Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Sporegorger Thallid's baby pictures and ageing - Process

I wanted to share some process shots of this piece for anyone who's into that sort of thing. At each step I'll go into what major changes I made as well as why I decided to do so.
Initial Sketch
1. I started with a rough sketch of what I want my composition to look like and the overall shape of my creature. The idea behind the piece was to show a fungal creature that was spreading it's spores on other fungus, much like the idea behind Sporesower Thallid.

Color study
 2. I then set the initial sketch layer options to Multiply, and create another layer underneath where I start to figure out my color scheme. I knew I wanted the creature to have a reddish tone to it so in order to make it pop I decided to make the background green. I also had the idea to make it look like the spores were revitalizing the fungus, so I made sure to make the main fungus red while keeping all of the other fungus green to blend into the background. I also knew from the start I wanted to have a nice purple tone to the spore cloud.

 3.  Here's where I dive in and really start getting to the meat of the painting. I wasn't entirely pleased with the head shape of the creature so I made it a bit more pointed. I also start emphasizing my lighting setup here with the highlights around the shoulder area. Added a vine overlapping the tail to add some depth. Added some patches of dirt to the ground to break up all the green.

 4. I add a mouth to the creature in order to give it some dimension. I felt like before it was looking directly off into the left, but with a mouth it looks like the head is in profile-view. I thought it would be interesting to show the underside to the red mushroom. I also start hinting more at the shadow on the creature's rear. Got the idea to cover the background trees in fungus as well.

5. Decided that based on my lighting setup, the far-side of the creature's back probably wouldnt be getting hit with as much light so I put it in shadow. I added some color variation in the green tendril areas of the creature and defined their shape. Started working on the spore cloud.

 6. Lots of background work, added more fungus to trees, added some grass to the foreground fungus silhouettes, added some tail spikes (ideally made of fungus) to the creatures tail based on a stegosaurus. Added some more color variation to the spore cloud using different layer options (Color, Overlay, etc.). Added mushrooms to the foreground to make the creature look surrounded by them.

 7. Start painting in the spores one by one. I wanted to give a bright glow to the spores in order to emphasize the idea that they are beneficial to other fungus. I was thinking of Donato's Mechanic painting from his Massive Black tutorial video, and trying to apply my spores in the same way he did with the bright stars in his star-field. Even more color build-up on the spore cloud.

 8. More spores! Spores everywhere, adding more glow to some, letting others remain in the background. I also started thinking that the creature looked a little bland, so I added some more fungal elements to his body. Added a glow effect to the hood of the red mushroom to even further emphasizing that spores=good.

 9. Adding more details and texture, adding some more foreground grass refining some shapes/silhouettes.
 10. The only change between steps 9 and 10 are 2 adjustment layers, Curves and Levels. This really helps up the contrast in the image and gives it a lot more presence. You have to be careful not to overdo it with the adjustment layers though, which is why I adjust the opacity of each adjustment layer to my liking. This is about where I first called the painting "finished".

 11. After posting the image up on Facebook and getting feedback from some of my artist friends like Stephen Najarian and Dennis Darmody, I made the greens in the background more deep to help make the bright creature pop, saturated the green parts of the creature, and added a blue hue to the creature's rear side so there's a nice transition from warm into cool / highlight into shadow. This step really made the mood much more dramatic and made the image pop a lot more. I also went in a added some more transparent areas to the spore cloud so it didn't read as a solid object.

Final Finished Painting
12. Added some final details/rendering, most notably added texture to the creature's body and some mucus going across the opening on the back.

I hope you've enjoyed this process post, thanks for reading!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sporegorger Thallid - My REAL Inspiration Challenge Entry

I was originally going to submit THIS piece for the Art Order Inspiration Challenge, but I missed a very important detail in the rules for the challenge so I couldn't submit it. The image has to be 100% your copyright, and since I was painting a monster right out of Final Fantasy IX, it didn't qualify. I was pretty bummed about it because I was pretty happy with the piece, and also because there wasn't much time left to do another piece, and I was really busy at the time. The deadline had passed and I was really upset because I missed out on a huge challenge that had a window of around 4 months to do something for. Then miraculously (for me at least) the deadline of the competition was extended another week due to Jon's cross-country move and suddenly I had another chance to get in on the action. It was pretty daunting, from conception to finish I had to create a brand-new painting from scratch, and I only had a few days to get it done. After considering a few options I remembered the piece I did for the Nymph Art Order Challenge which I did THIS piece for. I had originally meant to give the nymph a fungal companion in a full-scene painting, but I wasn't liking what I came up with and wound up scratching the idea for a full-scene and just painted a standalone figure. I had done sketches of the companion creature before, but I hadn't quite nailed down the design of it yet so I decided to explore that creature some more for the Inspiration Challenge. Below is the painting I came up with...

Sporegorger Thallid - Art Order Inspiration Challenge
This piece came together more quickly than any other painting I've ever done. I don't know if it was my fear or missing the deadline a second time, or my excitement for getting another chance, but I knocked out a sketch I was really happy with and proceeded to keep right on painting. Over the course of 2 days I completed this painting, while spending a 3rd day on revising it based on feedback. I managed to submit the piece a mere 4 hours before the submissions page closed. It's probably one of the strongest paintings I've ever made based on some of the reactions I've been getting to it, and I'm really happy with how it turned out as well. This was a huge landmark piece for me even without it being for a contest. Below you can see the paragraph write-up I made for the piece as part of the challenge requirements, as well as a pic of some of the pieces I got my inspiration from...

Cards that have spent time in my fungus deck - my Inspiration

I’ve become a big fan of the card game Magic: the Gathering and I still have the first deck I ever owned; a fungus deck that I bought off the shelf that I’m always tweaking. It’s an item that has become very close to me. I’ve fallen in love with how the deck works and I’ve spent hours staring at these cards and their awesome art and I’ve always wanted to design my own fungus creature and design a Magic card around that creature. Drawing inspiration from those fungus cards in the deck, I’ve created my Art Order entry.

What the illustration would look like applied to a Magic card