How to paint over a 3D base

Fol­low­ing on from last month’s work­shop, Scott Zen­teno takes the 3D foun­da­tion into Pho­to­shop and turns it into a fully ren­dered illustration

ImagineFX - - Issue 163 August 2018 -

Scott Zen­teno takes a 3D sci-fi mech ur­ban scene into Pho­to­shop.

Here, I’ll be re­veal­ing how I take a 3D model to a fin­ished paint­ing. In my process for video games and theme parks, once a space is mod­elled it’s my job to do a PoV (point of view) shot that cap­tures the mood, form lan­guage and story mo­ment.

Once those three el­e­ments are cho­sen, it’s all about util­is­ing ev­ery artis­tic de­ci­sion to em­pha­sise them. First I use value to di­rect the light­ing and set the mood, then drop in colour and re­fine the look of the ar­chi­tec­ture, pro­vid­ing a va­ri­ety of forms so that the space isn’t too repet­i­tive. Fi­nally, I build out the de­tails of the set to tell the story of what’s hap­pen­ing within it.

It’s im­por­tant to keep in mind that the 3D model is a base and not a re­stric­tion. Even though the space is ren­dered and com­mu­ni­cates depth ef­fec­tively, it doesn’t have a tone or mood to it. I’ll be flat­ten­ing some of the shapes and rein­ter­pret­ing the de­sign work to avoid tan­gents and bring the fo­cus to the valu­able ar­eas; in this piece, the mech and the large um­brella-like struc­tures. De­tail is one of the strengths of 3D, but for an im­age like this the at­mos­phere is more essential. Group­ing some of the shapes into sil­hou­ettes help to cre­ate a more painterly, im­pres­sion­ist look.

1 Ini­tial value con­sid­er­a­tions

Us­ing just the Lasso tool and a large Soft brush, I’m able to cre­ate hard and soft edges ef­fi­ciently. I chose a light­ing sce­nario that show­cases the mech’s di­men­sion­al­ity and high­light some of the more in­ter­est­ing ar­chi­tec­tural el­e­ments in the en­vi­ron­ment. In ad­di­tion, I want to con­trast the lighter parts of the mech against the dark en­vi­ron­ment.

2 Ba­sic colour mock-up

I al­ways want to chal­lenge my­self to ex­plore new sce­nar­ios, so I try to ap­proach colour ab­stractly. I cre­ate pal­ettes that might seem crazy or il­log­i­cal, and then tame them with at­mo­spheric el­e­ments that make colours feel be­liev­able. The pur­ple tone adds to the sci-fi feel, be­cause it’s not a colour usu­ally seen in nature.

3 Build­ing noise 3

To mass out non-fo­cal ar­eas, I drop pho­tos in us­ing Mul­ti­ply, Over­lay and Screen lay­ers. It’s im­por­tant to con­trol the use of pho­tos to pre­vent them from dom­i­nat­ing the way I cre­ate the im­age. All I want from the pho­tos is tex­ture in­for­ma­tion and colour jit­ter.

4 Key ar­chi­tec­ture

This phase is all about ren­der­ing. I want to de­fine the re­peat­ing ob­jects be­cause they’re the iconic forms in the space. Since there’s al­ready a soft sponge of light im­plied on the forms, I use a Hard brush to sculpt the light and shad­ows. Adding bright at­mo­spheric per­spec­tive mist helps to make the ar­chi­tec­ture pop.

5 Hard shapes over soft

I se­lect the Lasso tool again and add bill­boards of light to jus­tify the use of colour. I also back­light the city to clearly sil­hou­ette the ar­chi­tec­ture against the sky. I de­cide to change the de­sign of the cylin­dri­cal ar­chi­tec­ture to break up the even­ness of the de­sign, and di­rect the viewer’s fo­cus on to the bot­tom third of the com­po­si­tion.

The brief was about the last mech stand­ing. To tell that story and break the sym­me­try of the en­vi­ron­ment, I in­clude wrecks to add va­ri­ety to the scene. Since most of the city com­prises cylin­dri­cal and cir­cu­lar forms, I want to es­tab­lish that the mech is box­ier and is a mil­i­tary model.

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