Monday, 1 February 2016

The Penrose series

◊ Penrose series 

^ ^ Manuscript stage. First off its reading through the synopsis of the book.This book entitled Blood and Iron by Tony Ballantyne .Selecting a scene thatIthink would work well from the book . Robot army waiting to attack upon ranks of an enemy robot horde from the a mountain outcrop. The head of this army the central figure looking out over what awaits below. So 1st off I quickly get the camera out and take a dozen or so figure shots in the exact pose I want to build the robot around.taking lots of different angles of hand and leg shots. This robot was built from 3 separate photos As time would be priority I would need the photos quickly.Taking photographs I posed for the figure . for speed of getting instant figure reference) placed together to give the correct pose I was looking for.Detailing head shape (fig 2) is kept to a minimum and just basic structure shown.I may work on the main robot figure when the bulk of the picture is finished,making sure the design is accurate. Then I rough in parts of buildings and landscapes some of which I may have already designed for previous pictures so just need reshaping .Using the clone tool as a brush to sketch in mountains.. peaking the mountain tops and warping the size.Most of the main elements im looking to show are there now .This would usually take a couple of hours.Then I start to design all the separate areas of buildings and move them into position in the image.Robot and army also.(in its very rough early stages) this is to send to the publishers and the author.Each individual robot design is created so before starting the mockup I design the main character.In this case the main robot Kavan of the story ..Starting on the head 1st everything at this stage is converted to monochrome ..Up until the detail in the picture is 80% finished do I start recolouring the layers.At these stages colour is just a hindrance and can be a distraction. A l am looking for at this time is impact ,perspective and tonal values. As long as I can be confident enoughI can produce the correct colours at the end of the finished design then I will convert everything I have at this stage to black and white.If I am using reference that has a lot of different colour values in it then I will not be able to re-tone that to the colour I'm looking for more than I would if I was toning from a monochromatic point.. It is a lot like the grisaille method in oil painting.Now onto designing the foreground robots head and torsos and the ranks of robots in the mid-distance.I always create the characters and finish them off to a high degree 1st before starting on the background detail.This is purely down to time restraints on a commission.Working this way around gives me greater flexibility and focuses the main bulk of time on the characters on the cover. On a complex picture as this I would normally when colouring the figure block off areas around (simply paint over the background on a new layer) detailed objects and colour from other parts of the picture can be a distraction and can take my eye away from the object I am working on .As long as I know what direction the figures light source is coming from then that would be enough for me to develop the figures colour .Now and again taking out the white mask to get an overall colour scheme that helps in defining colour values on the metal of robot. Background For the background I would add the mist in stages .City shown without mist and fog layers)..If the background was not as detailed and complex then adding this in the later stages would be preferable..but when dealing with city scapes I have found that defining the mist in graduations alongside the intensity and opacity of the buildings can make noticeably more realistic to the perspective.and not as obvious of being added at the final stages.Thunderous sky keeping it low to reflect the main light source`s colour and to give a deeper angle of perspective.I do not think just showing a normal sky with clouds whisping past would have been right for this picture.It needed to be much looser and of an impending doom quality .The higher you are viewing the clouds the greater the foreshortening. The clouds needed to look as though they were moving constantly much like the smoke from a fire as it tries to escape upwards for air.This juxtaposition with the foreground figures allowed for the viewers eye to be trained on the center of the picture where we are also directed to by the main robots gesture.Adding the incoming spacecraft's is left to the very end.This as well as showing the desired perspective shot it gives an extra twist to the story. Sometimes adding an item into picture that is outside the main focus of attention can heighten the readers interest also. Mid distance Reference used for designing the buildings was a mixture of similar reference used for robot designs interlaced with photographs of iron works ,old factories gas cylinders . Manipulated to good degree to create its own look and originality. This central area had to be colder in colour scheme than the rest. I had initially had this area much more immediate tones of blue as I was concerned it would not stand out enough from the bright reflected reds on the metal of robots in foreground.Early designs did not work so well soItoned enough of the blue to graduate out from the spotlights. I think what became obvious was that I had to have some sort of layer of mist covering this part of the scene ( it would look odd if not so- as the rest of the picture was teaming with cloud and mist )and the colour that would be reflected in this mist would be the red of the central light not from the beam of light but from the reflection of clouds above.this worked well for two reasons ( the enemy usually = - greys and blues and the perspective of this area which wasn't touched by the main pictures light source , it gave an impending doom,brooding tone to the scene ). Foreground As I would only be showing the upper torsos and heads of the army in the foreground this could have got a little boring to the viewer so adding the slight sweep of perspective from the right side angling down to the left then the center as they descend it keeps the viewers eye moving and darkening the mid tones on the robots gave a feel that no light could break through their ranks as more of the army were out of view.Only the heads have the main bulk of the highlights. The background mid-ground and foreground should always be interesting enough to draw you in. Even if the viewers eye is trained on the main figure ( this may be in the mid-ground) its always best to have something in foreground even if simple mist ..given movement and shaped so the eye is drawn into the picture.You need to be inspired to enter a picture and to accept what is happening in it.So when I have positioned the foreground robots I then recolour and reshaping each one remembering the space around them and defining the intensity of the main source of light reflected on the metal. As it is the foreground the intensity of the highlights and glow on these will be the strongest and clearest of those in the picture. Clone robots - Army ranks . Reference used for intricate details on robots was electrical units ,wires cables car parts, engines, hydraulics,pipes and armour. I then clone the robot designs I have created into ranks of troops. . Even though on the book cover they would hardly be seen in detail and would be slightly blurred as the further away they are..I feel this still gives believability to the image. If I had just cloned the torsos of a quick robot design together to form a mass area so to look like the troops standing in rows I may get away with this from a far distance but detailing the complete figures of robots has instant believability and gives a more 3 dimensional appearance. This was probably the hardest part of the picture to pull off correctly as it had to be easily identifiable as ranks of troops, and under such dim light another light source had to be brought in to effect .I had initially designed this area to show the lights of surrounding buildings encircling the units of robots ,by adding colour by this stage I needed to give some focus on the troop units as the colour had to be subtle enough.The beams of light surrounding the army was what was needed .It would center the viewers eye on this part without being too confusing a light source. Fig (9) hows the confrontation of elements in the picture that can be a great way of giving dynamics to a scene which does not have the outward action of dynamics for us all to see.(I:E clash of characters or battle scenes.) The beams of light in mid distance and the direction of the spacecraft's flight gives a good clash of action by opposing the direction of the foreground figures and their spears this tells the story and the two sides impending battle,.On a picture like this producing it between 3-5 days I would normally finish the figures to a high degree only leaving the reflected glow on metal to the very end.(and I could only judge the light from having the background mid-ground finished before I started this stage.Coming from a background in oil painting I tend to follow the use of layers technique as I would use if painting.they really help the way I use transparent layers in photoshop.and can give the picture a luminous quality that otherwise wouldn't be there if just using the one layer of items.This will work extremely well to give a feel of believability to your work whilst marking it out from the rest as using multiple filter layers.Rather than relying on photoshops advanced techniques I usually rely on what I have learnt through painting with oils and try to transfer that across to give my work maybe a similar feel.Tony Ballantynes book Blood and Iron is out in April 2010 panmacmillan UK. Blood and Iron ( the two colours of the picture and the words of the story.
Blood & Iron stages
Concept to cover art