Download Concept Art Tutorial PDF

TitleConcept Art Tutorial
TagsComposition (Visual Arts) Paintings Zoom Lens Perspective (Graphical)
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Total Pages5
Document Text Contents
Page 1

January 200768

Workshops

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reating dramatic concept art
means capturing the correct
mood for your piece. The
mood that I’m going to try

to achieve in this workshop is one of
a nuclear winter, which still has a
poetic atmosphere to it. Opposing or
contrasting ideas always make for great
painting subjects, and a saturated winter
is not a very common way to approach
an image. With that rough idea and
direction, we will let chaos direct the
first part of the painting, then slowly
give it a meaning and a more concrete
perspective, lighting and mood.

Leading concept artist David Levy shows how to paint a
piece that’s full of drama, using custom brushes to create
a nuclear winter image

DRAMATIC
CONCEPT ART

For this workshop, I’ll start using the
same brushes I created for the Gnomon
DVD From Speedpainting to Concept
Art, but will also create new variations
using the Dual Brush settings.

Before starting this kind of exercise,
it’s important to have a good knowledge
of perspective, composition and lighting.
Without these basics, speed painting can
be frustrating: speed and technique only
come with practice. Nevertheless, there
are rules that make the job easier, and
‘atmospheric perspective’ is one of them.
In most environments (aside from
space), the atmosphere acts as a filter

C

David Levy
COUNTRY: Canada
CLIENTS: Disney
channel, Massive Black
The Gnomon Workshop.

David began
as a concept
artist for
video game
companies. He

is now a senior concept
artist and has recently set
up Steambot Studios with
his friend BARonTiERi.
www.vyle-art.com

Leading concept artist
piece that’s full of drama, using custom brushes to create
a nuclear winter imagea nuclear winter image

DVD Assets
The files you need
are on the DVD

FOLDERS:
Full screenshots
FILES: GNOMON_
imagineFX.abr,
blokFX_01.psd
SOFTWARE:
Photoshop CS2 (demo)

David Levy
piece that’s full of drama, using custom brushes to create

1 BackgroundLet’s start with a medium green
gradient from top to bottom of the image.
I decide to keep the brightest area on the
top, which influences the way light will
appear in the final image. At this point
I have no clue how that painting will
unfold in front of my eyes. One thing is
sure, though: with a vertical composition,
I have the possibility to create a large
building in the background. You
shouldn’t be afraid as you begin your
image; be relaxed and enjoy yourself.

2 Basic shapesI try to let the brushes go free as
much as possible: I know that I need
some rocks, metal structure for the vessel,
and some soft gradients for the nuclear
snow. I don’t even look at the page during
this process, just let myself be surprised
by the shapes. When I look, I can already
see a foreground and a background
shaping up. This happens thanks to the
variation of opacity and contrasts giving
the illusion of depth. I already sense that
this off-axis composition could be
something that plays to my advantage.

3 Shapes come to lifeUsing a Palette Knife brush I add
two bold strokes of dark blue/green.
Suddenly a large mass appears and
textures are exaggerated during the
shadowing process, giving a feeling that
something high-tech might be lurking in
the fog. The sharp edge on the right side
reminds me of a vessel’s prow.

and creates a hierarchy in contrasts.
I’ll use that rule to emphasise the
atmosphere in my painting. I’ll try to
imagine what a somewhat sad mood
mixed with a futuristic design might
look like.

The Dual Brush feature will help me
create elegant shapes that will disappear
in the depth of the fog. The tools used
might seem complex, but their use is
based on classical painting techniques.
I’m going to overlay colours, starting
from the background, slowly moving
forward and finish close to the viewer’s
eye, as a painter using oils might do.

Photoshop

1 BackgroundLet’s start with a medium green

2 Basic shapesI try to let the brushes go free as
much as possible: I know that I need

3 Shapes come to lifeUsing a Palette Knife brush I add
two bold strokes of dark blue/green.

January 2007 69

In depth Dramatic concept art

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4 PerspectiveUsing the Selection tool and
the Rock brush (from my set on your
DVD) I decide to push the perspective by
using rocks lying underneath the ice
closer to the viewer. At the same time I
make sure to exaggerate that off-axis
composition, by opening that embryo of
perspective like a fan from left to right.
These rocks will help the eye flow from
foreground to background, in a single and
comfortable manner. I am starting to
wonder how will I be able to balance this
weird drop of composition to the right.

5 Fun with fogI decide to have a bit more fun with
the fog, and get the sides of that silhouette
to disappear in the mist. I find the best
way to balance the whole image is by
layering at the bottom of the picture a
nice, straight horizontal plane. The
composition now feels more balanced,
and that sharp edge on the right keeps
looking more and more like a prow. I
think it is about time to give a wash of
reality to the rough sketch.

6 Connecting circle
I exaggerate that light coming from

the right side, by sculpting some white
cap-like shapes, and also adding a shine
to that slab that I decide is ice, thanks to
a soft/sharp reflection. I toy with the idea
that the connecting circle I created in the
middle of the more heavily textured area

close to the centre might become
the viewer’s main focal point.

7 Blowing snow I add to those dark patches of
texture, using the Selection tool and a
newly created dual brush. I also decide to
simulate radiosity underneath that mass
with a soft but obvious dark airbrushed
line. Close to the prow, I intensify the
brightness as it gets closer to the bright
snow. I decide to soften the snow/ice
contact area using the airbrush again,
to give it a feeling of blowing snow.

5 Fun with fogI decide to have a bit more fun with

6 Connecting circle
I exaggerate that light coming from
Connecting circle
I exaggerate that light coming from I exaggerate that light coming from I exaggerate that light coming from 4

Perspective

7

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8 Adding scaleTime to give punch and scale to
what is now seriously shaping up like
some futuristic prow of a spacecraft
carrier. On the top right part, I throw
in some design markings to give a sense
of perspective, and straighten the line so
it looks like it has been man (or alien!)
made. I repeat the same operation on
the level underneath, making the shadow
line more obvious. At the bottom I add
two characters that will give and
indication for the ship’s scale.

9 Circle focusAs I said in step 6, I think the
connecting circle will make a great focus,
so I work on the materials in the shadowy
area. The lighting effects give the illusion
of an eerie, unknown reflective material.
That highly saturated yellowish green
seems to work well, and will help develop

the shadow to light shifts that affect the
materials. The shapes again seem to take
a life on their own, and the circle now
resembles the eye of a mystical whale.

11 Whale imageI exaggerate the back of the ship, by
making it resemble a stranded whale on
that strange green snow. I also have some
fun designing a pattern on the back of
the mechanical beast. That helps reading
the volume, and also makes the viewer
believe that there might be much more
there than what the eye can see. This is
important: after all, if you detail
everything, how can the viewer dream?
I add clouds to the top left corner to play
with the scale again, and also give a nice
framing to the centre of the illustration.

12 Foreground in focus It’s time to think about the
foreground. I need as much space as
possible, to eventually add some
characters to my scene and help the
viewer jump into my image. A slab of
snow-covered rock is an easy way to
add depth and an instant foreground
element. I also add some texturing
designs at the front of that ship. Adding
highlights where the ship and snow meet
gives a nice indication of where the light
falls. I flip the image over the vertical
axis, and use the Palette Knife to gently
cast a shadow on the side and
underneath the rock.

The importance
of basics
I have noticed on many
occasions that many
students tend to try to
run before they can walk.
Most of the digital tools
that enable us to paint
nowadays are extremely
powerful, but one thing
not to lose sight of is that
a classical background
will always make the
difference. Even though
you have a whole set of
powerful digital tools, it
is only by practising the
basics that you will be
able to use them to their
full potential.

PRO
SECRETS

the texture of the ship further. I really
dig into the pixels in a close-up, revealing
a lot of blurriness/sharpness variation.
That will probably have to be fixed later
on during the polishing phase.

10 TextureWorking on the design of the
texture feels different from the high
adrenaline of trying to come up with
shapes from chaos. The shapes come up
by themselves, but I need to make sure
I follow the overall volumes decided
earlier on by the brushes and light
gradients. I also have to be careful about

8 Time to give punch and scale to

12 Foreground in focus It’s time to think about the

9 Circle focusAs I said in step 6, I think the
connecting circle will make a great focus, connecting circle will make a great focus,

1010 Working on the design of the 10

11
making it resemble a stranded whale on

1111

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In depth Dramatic concept art

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