In the November issue of The Artist’s Magazine, Michael Woodson writes about two concept artists doing great things in their field of digital art: Gilles Beloeil and Lauren Airriess. Enjoy the excerpt below, where Beloeil details how he accomplished his digital painting, Le retour.
Beloeil focuses on the design of the environment and then incorporates his subjects (or “characters”) into the world in ways that make them feel integral.
From Inception to Conception
by Gilles Beloeil
Gilles Beloeil walks us through his process for concept art, beginning with a preliminary sketch that combines traditional media with digital media.
I. Drawing: I began with a drawing on my Wacom tablet with a thin Photoshop brush, my focus mainly on composition, perspective and organizing all the elements. I inverted the drawing (white on black) to use as a reference point throughout the entire process.
2. Blocking: Using the lines of the drawing as a reference on a separate layer, I began a block-in. A layer is like a transparent paper you put on your image, but digital. I “paint” in Photoshop very fast and constantly make different artistic decisions to see what looks best. I picked colors from different references, photos or paintings; I changed the values, the hue, the saturation, etc.
3. Details: I refined everything before starting the more time-consuming stage: the details. I more precisely created every shape using the lasso tool and big brushes in Photoshop. I know where the piece is headed, and I’m satisfied, but not yet excited. What if it were moodier?
4. Values: Here I changed the entire value relationship of my painting, making everything except the sky and the path darker. I digitally pasted a photograph of the sky for a more dramatic effect.
5. Environment: I focused on the background and gave bright colors to the cloaked figure (the king). I painted over my photo of the sky to make it more dramatic. The movement of the clouds helps guide the viewer’s eye to the main figure. I reworked the silhouetting of the background, playing with the fog with an airbrush or a cloud brush, and perfected the opacity of the layer. The castle now has more character, thanks to the fog mass at the bottom, which also helps separate the king’s head from the background.
6. Redesign: I realized the foreground figure wasn’t interesting enough and changed him. A soldier is more convincing and gives more insight into the era—it makes sense that a king would be escorted by his army. With digital art this is easy, because I can paint endlessly on the same image without adding thickness. I changed the silhouette of the castle too, trying to represent a variety of shapes.
7. Adjustments: At this point I found the color palette too cool, so I added more yellows and reds with adjustment layers. I readjusted the drawing of the top of the tower on the right, curving it a bit more. I also changed the value of the sea and castle, making them brighter and darker, respectively, using adjustment layers. I highlighted the sea behind the castle to increase depth and to define the overall castle shape.
8. Finishing Touches: I added more fog at the bottom of the castle and changed the shape to add more variety. I painted textures on the rocks to the right with textured brushes and made sure that the scale of all the rocks diminished with the distance. I added the figure on the top right and some birds. Lastly, I chose to motion blur the foreground figure with a special filter in Photoshop so he wouldn’t compete with the main figure.
above: Le retour (digital media) by Gilles Beloeil
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