When I began the first sketches for this painting, I’d already tried several different ideas and scenes and none of them have been solid or satisfying enough to stick with. In fact, I had already skipped the plan to participate in the challenge.
With this in mind, it was much easier for me to make a fresh start without having the pressure to produce something extraordinary. This relaxed approach helped immeasurably.
I doodled around in Photoshop with my Wacom Intuos 2 A3, just painting one layer of color over the other and slowly, when I looked at the foggy shapes, an idea was born out of the randomness. For my personal stuff I love to just work into the blue and see what is growing out of it.
I always start on a simple standard layer, quite dark and dirty so it is much easier to establish the light later in the process. After I had some interesting shapes I started to build a rough black and white sketch over what I thought looks like two orcish creatures, on a new separate layer. The sketch was just to visualize my idea about the roleplaying fantasy creatures.
"After an evening of brainstorming combined with the mighty Austrian beer and booze powers I decided to change the simple concept to an even more simple one: the dirty ores should celebrate a nice and neat tea party!"
Next step was to combine the two layers. I expanded the canvas size horizontal, changed the overall coloring a bit and added first details to motivate myself. At this point I had a very clear vision of where I wanted to go with this scene. I wanted a very classical look, in terms of coloration and mood like an old master's oil painting.
Just when I was happy how my roleplaying orks were coming along, I found out there was already a picture about a bunch of elves doing some real world RPG. So I needed a new idea, I needed it fast and it should have something to do with orks sitting at a table. After an evening of brainstorming combined with the mighty Austrian beer and booze powers I decided to change the simple concept to an even more simple one: the dirty orks should celebrate a nice and neat tea party!
The positive thing was that I didn’t have to change the composition but on the other side it still was a dull idea. To compensate this flaw I wanted to make the scene as believable as possible. Before I began to rework the setting I searched on the internet for some reference material about tea parties and all the fancy little things around it. I extended the canvas a bit more and changed the roleplay accessories into a doilie, tea cloth and a plate. Then I added the orks hand and the cup to see if the composition would work like intended.
So far I’ve only used normal mode layers and round standard brushes, except for the slight use of a texure brush for the tea cloth and the background to make sure things don't get too clean.
I adjusted the colors to a much warmer tone before I started to shape out the first details of the characters. I wanted them as real and believable as possible, so I decided to give them some sort of archaic armors and trinkets.
An important thing was to visualize the scene before my inner eye with as many little details as possible; what are the characters doing, how are they interacting, do they like what they’re doing and so on. This helps to make the gestures and expressions believable and adds at least some character to layout and elements.
Again I only used small standard brushes for the detailing. The trick about the lighting is to use desaturated colors in the dark areas, be careful with the values (for me it is always a huge help to blink my eyes until I can only see some value schemes of my painting!) and the usage of black and most important: always stay true to the direction of your light source!
While I was working on the characters I began to have a better feeling for the scenery and decided to resize the canvas to a square. The surrounding environment should be totally different to the protagonists; the more brutal, archaic and cruel the orks looked, the more cute and charming it had to be. To get some life into the scene I added some cups and a can, some details at the edging of the cloth and the first cuddly toys, but in a very rough manner.
I liked what I saw and so I shaped out and cleaned the scene a bit more. The tribal piercings and the leaf-cothes made some sort of shaman out of the left orc, the right one should be more a warrior type with plate armor and lots of sharp things on it. This makes a perfect antithesis to the cute party guests. To connect the orks better with the scene they needed some sort of interaction like pouring some tea in a cup. With his pinky finger lifted.
Then I added the next step in the lighting process. I played around with the levels of the pic, added some contrast to the scene and adjusted the final light and dark values. I also painted a provisory version of the ork's hand holding the can; as you may notice I’ve only used one value/color for the shadow parts of the fingers, but they look believable already. Choosing the right values for your picture is one of the most essential parts in painting.
The orcs and their toys looked like I had them in mind at this point, but they seemed very lonely. My vision of this painting has been filled with life and colors, so I decided to scale the resolution of the scene down for a faster workflow (never forget to save your hi-res version at this point!).
First I decreased the size of the toys and the table so the orks looked much more impressive. Then I began to block in big shapes of colors around and on the table. I sketched out some creatures around them, always keeping their values dark to focus on the protagonists in the spotlight. Everything that brings the scenery to life is good; from cookies over flowers to kittens.
To make the radial composition complete I needed something in the upper right corner, like the placeholder in the form of the ork's hand.
Happy about how the test turned out, I concentrated all my energy at the very last point in the painting process: the DETAILS. It’s the last step, but to shape out all the fancy little details takes the most time. I always start at the main focal points, when I’m still motivated and full of energy. I moved from one part of the picture to the next and just tried to improve things, step by step. For the porcelain I studied my references at first to learn how it interacts with light and shadow. Maybe you’ll notice the soft orange glow over the table, the cups and the can. I used a layer set to Color Dodge to create it and also to do some of the highlights at the orcs' faces for example. Again, I only used round standard brushes for this final step.
During the finish it is time to mobilize all the creative energy left once again to push the picture to it's full potential. For sure you can’t save a really bad painting if you add ribbons, petals, flowers, scratches, scars, tattoos and I don’t know what else. But these little things can help to make a good painting into a gorgeous one.
About the Artist
My name is Mathias Kollros and I am from Austria. Drawing and painting is my passion since I’m big enough to hold a pencil. I am currently studying Fine Arts at a university here in my home country, and I work as freelance artist. I’ve done nearly everything an illustrator can do. The spectrum of work reaches from cartoons, comics, card and book illustrations. From mascots over to more technical illustrations up to the complete design and painting for music videos of local bands or promotional videos. Lots of fun and very cool way to make a living.
I won a Master Award at the CGChallenge XXI "Strange Behavior" in late 2007 and I was in the jury for this years "Uplift" competition. Both were awesome experiences and a big honor to be part of it. Bringing it all into focus was the Master Award in the Humorous category of EXPOSE 6.