Friday, September 7, 2012

Where no illustrator has gone before...

Well, it's been a while! Blame it on Berlin to keep me from making new works. I've been madly enjoying the quirks and perks of this wonderful city, where I will hang out for another six weeks. In between bar-hopping, whiskeys and late night curry wursts I've been meeting up with my good friend Mark Verhaagen and his notorious group of Berlin-based illustrators at their Friday afternoon Stammtisch Drawing Club.

Two weeks ago Mark and I decided to do a little game: to each make an illustration, based on the same ingredients. In this case, a little sketch that Mark did of a spaceship on the surface of a volcano planet.

The final image should also contain some stacked boulders, just because they are so alien and cool, a subtitle of some sort and be presented in a 16:9 film format. Inspired by vintage sci-fi art and fueled by half a dozen latte macchiatos we both started setting up our respective projects. The above image is my final output and after the jump you'll find some behind-the-scenes stuff. Hope you enjoy it!

Pen sketch of the basic setup, based of Mark's drawing: a volcano planet with piled up rocks and a UFO. And, since I *love* spaceships, some mind wanderings on other types of spacecraft.

The first composition didn't really turn out too exciting. I liked the idea of the cliff, and the spaceship had a nice retro feel to it, but in its entirety it still missed something. Maybe it was the boulders. Maybe I should've stayed away from coloring the sky until much later in the process. In any case: back to the drawing board!

More exotic spaceships! I'd been re-reading Alastair Reynolds' mindblowing conclusion of the Revelation Space trilogy, titled Absolution Gap, which features descriptions of some truly other-worldly technologies and spacecraft, so those influences did bleed through. And I wanted the ship to have a very 60s feel to it, like it could feature in some old Star Trek episode. Along with that are some ideas for alien vegetation, but those didn't make it further down the line. And yes, there is a note on the very sexy song Until We Bleed by Kleerup & Lykke Li. Look it up!

The composition already feels a lot better in this new render. There's a better view on the planet surface and the gully for the lava stream on the left makes for some interesting landscape sculpturing. Here the old UFO was still used as I had not yet decided on a new design.

(Generating GI points)

The lava lighting up the overhanging rocks looks pretty nifty already! And the new spidery shaped spaceship makes a welcome debut.

Form here on it's just about adding details and making the scene more lively. The piled up rocks are actually three different objects rotated and scaled to different degrees to cut down on modeling time without making the overall scene too repetitive. Handy!

Little tryout with some local flora. Decided they'd just clutter up the scene, but I'm sure they will make a come-back in some future image.

This is what the final render looks like after some color balancing and with a new sky, which was done in Illustrator. All that's left are some detail light effects. Dailymail has some awesome pictures of volcanic lightning, where the charged ejected particles cause electric currents in the air (as I understood it).

Some stars in the background, volumetric spots on the spaceship (all done in Illustrator) and a cryptic dialogue and voilá: das Bild ist fertig!

Wanna see what Mr. Verhaagen came up with? Have a look on his flickr!


INS said...

Nice project! I really like the end result. In my opinion the volcano-smoke is too solid, not smokey enough, but anyway it's like a pretty video game story scene.

Anonymous said...

Excellent work, thanks for showing your process.

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