Mific (mific) wrote,
Mific
mific

WIP Breakdown: Carnival of Rust, by mific

This is for Carnival of Rust, recently posted. I haven't done one of these before, but I like DVD commentaries and when other artists explain how and why they made an artwork, and besides, it's actually possible with this one as the process wasn't that complex and didn't result in an embarrassingly huge number of layers resulting from me copying and pasting randomly and obsessing about details. This is also a way to give the image credits, and some of the sources are pretty interesting. It's detailed and image-heavy, so under we go...

This artwork evolved from an unclear notion of Sheppard (yeah I know, Sheppard again *hangs head*) getting a tattoo or displaying one, from the sga_saturday prompt. Trawling around the net for inspiration and photo references led me to realise most of the pics of guys with tatts weren't going to work because they were generally shaven and bulked up - totally not right for Shep. Then I found this pic:



It's by Diane Arbus, one of my favourite photographers (if you like unusual and disturbing photos, she's for you). I've got her book and I remembered the photo as soon as I stumbled on it. It was taken in 1970 and I like the idiosyncratic nature of the tatts. I almost skimmed past it because the guy in the pic's way older and a lot less attractive than Shep, but he had a not dissimilar torso in terms of hairiness and degree of buffness. Also, I like that he's real, a real character from the midway, and the wings on his chest were a gift. I think it was partly him dating from the 1970s that made the pic so evocative of Bradbury and "The Illustrated Man" movie for people - modern tatts don't look like this.

I deleted the background and made his torso taller, narrowing the waist area a bit using "free transform" and "perspective transform" in my old Photoshop v5.0. Then I made it sepia by adjusting colour balance, adding red and yellow tones. 

I wanted just the right head-shot  - serious, not smirking or dorky.  Searched on 'Joe Flanigan', aiming for an older, scruffier look *g*. Trawling through google, I eventually found this one, and knew straight away it was perfect - lots of beard shadow. It's by John Russo, I've just discovered. 



John's face added, I made it sepia to match and obsessed about The Hair more than usual.    So now I had this:
    but I wanted a more painterly effect so I used photoshop to "watercolor" it. 

Which got me this.



Not sure if it's my old version, but I find "watercolor" is a fairly blunt instrument - always goes darker and less clear than I'd like. What I've learned to do is to layer the watercolour version onto the 'straight' one, then make the watercolour layer more and more transparent until the effect's how I want it. Which got me this:
  Okay.  So now for the background.

I remembered a series of 75 amazing shots of the derelict and flooded Six Flags amusement park after Hurricane Katrina - thank you, www.stumbleupon.com. There were loads of possibilities (with Ferris wheels) and I tried several, but eventually settled on part of the very last one.




It's by by Keri Nash Watson and I "watercoloured" it and altered the colour-balance in photoshop using "adjust hue". I also used part of a ride from the first in the series, this one, by lostlosangeles. Had to really push the contrast to get rid of the sky and get it silhouetted. 



And that's most of it, other than hours of messing about with fine details during all of that, and some adjustment of the flooded area and its reflections to better set off Sheppard's torso and give it depth. 

Finally, his eyes. "Watercolour" had left them too shaded and I didn't want to lose the detail of the original image, so I erased the eye-areas in the watercolour layer then selected just the eyes in the "straight" version and pushed the contrast a bit so they stood out more. Means they're brighter and lighter than the final layered version, which is why they're intense. The final version:

sheppard, tattooed, before a ferris wheel and carnival - sepia
click for full size


In my head while I was making the pic he was maybe the ghost of the carnival, and I experimented with making both Shep layers semi-transparent and leaving his eyes as blank spaces. A nice spooky effect but in the end I went for something less extreme and found the name from a song I like, which worked for me because of the derelict Six Flags aspect. Everyone's been really kind with feedback about this pic and I'm pretty happy with it, though it's messed me up for sga_scare as it's better than the one I was doing for that so I'm rethinking that one now.  *eyeroll* 

I hope parts of this were interesting, despite the tl;dr! 

Tags: art wip breakdown, carnival, fanart, john sheppard, stargate atlantis, tattoos
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