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There’s Something in the Trees #Sketch

Today's sketch from our 2D Designer Gavin O'Donnell is inspired by the work of artist Simon Stalenhag! 

Gavin: For this piece, I wanted to create an image inspired by the work of Simon Stalenhag. I started by doing a few little thumbnail sketches just to get the idea onto paper. Following this, I started my research, gathering images I liked and possible colour palettes to pull from. I've also been doing a lot of winter-themed studies, so I wanted to apply as much of that as I could to one image.

Next, I started collecting free 3d Models from Archive 3D I used these models to build my scene in Blender.

If I can't find a free 3D model,  I'll mock up something myself to replicate the shape I need. For the monster, I used some crude sculpting in ZBrush, just to get a rough shape in place. I wasn't quite sure what it would look like yet.

Once my scene is compiled and I've a rough idea of where my camera will be, I'll export the scene into Octane Render. This is a GPU based render engine that gives incredibly realistic lighting with not too much effort; perfect for what I'm looking for.

I assigned materials to all the different models and exported my scene. I did a full high-res render and a material ID pass also known as a clown pass. This clown pass saves times and makes it much easier for me to separate out the elements in Photoshop to start painting on.

I always want to define my sky first as this determines the light and how the rest of the image will look. To figure out the sky I used a couple of different cloud photos, mixed them together and painted on top like a collage. From here I started working into the forest and building up the monster. For reference, I used creatures from the deep sea. I wanted the monster to be still partly hidden, not to reveal too much. It was tricky to get this feeling of him popping out from the trees, I struggled with it for a while.

The little painter is the main focal point, so I had to make sure there was a strong contrast so it would draw the viewer's eye straight to him. I had to make his silhouette as clear as possible and make sure it was readable.

When I was reasonably happy with this, I moved around the image adding more elements that would help the composition. For example, the trees on the right side enclose the frame, giving a stronger feeling of being trapped.

I finished up the image by adding in some hue shifts in different areas and using the colour balance/levels adjustment layers.


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