It has been said that ‘Doing stuff makes you hungry’. Oh yes, for I have done stuff, and I have been hungry. But does that mean that the doing of stuffs contributed to my intestinal palpitations? Hmmm ...
For now, we will have to agree to disagree about its relevance. But is the statement that ‘Doing stuff makes you hungry’ backwards? For me, the hunger is for visual communication, and it tends to lead to the doing of stuffs!
Yes, I finally got there—to the point. You need to be hungry, practically starving, for that fix you get from the creative process, in order to be passionate enough to pursue the end goal of making the stuffs.
That passion will have you painting at ungodly hours of the morning, but you will at least enjoy the process, and it’s surely got to be better than watching infomercials. My core passion is for environmental design, and I strive to get a sense of visual depth and storytelling into a painting. The story is absolutely key. Above all else, if you can take someone on a journey to another place or time and capture all that mood/motion and emotion in one frozen glimpse, then that really is something of true power.
I personally feel that the real challenge is to pull the viewer’s eye into the scene. Where the eye goes, the mind will be close behind.
In my younger days, I studied Product Design at Massey, and I found one of my most enjoyable lectures was about ‘future-based design.’ This is the practice of trying to predict what the world might be like in, say, 50 years, then designing the products that consumers might want or need in that time period (the stuffs, man! What cool stuffs do these future people need?).
In many ways, I feel that concept design work for games or film is very similar. Trying to deliver a unique viewpoint or suggest a journey that someone doesn’t even know they want—yet.
The process of delivering “the stuffs” ... Well, my production pipeline has evolved a lot over the years, but one thing still rings true. You need to get a little carried away when you’re painting. For me, it’s imperative to ‘get my swagger on’. So my production pipeline always starts with music—almost too often starting with a bit of Tool, but I am getting counselling for that particular affliction. The actual painting process, well … I don’t want to be getting all preachy, as there are so many different approaches, and mine might not be right for you. So I decided to choose my top two Photoshop tips, for someone just starting out.
Firstly, there is the layer mask. You can achieve powerful results very quickly once you master it. It’s possibly the most useful tool in my own production pipeline. I actually avoided using this method for the longest time, until a colleague made me see the error of my ways. Become one with the mask, you will.
Secondly, I have a very simple thing I do on every image now, regardless of whether it’s a 30-minute speed paint or something I spend 15 hours painting. I call this my “VALUE CHECKER”. I always keep my value checker at the very top of the stack. It is a ‘hue/saturation adjustment layer’ with the saturation set to zero. This has the effect of turning the whole image to greyscale, in a non-destructive manner. Most of the time, this layer is turned off, but occasionally I will toggle it. It gives an immediate reality check about how the values are working together. Often, the mind can get overwhelmed with tonal variations, but greyscale doesn’t lie. It either works or it doesn’t.
… deep gurgling and rumbling sound, somewhat reminiscent of the bog of eternal stench from Labyrinth …
Oh dear, starving again. I really do need to go and do some stuff. Hopefully my meandering thoughts have been somewhat illuminative.
A final thought from me—just enjoy the process … But draw until your fingers bleed!