Nov 25, 2006

Tutorial: Painting "Mountain's Red Leaves"

Here is the tutorial segment of my Hakkenden "Mountain's Red Leaves" Paint-o-rama contest entry. It describes how I created the wallpaper, step by step. Click on each image thumbnail for the full screenshot.

Step 0: Preparing the Image
I found the scan of Hakkenden from AnimePaper and decided to use it for my wallpaper. However, to make a wallpaper I had to extend the image horizontally to fit the widescreen format. This was achieved in Illustrator, using fairly simple paths to define the shape of the trees, and then applying several effects of roughen and twist at low levels to create the jaggy edges that defined the leaves. The image was then exported to Photoshop at 200% size where some texture was added.

Step 1: Base Layer
I created a new blank canvas in Painter, and then opened my prepped image, setting this as the clone source. With a very large watercolor brush I basically filled the canvas with color. At this stage it wasn't very important to get all the details right - just make sure the canvas is covered. This fills the large areas (like the orange sky and the darkest layer of trees) quickly and easily.
It's useful to have a copy of the original as the top layer in your file, set at a low transparency. Although you can use 'tracing paper' to see a semi-transparent version of your clone file, you don't have any control over it. Having it as a layer means you can show or hide at will, change the transparency levels, etc, so it's easy to see what you're cloning from.

Step 2: Start adding details
Using a smaller brush (half the size of the first brush) I began to more closely define the edges. I don't repaint the entire image, just the edges. Note that in using the watercolor option in Painter you get white halos around the brush. Be sure to have plenty of extra space at your edges, so you can easily remove them with a soft eraser when you are finished.

Step 3: Second verse, same as the first
Continue as before using yet a smaller brush. Also, be sure to lock your previous layers, as it will prevent you from painting over a finished layer.

Step 4: Small enough for details?
When you get down to 8px you can actually define all the details at the edges. In this step I used not only 8px brushes but also 4px and 2px for especially detailed areas (the area around the geisha, and the bridge, for the most part.)

Step 5: Blend it all together
After the watercolor portion is done, you'll want to erase those halos I mentioned earlier. I did that in Photoshop (because I could select the layer's transparency and use a feathered mask on the layer.) Afterwards all of the layers were merged. The canvas was also extended ~50px in all directions and the color cloned at the top. This is because when you use the blender tools in Painter, it pulls an average color of what is beneath your brush - and at the edges of the canvas, it pulls in white, giving you a bad frame effect.
Like before, use a large blender for expediency, and smaller blenders when you're painting around the edges. Below is a typical workflow:
Step 5a: (the before shot)
Here is the edge of a tree, before anything is done.

Step 5b: Blending the edges
First, using a small (6px) blender, define the edges of the tree. Since all the trees have scalloped edges, make sure your brush stroke is in the same type of semi-circle. Also, by going slightly beyond the edge of the tree, you'll pull in the lighter color behind it. This gives the edges a bit of glow and adds depth.

Step 5c: Filling the interior
Using a larger (12px) blender, fill in the rest of the tree. This technique could also be useful in painting clouds, as they have the same scallop edges and lighting emphasis.

After the blending step, there were some final post-production steps in Photoshop - cropping the extra pixels out from step 5, adding a hint of texture to emphasize the painting style, text (a haiku from Issa), and final colors and levels adjustment. Finally, add your signature and post it on your website!

1 new wallpaper (Hakkenden: Mountain's Red Leaves)

1 new wallpaper:
Hakkenden - Mountain's Red Leaves (Painted/Scenic)
I found the scan to be interesting in composition - the simplicity in the trees framing a round bridge with a geisha made a not-so-typical scenic setting, plus the orange-y autumn colors were quite refreshing... [more]

Nov 22, 2006

1 new wallpaper (Brave Story: Gathering Rain)

1 new wallpaper:
Brave Story - Gathering Rain (Vector/Scenic)
I chose the scan for the fantasy elements and because it had reflections. I love reflections, and I liked how the still water reflected like glass. I kept most of the image the same, but chose to have only water and sky (to increase the isolation of the picture and to enhance the idea of space) and decided to go for some larger, more dynamic clouds instead of the cute little fluffy things in the original scan... [more]

Nov 15, 2006

Possibly useful color tool

Found via Google Blogoscoped: an Instant Color Schemes generator which uses a Yahoo image search API to generate color swatches based off of any query -- it analyzes the colors in the image search and returns six colors per image for a total of 5 schemes.
Although the results are rather hit-or-miss ("rain" has several red/orange sets) the sets it generates regardless of query might be useful for getting ideas for color settings in web design or walling if you're feeling stuck. At the very least it might give some thoughtful ideas.

Nov 1, 2006

1 new wallpaper (Mushishi: Mata Itsuka)

1 new wallpaper:
Mushishi - Mata Itsuka (Vexture/Scenic)
The Mushishi walling project continues. This wall started with a simple trace of the ending illustration to Mushishi 26. With the calligraphic brush style I thought I'd make a wall similar to Oyako. Then I thought I'd do some coloring in Painter. Then... [more]