Monday, September 10, 2012

Playing happily in Photoshop (and this is Post #699, so...)

click to see all images at large size...

Playing happily in Photoshop, as the post title says ... indulging a fascination for lens flare, and for flirting with layers, and experimenting to see what colors will do, how they'll fluoresce, when effects are piled up, one on top of another. And sometimes it's pretty amazing what happens. The effect that comes up in the legs of the costume is metallic:

The costume is just a pair of pants ... I think it's the Lockwood pants, actually. But the textures and patterns, everything you're seeing here, was done with mapping, so the end product isn't even vaguely like the 3D model as unpacked after purchase! This is where a lot of the fun happens, with this kind of art,

The fun actually goes back one or two stages previous to the character being added in. The background was rendered separately:

This was done as a displacement map whacked onto a primitive (plane), and then a diffuse map (marble) added, and a bump map too (rocky texture), plus some gloss and reflection. The result looks like a piece of weathered copper or brass, which is already pretty neat. I shipped it into Photoshop and did this:

...which was done by duplicating the layer, "walking it" into different colors, in fact, gold-greens, and then applying a merge/blend to the second layer. The effect is pretty amazing. I like the ad hoc nature of this kind of work. You're never sure how it's going to turn out till it's "cooked," and it can be quite exciting to see things come to life.

So the next step was to add the character. You've actually seen this guy before: do you remember Li and Lung, the dragon? I told the bare bones of a story, a loooong time ago. This is the same character, sans dragon, and in a fantasy setting with longer hair, katana and whatnot. And what's happened here is that Li has fallen through the old real-world adventure into a fantasy realm one layer above or below or beyond reality. You figure, he has to fight his way out to get back to the real world and finish out the original story! The original story was about Jimmy Li and Shao Lung, who's a "lucky dragon," and a bunch of antique/relic smugglers. Shao Lung wants to get home to Sichuan. It was all about antiques and smuggling, the police and young love as Jimmy Li meets lovely Fang Mei Ling, but now ... figure out how to add in the fantasy sequence ... have Jimmy and Mei fall through into a realm of magic and mystery ... and that's not just a cute story, it's an awesome story. Shades of Big Trouble in Little China, but with a real, life dragon.

So, you're probably wondering how much of this piece is the original render, and how much is the painting. Here's a half-size peek at the raw render:

...which is nice, but flat as the proverbial bikkie. It all happens in Photoshop -- which is where I played happily for about an  hour, and had a lot of fun with lens flare. I painted his face, hair and eyes, highlights and shadows on everything, and then got to work with the aforementioned lens flare. You really have to know where to STOP with lens flare, because what you can get away with in a photo, you'll be criticized for, in a painting. For example, check these out:

Those, I photographed just this morning, in the backyard, under the Blue Pacifica where the bees are going ballistic. (Got some very good bee pictures, too, which was actually the reason I was out there. Then I saw the lens flare through the branches, and lost interest in bees for a while!)

So, this is actually Post #699, and as I mentioned a while ago, I've been trying to figure out what to do for Post #700. Inspiration struck, and I'm just trying to get it together now. The two paintings are done and I'm working on the text. Give me a few days and, as the saying goes, I'll be back. Ye gods ... what will I do when Post 1,000 comes around ...?!

Jade, September 10

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