Story: Who Is That...
"Who... is... that...? "
Suddenly I feel a strong light being cast on me while I am in a sweet dream.
Wait a second...
I remember that it was very late after school,
And I climbed the hill behind the town,
Soon, I found a mysterious flower I had never seen before.
I drew it excitedly in my book,
And then I felt a little sleepy...
Now I rub my eyelids and open my eyes slowly,
Then I witness such a fantastic scene that I will never forget it
The work, Who Is That... is just one piece from my series called, The Children Forgetting To Go Back Home. In this painting, a child has left the noisy metropolis, climbed a hill behind the city and has started to draw a flower that he found after school. He enjoyed sharing time with nature, and soon he fell asleep. Now the young boy has just been awakened by the Forest Rescuer, who has been sent by the little boy's dear mum to find him.
Inspiration: Dreams and Reality
The relationship between fantasy and reality is one of my favourite themes to express in both animations and paintings. Awaking from a dream might lead you into another.
This work is all about a dream. Sometimes there is only a thin piece of gauze between reality and dreams. This painting is a kind of combination of the wonderful memories and romantic notions I had when I was a little boy.
Perhaps because I majored in animation, I've always wanted my work to be able to tell a vividly touching story, no matter how big or small. I believe storytelling can plant a living spirit into an artwork.
Design of the Forest Rescuer
The concept of the Forest Rescuer creature was started several years ago; I designed it when passing through a street lined with numerous metasequoia trees down both sides. These friendly creatures are born in trees and decorate themselves with old man-made things. They live in forests away from the cities; however, they can be hired by parents to find children who have been lost in the forest. Various versions of the rescuers have featured in my sketchbook until now (Fig.01).
Brief 'Making Of' Steps
I planned to make the characters more cartoon-like, while keeping the painting style and textures realistic, so that the child's dream appears both fantastic as well as believable, and able to confuse even the child himself.
I sketched the draft in Corel Painter X with a 2B pencil brush and a Hard Laid Paper pattern on a new white canvas (Ctrl + N), simply because I feel comfortable with the grain this gives in Corel Painter X - it allows me to feel free in the sketch stage (Fig.02).
After the basic framework was laid down, I took the sketch into Adobe Photoshop CS (I still use the old version because it is faster on my PC than the newer ones, and it had enough tools for this project). Almost all of the painting and compositing work was done in Photoshop. I added a multiple layer on top and began to give the draft a quick, rough colour image with two main custom brushes. I then checked to see if the colour palette worked well (Fig.03).
I merged all the layers (select all layers and press Ctrl+E), saved the file (Ctrl+S), and in the next step I returned to Corel Painter X to refine the pencil lines according to the new coloured draft, because I had some new ideas and a clearer vision during the colouring phase. I picked the same 2B pencil brush again and shaped every detail of the two main characters carefully (Fig.04). After that came the important part: painting in colour in Photoshop.
Key Painting Steps
I'd like to explain more about the painting details that went into creating the Forest Rescuer (because I used a very standard method to draw the other elements, using a standard soft airbrush from shadows right through to highlights). Since this time I decided to create the image digitally, rather than traditionally paint using acrylics, I felt that I should make profitable use of my digital skills. So I used photographs of metasequoia trees that I shot as reference, and started to work on the texture of the Forest Rescuer in Photoshop (Fig.05).