Create a scene in Black Ink
breaks down his process of concepting and composing a dramatic environment in this novel GPU-based painting program
Using the low-cost painting program, Ayan Nag develops a fantasy environment.
First of all, if you’ve never used Black Ink, it’s a relatively simple program to use, so you should soon be up and running, but to help you get started I’ve created a beginner’s guide on p78.
My approach to art is straightforward and my techniques can be easily introduced into your own workflow. I’ll be explaining them in detail over the course of this workshop.
I generally start by choosing the canvas size and dividing it in four equal spaces. I’ll then sketch rough thumbnails into these spaces, helping me to explore the possibilities of my initial idea while keeping all the concepts in one place.
Then I pick a sketch that appeals to me the most, and start to develop a colour palette that fits it. You can do this using a reference image, such as a photograph, a particular painting that you like, and so on. Just try not to pick colours directly from them. From here on out I’ll start painting while making small changes that help to improve the image.
I’ll be using Black Ink’s default brushes, although you can create your own custom brushes. So everything you need will be in the software when you install it (download it from http://blackink.bleank.com).
So without further ado, let’s get going. I hope you have fun and learn something from my painting process.
1 Coming up with thumbnails
This is the most important stage. It’ll help you build the foundation of your painting, and gives you the chance to explore your idea and see how it can be improved. I divide the space into four equal parts and start sketching rough ideas. I then pick one sketch to develop further.
2 Put down the underpainting
The underpainting is the stage where you fill out the canvas with a single colour or gradient as a base for your painting. It’s a standard method in traditional paintings. For this step, I create a layer below the sketch and fill it with a colour. Use a complementary colour (or a variation) of your main colour scheme to get started.
3 Blocking out the main shapes
I start painting colours on top of the underpainting and block out the primary shapes in the painting. Working carefully, I let some of the orange show up through the strokes. This will help me to quickly develop some interesting colours and make the points of interest stand out.
4 Introduce light to the scene
Next, I identify the main light source and paint it with a lighter version of the existing colour. You can also complete this step by placing a Color Dodge layer on top and painting into it. I then add a hint of light from the sky using a grey colour. This acts as the secondary light source.
5 Getting rid of the sketch
After painting and further defining the shapes I erase most of the sketch. Now I have a rough painting that’s free of any line art, which means I’m free to change objects and shapes around, to enhance the image. I recommend keeping the main objects on separate layers, because this will come in handy later on.
6 Bringing in new objects
After spending time tinkering with the painting, I start adding new objects to help enhance the scene. I refer back to my thumbnail stage for ideas, and keep going back and forth to discover what works best for this composition.
7 Controlling the saturation
Using saturated colours doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll produce a colourful image. Most often than not, using saturated colours everywhere will ruin a picture. So I carefully get rid of the extra saturation I had in place. I create a new Color blending layer on top and paint any affected areas with grey.
8 Refining shapes, adding new ones
I move on to refining the existing shapes and adding new structures, all the while thinking about the composition and how I can enhance it. I also lay down some more suggestive brushstrokes here and there, and just keep on painting.
9 Defining the focal points
Now I darken the surrounding areas of the focal points and points of interest. I also add some glow around the lit areas by painting on a new Color Dodge layer. These tweaks will keep the viewer’s eye on the mark and thus give the painting greater visual impact.
10 Enhancing the depth of the composition
Emulating depth is an important part of creating a believable environment. The general rule of thumb is that the further away the objects are, the lighter and desaturated they become. Bearing that in mind, I create some fog to convey depth and keep on adding details. I also give the character an energy ball, just for fun!
11 Get the most from Color Dodge
I use a lot of Color Dodge and other blending modes in my general workflow. Here I create a new Color Dodge layer and paint into it with bright colours and a Soft brush to indicate bounce light and refracted light. I’m now in the closing stages of this illustration.
12 Final touches
I play with the value of the image and refine it that so the content reads better. I also carry out some colour adjustments and refine the brush strokes by sharpening them. To finish off the image I place minor noise on top of everything. This gives the image a more natural feel.