Cre­ate a scene in Black Ink

breaks down his process of con­cept­ing and com­pos­ing a dra­matic en­vi­ron­ment in this novel GPU-based paint­ing pro­gram

ImagineFX - - Contents -

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

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.

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