The concept of this artwork was inspired by the famous movie Bladerunner in which, you can see amazing futuristic cityscapes. I always was fascinated by huge cities with thousand of buildings everywhere. When, I went in New York City last summer for Vacations after the Siggraph Convention in Boston, I decided to go on top of the empire State Building with my digital camera and I took hundreds of photos, from different angles. I finally chose 3 photos from of the West view of Manhattan to do this personal project during the winter season. My first idea was simply to increase the height of the foreground buildings by adding towers and antennas, but as I was working, I switched my mind and decided to add ships, far cities, bridges and new rivers.
I did around 4-5 concept art. Some of these were so quick that I didn't even keep the file on my computer. As I already had my photos and knowing well where I was going, concept stage was very quick and simple. This is the final concept I chose to start my project (Fig.01)
The stitching step allows the artist to create very big image by pasting different photos of the same view into the same file. There are many different software programs that were created for this that I use sometimes, but for this one, I did my stitching in Photoshop because I had too many different expositions and color values from one to another photo. This problem was created because the sun was inside the frame to my camera for the left photos and outside for the right. This unfortunate problem involves many manipulations in Photoshop to give the illusion at the end, that it is only one photo (Fig.02 - 03).
Footage Plate ready to work
After the stitching stage, the image is finally ready. I had to rotate and transform a few of the buildings because of the lens deformation. I did also, rubber stamping in the left lower corner because I didn't have any photos of this specific spot. Because of an exposure issue, I didn't stitch the sky at all because I knew anyway that I will be replacing it with another one (Fig.04).
Defining the sky wasn't a very long step because in this particular case, the sky is going to fill around 20% of the whole image which is not really that big. So I will concentrate my energies on doing the foreground city later instead. The main idea of this sky was of course, to not over-expose it like it was in the photos before and then, it was important to replace the new sun at the same place because all the building are lit in this way and the reflection in the water comes from this position. It would be too crazy to try to change the direction of light on each building (Fig.05)!
Doing the water was also quick. First, I did many selections with the polygonal lasso tool in Photoshop to have straight lines and then I color picked the real water with the brush tool to have the exact values and painted water everywhere according to my concept art (Fig.06).
Most of the bridges in the lower city are painted. The 4 main bridges in the middle ground were done in 3D to increase a bit of realism by adding pillars and vehicles (Fig.07)