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Discover the art of scale and perspective

By Juan Pablo Roldan
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 5th August 2014
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Juan Pablo Roldan shares the workflow and techniques behind EL ARCA...

Freelance concept artist Juan Pablo Roldan reveals the processes and techniques involved in creating his image, EL ARCA. In this comprehensive making of, Juan covers each step, from first concept, through painting, lighting and composition, to adding those all-important final touches in post-production

This concept is inspired by the ark concept, translated into a dystopian future. I wanted to recreate a colossal ship that allowed hundreds of thousands of living beings to escape from the chaos by transporting them to a distant safe location. In this making of I want to share with you the development of the ark, going through the entire process step by step and following the techniques that I usually use when creating such an image.

Before starting any concept piece, I always try to imagine and feel the world that I want to create. I think about the historical context, the main character and the mood I desire to transmit. In order to get that sort of information, I usually do deep research into historical events in order to obtain strong arguments that will give my ideas a solid form.

Generally, I have fun exploring new brushes, textures, shapes and strokes; blending them to create chaos. Then I wisely control that mess and begin to head towards the direction that I chose previously. This way I begin to generate interesting reactions in the image, which in turn give me more ideas and permit me to find unexpected shapes that I will refine later on.

A crucial thing that I always keep in mind about the chaos is that I do see what I really want to see, and I try to follow a logical path through to the main idea.

“It is important to work using visual references, especially when we are working on vehicles or robots”

01. Background and silhouette exploration:

In the first step, I established the mood of the image, the initial hue and the focal point. For this piece, I used some brushes that gave me new shapes and then I blended them with some photo textures that I had already carefully chosen.

After having the first background sketch down, I began to define the main characterÂ's silhouette. At that point, I was just looking to find the right volume, shape and perspective of the ship â€" I am not focused on giving detail to it yet.

Establishing the volume, silhouette and perspective of the focal point

02. References and perspective:

One of the most important artists that inspire my work is the master John Harris. What really inspires me is not the technique he employs, but the sensations and feelings that he transmits in each piece. I love the vertigo feeling he transmits in his pieces, especially in the gigantic vehicles.

So, for this project, I started looking for visual references to build my own gallery. I looked for them at It is important to work using visual references, especially when we are working on vehicles or robots.
Generally before starting the design, I set the mood-board with all the visual information I need to apply to the concept. Those references will help me to understand exactly where to situate the elements to give the ship a real and believable structure. For example, if I place the engines and turbines near the crew cabin, it will bring a sensation of danger to the ship design â€" a feeling that I am not looking for.

It was also important to define the vanishing point of the image, as this helped me to place the elements in proportion.

I brought together visual references and set the perspective

03. Extraction:

I then started to add detail to the front view of the ship â€" an area I wanted as the focal point. One important thing to remember was to increase the level of detail, but being careful not to over-detail one region. I had to build the whole vehicle up to keep the balance. When I extracted the key elements from the photos, I also needed to be careful about using regions of the photos that might bring a little realism to the image, in this case the engines of the ship.

Before using the images I needed to set the light and values information of the original image and adapt it to the hue I already had in the image.

To achieve the colossal impression I wanted to transmit with the ark, I had to build a gigantic engine composed of smaller different parts, to give the sensation that it is a huge device that propels the ark in comparison with the small windows and crew cabins.

Adding detail to the focal point by using parts of photographs

04. Environment:

After getting a clear idea of the ark, I wanted to focus on the environment design; the location and space the ship inhabits. First of all, I generated some structure shapes near the ship. Those structures later became the buildings and departures gates. Then I added some metallic materials to bring textural

Metallic textures give the sensation of a polluted and saturated environment

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Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
(ID: 156694, pid: 0) Anwar Gant on Thu, 04 September 2014 6:25pm
Hi Juan, i just had a question about step 6, i'm not sure how you "defined the hues in a separate image." I get how you used the motion blur effect to blend the tones but how did you apply the colors, did you just paint the hues you wanted in a seperate image then used the motion blur tool to create the streaks or did you use a different method? Thanks for your time.
(ID: 156622, pid: 0) Luis Fernando Garcia on Sun, 24 August 2014 2:14am
(ID: 156541, pid: 0) Carlos Andres Ferrero on Tue, 05 August 2014 3:14pm
Master, congratulations, you're the inspiration of many digital artist who believe in the dreams of paint is possible.
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