Full steam ahead!

Post written by Rado Žilinský. See his work HERE.

I’ve met Peter and Barbora for the first time when I wanted to create making of video for one of my own projects. We understood each other from the beginning and we’ve been of one mind so thanks to it, our first project went well. During that time we’ve been talking a lot about their big project, which they were preparing. As you probably know now, it was Heart of a Tower – a unique Slovak project for me. They let me read the script and I really liked it – the style, the setting and also the story.

Based on that, I decided it would be nice to contribute by my piece. They agreed and I chose to work on art design of the Steam-boat, where part of the story takes place. I’m glad that I could also write this blog, because sometimes it seems most of the people think, that the work of us – the artists – is easy. That the ideas just pop out of our minds and than than we are just putting it on the paper. Often, they don’t realize how much work and preparation could hide behind such art design.

That’s why I decided to show you the process of creation briefly. But don’t worry; it’s mainly about the pictures. It could be enough to go through them to understand it. But if you’ll be interested in anything more, or it won’t be obvious from the picture, the explanation will be on hand in the text.

  1. If you’re not Oliviero Toscani, who simply come and knows, you can’t avoid the preparations. When I’m about to design anything, in this case the steam-boat, I have to gather a material at first. This time I was looking for old and/or historical pictures of different boats and also illustrations of other artists. This part could be simply called by one phrase – Steal like an artist.

2. Although I like to draw by hand, this time I used slightly different approach. I made the basic sketch right in the 3D program. It was easier for me to work with things like scale or approximate height of the floors this way. The steam-boat is pretty technical stuff, which was also one of the reasons for my decision. Everything that followed after was easily made in Photoshop.

3. As you can see on the following pictures, it was rather easy for me to move from 2D sketches straight to the 3D. Here we were looking for the right proportions of the boat. 3D is great for it (you can also have a look how does the boat look from the other angles – HERE). This is the phase, when you start to have much better idea about how will the final picture looks like. We were thinking about if there’s enough place for the whole crew of the boat or if there are all the places for the specific scenes from the film. Here, it’s very important to talk about the unfinished work step by step. It could be real bummer if I’d secretly do it my way almost to the final stage. Feedback, that would come after, could be much more extensive and terrifying than it was.


4. Anyway there’s always some feedback. Actually, life of an artist is the feedback hell:) Sometimes, the clients are torturing us by a complicated feedback, but in fact they just want to tell us that we have to make it completely different (but to be honest, this is mainly the case of the artists, which are usually keeping their progress secret, or they’re not answering their phones). I believe it’s not my case:)

5. So, when you survive few feedback rounds and your mental health is still strong, you can move to the final render in 3D program. Render is something like the final picture, where the camera angle, lights and main materials are set up. Then you can move to Photoshop, to add all the details, textures this time only in 2D space.

6. And then… finally… Here you can see, which parts I’ve been doing only in Photoshop. I added different textures, some “dirt”, irregularities, also the background, overall colours and lot of other small details.

To get to this final artwork took about one month.

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