Fig.17 shows the first stages of blocking in colour to the scene and turning off all of the 3D renders. Ugly? Yes, very! Fig.18 shows the same scene with some of the composites turned on. The main thing was to keep the lighting layers on as overlays or colour dodge layers and adjust their values accordingly. The AO pass works best on top as a multiply layer. Experimenting with the composites is the key thing.
Sometimes even images that seem too messed up can give a little chaos if used subtly to break up the flat nature of certain areas.
As the compositing process went on, the original plates tended to start getting in the way of development. I collapsed as much as possible as soon as possible to avoid becoming overly precious about the original 3D. I wanted to add some new design elements, so I couldn't rely on the base renders too much.
At this point, I wanted some input from a pro. I sent the WIP file over to my CG mentor; Jeremy Cook www.2d2cg.com
. Years of experience with Blur and ILM pretty much guarantees you can't go far wrong with his advice! He was not short of great theory to provide me with. He raised some really valid points about how trying to capture the feel of a snapshot in a well lit scene like the JSF pics could be a problem for the image in terms of readability and impact.
He nailed a quick paintover in an evening and sent it back (Fig.19). I loved the dark moodiness of the piece and decided to pull out more contrast and darkness from the original idea of a completely lit scene. With these new suggestions in mind I began adjusting colours and lighting to try and pull the viewers eye directly to the car (Fig.20).