• In creating this painting 'Claire de Lune,' the artist
    Graven Tung had two characters in mind.

    There is always an image of a dark, stoic-looking man. His tattered robe spreads out like black wings or tentacles, sort of like a dead samurai turned grim reaper. He is also often accompanied by a lady in a red dress.
    While I could see the two characters being somewhat connected, there really wasn’t anything else beyond that. Later on I did a few rough sketches just for fun, trying to visualize their looks. The drawings turned out OK, but I didn’t really know what to do with the idea until one day I came across a photo of a little girl standing next to a hooded figure. There’s this creepy tension that relates to my characters, and I wanted to do a painting that captures the similar mood.

    Next I went through some photos and started generating thumbnails. As you can see I still kept things very loose at this stage. The point of doing thumbnails is simply to help me find the right image. Although there were no specific concepts behind these characters, I was still looking for a scene that would at least suggest some kind of story.

    Here are the sketches that sort of caught my eye. After looking at them side by side for a while, I felt the two battle scenes were a bit too bland. Sure it’s a harsh confrontation, but still lacking a personal touch that connects the characters. The dark forest scene however, had the potential for some subtle chemistry. With the two figures facing each other in a small flower field under dim moonlight, it just might do the trick.

    I spent a few moments analyzing the thumbnail. The main things here are the two figures of course. The large shape in the back would likely be a big gnarly tree. I used a blurred-out picture for thev flower field during the block-in as a place-holder, which needed to be completely painted over since the red was too intense.

    The next step was gathering the references needed for the scene. For me it always helps to look at the real thing while working, just so I have more information to draw from.
  • Photoshop CS comes with some nifty brushes, but I still tend to favor the simple solid chalk brush and its textured version. With the opacity set on pen pressure, these two brushes can cover just about 90 percent of my daily work.
    I scaled up the thumbnail (usually to around 4000x2000 pixels for horizontal format) and began to paint. Starting out with the faces, I wanted to make sure they have the right expressions before moving onto anything else since this is the main focus. I also played with the overall colors to see just how strong the moonlight should be. It’s better to mess around with the image and solve some major issues at this point when it’s still fresh and flexible. Once the details are in, there’s really not much I can do.

    For the most part, the painting was coming along nicely after some polishing, but I was still unhappy with the red flowers standing out too much. I ended up reducing the entire field down to just a few scattered flowers around the girl, making her appear more vulnerable, at the same time bringing out some highlights on the ones in front of her, almost as if she meant to tease him with the flowers. From that point on it was simply a matter of fleshing out the details till I was satisfied with the result.

    The image was close to finish. I added the pendant on the lady and airbrushed some thin fog around the guy as a final touch. The forest in the back was dimmed down even more to call attention to the two foreground figures. The last step was popping a Soft Light layer on top to suggest some subtle light rays. Tidy up a few loose ends here and there with a small brush, slightly toned down the color saturation, and the painting was done.

    My name is Graven Tung. I grew up in Taiwan and moved to the U.S. to live with relatives half way through high school. The whole experience was sort of like getting unplugged from the Matrix if you know what I mean. Things are so different here. I spent quite a few clueless years in the local college until finally stumbling onto my first art class. I eventually went on to Art Center College of Design in California as an illustration major, graduated in 2002, and I currently work as an in-house concept artist at Paradigm Entertainment in Dallas.

    Graven Tung
    Download Fullsize Image - 375kb

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