These photographs were used in conjunction with all kinds of blending modes inside of Photoshop. Fig.14 shows some "before and after" shots to demonstrate the amount of impact the texture detail had on the final image.
After the forms and color were described properly, it was time for the lighting. The goal was to emulate the lighting used on a head study I'd done earlier, which I felt was very successful. As you can see in Fig.15, I experimented a lot with smoke, light, hue and overall lightness and contrast. In addition to that there were also experiments with other things such as the glow of the crystals, light emitting from the lamp and even some lightning to show off his magical capabilities. In the end I realized that subtlety was the key.
After the lighting was finished, I used the Liquefy tool to fix any weird proportions I noticed during the creation of the image. It was not efficient to do this earlier because it would have made my entire library of layer masks useless. So in order to keep working efficiently this step was postponed until the end.
Now the power of 600dpi really came into play. The Liquefy tool created some distortion, but because the image is never viewed bigger than 50%, this distortion will never be noticed. And if downscaled, the image's distortion will be free. The only downside of working with such a large file is the big memory consumption and the occasional lag.
Something that needed to be addressed earlier was the feet of the character, as they seemed a bit awkward. I used the Liquefy tool to correct a lot of the problems, which meant existing work could be reused instead of thrown away. A render of the leg and foot with a special texture and various paint-overs was used to find the correct shape. After that it was just a matter of liquefying the image and repainting the shading (Fig.16).
Fig.17 shows the resulting final image. This image will be the main image used as reference during the modeling of this character. As I said at the start, the goal was not to create a beautiful piece of art, but to create something that can be referenced throughout the modeling process as a form of reference and inspiration.
Overview of Sketches and Other Images
The sketches and images made during this process are presented in chronological order. Notice that after the final image, many more sketches were made. These were sketches of small details that were quickly drawn-out on paper while working on the 3D model. It is a lot more efficient to try out variations on paper, then to model multiple variations and choose in 3D (Fig.18).
To see more by Arno Schmitz, check out Prime - The Definitive Digital Art Collection