The depiction of science fiction scenes includes multi-dimensional display of humanities, environment, historical changes, technological development, and climate. For example, an extremely advanced science fiction base, or facilities and scenes. It can be very empty and silent, or it can be very lively and endless. As for the continuous flow of various holographic projections and light effects, the flow of people driving speeding cars, or the fully automatic assembly line and transportation drones, it needs to be considered in multiple dimensions.
Before you create an illustration, it is best to first conceive the theme or storyline. Here, I will share with you my entire workflow of completing a space war illustration. The whole process is based on my initial idea to design a unique space battleship, which also includes large and small frigates, large interceptor destroyers, aircraft carriers, and battle cruisers. The story I wrote involved a raid, in which a smaller fleet launched a raid on a space mining facility located near the Nebula. With this concept in mind, all transport devices should be designed with heavy armor plating or adequate defensive equipment. I made a clear distinction between the two units, each of which has different characteristics. The main defensive equipment is heavy armor with a slightly cumbersome design that can emit red lasers.
After producing various atmosphere maps, I chose three thumbnails that best represent the atmosphere of the whole theme. Expand the canvas and adjust it to 1800 pixels wide, then fill the entire canvas with the space station image. Then began to integrate the design sketches and atmosphere elements into the composition, and retain a key layer after adjustment. When incorporating sketches or line art into the workflow of digital creation, the quality of the lines is of the utmost importance. Try to clean up and perfect the edges, and then paste the sketch separately onto a new transparent layer. Duplicate this, and set the above copy as a multiply, lock the transparency to perfect the line. I found that the easiest way to make a relatively convincing 3D look is to fill a lighter gray with a darker neutral gray, which will enhance the three-dimensionality.
The hero ship of the two forces is the main part of the illustration. Because there are so many details, it is best to put it in focus. Put it in the middle and face each other in order to show that two forces approach each other’s main ship from different directions. In addition, it is necessary to adjust the image size by half (up to 3600 pixels wide) before adding colors. Most of the space seen by the naked eye is gray with different points of light. The color of nebulae depends on their composition: Alpha Hydrogen (red), Helium Il (blue) and Oxygen II (green). Since 99% of the nebula is gas, 90% of which is hydrogen, so they are mainly red, 1% blue and green elements, depending on the amount and type of ionized gas. Therefore, this allows us to make a trade-off between art and accurate scientific depiction, accurately drawing large swathes of red and orange, and it is also possible to draw pure blue or green nebulae.
The main purpose of the local luminous effect is to integrate the color and type of the nebula into the existing image. Duplicate the nebula to a new layer, set it to overlay or highlight, and adjust the opacity accordingly. Keep a backup copy as we will repeat this process. Now, tile the entire image and use a soft palette to introduce some dark and light. This process is similar to painting a watercolor, where the colors are added through multiple thin washes. Spread your attention evenly on all parts of the canvas, and draw rich details only in the main focal area, so that your illustration will not be too out of place.
There is very little ambient light in space, and all the images you see indoors are the result of hours of exposure. The brightness of stars is extremely small, and all colors are usually difficult to see. So, how can you properly brighten the details and make the battle look more exciting? A realistic painting in the depths of space is likely to be a pitch-black painting with only tiny, fuzzy dots on it. A spaceship is only represented by an outline lacking light. Science fiction artists and even science artists are thinking about how to better clarify these themes. A useful method is to draw a distant nebula in the background and add local lighting, including light from the spacecraft panel, or a laser beam, or even an explosion.
We now need to deal with more colors and lighting. In Painter, you can use lighting options to add general atmosphere and colorful lights. In Photoshop, you can manually fill a gradient layer and set it to linear dodge. By using a very low opacity airbrush, the details are pushed back from the hero ship to the middle ground, blurring some of the details. I also used this opportunity to add more colored light to the explosion and make some overall adjustments to the image. It is best to repeat this step to optimize all key areas.
For the laser and explosion, in Photoshop, use a new layer, hold down the Shift key, apply a stroke on the canvas in brush mode, and use a neutral background color-I choose blue. Next, set your brush as the default hard round brush, set the color dodge, with a smaller diameter, and brush a few times in the middle. This will produce a pillar with a bright core. Apply the free transform tool on this layer and adjust it to form a large, long cylinder, or multiple smaller cylinders. Repeat and rinse around, but don’t overdo it, or it will become messy.
Final adjustment-tile the painting and make the appropriate color grading (of course, according to your own personal preferences). You will find that by using the Laver option mode in Photoshop, this is the easiest to achieve, allowing you to change without causing any unnecessary damage to the underlying layer. Once all the above is done, I just have to choose between realism and romanticism. For comparison, I put these two pictures together for comparison. The realistic light image has a blue filter, but in other respects it is much darker, only sporadic lights and explosions can be seen. But I prefer a romantic atmosphere. When you approach an image, it is as if you can see the full spectrum of colors, both visible and invisible. This allows more greens and blues to be added, which is similar to the impressionist style of outer space painting.
Composition is the key to illustration works. Gary Tonge shared his important advice. Creating an interesting and attractive composition is the key to a painting. When you have spent a lot of time creating the small details and big sections are captured by the viewer, the painting composed of those perfectly integrated elements will attract the viewer. On the contrary, a poorly-compositioned painting can even destroy the subject of a good painting and produce a wrong subjective feeling. Many people may not be able to point out the reason, but the paintings will make people unpleasant, the viewing effect is not good, and ultimately can not withstand excuses.
Every strong composition has a dominant object, or focal point (FP), which provides a fulcrum for the rest of the image. Everything else in the image should be used to complement or frame this element. The focal point can be anything, a skyscraper in the distance, or a small paper cup on the windowsill of a skyscraper overlooking the city. The focus must be well arranged in the picture. There are a few simple ways to place your focus-the rule of thirds and the golden section-but I won’t discuss these in detail here because I like to go beyond these rules and try different layouts while still remaining pleasant Composition. The other elements in the composition should be coordinated with the key elements to strengthen the overall composition. Considering the placement of different elements will bring benefits, increasing the depth, balance and credibility of the final image. “All the elements in a scene seem to belong there” This is very important. For example, make sure that the shapes and structures in the distance are affected by any conditions between them and the audience, or that the structures and objects receive light correctly and cast appropriate shadows. If you do it right, it will greatly optimize the composition. If you make a mistake, it will ruin the entire scene. In a complex composition, it is very useful to increase the cohesion of the edges of the work through the frame, which can help the overall outline of the work to enter the audience’s line of sight and attract their attention. This can be done by subtly bringing shapes into the scene, or using obvious outlines to guide the eyes to the most interesting areas.
These tangents may cause great damage to your viewing of the work and should be avoided. Tangents are lines of independent elements, they are next to each other, causing viewing problems between intersecting shapes. A good example is an overhead wire that crosses directly to a corner of a building. Move the wires up or down so that they intersect the building. This can solve this problem and make this part of the composition look more comfortable. When determining the dominant color in a work, it is important to remember that usually a work can be cool or warm, but it cannot be two at the same time (unless it is essentially two or more images).
There is no problem in using two colors in one work, but one color must dominate, even if only a little bit, just like the dungeon rope bridge work below. Tonal value is an important attribute when creating an interesting color combination. Ideally, you should strike a balance between light, medium and dark tones, using at least some of each. Look for three color values; a large amount of one color value, a medium amount of another color value, and a small amount of the last color value. Create a good balance between these three color values, perhaps 60% dark, 25% midtones and 15% light images, such as the room in the upper right corner of the picture above.
Depth and perspective are very important. The long and narrow background works need a structured and believable depth, using specific perspective cues to draw the eye into the image. These elements can be fences, railway tracks, urban landscapes, or even some tiny things, like a bunch of similarly colored flowers in a field. Even in small-sized still-life works, creating depth is very helpful to maintain the cohesion of the image and help attract the viewer’s attention to the focus. The best composition is to make the viewer look from the inside of the work. The problem of adhesion requires attention. Regarding the tangent, adhesion refers to two shapes that touch each other. The elements in the scene must be separate or overlap each other. The adhesion elements create a weak and coherent shape, which distracts the viewer’s attention and causes pauses in viewing. Either make sure your body shapes completely overlap-or separate them-please don’t stick!
Once the basic shape is in place, light is the most important element in the work for me, so I need to focus on getting the right light in the composition. I break it down into several parts, explaining that it involves creating cohesive lighting elements, thereby enhancing the balance of the composition.
First, choose a location for the main light source (the strongest light)-such as the sun, a window or a street lamp-which will make the depiction of things in the work more convincing and make some interesting shadows more effective. The main light source is the basic part of the composition, even the focal point of the composition. If used well, shadows can have a great effect to strengthen the main shape, integrate objects into the scene, and add additional frames to the composition—for example, from the dock structure in the upper half of the work to the lower half of the work. Shadows on the promenade. The important thing is that the shadow depends heavily on the location of the initial light source.
The secondary light source and the third light source are important factors for the final composition balance. The secondary light source can simply be diffuse or sharp light reflected from the surface illuminated by the primary light source, or attenuated lights, including street lights and car headlights—even a light source that is almost as strong as the primary light source. The use of secondary light sources increases the details and position of elements in the scene. The depth and shadow of the atmosphere are very important in the light source component-in a huge perspective, the air between the foreground and the horizon needs to change tonal contrast, or in a small area, the light diffuses through the particles in the air And subtle color changes (you can see in the room). Photon reflection also relatively increases the diffuse light generated by the atmosphere, and the illuminated object is bathed in soft reflected light.
Well-designed materials in the scene are very important to keep the composition balanced. It is important to realize how to use highly reflective or shiny surfaces to attract the viewer’s eyes and let them see the corresponding area in the work. In this work, I used a lot of reflective surfaces and used their high-impact characteristics to attract viewers, not just attracted by the spacecraft. I also take care to ensure that they do not exceed the focus, but strengthen the focus. In addition, clever use of dull and dim textures can help create completely different scenes.
In a pleasing work, it is important to use the elements in the work to attract the viewer’s attention. You can guide your eyes into the work in many ways, such as an old fence or road extending far away, or like the illustration in the lower left corner of the above picture, a huge red building pierces the sky and moves from the upper left corner to the center. The end result is that the viewer’s gaze will follow the arch to the end, when they have already seen the center of the work. Once the viewer’s gaze enters the work, it is important to capture their attention. Similarly, in this work, you can see that the line of sight along the arch is controlled by the city, with the landscape on the left and the nearby buildings on the right.
Epic large vision works are usually either dramatic or very calm. Creating a dramatic feeling for the work requires combining some basic composition rules to emphasize the depth, proportion, dynamics or static of the projected subject. The huge arched structure of this work sits above the viewer’s head, skimming over the clouds, and then falling into the distance to show how big it is compared to the relatively small traditional skyscrapers near the ground. The balance of the composition requires some practice, especially when your focal point is a spectacular or dynamic shape that controls most of the image space. I balance this work by using many smaller buildings, the disappearing landscape on the left and the additional clouds that are very important for the softened shape near the top of the frame. These elements combine to keep the focal point in harmony with the rest of the scene.
Complicated images show highly different shapes and sizes, and need to refer to some real life so that the viewer can understand the actual scale of the subject of a work. In the work on the right side of the picture above, I used a lot of characters, some close and some far away, to show the incredible scale of the spacecraft and the pier. As long as there is continuity in the scene, you can avoid endless zooming.
Create eye-catching environments and learn with Mike McCain how to use perspective, depth, and scene composition to create an eye-catching sci-fi environment.
I rarely start painting without any idea in my mind, but more often, I have at least a rough concept in my mind. Before opening Photoshop, I know that we want to show some truly eye-catching scenery. So I had this idea, a huge wall several miles high. We are on the edge of a country completely surrounded by walls. This border point is the only entry and exit point in this country. This wall is very old and has been slowly built from generation to generation. Because this was the only entrance, the entire city prospered along the top and sides of the city wall. My goal is to give the audience a sense of grand scale by adding as much perspective and level of detail as possible. First of all, I found a lot of reference materials and inspiration from books and the Internet. In this case, the image reference we are looking for must be old, industrial and large-scale urban. A good reference can immerse me in the emotion of creation and inspire new ideas in my work.
After confirming the sketch or atmosphere diagram, now we need some confirmation of perspective and structure. Create a new layer, then open the filter menu and select the Vanishing Point filter. Draw a plane to define the top of the wall, select the Create Plane tool again, and click-drag from the edge selector of the first plane to create a vertical surface (the surface of the wall). Once I adjusted these to my liking, I pulled another vertical surface towards the ground.
It is important to use color early. I start a new layer and set the blending mode to color. I want this wall to look worn and rough, so I used soft brown and orange, and mixed some pink to create a contrast, giving people a slightly unfamiliar feeling. Maintain atmospheric perspective-distant scenes will be saturated with lower contrast. Layers are useful, but using too much may lose cohesion. Because the foreground spaceship is clearly separated in space, I put the foreground spaceship on a separate layer. Later, details and textures were added to the surface of the wall, and a new layer was created for the wall. This will allow me to color the wall surface and render it separately. I started to darken part of the wall surface, where its coating disappeared, and the frame underneath was visible.
I wanted to make the design of the ship contrast with the flat industrial building on the wall, so I kept the organic shape and asymmetry of the main ship. Create a layer, set the color dodge, and add some engine track effects. I also created new boats on separate layers to make it easier to move them when needed. Re-examining the composition of the work, I zoomed out and evaluated my work again. Now that the spacecraft has been determined, the scene feels too open. I will add another boat in the corner to keep the audience’s eyes in the work.
In the later stages of painting, I like to switch between different elements frequently. This helps me stay focused and not stay at any point for too long. Now I will return to the wall and add details to further expand its sense of scale. I flipped the image horizontally to give a new perspective, then introduced some bright orange, and used a simple custom brush to paint the uneven board, giving the wall a shaky feeling. We are close to the goal, but when I shrink the work, I still feel a little dissatisfied. The defensive shield feels flat, I will fix it with a soft green gradient. Green gives it a flickering effect and reflects the yellow of the ground. I also recolored part of the defensive shield to make the color more accurate, because excessive atmospheric perspective will lead to the ground plane. The brightness of the ground will distract the eyes, so I use another gradient to darken and reduce the saturation.
Problems on the ground are still bothering me. I removed the dark gradient I added earlier and cast some subtle shadows on the ground to break the brightness. Go back to the adjustment layer and adjust the level and color again. I am now more satisfied with the balance of this painting. For fun, I paste some abstract circles on the edge color dodge layer to add more visual interest. Starting from the walls, I added light patterns and defined some buildings and scaffolding on the top and sides. I also put some apertures on the ground plane—similar to the feel of a crop circle.
There are still a few final adjustments to be made. I painted some extra orange for the wall so that the bright orange of the wall is not so linear, and added some texture to the wing on the lower left. Knowing when to announce the completion of a painting is an art form in itself. In this scene, I can continue to add more details, but I don’t want to risk overdoing it. I think I have made a good balance between detail and abstraction, and most importantly, it feels like I have created the scene in my mind. I hope this teaching will help portray interesting and dramatic environments.
Use sci-fi art to depict the unknown charm-characters
Source: Zulong Entertainment Art Center