Here are the results.
Looks like you want to take another peek behind the curtain, so let’s dive right in.
Working BackwardsYesterday I posted this render to Twitter. I've included some of the replies as I was quite stunned at the positive response it generated.
Seeing this as an opportunity to peel back the skin a bit, I'm going to reconstruct this render to show you the process in taking what at its surface is a vanilla render and making it much more dynamic.I discussed recently some of the sites I use to source art, and as I've been in a funk of late I've been browsing ArtStation just looking for inspiration.
Though I wasn't planning on rendering anything in particular, this art jumped out and I immediately thought "Karrthus".
First thought? Boring. I don’t like it at all. Too much gold, and nothing stands out. Maybe tweaking the frame color to a 3-color gradient and adding some texture and effects to the frame elements and text will help.
Much better. I now see this as standing out from the usual WOTC framing conventions. What use is having a template if all I use it for has already been done? Dropping in the art gives us this:
This works, kind of. The art appears flat and listless for the content, and I’d like to brighten some of the dragon’s facial elements to add some needed contrast. While I’m at it, I’ll add a radial gradient layer above the art and set it to “Vivid Light” to see if that helps the art to really stand out.
|Using the Dodge tool brightens the ares you paint over in varying degrees.|
Here we have what could easily be considered a “final render”. We’ve sufficiently deviated from the norm enough to have folks take notice of this particular piece. To me, that’s simply not enough. At this stage, this is what I would still call a vanilla render. I’ve done very little additional work to get to
this stage, and it therefor is a lazy render. I could easily post this and be done.
But I wan’t more.
I need to stretch my legs and see what else is possible. What else can I do to take this from a render to what some have called “art”?
Looking at the art again, I see the dynamic destruction of the castle and it folds under the weight of the dragon. Maybe the force of the castle finally giving way has sent out a shockwave. How can I change the card to signify its presence? Now that I have the idea of what I want to do, it’s time to bring it out and make it happen.
Warning, there’s some technical Photoshop jargon coming up, so bear with me. First, the template is far too complex to edit that many layers cohesively. Fortunately, Photoshop has made this a very easy task to accomplish. To begin, I turned off the art layer because I just want to edit the frame. By selecting the entire canvas (Ctrl+A on PC) and then copying the contents of every visible layer (Ctrl+Shift+C), I can paste in a new layer (Ctrl+V) just the elements I needed. Once done, I hid the template layers and groups so I would only see this layer.
Now I can turn the art layer back on, and get to work. What I need to do is 3-fold; Warp the frame somehow to show the effect of the wave, add a texture over the frame to show it’s impending destruction, and add a motion element to tie it all together. The warp is actually the easiest because I don’t need to source any other art for it. With the pasted layer selected, use Filter->Distort->Pinch. I went with around 50% to achieve this result.
Nice bulge to the edges of the frame, and more importantly, the text is all still readable. Now for the texture. Searching for “shock wave” yielded this:
The color was not what I wanted, so there was a bit of fiddling to get to the orange/red I was hoping for. What I want to do here is have it just affect the frame, so I paste it into a layer above the frame layer and make it a Clipping Mask. The alternate method involves creating a Layer Mask, but I’m lazy. Playing with the size and position and then the Blending Mode and Transparency I find that this combination gives me what I’m looking for.
Now that I’m almost done, it’s time to add that motion element. This was the most interesting addition for me as it’s appears so simple, yet took the most work to achieve the final result.
I’m going to add motion lines that blur away from the dragon, and are the colors of the destruction. Another jaunt over to GIS and I find this waiting for me;
This will work, with some modification. I could invert it and set the layer to screen to have just white lines, but I want color. And if I overlay a color, the whole layer changes, not just the lines. In the end it was easy enough to fix by using the Magic Wand too. Just click in the white and Cut. Done. Going into the Layer Style from there I added a radial gradient to give it the color I wanted.
A quick Filters->Blur->Gaussian Blur and a transparency tweak from there and voila! A piece now ready for the world.