world, so I re­fine de­tails fur­ther. Lastly, post-pro­cess­ing: light bloom, depth of field and colour ad­just­ments.

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