Col­lab­o­rate on a ve­hi­cle de­sign

From sketch to fin­ish, see how three artists at Foun­da­tion Art Group work to­gether to draw, de­sign and light a Fi­nal Fan­tasy-in­spired air­ship

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Issue 141 December 2016 -

Three artists draw, de­sign and light an air­ship.

Join us and dive deep into the mind­sets of three artists and de­sign­ers, as we take you be­hind the scenes at how we work at the Foun­da­tion Art Group ( www.foun­da­tion­art­ In this spe­cial work­shop, we’ll show you how we col­lab­o­rate to draw, de­sign and paint a Fi­nal Fan­tasy-in­spired air­ship. The most im­por­tant fac­tor that we want you to keep in mind while read­ing or watch­ing this work­shop is that a strong foun­da­tion is key. Although we’re us­ing stan­dard art soft­ware here, all our cre­ative de­ci­sions re­flect our group’s pri­mary fo­cus: ed­u­ca­tion.

Many artists rush to learn the lat­est soft­ware tricks, or try to em­u­late trend­ing paint­ing tech­niques, while too few spend their time de­vel­op­ing their core de­sign and draw­ing skills. That’s why we’ve fo­cused this work­shop on us­ing ba­sic tools and soft­ware: pen and pa­per, SketchUp and Pho­to­shop. The tech­niques used when work­ing in the soft­ware are also very lim­ited. And our col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach is meant to give you a taster of how artists work in a pipe­line, at in­dus­try level.

In SketchUp, we’ll be bash­ing to­gether parts of mod­els found through­out their 3D Ware­house (see step 6). It won’t re­quire a lot of 3D tech­niques to do so – just a fa­mil­iar­ity with the pro­gram. Mean­while, in Pho­to­shop, we’ll utilise ba­sic Ad­just­ment lay­ers, as well as pho­tos for tex­tu­ral de­tail.

How­ever, the fun­da­men­tal of this work­shop all be­gan with the sketches of the fly­ing ship. We want to show you how some rough marks on pa­per can re­sult in a strong de­sign that’s ready to be passed up the pipe­line. Okay, here we go!

PART 1 John Park: rapid idea de­vel­op­ment 1 Gen­er­ate plenty of rough sketches

Af­ter gath­er­ing ref­er­ence and do­ing your re­search, it’s time to be­gin sketch­ing out some loose forms and ideas. It’s best to do these in a flat pro­file view, since we’ll be fill­ing them in with black shortly. Go wild! The more you ex­plore here, the more you’ll have to choose from dur­ing sub­se­quent phases.

2 Iden­ti­fy­ing a strong sil­hou­ette

Now comes the fun part! It’s time to get out your brush pen or black mark­ers, and fill in your shapes. Don’t re­strict your­self to the lines that you pre­vi­ously laid in – in­stead, think in terms of both pos­i­tive and neg­a­tive shapes. Giv­ing your air­ship a unique form and vis­ual lan­guage will also unify the de­sign and help sell the idea to your art direc­tor or prospec­tive client.

3 Lay in your mark­ers

Now I se­lect a few of the sil­hou­ettes to ex­plore. With a 30 per cent grey marker, I lay in a three-quar­ter per­spec­tive view ver­sion of my ship. This will now help me vi­su­alise my forms and loosely sketch on top to re­veal the de­signs that I have in my head. This is a tech­nique that’s used by many pro­fes­sion­als, and helps to quickly gen­er­ate vari­a­tions and new ideas.

4 Re­fine your lines

Here we have three sketches all in dif­fer­ence phases. The mid­dle de­sign is in the orig­i­nal mark­ers, while the top one has been loosely sketched on top of, and the bot­tom is been re­fined a lit­tle more. Con­sider blow­ing up the sketch, re­duc­ing the opac­ity and fur­ther re­fin­ing your draw­ing, be­cause this will help save time later on down the line.

PART 2 Daniel Park: tak­ing the idea into 3D 5 Work­ing in SketchUp

The sec­ond part of this work­shop will be to take the ap­proved idea and bash to­gether a rough model us­ing Google’s SketchUp ( 3D is a daunt­ing tool for some artists, but SketchUp re­ally helps to bridge the gap for be­gin­ners. There is a free ver­sion of the pro­gram, and learn­ing how to nav­i­gate and rough in geom­e­try is a user-friendly ex­pe­ri­ence.

6 Visit the Ware­house!

One of SketchUp’s main ad­van­tages is be­ing able to use the Ware­house. This re­source is filled with de­signs that have been up­loaded by SketchUp users for shar­ing with the com­mu­nity. At this stage in the process, it’s a great time to look around, find a cou­ple of rough mod­els to get you started, and be­gin to break things apart so you can use them for kit-bash­ing.

7 Kit-bash in­di­vid­ual as­sets

As you can see, utilising the con­tents of the SketchUp Ware­house can give you a great head start on de­sign­ing a fan­tasy ve­hi­cle. I’m only us­ing parts and pieces of mod­els here, and I’m still stay­ing true to the orig­i­nal de­sign. Most of the hard work was done ear­lier when we laid out our sketch – now I’m find­ing pieces in the Ware­house to bring that idea to life.

8 Fi­nal­is­ing the rough 3D model

Here’s an al­most com­plete ver­sion of the model. You can tell that I’ve utilised pieces from the Ware­house through­out the model: tur­bines, boats, drills, and so on. At this phase, I’m also un­con­cerned by the tex­ture in­for­ma­tion pro­vided from the pieces be­cause – just as with real-life kit-bash­ing – we’ll be paint­ing it grey very shortly…

9 Save out mul­ti­ple passes of the model

Now it’s time to save out the model for fur­ther re­fine­ment. I save out a line pass, a shadow pass and a gen­eral 3D model pass of the ship. These three passes alone will be able to give us a very nice head-start when it comes to fi­nal­is­ing the de­sign in Pho­to­shop.

10 Com­pos­ite ev­ery­thing to­gether

With a white layer on bot­tom, I take all three passes and align them per­fectly in Pho­to­shop. Then I set each layer mode to Mul­ti­ply to re­veal the layer un­derneath. I would also en­cour­age creat­ing a mask by se­lect­ing the area around the out­line, in­vert­ing the se­lec­tion, and fill­ing it with black on a new layer.

PART 3 Matthew Zikry: light­ing and tex­tures 11 Lay in the shad­ows

It’s time to re­fine a shadow pass of the model. Here, I fill in the mask with a 25 per cent grey value. On top of that layer, I cre­ate a Lev­els layer and clip that into my mask layer. I can then drop the white point un­til we get a dark ver­sion of the ship. Now I mask that layer and paint white to re­veal the shad­ows.

12 Over­lay a range of tex­tures

With my shad­ows in place based off my gen­eral light­ing di­rec­tion, I find mul­ti­ple pho­tos of var­i­ous tex­tures that I’d like to add to my de­sign. I utilise Over­lay lay­ers at this point, and crush the black and white points of my tex­tures so that the shad­ows un­derneath are left in­tact.

13 Re­fine the tex­tures

At this stage I have a good idea of how my tex­tures are be­gin­ning to read on the ship. Now I make use of ad­di­tional photo tex­tures on Nor­mal lay­ers, while ad­just­ing Lev­els and Curves to match the lay­ers un­derneath. The ben­e­fit of work­ing in greyscale is that it en­ables me to fo­cus purely on val­ues, and not com­pli­cate the process with colour.

14 Putting in the fin­ish­ing touches

A few fi­nal touch-ups and we’re done! I brighten up the top sail, as well as some of the rail­ings on the ship. I also darken some shadow ar­eas on the boat it­self, to fur­ther re­in­force the light­ing scheme. With all tex­tures, ma­te­ri­als and shadow in­for­ma­tion in place, the air­ship is ready to be passed on to the next phase of the pro­duc­tion pipe­line. Thanks for join­ing us!

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