There are so many beautiful collaborations on Red Bubble.. there should be more of them.
Anyway, I thought I would write a bit about how i collaborate with some of the amazing photographers on this site and maybe share a few tips.
I usually import the photo Im working on into one of my 3D programmes so i can match the lighting perfectly. I am not a photoshop expert so this works better for me. Some use photoshop as the base programme and add their own work from there with brilliant results… I just cant do it that way!
So after I have imported the photo I want to work with, I start character development. Sometimes the photo I am using has already inspired a vision in my head, sometimes I just want to work with a brilliant photo so badly I start with nothing in my head at all.
After creating the character, colouring and texturing it the way that best suits the photo, I start on the lighting. Lighting can make or break a picture.
A 3d programme is like a stage… you have cameras, lighting and a huge area to work on. The character can spin round, walk or be made to talk but obviously the background does not move. I can place the lights anywhere I like on this stage… in front of the character, behind it, above it… just anywhere. I can also use different types of lights, point lights, distant lights… a whole range. I can put ‘filters’ over the lights to make effects and different colours…. the possibilities are endless. How the lights hit and reflect on the characters is something i do while adjusting the colours and textures on the character itself.
So, once the texturing, colouring and lighting are good I will ‘render’ the picture…. this can take an hour or even days, depending on how complicated the lighting and texturing has been set up.
Then the picture is saved and taken to a programme like photoshop or paint shop pro. I use paint shop pro more because I am more familiar with it.
Usually at this stage the picture isnt bad, but it has issues like the character looking a bit ‘stuck on’. This happens whether the picture has been created in a 3D programme or created entirely in a photoshop type of programme.
I generally sharpen the picture at this point, adjust the colouring a bit for a ‘cool’ effect then i cut out pieces from the original photo… rocks, grass water, whatever and tube these pieces up. I will arrange these new pieces of the picture (tubes) on the original picture, usually around the lower part of the character. At this stage I merge all the layers I have made.
Ok so now I have a beautiful photo, a stuck on character, and some stuck on rocks and grass. Its now looking like amateur hour. So, I take the paint programmes’ paintbrush, set it to black and about 17 percent opacity with a ‘darken’ blend mode and I start painting around the edges of the stuck on rocks, grass and lower part of the character with a very fine brush. Then I use the ‘soften’ tool and paint over the edges of the black I have just painted on. I am sure there is an easier way of doing this, but its how I cope with the blending issue! I also paint in some extra shadowing at this stage…mostly around the character so it throws some natural shadows.
When I place a character in a photo, I try and place it where there is natural shadowing so I dont have to paint too many shadows during the postwork phase.
Ok so now the picture is looking more natural. I may use Flaming Pears “glare” or ‘flood’ at this stage, depending on the picture.
Then I may add some premade mist, sparkles or seaspray, depending on the scene I have made and its done!
Hope this is helpful!