Using matte painting to create the clouds may result in 50 or more images being used. Once we’re done with adding the images, we should change the blending mode to Soft light so that it mixes with the color on the layer below or maybe try another blending mode. We can also play with Levels and Curves and the layer opacity to obtain better results. In addition, we must paint over it on a new layer so that we can get an overall coherent result.
Following the grid, the ‘city’ spaceships have to be pointing towards the mothership and being smaller as they’re further. To achieve a good result, we firstly draw the lineart and somehow forget about the previous sketch, which was only to get the mood and general distribution of the elements. Now it’s time to strive for a realistic result. We fill in the lineart with a flat color on a layer below. We can use the Lasso Tool in order to better create an outline. We start adding detail using textured brushes on a layer above.
As for the buildings, we firstly try to create the general shapes. To achieve hard edges and better define geometric surfaces, we have to use the Lasso tool and paint inside the selection we’ve got. We can also use the Polygons tool to create ellipse structures easily. This way, we’re going to achieve the polygons that will form the basic structure of the buildings. Using textured brushes will help us get a nice rough surface feeling. Afterwards, we can add some lights to achieve a futuristic feeling and bring the city alive.
The mothership is the main composition centre, where all the lines converge. That’s because it is the most important element in the whole composition. We should paint it huge, and with lot of detail. Notice the mothership will be further from the rest of the ships, but we will keep it big, and with lots of cities on its surface. We follow the same method as before: lineart, flat color and details.
We have to apply the same method as used in the previous steps. On the upper-left and right corner, we will place some smaller spaceships. Despite being smaller, the police spaceship for instance, looks as if it had the same size as the ‘city’ spaceship due to being closer to the spectator. However, to make clear that the spaceship is smaller in comparison with the ‘city’ spaceships, we will divide the surface in less structures or sections.
To better integrate the different elements, we have to add some sort of halo painting with a soft brush around the spaceships and to the most illuminated part. This allows a realistic mood and avoids a sudden change between the spaceships and the background. Then we can play with blending modes and opacity. We should keep in mind where the light source is placed as well, since spaceship on the left will be placed against the light.
Now the scene looks pretty boring, that’s why we should add some action. In order to achieve that, we will focus on creating a chasing scene on the left. Since the visual weight is focused on the right due to the mothership, we will place the chasing scene on the left. First off, we should place the motion lines where the chasing scene will take place. These motion lines will be completely out from the perspective grid we created before and will have their own rhythm and vanishing point, so that the eye doesn’t get bored when looking at the final artwork.
On the other hand, we should look for some good fighter references. We should try to differentiate the police spaceships from ‘the bad ones’. We can go for a more wavy design rather than a geometric one, as the rest of the spaceships have. We create the lineart, fill it with a flat color on a layer placed underneath and add detail with textured brushes on a layer above. To create the fire, we will mix painting and stock images. We will set the fire images to Screen.
Now we should duplicate the smaller spaceships lots of times and place them all over the painting. This way, we will get a busy mood and bring the whole picture alive. To add more dynamism to the scene, we can also add some more action on the right. We can do that by creating some sort of launching scene, as if several small spaceships were taking off of the mothership. The eye will firstly look at the mothership, since most of the lines are pointing at it, but then will see the chasing scene and this one.
Once we’re done, flatten all the layers and create a new one over your painting. Fill the layer with a neutral grey color and then go to Filters > Add noise > 400%. Once you have applied that effect, you can blur it a bit, then change the settings of the layer to Soft light and bring down the opacity to around 10-20%. You will get a nice grain effect barely visible, but that will add a film-like feeling to the painting.