How I Make Art – Space Battles Part 4

Part four already!!

Yes I know, I'm on a mission to finish this one.

This is where we were when I finished the last session/post:

Most of the ships are about half done and I was just about to start on the main battle cruiser.... Well... That was the plan.The thing is the background has been bugging me throughout so I had to do something about it before I got distracted later in the middle of something important.

You may not at first notice anything as this image here is small and the 'live' painting is wopping-huge. Simply, all I have done is with an airbrush and a one of those awesome Photoshop layer settings plopped a blue tone over the entire background and then flattened it and added a bit of blur for adding a bit of depth. That is it. However, you'd be surprised the difference it has made. Here is a split view of the before on the left and the after on the right:

Next, distracting background put to bed (although not finished I might add), on with the large battle cruiser in the fore ground:

As with all of the ships I start the long process of blocking in colour, texture and whittle it down to detail, adding in some large blocks of white for engine glow. Now, I know what you are thinking, the Dominion battle cruisers don't quite look like that and those engines don't sit on the back like that! Two words for you, artistic licence...

Kind of!

Firstly, as with the 'bugs' I struggled to get any good reference images for this ship, so I kind of guessed some of it and went with the flow. As for the engines sat on the back like that, that was an artistic choice made by me. I thought it would look cool to have huge glowing engines burning away at the back there. Which it will, trust me...

Okay, now things make a BIG change in layout. The original plan was to have everything converging on a central point, everything heading to one place. The issue for me was that it looked to 'manufactured' to be that way, I wanted chaos! A swirling space battle, not a line up of pretty spaceships!

So, with the beauty of layers that digital art offers I managed to change the position and size of  some of the ships to make it more of a confusing mess. I'm much happier with this new layout, once I have the effects in place such as big bangs and phaser fire it should look like low orbital carnage – perfect!

Now I'm happy with the layout I can start adding some more detail to the battle cruiser. Looking at the reference images I could find the hull has a 'purpleness' to it, however it is not clear as the markings as with the 'bugs'. To get round this I use a custom brush I have made that adds random patterned texture, which seems to have worked out well – got to love those Photoshop brushes! Next I add a bit of glow to the engines, although not finished – I need to add blur etc..., looking quite cool already.

Ships and background are all coming along nicely. Now I have to start thinking about light some more, which means I have to think about where the light is coming from. For this I need to add in the fireworks, phaser fire, big bangs, smoke trails from the ships, shield reflections, etc...

Before I add any of this in I plan it out on a layer I will switch off and hide later. This allows me to plan it all out without any worries. So, the scene is now looking nice and chaotic and I'm ready to start painting in the cool stuff!

Time's up though!

In my next session I plan to add in the SFX and get started on blending it altogether, which is really the fun bit.


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