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    This summer when ‘Transformers’ hit the big screen, it soon raised up the heat in theaters all over the world. I went to see the film many times particularly for this artwork, in order to get a more vivid feel of the scene, as well as searching for ideas. It is very crucial for a creator to foresee the image in his own mind, and knowing if it would make a good artwork or not.

    I wanted to create a scene filled with tension and drama, just like those magnificent stills from the film. Originally I was invited to do this for a magazine in China, afterwards I did some adjustments to the artwork and that is what you see now.

    By starting to plan the work, I want an explosive dueling scene that would draw audiences into the work. First I started a sketch, designing actions. Because the first design of poses were not very good, I decided to redesign the composition and poses, as well as buildings. I wanted to bring in architecture that has a traditional feeling, something like a museum, in order to emphasize the contrast between high tech machines and classical images.

    In the film, Megatron is pictured as the destroyer, and Optimus Prime as the protector. Therefore, if Optimus Prime is placed closer to the camera defense the attack, it would create the feeling of “being protected” for the audiences.

    I was imagining: Megatron dashes out from the explosion, lunging at Optimus Prime with a crackdown. Optimus Prime is prepared for the attack; he raises his fist, slides forward, shaking the ground with burning flakes, ready to give Megatron a death blow. The aim of this composition is to create a complete frame filled with drama and action.

    To enhance the tension of the scene, I chose a radial composition that was similar to the basic perspective. The whole composition would look like an explosion itself, or an extending radiation.

    It took me a long time to consider the color of the sky, and it also went through a lot of changes. Originally it was sky blue. However after many adjustments, the color of the sky is now closer to yellow, which makes the whole tone of the picture more unified.

    I had tried to increase the brightness/contrast of the whole picture, the lights would perform better. The reflections from every object, would also influence the light and color. Therefore deciding the color should take the whole environment into consideration. Below are the progressions of the entire picture.

    I first polished up the sketch a little bit, and then painted on the base color with brush under brush mode “color”. This was to create the basic tone of the color.

    Then I added more details to Prime, as well as the building on the right side. I worked on the flakes under Prime's feet – be sure to pay attention to the reflections on the feet. I increased the brightness and contrast of the building on the right side, in order to enhance the lightness. All the building were basically done; I painted the explosion, the buildings in the far background and the sky were also dyed with color of the flame.
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  • To add more texture to the picture, I added many brush strokes, more like a foggy or dusty kind of stroke. This thickened the feeling of the battlefield, also made the perspective seem more distant. The center of attention should be more in the middle of the picture, so I moved Prime and Megatron a little to the right. Then again, I increased the contrast of the whole picture, to strengthen the brightness.

    The biggest problem I came across with Optimus Prime was handling his appearance and comparing my design to the originals. It was a difficult job to make sure Prime's parts were true to his original design. I did a lot of research on the Internet; some were public still photographs from the film, and some were character designs for promotional use. But these sources were all done in various stages, so there were a lot of differences. For instance, Prime's head and arms already had many different versions; I had to pick the most suitable one that would look good from the angle I designed, and of course added some further decorations. So Prime's arm went through many adjustments before it was completed.

    I took two pictures for comparison, the left one was before and the right one was after. Originally Prime was not as eye catching as I wanted him to be, and that really bothered me, there were a lot more problems needing to be solved:

    First was the look. Prime's outline was definitely the key point, it would determine whether he looks like Prime or not. His waist and thigh on the left side are thicker. His broad shoulders thin waist, the curves of his thigh, these are also need to be indicated. His ears seemed a little short, so in the right picture I did some adjustments, which became closer to the original design.

    Secondly was the design of light and shadow, the shadow has to effectively push the main character out from the background. I purposely painted a white highlight on Prime's left side, not only giving him a more 3-dimensional look, but also adding the metal tone to it. Also pay attention to the reflection under the feet, which is another key point. The head was too dark before, so I increased the brightness, also brought in the light of the flame from explosion to add more contrast, making his head more noticeable. the glass on Prime's chest should have a more brighter reflect, and I emphasized the contrast more on the chest, giving it a better perspective.

    When working on the details, I used very small brush from the scratches on the metals. Adding stains would also make objects more realistic. And by filling objects with brush strokes would enrich the picture, also catches audiences' attention. Usually default brushes would be enough for me. On the flakes part, except using small brush for the jumping sparks, I would also use brushes that have many tiny dots to give it a spurting feeling in motion.

    In order to make the scene more tense and stressing, in the end I changed the shape of the explosion, as well as Megatron's pose. He is now looking more like jetting out of the flames, making him and the explosion more related. On the lighting and shadow parts, I strengthened the reflection from the flame on the left building, making them both carry the color of the environment, so that the whole tone became more consistent. Compared to before, the saturation was also brought up more in all. Now it is completed, and thank you all for viewing.

    My name is Alon (阿龍) Chou, I am from Taiwan. I graduated from National Taiwan University of Arts, I worked in a game studio, mainly working on low-poly 3D modeling. Since I was still very attached to 2D illustration, I decided to leave the job and focus on drawing as a 2D artist. I am now working as a freelancer, and I do illustrations, character designs and scenery designs for games and animation films.

    Drawing to me is like a single frame of a movie, it is dramatic, and should be something simple and easy to understand without difficult theories. A drawing should be a complete presentation of plot, emotion, the interaction, background, the space relation, the lights and shadows, the atmosphere, etc. I would like to include all these elements into my drawings, and make it better.

    I am glad for sharing my thoughts here. I hope you like the presentation. Thank you everybody!

    Alon Chou
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