Surface Scavenger

Concept Art: Surface Drifter and Quad Roamer

The above image was created using two concepts previously created related to a Mars colonization based IP we’ve been developing. Already in possession of a basic structural design for the character and vehicle (below) made constructing a more detailed image far easier. We were free to focus on the ‘how’ without needing to worry to much about the ‘what’, so to speak.

Mars Surface Scavenger and Quad original sketches.
Mars Surface Scavenger and Quad original sketches.

For those who have followed our blog may remember the ‘Scavenger’ concept as part of a character and costume study we created several months ago.

First, a rough line sketch was created to establish the character’s pose. Several poses were attempted, but we ended up going with the an assertive frontal stance.

Surface Scavenger rough and line sketch.
Surface Scavenger rough and line sketch.

This rough was then traced and refined, adding detail and fixing anatomy and other problems. A quick sketch of the hand implement, imagined as a ‘heat-gun,’ was also created since the object is only eluded to in the original concept sketch. Once the line sketch had a satisfactory level of detail, we moved on to toning the character.

Scavenger character digital painting tone build-up steps.
Scavenger character digital painting tone build-up steps.

A semi-neutral blue-green background was laid down; a cool color was chosen because to contrast and complement the rust and red umber tones Mars we wanted to inform this characters’ costume. Working in Adobe Photoshop provides the advantage of using unordered layers, which enables us to put our first tonal underpaint layer below the line drawing, shown in figure [A] above. We some basic tones blocked-in and the basic outline of figure set, we moved painting tone in on-top of the line drawing [B]. The tonal painting is further developed, perspective slightly adjusted, more attention paid to the ‘heat-gun,’ footwear, and fabric treatment, and the overall contrast increased [C].

Surface Scavenger character painting color-overlay step.
Surface Scavenger character painting color-overlay step.

Utilizing masked adjustment layers within Photoshop, multiple transparent color overpaint is created [above left]. Colloquially, we often refer to this method of black-and-white underpainting followed by a transparent or semi-transparent hue/color layers as the Venetian Method, although the techniques was developed throughout the Northern and Southern European Renaissance.

Once the main color groups are blocked in, direct opaque color is added to further enhance the image [above right]. A bit of atmosphere perspective and smaller details are also added at this stage.

Satisfied with the character, it was time to move on to creating an environment. Much of NASA’s photo image repository is available online and is free to use with minimal conditions. We have often availed ourselves of this wonderful resource and would like to moment to highlight the important mission NASA is undertaking for the ultimate sake of the human species. In the creation of this art, we used several images captured by NASA rovers.

Photo images of Martian surface captured by NASA's Pathfinder, Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers.
Photo images of Martian surface captured by NASA’s Pathfinder, Opportunity, and Curiosity rovers.

First having created a rough digital painting, we composited these images into the below sketchy background, anticipating the vehicle placement to occupy much of the frame.

Martian Surface background rough painting made utilizing photobashing.
Martian Surface background rough painting made utilizing photobashing.

The concept we’ve developed projects a Mars where terraforming remains an ongoing process and has, perhaps, gone horribly awry. Our Mars a misty but unbreathable atmosphere and is adequately pressurized for humans, allowing for narrative and aesthetic potentials the virgin planet might not afford us.

Vehicle digital painting development steps.
Vehicle digital painting development steps.

To create the vehicle, first we roughly blocked in the forms in grey-scale (top-left). Since the original sketch was not rendered in detail, there was an opportunity to further the terrain versatility of the vehicle’s concept by spending time on the wheel design (top-right). During this phase perspective problems were fixed and general color laid in. The image is then additionally detailed and situated in it’s environment through shadowing and atmospheric perspective (above-bottom).

Character, environment, and vehicle composite.
Character, environment, and vehicle composite.

With the vehicle starting to come together, our character was also dropped into the environment. However, the image felt disjointed: the quad vehicle and and character occupying distinct spaces. Happy with the vantage point on the character, we decided to up-scale the vehicle.

Vehicle scale increased and additional texturing added.
Vehicle scale increased and additional texturing added.

Satisfied with composition, we added some additional textures, increased the negative space filled by the sky and darkened the surrounding rocks to make the camouflage of our character and vehicle seem more authentic. After we adjusted the color of the overall image to arrive at the final product.

Concept Art: Surface Drifter and Quad Roamer
Concept Art: Surface Drifter and Quad Roamer

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