Friday, April 30, 2010

Questions about Box Jellyfish

Debbie Foster recently asked, "How do you get the effect of the incredible glow of the jelly fish?"

I dug up my source files for Box Jellyfish to look over the technique. I'd say the biggest factors in the glow are:

#1. No lines for the jellyfish. The jellyfish was supposed to look translucent and ethereal. I realized fairly early that a hard outline in my sketch would work against that. When I painted the sketch, I obliterated most of the underlying line work for the jellyfish. Looking at my source files, I can see there's only a bit of the jellyfish still present in the lines (it was probably too much hassle to clean up these bits). What line work is left is set to 'overlay' so it picks up much of the underlying tone in the painting. In the picture below you can see what I mean.

#2. I painted the jellyfish on its own layer. Here it's presented against a black backdrop.

I figured since the creature was mostly translucent, the light would pipe through the body structure (like fiber optics), emphasizing edges and any area that was more solid. I tried to approach the work thoughtfully, looking over underwater photography of jellyfishes and how camera lights render them with a spooky glow. It's sort of like an X-ray photo, but emphasizing the outer edges over the vacuous innards.

#3. I placed a blurry blue color dodge layer over the jellyfish, to give it a softer look and a diffuse glow. There's also another lighting layer used to place a soft glow on the areas of the background affected by the jellyfish's outstretched tentacles.

Aside from that, the reason the jellyfish glows is color choice and contrast. The picture is dark, the jellyfish is bright and blurry.

Hope that answers your question.

For more clues on how the picture was made, see the work-in-progress image I've provided.

Also see this study I did, using a long exposure photo of a nightlight in my bedroom.



Friday, January 15, 2010

Fantasy Illustration - Tiamat's Chosen - Final

This is a mock fantasy book cover, set in the Forgotten Realms universe, that I did on commission.

The client wanted something that was akin to a Star Wars movie poster with characters sprinkled throughout the image. The blue character, Ningal, is some sort of important leader in the country of Unther. The other famous character in the image is Tiamat -- she's in the upper right corner. She's a dragon deity in cloaked in human form. The client wanted her depicted as a sort of spunky teenager girl.

During the process of creating this picture I worked out a design for each character before combining them into the picture. Here's the related character design blog posts.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Fantasy Illustration - Tiamat's Chosen: Designing the rest

The remaining three characters in the Forgotten Realms illustration were original player characters which needed to be designed from scratch. Working from text descriptions and story details, the characters took form.

Zeldara was described as a druid with wild brown hair and natural earth toned clothing. I wanted to give her an untamed, living-close-to-nature look, so I added some scattered flowers throughout her tangled hair. Here you can see the build up from basic body, to clothed figure.

Xaxier is the key figure in the story. He's a tall and strong monk/assassin with questionable morals that fights with his hands. His key features are the three concentric blue circles on his forehead and golden eyes and skin.

Firaelia is a half-elf mage. She carries a rapier and casts Shadow magic. She is the shortest and most curvaceous of the bunch.

Finally, here's the height chart showing how they all line up with each other. Xavior and Ningal are among the tallest.

Coming up next, the finished illustration!

If you missed it, here's the previous character design installment: