Speed Sketches In Photoshop Rendering a scene for mood and color

Speed sketching with your tools is a great way to get your pen moving, and your drawing mind working. You can speed sketch in traditional media or digital, both are a great way to warm up, or to shake things out in between projects. Speed sketches force you to make decisions quickly and with less deliberation than a full-blown piece.

Three Versions of Ambush In Orbit
Three Versions of Ambush In Orbit

For those of you following my recent posts on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, you’ve noticed that I’ve been adding more of these speed sketches recently using Photoshop and my Wacom Intuos Pro tablet. I’ve learned some new brushes that I don’t normally use, like some of the built-in paint brush emulators in Photoshop. Some are okay for my needs, while others better than I’d anticipated. Their angle and flat brushes are great for laying in quick areas of color as I draw these scenes.

While some speed sketches have turned out better than I’d anticipated, and are themselves almost complete pieces, others haven’t turned out as well as I’d hoped. In this case, I started with the phrase “Ambush In Orbit” and began thinking of some John Berkey-like scenes in my mind.

The planet and background were drawn first, and I spent almost an entire 45 minute session on these alone. I don’t always render the background first, but it helps set the tone of the main subjects. When it came time for the spacecraft, none of them matched what I originally had in my mind so I ended up with three different styles of spacecraft. I stopped near my standard 45 minutes on each of these, and while they are each a bit off from my planned vision, I’m somewhat happy with them.

Ambush In Orbit 1
Ambush In Orbit 1

This first version fell away from the colors I wanted, with the ship being warmer than I’d intended. If I were to take this on to a finished piece I’d adjust the hue across the layers of the ship.

Ambush In Orbit 2
Ambush In Orbit 2

The second spacecraft here just gave up on the whole notion of an orbital ambush, but those engines were just too fun to draw. And the Monty Python style helmet was cracking me up. I am still digging the indication of lit rooms, although it looks like a raging forest fire in there.

Ambush In Orbit 3
Ambush In Orbit 3

None of the shapes in my third attenpt were working out so I started blocking out detail cuts from the form and throwing in the energetic engine colors. The engine flame layers were set to Color Dodge and duplicated to enhance the effect. Now it looks like a piece of wreckage, in my eyes, and a more fun direction than where I started. Again this would be taken a lot further as far as detailing is concerned.

That’s a bit of a view on the process, and while sometimes they don’t come out the way you’d like, they’re still fun and good practice.

About Christopher DolL

CDoll_Sept2014Christopher Doll is an artist and designer from the greater Seattle area.  He specializes in astronomy, space travel, and science fiction themes. His work has been featured in a number of books, articles, and on the cover of several novels.

Recently Christopher Doll published Coloring Space 1, the first in a new line of adult coloring books featuring spaceships. Check out the Space Art By Christopher Doll Store for this and other space-related artwork and gifts.

Space Art By Christopher Doll Store
Space Art By Christopher Doll Store

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