Last time I mentioned we were going to take a look at digital art in this installment. I originally had another piece in mind however I think this is a more interesting story so today we are going to look at a set of six images that make up three double sided foil Cardfight Vanguard power level markers.
We will be exploring the concepts behind each pair and looking at how I took those concepts from initial sketch to final piece.
!. Setting the Scene.
Three foil tokens, double sided, with six unique pieces of art. The three pairs will consist of:
Ichigo & Kenpachi (From the anime Bleach)
Deadpool & Judge
Dredd Nero & Dante (From Devil May Cry 4)
The Characters on the left will represent 5,000K and those on the right 10,000K.
It’s, a lot of work to be honest. Not only do I have to create six images I have to develop a way of making two sided foil cards and sure it’s just sticking two regular cards together but the important part is making sure they are the same size. We wont go into that today but like many of the challenges I’m set this one definitely resulted in a number of improvements to my process.
2. Whats the Story.
On top of all that I wasn’t just going to draw six characters with no thought of where they are or what they are doing. Each pair would be a story and the set as a whole would be tied together by an overarching theme.
And! Just to complicate things further each pair would use a separate art style but a not completely unrelated colour pallets.
As with many card game stories these are ones of power and conflict. Easy for people to quickly understand, which is good since I have two panels to explain everything. We aren’t expecting to squeeze Shakespeare on here.
3. Ichigo vs Kenpachi.
This pair’s conflict is a head on collision both combatants rushing towards the viewer and each other.
Ichigo’s pose came quite quickly, I’ve drawn him before after all.
I’m going to be sketching all of these characters digitally, there will be no paper involved in this process. This has been made possible mainly due to finally finding a set of digital brushes that allow me to draw and paint as I would with their physical counterparts.
Here in the first image for example I’m using a pen brush, this pair of images will stay close to the anime style these characters come from so I figure I may as well start as I mean to go on. Its sketchy for sure but thats sort of the point and not having to scan anything in means I can rapidly move on to the second phase (making sure the character is actually 3D and sorting the proportions) and the third (blocking in the background)
The first colour pass is all airbrush brush. Not something I use much in the physical world but highly useful here for laying down large areas of colour and smooth gradients.
At this point the lighting is a bit generic and all over the place something to remember to fix later. We also need to draw more focus to the center of the image and come up with a way to tie the image into Kenpachi’s. The final piece takes everything we have done so far and refines it. The lines are slimmed down and have weight added and removed (see here for more on that)
The light source moves behind the figure so all the highlights and shadows have to move also and all the rocks get lightning connecting them, a hint that something or someone is causing them to be sent in Ichigo’s direction.
Originally the final image had the sunset in the background mirrored in the ocean but it looked rather like he was flying through space so I added a green tinted curve to the lower half suggesting the ground.
In contrast Kenpachi took much longer to pin down. Many sketches using everything from a pencil brush through to charcoal. It was always his sword that was the issue somehow it kept finding ways to escape the page. Like Ichigo the later stages of line-work use the pen brush, there are many types but the one I prefer works much like a cross between a fine-liner and an ink pen, good control with variable width and opacity.
This image was much more traditionally blocked in, flat and with few colours. The ground beginning to break up gives us our connection to the other image but there’s going to be a lot of work needed with the airbrush to get from here to the final piece.
Like the other image the light is behind the character. But then it would be the ground has gone all explode’y (technical term) with lightning. I’m really happy with the way the skin turned out on this one the airbrush is very good at skin and by swapping between a very large broad brush and a thin detail one you can build up the image quite quickly. The last thing I did was go back and check my reference, a good thing too because I had almost forgotten the little diamonds and circles on his cloak. It can be the little details that solidify the final image.
4. Deadpool vs Judge Dredd
The Dredd vs Deadpool conflict is one of chaotic irreverence vs stoic order. Dredd looks down out of his image and towards the highway bellow from where Deadpool smiles back up at him, clearly having done something knowing it would wind Dredd up.
This time both sketches start with a blue pencil brush. The blue is a throwback to a time of analog animation but we tend to still use it as it makes it easier to tell original sketch from more finalised work in black. Both sketches are quite close to their final pieces too, not necessarily in terms on exact pose but at least in layout.
I’m going for a graphic novel / western comic style with these two so back comes the pen brush, this time slightly broader and more ink’y to fill in the blocks of black. The Dredd blocking in was essentially a redraw as you can see from the massive jump in detail. The best way to do this is to make the previous image transparent and use it as a guide, that way to can focus on the details.
As you can see there was originally a car in the Deadpool image I dropped it for two reasons. Firstly while the angles were right it was a little flat, it needed to be taller but then would have taken up far to much space. Secondly it distracts from the main image, the white lines on the ground tell us its a road so we may as well remove the car and have the blood splatter more dominant there.
When it came time to colouring once again the airbrush is the primary tool however once we have the initial colours in place I start using a series of pattern brushes to add textures. Deaadpool gets carbon fibre armour for example while I add brick, stone and metal layers to the areas of both images that seem most appropriate. At the same time a gradual process of upping the detail occurs until I’m happy with the results.
5. Nero vs Dante.
With this pair I was trying to capture them mid combo. Originally Dante would have been focused on the right attempting to shoot Nero down but I didn’t like the pose, it seemed odd that he was ignoring , over the course of the sketch it gradually evolved to be front facing and shooting both ways. This probably leaves it the weakest of the connecting stories but it does mean if Nero tries to attack from either side he’s getting blasted. Nero’s pose changed a bit too, in the end I wanted to have a nice C curve to the pose and the leg on the left was really disrupting that line of motion creating more of an X and a static pose.
Sketching starts out the same way as the previous pair but quickly moves away from lines in favor of a more artistic style. Usually both images would have been done in grey-scale first but for some reason I started in colour on Nero and just kept working that way. It’s quicker, you just have to be more aware of you colour choices.
I’m using the finished cards here as the last images because these are the two that needed the most typography work and editing after their images were finished and for that I had to switch to another program where those edits could be made more easily. Also here’s a bonus image of the city background stage for both pieces.
You cant actually see it on the Nero piece, I pushed it right back to focus on the foreground, but the idea was there would be enough room for both of them to share it.
6. All and Nothing.
With foil being a hard effct to capture here’s a quick video of the finished cards.
As for the link ‘that ties them all together? Well I’ve mentioned it a few times already. Front-Back, Up-Down, Left-Right, yup they are all pairs of directions. Why? Well when your doing double sided cards any Easter eggs should be three dimensional right?
And that’s all we have time for today, next time, well we’ll see but it’s likely to one sided.