Photoshop was the workhorse for the compositing task. This is the part of the project where you can make it or break it. I prefer compositing different kinds of elements over rendering everything. Rendering is where you need to be more technical. Compositing is a much more artistically dependant method, I think. You need to find the way to seamlessly blend everything together, and not just that – everything needs to look nice and be pleasing to the eye. To be able to blend certain layers and areas you must know how to overpaint it.
This is my compositing workflow explained in a couple of steps. First I imported all the rendered dinosaur layers in the PSD file (Fig.26). I then positioned them on the canvas and set the desired canvas proportions. That being done, the fun part began.
Next was the background. A good background can bring up the models; a bad one can tear them down. I used photos from my own libraries, which are getting bigger by each day. I'm an avid photographer and I tend to take my camera with me whenever I can (Fig.27).
I tried a couple of cloud backgrounds for the skies/cloud background. When I was happy I started fixing the cloud photo and painting out whatever I thought didn't fit the image.
The hardest part was the ground. I wanted to achieve the look of a drying lake, or a large river bed. You can clearly see wet patches and streams of water flowing towards bigger puddles. I used a couple of photos for the ground and combined them into one bigger image. Then I used the Clone Stamp tool, Brush Pencil and Color Picker tool to blend in points where two different photos were colliding. The water streams were painted on top of that on two separate layers to increase the blend effect across the ground plane. In the Fig.28 you can see a rough break-down of the entire image.
The dinosaurs' footprints were a fun part. I used my own dino footprints that I created in mud over the course of summer 2011. I put some mud inside a shallow container and let it dry up a bit. Later on I printed different sets of footprints in it using my fingers. Then I photographed them at different times of day and from different angles. These are now invaluable when it comes to dinosaur footprint creation in compositing projects such as this one (Fig.29).
In my compositing process I tend to end up with dozens of layers that, over the course of creation, I merge down to keep the layer count manageable by me and my machine. This is why I save my progress on separate files prior to merging specific layers in case if I want to return to that specific part at a later time. It is pretty easy to get lost in a bigger scale image like this one is. One can easily overlook some parts and notice them days, or in some cases months, after the completion of the piece.
Creating this image was a fun ride (Fig.30). I enjoy moments where I can spend time creating paleo-themed illustrations and models. I hope this Making Of article gave a better understanding of what it takes to make am illustration like Brothers In Blood II. Until next time, take care and be productive!