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ed_silvergun
06-13-2001, 02:57 PM
Just wanted to say well done for two "spiffing" (as we say in Blighty ;)) pieces of concept art.

Nice one, mate. :)

StormHammer
06-13-2001, 04:27 PM
*bows*

You are entirely welcome. ;)

Please let me know if you spot anything wrong with the pics, as I am still improving my artistic skills, and I'd welcome any constructive criticism.

wardz
06-13-2001, 04:30 PM
You can tell the guy is British, us Brits are the DOGZ! :D Good work,

How do you actually do those pics by the way?


wardz

Vagabond
06-13-2001, 04:30 PM
I also want to congratulate you on some great pics. I'm curious, how are you creating these? Are they paintings that you scan in? Or are you doing them on the computer - if so, what software are you using?

Thanks :)

CaptainRAVE
06-13-2001, 05:34 PM
Yeah, they are awsome!!!!

StormHammer
06-13-2001, 07:15 PM
How do I do them? Well, I use the Force of course. :D

On a more serious note, all of the pictures I have posted have been digitally painted, i.e, painted on the computer. There are two reasons for this...

1. I suffer from asthma, and the odours of some paints can trigger an asthma attack.
2. Whenever I try to mix real paints, I always end up with brown sludge. ;)

Before I start, I'd like to apologise in advance for the length of this post.

Gathering Your Tools

Well, for starters, you have to have the right tools. I will say categorically here and now, if you are interested in digital painting, don't even bother attempting to do so with a mouse. I know. I tried a looong time ago by sketching in DeluxePaint - and the hand-cramps were unbelievable.

You need a graphics tablet. It needn't be an expensive one, as long as it supports pressure sensitivity. Personally, I opted for a WACOM tablet, which are the best IMHO - but they are fairly expensive. So that's the hardware sorted.

In terms of software - well, I've managed to cobble together my own little suite of packages, practically for nothing. I've got PaintShop Pro (which I bought for about 50), but the rest of the stuff I use came as freebies on computer magazine CDs. I have Fractal Painter 3 and Bryce 2 among others, which just cost me the price of the magazines they came with.

PaintShop Pro has a lot of pretty good features that rival some of those found in Adobe Photoshop, for a fraction of the cost. I like it's airbrush tool, the smudge tool, and the selection and colouring tools. Perhaps more importantly, it supports layers, which is pretty much essential, because it allows you to set a background, and then overlay it with your characters, which can each be on a separate layer. I also use a layer for lighting and other effects, so that it doesn't affect the original images. In this way, if anything goes wrong, I can scratch that layer and start over - with no damage done. The only problem with using layers is that they eat memory like candy. By adding a layer, you are basically doubling the file size. I have 256 Mb RAM in my PC, which suffices for my current needs, but I do have to be careful.

Fractal Painter tries to emulate natural media, so you can paint with oils, watercolour, charcoals, do pencil sketches etc., all within the package. It also allows you to configure all of the brushes etc, so it's like having access to an art shop. It also supports pressure sensitivity, which again is essential if you are used to applying different pressures to get light or dark strokes when using real pencils etc.

So, how did I do the pictures?

As for the pictures...well, it's probably easier to give a little run-down on each pic.

Obi-Wan - Mauled

He was a very rough sketch - nothing more than an outline really. I used PaintShop Pro exclusively to digitally paint him - mostly using the airbrush and smudge tools. I also used brightness and contrast. Smudge is one of my favourite tools, because I can get some good flesh tones and metal effects with it. For Obi-Wan's lightsaber, I cheated and used a free plugin for the glow affect - which I have since abandoned, because I didn't like the results. You may have noticed that I recently changed the pic for my sig, and I painted the lightsaber.

Quickie for producing a lightsaber - draw a pure white line of a suitable thickness (use the line tool), then get your airbursh tool, pick your colour, make it almost transparent, and carefully go around the edges of the white line. Then use the smudge tool, again on a low setting, to blend the white core with the coloured glow. You can repeat the whole procedure if need be until it looks right.

Darth Maul - Unscheduled Passenger

I rendered a desert background in Bryce (nothing fancy), imported it into PSP and applied a wind effect of a suitable strength to make it look like it was going past at speed. Then on another layer I placed one of my old sketches of a fantasy swordsman. I used a little cheat here, because I used the Negative function to change the white to black, and vice versa - saved me a lot of time trying to paint the figure all black, and gave me some useful definition lines to work with. I actually spent more time on Maul's head than any other area - those damned tattoos were tricky, to say the least. Again, I used a separate layer for most of the coloured lighting effects.

Corran Horn

I started from scratch in Fractal Painter (no scanned sketches) - and I'm glad I did. The character behind Horn and the statue happened almost by accident, and I just developed them, fleshing them out. Then I switched to PSP, and started with the smudge tool and the airbrush. I have to say with this pic I'd gone so far in Painter that I didn't bother with any other layers - so if I made mistakes, I had to keep using Undo, and tweaking it to get it to look right. I'm still not happy with Horn's mouth and hands, so I'll probably work some more on that pic.

Kyle Katarn

I painted the background in Fractal Painter - I was aiming for a muted rocky backdrop. But it was too dark, so I added some contrast with the flames - and then came the smoke plume...well, it just developed. Before I went completely mad with it, I decided to switch to PSP again, set the backdrop as a background layer, and then added layers for Kyle, each Stormie, the Probot, and the lighting effects. The contrast of the light on the rocks was done in PSP with the airbrush tool.

Kyle started from another old sketch I'd scanned in, and I used a snapshot of Kyle in a JK cutscene to use as a reference for adding the details. I used a lot of the airbrush and smudge tool. I couldn't get his face right, and spent a lot of time trying different things - then went back to the original sketch and just added a bit of colour. I'm not totally happy with it.

The Stormies both started as airbrushed blobs, and I went back later to add the details and the lighting using a photo as a reference. The Probot was pretty much an afterthought - I originally intended to put a dying Stormie on the right side. But that just didn't feel right - so in came the Probot. I used a photo in the Star Wars Encyclopedia as a reference point, but I kept the details deliberately sketchy so it didn't detract from Kyle too much.

The lighting is the key in this pic. I had to take into account the lightsaber, the fire just over the rise, the blaster bolts, and the Probot's little headlamp. Above all else, I've come to realise that lighting is probably the most important aspect of a picture in order to try and capture some realism. It is important to keep contrasts between light and dark areas, often in close proxomity, and to really consider where the shadows will fall.


So there you have it. A little insight into how I produced the pics. Phew. :D

I've always liked sketching, but it's only since I've been digitally painting that my technique has improved. I like to think I'm getting a little bit better with each picture. I'd welcome any constructive criticism so that I can improve my skills further.

Thanks for the feedback, people. I really appreciate it. ;)

wardz
06-13-2001, 08:41 PM
Are you sure thats why you got hand cramps stormy? *wink wink* How long on average does it take you to do a pic?


wardz

Darth Simpson
06-13-2001, 09:09 PM
Wow, those pictures are truly great.

Thanks for the drawing tips as well!

StormHammer
06-13-2001, 09:48 PM
Originally posted by wardz:
<STRONG>Are you sure thats why you got hand cramps stormy? *wink wink* How long on average does it take you to do a pic?</STRONG>

Wardz, :D

As for the average time to do a pic, it depends. I can't tell you an exact number of hours, because I don't both logging it. However, I have surprised myself when producing these pics, because they haven't taken nearly as long as I'd expected. I do think some of them still need work, though, so I'll probably go on tweaking them.

With Obi-Wan, I had a very rough sketch, as I said, so I had a strong visual basis to work from. Having said that, I think that pic took me just a few hours.

The Maul pic I did over two days - but with long breaks. Setting up and rendering the background probably took less than an hour - I just did it rough, no antialiasing because I knew I was going to blur it. Maul's head probably took me two or more hours of solid work - because I had to keep tweaking the damned tattoos to get them right.

The Corran Horn pic I also did over two days, but I know I spent longer working on that than the Maul pic.

As for good ol' Kyle...I did the background in about an hour, because I kept changing it, adding to it - so I stopped myself before I added too much detail. That was like a few days ago, and I stopped working on the pic.

Then I saw the new JKII vid, got all fired up, and I basically started on it again early evening yesterday, and went all the way through the night, working solidly until about 6am - probably around 12 hours total. I kept modifying and tweaking - and wasted a lot of time on Kyle's face, trying to get it close to Jason Court's, but it just didn't look right, so...off came the head - and I put the head I started with back on and tweaked it. I probably wasted well over an hour trying different faces...

By the time I finished, I know my eyes were stinging at the end. :) But it was worth it.

Note to self: take more breaks! :D

wardz
06-13-2001, 10:01 PM
I know what you mean, I can spend hours on Livemotion trying to do a bit of Flash, do you ever find yourself screaming at the monitor when either

A) It crashses without you saving

B) Something doesn't quite look right and you can't fix it?


ok, perhaps its just me then :)


wardz

GonkH8er
06-13-2001, 10:14 PM
stormhammer..... would be you able to possibly do one for me of a line of gonks walking off a cliff into a firey death? like lava or flames or something? :)

Espada
06-13-2001, 10:17 PM
Force be with you young StormHammer ;)

wardz
06-13-2001, 10:21 PM
I like your picture gonk in your profile, very poignant... ;)


wardz

GonkH8er
06-13-2001, 10:27 PM
it makes a certain statement, but i'd like to see how stormhammer interprets my loathing and hatred for certain power droids....

StormHammer
06-13-2001, 10:29 PM
Gonk, I'll see what I can do. ;) Maybe over the weekend.

GonkH8er
06-13-2001, 10:32 PM
lol thanks man.....

if you cant, no worries :)

wardz
06-13-2001, 10:39 PM
gonk, what did you get for your birthday?

wardz

GonkH8er
06-13-2001, 11:25 PM
a new (well, actually really really old) saxophone :)


just some other little things..... some shares in a biotech company... not much else.... :)

Aragorn
06-14-2001, 12:57 AM
Very nice work StormHammer! I really can't imagine how you did all those drawings with your PC.
I haven't really ever tried to use my PC for painting but I'm sure I'd always return to the good old oils...
I'll try to scan a few of mine and send them...

bsbuckeye21
06-14-2001, 02:07 AM
Originally posted by GonkH8er:
<STRONG>a new (well, actually really really old) saxophone :)</STRONG>

Haha! Woodwind! Loser! :p

Bow to an almighty trumpeter! ;)

GonkH8er
06-14-2001, 05:08 AM
lol brASS...... find something that requires skill to play :)

StormHammer
06-14-2001, 05:01 PM
Originally posted by Aragorn:
<STRONG>Very nice work StormHammer! I really can't imagine how you did all those drawings with your PC.
I haven't really ever tried to use my PC for painting but I'm sure I'd always return to the good old oils...
I'll try to scan a few of mine and send them...</STRONG>

Thanks Aragorn. As I said before, a graphics tablet is essential. I could never have produced these pics with a mouse. It takes a little bit of trial and error when you start - you have to keep remembering to adjust your brush sizes, strengths, etc - but if you paint with oils you would do that anyway. ;) You would probably feel more at home using Painter, because there are a lot of preset brushes for use with different media. Oils, watercolour, charcoal, even a palette knife among many others are all simulated very well, IMHO.

I'd really like to see some of your work, too. I'm always interested in other people's works of art.

Who is your favourite artist, BTW? I like Frazetta and Ken Kelly mostly. I just hope I can improve my skills enough to emulate them one day. :)