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