A Family Photo


Mom takes a photo as Dad returns to their deep sea home with the catch of the day. 

I had a lot of fun with adding little easter eggs to reward anyone who takes some time to look at the small details. Small things like the mother's shark tooth necklace, the lamp's fish tug-switch, and a glass bottle mounted on one of the trophy wall plaques. Each of these items add a fun little addition to the scene's story.

This sticky note is this project's small beginning.

This sticky note is this project's small beginning.

A quick run through of the project's stages.


Mistakes Were Made

Holy smokes! You know how they say you have to make mistakes to learn from them?—well this project was full of them. Some of this will sound a little Photoshop technical, but hopefully this pseudo-rant will help another digital painter.

First off, like a dog returning to its vomit, I went back to a digital painting method I am comfortable with—and that is: every single shape and every plane change is given it's own layer. I ended up with a total of 162 layers—not including adjustment layers; The father alone is made up of 35 (all the tubes, accessories, and changes in fabric were kept separated with their own layer). All of them were named and well organized into folders—some folders inside of others for easy access. This method makes keeping sharp edges a breeze but it takes an unacceptable amount of time and just bogs me down! Looking at the final product now, I don't even like the way those razor sharp edges contain the more interesting painterly style within the shapes they make; These two things just conflict with each other. I'd much rather see easier to look at, more pleasing, painterly edges. The lesson: Stop being a control freak Christian! Get loose with it and keep the layer count to a minimum; Traditional painting only ever gets one "layer" after all.

Secondly, I very much like the idea of working in black and white to focus on getting the value contrast right, but applying color at the end just doesn't compare with what you get when building in color. I added color near the end for this project using several 'selective color' adjustment layers to apply the warm and cool light. In a nutshell, selective color allows you to apply a different color to your whites, neutrals, and blacks individually without affecting their value. Even with some additional color touches, it just has that terrible selective color look where everything is just a little too unified. Maybe I'm just not experienced enough with it, but I doubt I'll intentionally set off to use this method again. This method would have been even more of a nightmare if I didn't have all my burdensome time sucking layers to make selections from (for instance, they helped with things like separating the warm light on the kid's arm from the cool light surrounding him in the background). So, those are two methods that work with each other but simply take too long.

I've already applied these learned lessons to my next project and I'm moving 5x faster with it and having so much more fun! No more chasing after maintaining pesky sharp edges! —ok, at least mostly.