Paint stun­ning film art

Krzysztof Do­maradzki jour­neys to Los An­ge­les 2019, and com­bines char­ac­ter art with the city’s neo-noir ar­chi­tec­ture from the iconic film

ImagineFX - - Issue 142 Christmas 2016 -

The ImagineFX team got in touch with me to cre­ate the cover im­age for their film art is­sue. Their in­ter­est was piqued by my fan art piece for the video game The Last of Us, and the series of art­works I cre­ated for The Witcher 3 lim­ited edi­tion steel­books. I was asked to paint a piece of art based on the 1982 sci­ence fic­tion film Blade Run­ner, by fo­cus­ing on the char­ac­ter of Rachael and then in­cor­po­rat­ing fu­tur­is­tic ar­chi­tec­ture from the film, just like I did with El­lie from Naughty Dog’s game. This work­shop will take you through my cre­ative process. I an­tic­i­pate this im­age will take me about four or five days to fin­ish. I’ll start by ex­plain­ing my ap­proach to the con­cept stage, where one needs to fo­cus on defin­ing the idea for the art­work and the gen­eral com­po­si­tion. Later on I’ll ex­plain how to find the right tone for the art­work by choos­ing the best ref­er­ence pho­tographs and colour scheme.

I’ll then re­veal how the con­cept be­comes a high-res­o­lu­tion il­lus­tra­tion. This part will in­clude tablet sketch­ing, a lot of pen and pen­cil draw­ing and some in­tense colour­ing. The fi­nal stage will in­volve draw­ing tweaks, and adding fi­nal ef­fects and en­hance­ment lay­ers.

I en­cour­age you to cre­ate the im­age at a large enough size so that you’re able to print it out for dis­play­ing as wall art. I imag­ine this sort of im­age looks best when it’s printed quite large.

1 Vi­su­al­is­ing the brief

I start with a su­per quick sketch on pa­per. I vi­su­alise only two ideas, be­cause the brief from ImagineFX is quite spe­cific. I’m asked to fo­cus on the char­ac­ter of Rachael, but then think of ways to bring in the neo-noir en­vi­ron­ment of Los An­ge­les into the il­lus­tra­tion, which is al­most like an­other char­ac­ter in Ri­d­ley Scott’s film. I go with the first sketch, and de­cide to flip it hor­i­zon­tally.

2 Ref­er­ence im­ages

Search­ing on­line, I find a few por­traits of Rachael, some shots of the iconic Tyrell build­ing , the fly­ing po­lice car and the fu­tur­is­tic LA panorama. I try to keep sides of the im­age empty for now and I put Rachael in the mid­dle. I make a se­lec­tion of her and start to in­cor­po­rate var­i­ous pho­tos onto her us­ing Hard Light and Screen layer modes. I like how Tyrell build­ing’s in­te­rior works with her hair and top part of the face, es­pe­cially how the floor lines “cut” across her face, cre­at­ing a sort of ar­chi­tec­tural sketch.

3 Strength­en­ing the com­po­si­tion

I add the city panorama at the bot­tom of the im­age, which makes the com­po­si­tion ‘ heav­ier’, while I like how the lights of the fly­ing po­lice car re­flect on to Rachael. I cover up her chest by adding an ex­te­rior view of the Tyrell build­ing: do­ing this makes the struc­ture look as if it’s loom­ing men­ac­ingly on the hori­zon.

4 Mak­ing fi­nal touches to the con­cept

I add smoke tex­tures to the im­age us­ing Screen and Soft Light layer modes on the edges of the im­age. I use the Gra­di­ent Tool and masks when nec­es­sary. This helps to make the com­po­si­tion more co­her­ent, while at the same time plac­ing the main fo­cus on Rachael. Once I’m happy with how the con­cept looks I sketch on top of it to bring out the de­tails, and then send it to the ImagineFX team for their com­ments and ap­proval.

5 Im­ple­ment­ing the re­vi­sion re­quests

I lower the po­lice car and move the por­trait to the right. ImagineFX sug­gests I should add more city lights, so I find a good ref­er­ence from a Blade Run­ner im­age. I dis­tort the im­age’s per­spec­tive so than all the ver­ti­cal lines are straight, and then mod­ify it with neon lights. I ap­ply blue and or­ange gra­di­ents to make the colours pop more, es­pe­cially from the top.

6 Sketch­ing over the con­cept

Once the con­cept is ap­proved I add a plain white layer on top of the flat con­cept im­age at 40 to 50 per cent Opac­ity. I use a sim­ple Round brush (2-3pt) to sketch each el­e­ment of the im­age, fo­cus­ing on the head while keep­ing the rest loose. I draw all the ver­ti­cal and hor­i­zon­tal lines while hold­ing Shift, which helps to tie to­gether the im­age’s ar­chi­tec­tural struc­tures.

7 Print­ing and draw­ing

I print the fin­ished con­cept, which has some barely vis­i­ble shadow tones on Rachael’s face. The whole im­age fits on to a sin­gle sheet of A4 pa­per. I draw most of the il­lus­tra­tion us­ing a black ball­point pen. For the face I use a 0.5B graphite me­chan­i­cal pen­cil. I spend a lot of time adding sub­tle lines and mak­ing the draw­ing as de­tailed as pos­si­ble.

8 Ap­ply­ing the draw­ing layer

I scan the fin­ished draw­ing at 400dpi, then use Lev­els to en­hance the whites, greys and blacks. I place the Grayscale draw­ing layer on to the con­cept and match it with my sketch. Us­ing Se­lect> Color Range I ap­ply var­i­ous Colorize Hues onto the draw­ing: red, yel­low, blue and so on. I make the top back­ground draw­ing lighter and change the layer mode to Mul­ti­ply.

9 Ad­just­ing the source ma­te­rial

I use the Gra­di­ent tool to lighten the dark ar­eas, then se­lect a soft Round brush (2-8pt) to colour the var­i­ous ar­eas that are cre­ated by the draw­ing layer. I draw at var­i­ous Opac­i­ties (30 to 90 per cent), cov­er­ing up the low-res­o­lu­tion look of my photo ref­er­ences where nec­es­sary. I hold down Alt to quickly se­lect nearby colours to main­tain the smooth, painterly look, all the while reg­u­larly re­fer­ring back to my draw­ing layer.

10 En­hanc­ing the base colours

Next I press Cmd+J to du­pli­cate my colour lay­ers and set them at an Opac­ity of 60 per cent. This makes my painted colours look more solid. I then shift the sketch layer to the top and turn it to Soft Light layer mode. I erase the sketch from the face us­ing a layer mask. Hav­ing done this I du­pli­cate all the lay­ers and merge them yet again, be­fore ap­ply­ing Fil­ter> Oil Paint on to the merged layer at 0 Shine.

11 Adding ef­fects to the colours

I use high-res­o­lu­tion tex­tures to en­rich the colour ef­fects and Color Range to se­lect ar­eas that I want to en­hance, be­fore adding colour us­ing the Gra­di­ent tool. I add a stars tex­ture that fills the im­age and change it to Soft Light layer mode at 30 to 60 per cent Opac­ity. Fi­nally, I du­pli­cate and merge ev­ery­thing, then ap­ply Fil­ter> Noise>Add Noise (2.80) and re­duce the Opac­ity to 70 per cent.

12 Fur­ther tweaks to the im­age

I cre­ate an­other layer above the colours and draw­ing, and use a Round brush (2-5pt, 90 to 100 per cent Opac­ity) to re­fine all the lit­tle de­tails such as light re­flec­tions in Rachael’s eyes, strands of hair and her lips. I also fix any mi­nor er­rors in the draw­ing by cov­er­ing them up with colour. Then I add the vis­i­ble rain drops by us­ing Shift to cre­ate sim­ple straight lines.

13 Fin­ish­ing up

I se­lect Rachael, in­vert the se­lec­tion and lighten the back­ground slightly. Then I in­crease the colour sat­u­ra­tion so that the art will stand out on ImagineFX’s cover. Next I du­pli­cate all the lay­ers, merge them and ap­ply the Oil Paint fil­ter – just enough to tie ev­ery­thing to­gether. I re­peat the du­pli­ca­tion, ap­ply a High Pass fil­ter at 1.4 pixel ra­dius and set the layer mode to Over­lay.

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