Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016 Best Visual Effects Oscar Race artwork and works in progress

Last year I thought it would be fun to sketch a little battle scene between all the visual effects nominees for the Academy Awards. This year the contestants came from Ex Machina, Mad Max: Fury Road, The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and The Martian. This is a challenging one to predict, but I think it will go to Star Wars, despite that franchise normally being passed over in this category. There was some strong early buzz for Mad Max and a late surge from The Revenant, which is the only film in the category I have not seen at the time of this writing.

This year I wanted to step it up a bit, and used this piece as an introduction to Corel Painter 2016. As a longtime Photoshop user, it was a bit wobbly getting started (I still don't have a good solution for an eraser tool hotkey), but I've liked the program more each time I used it, and find the brush selection easy to use and helpful to reconnect with when I used to paint with oils or work with conte crayons. Color mixing is also seems much easier.

Ex Machina's Ava,  Mad Max: Fury Road's Imperator Furiosa, The Revenant's Hugh Glass, Star Wars's Rey, and The Martian's Mark Watney having it out for Oscar gold.

Here's how the process went:
Three thumbnails were sketched in my phone's Painter app to test compositions. The iconic Mad Max War Boys were originally featured more prominently, and in the second one Rey gives Hugh a good smack. The third composition had Rey and Finn trapped on the floor of a canyon. The initial idea on the left ended up being chosen.

A closer look at the "approved" thumbnail. Mark was originally in his Mars Rover back in the midground, and Hugh rode the Revenant bear while firing at us with his rifle (but that was a bit much). A Star Wars fleet helped fill the sky, but this was later dropped to help balance out the players.
After I brought the sketch into Painter, I made my first line pass, focusing mainly on the foreground fighters. Hugh replaces Finn next to Rey, and Mark replaces the War Boy. To help guide the focal point of the Oscar, I added a rifle on Hugh's back to help flow up to it from the bottom of the composition. It was around this time I was reading Hereward Cooke's Painting Techniques of the Masters and Ray Bethers' Composition in Pictures, which helped with the composition.
Something wasn't right with Rey. I had decided to pick Star Wars as the winner around this time, and she needed to have a larger role in the composition. I still wanted her staff to provide the same tangent pointing to the Oscar though, so I sketched up some poses and settled on the "Force grab" one.
Final "ink" pass, with some background detail sketched in. This was all done using the Scratchboard tool up to this point.

The "underpaint" pass, below the inks layer. Getting used to the different brushes now, including the conte crayon. For this piece, I remembered to pick a particular color to fill the background with and paint over, which I normally forget to do. As you'd expect, it helped immensely in tying the color palette together.

At this point, I thought a more dramatic sky with a Mad Max-style lightning storm could work better, but it would have undermined all the lighting I had painted on the characters up to that point. I decided against it based on time constraints.

The subtler sky, styled to look like it could belong in the worlds of either Mad Max or The Martian. I made small adjustments to the background landscape to help draw attention to the area where the Oscar statue is. After this I went back to Photoshop for the text pass and called it a day.
Or, when put all together:

No comments:

Post a Comment