|CGNetworks Feature :: Reader Project|
The Making of ‘Three Samurai on Horseback'
Bobby Chiu, 17 August 2005
|The Three Samurai on Horseback is like an old samurai martial arts film mixed with The Three Stooges. I love how the old black and white comedies like ‘The Three Stooges' had a humor that was universally understood. I wanted to portray that same kind of humor through the simple shapes and silhouettes of the three samurai. |
Fat samurai are funny, since we think of samurais as being athletic and fit, rather than being out-of-shape and overweight. How can we make him funnier? Put him on a skinny horse. Then add a really skinny samurai opposite of him. The two make a great contrast. And to push this humor even further—add a very serious, “leader-type” character between the two funny characters.
I began with a simple thumbnail of shapes and started designing the characters with these initial shapes as guidelines. I used a black-point pen to draw them out. My favorite pen to draw with is a Fisher Space-pen because it produces a nice quality in lines and consistency of ink.
I intended to reflect a different personality to each of the characters, including the horses. Each samurai bares similar personalities and characteristics with the horses. The middle horse and rider are both cunning leaders of the group; the big horse and the fat samurai are strong and dopey; and the skinny horse and samurai look sneaky. It became more humorous when I switched the fat and skinny horses around - so that the fat guy would ride the skinny horse, and the skinny guy on the fat horse. When I was ready to paint, I chose a dark blue background to set up a foggy and mysterious type of atmosphere that produced a look of both fantasy and reality.
|I wanted them to look like they are deep in the forest, perhaps somewhere few traveled - that they're on some great journey. One of my first steps when painting characters is blocking in their initial shapes. I chose a blue-ish tone that would match the background nicely. Next, I added a pass of fog and dust. I used a soft brush in Photoshop with the opacity turned to 100% and the flow down to 5%. |
This way the fog can be very thick while still retaining a transparent effect. When I started exploring how the characters were to be lit, I worked with Painter 8. I used the oil paint brushes to get some texture in the under painting while considering all the technical aspects of lighting each character that my drawing did not show or that I have not completely planned yet. I chose dark colors so I wouldn't feel the need to commit too much to my initial pass.
As I explored further, I started to see where I wanted to go with the piece and in doing so, I applied lighter and richer tones over top of the underlying painting, making the characters emerge from the darkness.
Working on three characters simultaneously has helped me in keeping all the characters consistent with each other. But sometimes, when I really “feel it”, I tend to just keep going on one character for a long time to keep ideas flowing as they come to me.