I’m going to begin sharing some of my process, starting with an exercise from last Friday. I’ve recently taken on a book cover commission and wanted to explore a digital approach to the final piece.
This scene depicts a spaceship, the Rocinante, descending towards the Jupiter moon IO from the James S A Corey book Caliban’s War. It’s a wonderful series of science fiction books called The Expanse, and I found myself inspired by the spacecraft and scenes in these stories.
It’s also given me a great platform to stretch out my digital painting skills. But first I started out with my sketchbook.
I keep a sketchbook handy at all times, and this is typical of the kinds of ships I tend to draw. A sketch like this takes about ten to fifteen minutes, starting with a thin ink line drawing, followed by heavier strokes and shadows with a brush pen. This is from a very small, portable sketchbook that I carry with me – 8.5″ x 5.5″
I took the scan directly to Photoshop, cleaning up the sketch just a bit, and setting it against a found image of the moon IO.
Several photos of an SR-71 Blackbird that I took at the Boeing Museum of Flight provided the source textures for the spacecraft, and I hand painted in more details, highlights, etc.
My goal for this kind of exercise is to quickly build an exciting image from one of my sketches. Were this to be a final piece for a book cover or a print, I would spend a lot more time correcting some of the perspective issues. But I like the raw look, given that it’s started as a small sketch.
Total time spent on this project is about four hours, with about half of it devoted to brush settings and other experiments I needed to explore for this resolution and process.