Monday, December 27, 2010

Inception: The Big Under comic book cover contest

Over at DeviantArt, they've held a cool contest to design the cover for the digital comic prequel to the movie. While working on my entry, I saved a few images to put together a little work-in-progress presentation.

The sketch to get the composition down, using some movie stills blown up to ridiculous proportions and some cobbled together fake photos to get good heads and bodies together. Saito is the focus of the story so he's nice and big. And Cobb and Nash are the main players so they are featured over movie characters like Arthur, who is less prominent, and Eames, who isn't present at all. The biker was made with the Pen Tool so he'd be very bold and graphic.

Laying in a cool, textured background with a high-res spray paint brush

Saito and the mysterious woman with the gun mostly finished. I've also added the red rising sun with vector shapes. Used a layer mask and the high-red spray paint brush to give it a distressed, grungy feel as it faded away.

Thought I'd skip ahead to the other faces before finishing Saito. A very rough Cobb and a place holder silhouette of Nash. I decided to add some appropriate Japanese text in the background to strengthen the Japanese theme that this cover should convey and to fill a bit of a hole in the composition. The word is 'dreamer'.

At this point Cobb's face is pretty much done. And I go on to Nash's face. I figured it was much more important to allow enough time to nail the likenesses and then I'd get to their clothes at the end. The clothes will come together much quicker as they don't need to be as detailed and look exactly like the references. This is just a couple minutes of quick, sloppy brush work on Nash's face, how all the faces start out early on. And then details are refined as the brush size decreases and the value range is accentuated. The mysterious woman has been refined a bit.

Unfortunately, I have a habit of not keeping track of my progress very well and we have a big jump here to the finished cover. Nash is finished...well, everyone's finished. Tweaks to the levels to make everyone pop more compared to my flatter, less dynamic ranged original drawings. The mysterious woman has her dress fully rendered now. I've added color via a few overlaying layers. Changed the background a little, created a solid white corner at the bottom that seems to deteriorate and fade as we move diagonally to the northeast. And I fiddled with the text in the upper right a bit, I wanted it to be subtle but not non-existent. Noticeable, but not overpowering.

It was a lot of fun to make, I loved Inception so staying motivated was no problem. And the tight deadline forced me to work fast. And this was the first full illustration I've tried to create in Photoshop as opposed to Painter, so I got to try out some nifty brushes and learn a lot about painting in Adobe's environment. I really liked it and look forward to diving into another painting soon.

To close, here are a few detail shots.