Everything is going pretty well so far but we don’t like the blue from the sky. Something about it clashes with the main shade of brown we have used on our vehicle. Using the Color Balance options, we push the reds, until the vehicle looks better suited to the background. We also feel this adjustment lifts the mood of the image.
Next we start to think about the look for the air tanks and how they fit in with this vehicle. Begin defining the shape and rough look with the wing. At this stage, the tanks aren’t working very well – they could just as easily be missiles! We’ll come back to this. When things are not working smoothly, it’s always better to move on to other areas. This is part of the problem solving process that concept artists face all of the time.
As we mentioned, the focal point of this image is the front of this vehicle. Using photo texturing, we start establishing the front side. We want those lights to be very eye-catching and paint in details to blend well with the side. We like the gold but, at the same time, we don’t push it so much that it steals the limelight from the whole design.
Continue to work on the front of the steampunk ship. We add the gears onto the hood and then start thinking about what to do with the wedge that’s sticking out like a beak. For the gears on the hood, we crop out a part from a photo and apply the Distort tool. Next we correct perspective and finish by painting over the details to make them fit in with the rest of the image.
The vehicle still isn’t quite fitting into the background as well as it could. A major reason for this is the vehicle’s sharp edges, which make the image look like a cutout. Another issue is that there are not enough reflective lights on the vehicle. Using the Clipping Mask tool, we mask off the vehicle from the background and add yellow/pink lights toward the rear of the ship and the wings. At the same time, we soften up the edges in the same area.
It’s time to return to the air tanks and wings, which weren’t quite working in Step 11. Back in Step 2, we thought about ‘a complex system of tubes and compressed air to power the vehicle’ and we’ll use this thinking to get back on the right track. We try to make the engine look very scientific and complicated, including multiple gauges and metallic rings. Also they’re being held in place by leather straps, which indicates that they’re not weapons, but rather some kind of device which can be easily replaced like air tanks used in diving.
We easily could have made this vehicle without a figure or pretend hat the pilot is hidden somewhere in the ship, but sometimes a scene demands a character. A figure can really bring that element of life to your image, as well as create the story. Depending on who’s driving this vehicle, the audience can imagine all kinds of stories behind this scene. As we detail the windshield with gold texture, we start thinking about who the owner of the airship could be…
As this ship looks very rusty and aged, we think adding an older character as a driver might work well. Expanding on the concept of this scene, we can imagine this ship has been the love of this man’s life for many years and he still enjoys riding it. We also put an emblem on the front wedge to make the vehicle look more personalised, as well as some holes on the side panels. It’s simple touches like this that really add character to the vehicle and the artwork as a whole.
Okay, we’re nearly there! We add more gold over the engine part for emphasis and refine the ships in the background. To give more contrast between our vehicle and the background, we soften up the ground and take out the dark values to eliminate any harsh contrast. And there we have it – a dynamic steampunk concept vehicle with an evocative backstory.