Sunday, March 27, 2011

WEEKLY TAB COMMENTARY... VIDEO GAME ICONS

Hello there.

I've been up to my ears with work recently so not had chance to post anything of interest. However I've recently joined a Weekly Themed Art Blog to get back in the habit of drawing on a daily basis, even if it is just using my dinner hour at the Day Job, which is also a useful exercise in drawing things I may not otherwise choose. Though I have posted two previous entries, Tron and my own suggestion Dieselpunk, last weeks theme of Video Game Icons was the first one I took progress scans of, so I could do a short commentary of what I wanted to do with the piece and what finally emerged. For the two people reading this blog, this might be mildly diverting for a couple minutes.

 Though I have fond memories of old Atari games, it was Lara Croft that came to mind in terms of iconic gaming status. Many a night spent playing on the PS1 watching her fall to her death with a short scream and a thump. Tomb Raider 3 was a particular favourite back in the late 90's when I was still at uni. So I wanted to do a classic Lara, but at the same time avoid the more well used poses the character is recognised for.

I started with the above thumbnails. I had the initial idea of Lara surrounded by tigers (a situation I vaguely remember from the game) with her Desert Eagles just out of reach. After my researching, I realised this must have been inspired by an old memory of a very similar cover from the Tomb Raider comic. So I instead went with a double gun somersault/dive composition.

I played with the idea of having Lara fend off attack from some dinosaur or monster, while plummeting to certain death in an underground cavern. Relatively happy with the composition, I broke open my reference files and found my old holiday photos from 2008 when we visited Mexico. On a daytrip we went into a cenote, a deep sinkhole, where far more adventurous people than me went swimming or diving. It had the most gorgeous texture to the place, fantastic vegetation, light and water. I remember saying to the wife at that the time how Tomb Raider it looked. Though I couldn't capture the depth of colour or detail in the drawing, it was a very helpful guide.
 
For Lara herself I looked back over the many real life models who have played her, as well as screen captures from the game, previous comicbook versions, cosplayers and fan art, a disturbing number of which seemed to focus on the size of her breasts. While none of them were a direct reference for my Lara, they were useful in deciding what version I wanted to go for.
 
Knowing that the background was going to be tricky I drew the figure and cenote seperately so I could play around with the sizes in photoshop. I wanted Lara to be realistically proportioned, not overly endowed or muscled, just lean and toned. The background itself was very organic, I let the pencil take its own path when drawing the trees, roots and vegetation. I placed a couple of broken statues but didn't want to draw too much attention to them, as I wanted them to be almost indistinguishable from the vegetation that has grown around and over them. One of the things I loved about the games was the exploration of the different locations, and I was tempted to incorporate far more detail of where Lara was falling, but time and a rare moment of common sense pulled me back to what was doable.


While I intended to use my promarkers on this, they all pretty much dried up half way through doing the background, and not being able to get replacements on a sunday afternoon, had to redo the inking from scratch to allow for some photoshop colouring. I used a few custom textures to build up the light source, and added in highlights, printed it back out and went back over it with pens. Again I would have preferred using a fine brush but being without one at home limited me to just building up crosshatching for depth.

Before that though I used the initial scan of the background outline and roughly comped in a smaller version of Lara, to see if it would work. At this point I dropped the monster attack and made Lara the focus of the picture.
 
I fnished off the inking and colouring for Lara herself, then compiled both images together in photoshop, adding a bit more colour here and there to unify it. A bit of tweaking and done.

For more talented people than me be sure to check out the Tab, there are already new posts going up for next weeks theme. Hope you both enjoy them.