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Experiment with brushes

By Ferdinand D. Ladera
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 6th October 2014
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Ferdinand D. Ladera shares the process of how his painting Monster Raid materialized, demonstrating how experimenting with brushes can result in new, unexpected ideas!


In this article I will show you the process of how my painting: Monster Raid painting came to be. Most of my paintings are not planned; I usually just paint what comes to mind as I play around with the brushes. Most of my scenes are landscape based, but it will usually take me a while before I think of an interesting scene. I find landscapes calming as they give me a sense of peace while I create different sceneries that trigger different emotions, plus they’re fun to make.

My greatest inspirations are classical arts from the great masters like Peter Paul Rubens. His dynamic composition and lighting inspires me. I applied that technique in my Monster Raid image and it only took a little time to establish my color and lighting schemes. I used Photoshop in this image as it has been my primary tool since I began digital painting.

Step 01: Inspiration and studies

I’m very interested in landscape illustration - that's why most of my pieces are mountains, trees and rivers. I usually don’t know what to paint or draw when I start on a piece, but with each stroke that I make, I create random shapes and experiment and play with the different brush strokes until some interesting forms appear.

Before I started on those studies though, I looked up some landscape reference images. My favorite landscape to paint is Iceland, because of their fascinating and amazing unique land formations. I have lots of photo references in my computer and I also took my own photographs as well. I’ve traveled to a lot of different places here in my country just to take pictures of the landscape.

I say this because this is really important as an artist to explore your own world and to have a good visual library in your mind. You will speed up your process, be more productive and at the same time will enhance your artistic skills and produce high quality original images.

Concept studies to capture the look and feel of the scene I want to create

Step 02: The final idea

Having gathered a series of sketches on the scene I wanted to create, I then combined all of the studies that I made to indicate the direction I wanted my art to go in.

I always start with grayscale so that I can read the values properly and so that I can see the distances between each element more clearly. Atmospheric perspective should be considered when creating landscape so that it looks more real when you view the whole scene.

I also used photo textures here so that it was easier for me to visualize the textures that I wanted to achieve. Then I just painted over the textures to make it look more like a painting.

Gathering all ideas into one clear image to begin painting

Step 03: Main Concept

I didn’t mean to put in a giant octopus - all I wanted was a fantasy landscape that had a dark feel to it. As I said earlier, I don’t plan my paintings from the start, whatever comes to mind at the moment, is what I include on the piece.

So it was a giant octopus creature that invaded my head while painting, and so that is what I painted. I thought to myself; why not feature a giant creature? It would be something new that will stand out from most of my landscape paintings. So I just continued painting it and used it as my main concept.

Here I used the giant octopus as a test and it turned out well - the size pretty much worked in terms of the entire frame. Here you can see the three point perspective I used. Perspective is where you measure the right distances between each element and its relevant proportions â€" it’s more important when making landscape environments.

Creating a giant octopus added interest to the scene

Step 04: Adding a story

While I was painting this scene, I was thinking that there would be a small peaceful town that would be attacked by a giant creature. So after adding the creature, I thought of adding some buildings or houses so it looked like the creature was about to destroy them. Here in this step, I put more details on the creature and added splash effects.

Adding small building created a narrative

Step 05: Details

Next, I drew in some more buildings on top of the rock formations and added some more details. The photo references you see here were taken from

I also added ruined ships in the foreground to create more depth so that the scene would be more dramatic as a whole.

Adding more details using photo references

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