I started blocking in different shades of brown and grey in a brick pattern around the tower to break up the solidity of it. As I said, I was always meaning for the tower to look old and stone-built. I lit up the doorways to the tower so it seemed more “lived in”, like perhaps a caretaker was busy inside cooking or sitting in front of a nice, warm fire. I also added a small drawbridge as a feasible way for any balloon pilot that might need to dock to enter for the night, or to make repairs to his balloon safely. Most of the warm glowing areas, such as the light and the doorways, were simply a soft-edged brush on a colour burn setting so that the colours beneath helped out the glowing a little more (Fig.10).
The balloon itself was very much inspired by the Steampunk genre. I wanted the balloon to look hand-built and roughly patched like it was someone’s quirky home or project. So in that spirit, I made the underhanging ship look like an ordinary old boat that had been retrofitted for its new purpose. I also added two big props hanging out from the side, and a large copper pipe feeding hot air into the balloon as it powered along (Fig.11).
It’s always a good idea to reference materials, such as metals and stone, and see how they react to light and shade. The fabric of the balloon was also based on the textures and looks of real world airships. Once again, a speckled brush helped to make something look aged and stressed, which is exactly how I wanted the balloon itself to look.
Anyway, here is the final image (Fig.12). I had a fun time making this image and I hope that I’ve been able to help a few of you in some small way. The one big thing I’ve learned through this picture, that I’d like to pass on, is just how overworked and picky your mind can get towards one image. Don’t go thinking so much when you’re painting or drawing, because in the end it’s just going to make you second guess yourself and obsess over the tiny, little things!