Monday, December 23, 2013

Making the "Excellence"

(I wrote this a little while ago, but figured I should post it here).

This shows the process I went through in making the poster for Fading Cloud of the sail boat. The Claymore Flyby poster was put together using a very similar process.

Step 1 - Concept Art

I wanted something that would look unusual, so I based the boat's hull on luxury yacht designs, but gave it Chinese junk-style sails and rigging.

There aren't exactly a lot of photos out there of what a boat's hull actually looks like (hence the terrible guess in the concept sketch), but fortunately, I live right next to a bunch of boat maintenance shops that have boats in dry-dock. 

Step 2 - Building the Model

I use Google SketchUp for fabrication of 3D models, partly because it's free, but mostly because it's extremely intuitive and fast. It may have been designed primarily for architectural drafting, but with a few tricks it works great for building just about anything.

To start, I first import the concept sketch into SketchUp, align it with the grid, and scale it to the correct proportions.

I use a simple technique for forming curved surfaces, which I may have learned from the techniques some people use to sculpt with sheets of polystyrene. I "stack" layers. I start with the widest part, then draw the outline of a smaller segment. I then drag that outline outward, sometimes letting SketchUp automatically fill in the space, sometimes manually adding the triangles to fill it out (more complex shapes confuse the program).

Slowly things start to come together:

And then I build the top, using essentially the same technique:

SketchUp has a simplistic "smoothing" ability that helps give the illusion of a more, well, smooth surface. Here's the body of the boat, completed:

Now, on to the sails (I also added a helm helps give a better sense of scale):

Next I played around with posing it in different positions. SketchUp has some style modes, one that made it so I could make it look like it was floating in the water

Step 3 - Placement Studies/Sketches

I drew the composition quickly and small, to see how it would look and because I needed to plan how to pose the girl standing on the bowsprit. I also had a lot of trouble figuring out how to orient her feet, even taking reference photos of myself standing on a similar surface (I'm still not 100% satisfied with how they turned out).

Step 4 - Final Drawing

The final drawing was done on an 18" x 24" sheet of paper, the line art done with my trusty 0.5mm mechanical pencil. I hadn't drawn the girl's face yet, because at the time I was waiting on getting concept art I had commissioned from another artist.

I did some color and blending studies for the sky and water on another piece of paper, then colored them first. I found that if I wait to color the foreground until the end, I don't have to worry about smudging and spreading the heavy graphite and colors from the background over it. 

And, finally, the completed drawing after being scanned and having the contrast tweaked slightly. In the end, I used my mechanical pencil for the line art, graphite sticks for the sky and for some shading, colored pencils for most of the color, and conte crayon for the sails (so glad I took the risk! Conte crayon can be so messy that I was nervous about using it on this).