Hello everyone, I'm Alexander Yazinin and I'm an art director at Katauri Interactive, which has recently been working on "King's Bounty: The Legend" game. The image I'm going to discuss in this article, however, is not part of my job, as you might have already guessed.
I came up with idea of the work as an unusual birthday present for girl which I liked a lot back when we used to go to school as children. After 12 years we happened to become neighbours, and this was a pleasant surprise for me! But it did not stay that way for long; I recently moved to the far side of my country, from native Vladivostok to Kaliningrad (in which the time zones are 8 hours apart). Being so far away from her, I wanted to surprise her with something which I made myself and could easily be sent to her by e-mail.
The main idea for this piece was to convey a slightly altered image of a real person into an old stylised painting, whilst keeping the character recognisable. Unfortunately, the photos that I had of her were very small and of poor quality, but even so I managed to choose a good angle from them.
The first sketch was just to fix the idea and composition; it was simply 3 by 4 centimetres in size and consisted of a few rough lines. Once I had defined the environment in which I wanted to place her, and what composition would be, I started to make the basic composition and work on the tonal values by placing concise spots on the canvas. It was basically a spontaneous process - all done on one layer (Fig.01).
All of the work in the black-and-white stage was done in Painter Classic, which was distributed with my tablet. I used only one round brush, just changing its size and transparency. Almost all of the black-and-white work was completed in just one session - because it was so exciting! Over the following several evenings I finalised details in black-and-white.
One of the tasks in the piece was to stylise the image of the girl to give her a tender and pictorial look, not just another picture made from her photo. For this task, I removed irrelevant realistic anatomical details, made her eyes bigger, added some soft lighting, and blended her in with the environment. My fist priority was her eyes; if they looked slightly odd the image of her would have been ruined! She had to be able to recognise herself in the painting.
The grapes were painted simply from my imagination, and from my idea of how they should look in a painting. For the accuracy of the leaves' shapes, I referred to images, but it was not necessary to make them look realistic - the main point was to make the image in a beautiful, fantasy style environment with a feeling of depth.
I started working on the colours next, in Photoshop. I planned to make the final version desktop sized, so I reduced the greyscale version from 4000 by 3000 pixels to 1280 by 960, and continued working in this resolution.
To add colour I used a large, soft brush and layers with Colour, Softlight and Overlay properties. At first I was just looking for a basic colour theme; I put a cold green colour on top of the entire picture. I then added warm colours in the centre, on the face, and on the leaves with the grapes (Fig.02).
When the basic colours were all in place I started searching for more interesting variations with Hue/Saturation, Replace Colour and Curves (Fig.03).
When I was satisfied, I merged the layers and created new ones - to make the colours even more varied - and worked more closely on the defining parts of the picture. When I was happy with the colours I started adding final details, increasing the complexity of the texture of the face, leaves and grapes using a small brush in Scattering mode. I later added water drops on leaves - and a bug as a final touch (Fig.04).
Thank you for reading. I hope it has been useful!