• Monkey WrenchDownload Wallpaper
    I really like to write and develop stories, by myself or with friends, and the majority of my artwork comes from those stories, which is great in that it gives me an already blocked-out catalog of ideas to draw from. However sometimes it can feel restricting to be creating a piece from a story that's already been developed, and some of the simple fun of doing an illustration can be lost in trying to adhere to the story.

    So for this picture, I decided to just start with something simple and let the picture tell the story; sort of like a stream of consciousness. I went back and pulled out a small, random sketch I had done a couple of months prior, of a girl with a mischievous grin on her face, a beanie and goggles, some headphones, huge, oversized gloves, and a big wrench.

    I took the sketch into Painter IX and drew a couple of 'somewhat-finished' lines on a new layer. Then on another new layer I began trying out different settings and compositions. The girl has an exotic look to her, and originally I was going to go for more of a fantasy setting, in a jungle with some animals around her or something similar. But of course there were parts of her that looked totally out of place like the headphones and the wrench that I wanted to keep.

    Eventually I decided that she would be a sci-fi mechanic of some sort, so I changed her outfit to one that was better suited for the job. And to keep the exotic, fantasy feel, she's built a huge serpent of some kind out of a pile of space-junk. Trying to give the impression that she's just finished constructing him, I decided put them both in her workshop, surrounded by all the leftover pieces not needed to build the serpent.
    Line it up
    Once I was happy with the composition of my sketch, I laid down a rough underpainting to get a feel for the lighting, and then began the finished lines. I tend to use the Fine Tip brush, in the Felt Pens menu, for a lot of my work in Painter. In the brush editor under 'general', I set the 'method' to 'cover, and under 'size', I set the tip to '1-Pixel Edge'. Other than that, the default settings work pretty well for me. So, I started making new layers, and drawing finished lines over the top of the sketch below; erasing the sketch as I went.

    I like to freely create a bunch of layers and then combine various sets of them in Photoshop every few hours, so that I have a lot more freedom when correcting small details on specific areas. When a certain section is all done, I can merge them and have a finished, solid chunk of picture. The lines on this piece were divided into about six main chunks, and then combined into one, right before coloring.
    Using the same felt pen brush, I then began the coloring process, starting with the cables hanging above the two characters. I always do a lot of color correcting as I go, which is another reason I keep things like shadows, highlights, and various color layers separate from each other. I also used some of the various media in Painter to add texture to some of the forms.

    Chalk was used for the floor, as well as some of the splotchier, dirtier objects like the cables up top. I used a thick gouache brush to add a woven look to most of the cloth and some dry acrylic brushes to "scratch up" some various surfaces. Unfortunately, much of that is difficult to see unless you're looking at the full resolution image, which was a big lesson for me about when and where to include that extra level of detail.
    Final Image
    Texturing & Final Touches
    Once most of the coloring was complete, I took the image out of Painter and brought it into Photoshop to finish it up. I used an 'Artistic > Smudge Stick' filter to blur the dark background and bring out the crispness in the rest of the piece. I then used a fairly simple splotchy brush from the existing PS library to dirty up the entire image and add some dark shadows. I used a similar brush to add a little rust and grime in various places, some final shadows around the outside of the picture to frame the characters a little more and some slight color correction to the whole image and, thar' she blows.
    About the Artist
    I was born in 1984, grew up in northern Virginia, about 35 miles outside of Washington DC, and at the age of six drew a series of "army parrots" on a page of notebook paper. I've been trying to top them ever since. An avid gamer since childhood, I went to college down in Florida where I studied 3D graphics, focusing on modeling. While I still thoroughly enjoy working in 3D, my fairly recent introduction to the world of digital painting about two years ago has rekindled my passion for illustration, and it's been my focus for the last year or so. I moved to Los Angeles in March 2006, and am looking for work doing illustration or concept art of some kind or another. I use Painter IX and Photoshop CS with an Intuos 2 tablet for my 2D work, and Maya when working in 3D.
    Related Links
    View CGPortfolio
    CGTalk ‘MonkeyWrench’ thread
    Download Fullsize Wallpaper - 1280 x 1745px (1.25MB)

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