The painting of 'Tenzeni Port' posed an interesting challenge. I wanted to capture the atmosphere of the old steamships of the Murray River in Australia, transported to the Birrin homeworld. You can read the story behind this painting here.
Following is a walk-through of my painting process as it usually proceeds.
The first stage of any image is often a rough, rapidly produced painting using large photoshop brushes and grayscale only. I leave colors till much later, as at this stage composition is the main concern.
This process of basic, rough grayscale tests can be time consuming. As well as thinking about placement of elements in the image, one must also start to refine the designs of the objects and characters. Here I experimented with a series of aquaduct like overpasses that alowed vehicles to cross large sections of floatforest. As for the ship, I introduced some south-asian influences to the boats roof.
After finding the aquaducts unsuitable, I started to work on the lighting and foreground elements. The trees and pier were conceived to make the scene more intimate and enclosed, as if this is a hidden port somewhere in a vast forest.
Now that I was reasonably happy with the composition of the scene, I mirrored the image. This allows you to spot any potential perspective issues you would not otherwise notice. Unhappy with the level of visual noise in the foreground, I removed some of the trees to open it out, and made the ship taller and more imposing. Dappled light was also added to give the impression of a late afternoon/evening setting.
The composition now complete, I turn the rough painting to 15% transparent, and start tracing over the top of. This allows me to work out all the finer details I need to know as line art, before the painting proper begins.
At this stage I often make a basic 3D model of the main scene elements. This irons out final perspective errors I missed previously. It can be extremely simple.
Further painting, this time on the foreground. The dead trees are reminiscent of those found in flooded artifical lakes on earth. At this stage I imagined the vessel in motion, and gave it a large bow wave.
Detailing of the foreground trees was progressing in this image. I tried to make the bark resemble the eucalypts of the Murray River, while making sure they stayed alien through the concentric rings on the trunks.
The final image.
Any further questions, feel free to ask in the comments below.