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[Schoolism] Lighting for Story and Concept Art

IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
edited January 2016 in Artist's Corner
Sam Neilson's Lighting for Story and Concept Art
rhino_god_by_artsammich-d58ok4v.jpg


Sup AC dudes. You may not be aware, but schoolism now has a $145 yearly subscription model. This means for a relatively reasonable fee, you can get in there and view the mountain of content they have. These classes are self directed, so I thought it would be nice to try to pick a course and take it simultaneously with people. The real downside of going for the self directed model is isolating yourself from feedback and you never really have to commit to the assignments. by making it a group effort, you get to reclaim some of that value. Let's participate together! Sign up for the self directed course here: http://www.schoolism.com/school.php?id=29

We haven't made an exact schedule, but currently @BrainPaint and @Kallisti are in the course, along with and I'm trying to rally a few other folks to sign up.

Anyway, I'm still constructing this post, but let me post the lesson plan for the course:

Lesson Plan

Lesson 1 - Lighting Process
The most common question asked to skilled artists is, "What is your process?" The answer is almost never the same between any two artists, and yet each different process can be used to produce stunning results. Is this because process is irrelevant, or is an artist's unique process an important part of his or her equally unique ability? In this lecture, I will teach you about the process of painting light and surface, and how to tailor this to your personal strengths so that you can efficiently and consistently hit a higher bar of quality. I will describe multiple approaches and techniques for painting lighting, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each. We will determine what type of artist you are, and how to recognize and overcome your weaknesses. Assignment: Paint a simple scene a few times, using the processes you've chosen from the lesson.

Lesson 2 - Value Mastery
Well-executed values and contrast is the most essential part of any great painting. Not surprisingly then, mastering this is a lifelong process for any serious artist. In this lecture, I will teach you how to use values accurately while controlling your audience's interest. You will learn advanced value composition and how to use good design to juggle the complicated interaction between lighting and the other elements in any scene you are painting. Assignment: Design a lighting scheme that creates an appealing value composition, and then paint the scene using only values.

Lesson 3 - Color mastery
A beautiful color composition can feel almost magical, but it's a fickle enchantment that is hard to understand and control. This lecture is something I have always felt should be taught in art school: an advanced color theory class that teaches how to harness the power of color in designing and lighting a scene. So, in this lecture, I will show you how to use color in a way that is accurate, harmonious, and balanced. We will talk about how the concept of color relativity applies to color schemes and gamut masks. You will learn how color harmony and color balance relate to color composition, as well as how color composition and value composition relate to each other. Assignment: Paint a scene composed of colored objects under colored lighting using the gamut mask technique.

Lesson 4 - Lighting characters
This lecture focuses on lighting characters in the most aesthetically pleasing way possible. I will talk about common schemes that photographers use to light people, and how lighting schemes will differ between lighting for the face versus lighting for the body. We will discuss ways in which an artist can modify these patterns to create appealingly lit portraits and character sheets. We will examine the differences between descriptive and artistic lighting, and how to use lighting to support a character's personality. We will also talk about how to handle clothing under light and how different materials modify the character being lit. Assignment: Paint a character design with appealing lighting that reflects that character's personality.

Lesson 5 - Lighting objects and environments
What is the best way to light something that doesn't have a face or emotional intent? This lesson focuses on how lighting inanimate things is both similar to and different from lighting characters. I will talk about how appealing object design differs from character design. Furthermore, we will discuss how lighting can be used to amplify and enhance the most appealing properties of surface, form, character, and layout for inanimate objects and environments. We will examine lighting schemes for both open and enclosed environments, and how to give an environment the equivalent appeal of a character design. Assignment: Use the ideas from this lecture to light a simple environment while imbuing it with character-like attributes.

Lesson 6 - Surface design
The very best story and concept work considers how material and color distribution interact with lighting, and describes these ideas in a way that makes for interesting visuals for the project being created, whether it's a movie, game, book, etc. In this lecture, I will focus on how to design and render attributes in combinations that maximize character or object appeal. I will cover special considerations that must be taken into account for both specific and general lighting when designing surfaces. We will review surface attributes and talk about some principles that I have used in my own concept work for designing surfaces that feel interesting and iconic. I will teach you how to apply narrative to these choices, and also discuss how audience and purpose should affect the treatment and style of materials. Assignment: Paint a character design with local colors, values, and materials within a simple lighting scheme.

Lesson 7 - Expressive effects and atmosphere
Atmospheric effects are really fun to paint and can add to your work considerably if you know how to use them. My goal for this lecture is to teach you how to control atmospheric effects in order to add drama and support your painting. I will review some important technical components of atmosphere and talk about how technical considerations shape the artistic expression of atmosphere. We will discuss some ways in which we can apply caricature and abstraction to these properties of atmosphere, and how we can use atmosphere and water to affect the mood and energy of a piece. I will demonstrate how atmosphere can be used to affect the lighting of a scene as well as how it can help control composition. Assignment: Paint a scene and make it feel "epic" through the effective use of lighting, water, and atmosphere.

Lesson 8 - Lighting for narrative and emotion
The ability to use light to evoke a mood is useful for both concept and story work. In this lecture, I will teach you how to create a mood or tell a story through the use of lighting and surface together. I will talk about differences between narrative lighting in theater, film, and games. We will discuss how to create or resolve visual conflict, and how to handle lighting for action versus reaction. You will learn how to use light motifs within a lighting matrix to develop appropriate emotional lighting for any scene. Assignment: Paint a character in a scene that uses appropriate lighting and materials to communicate a strong emotion.

Lesson 9 - Communicating Theme with Light
This is where all the ideas of the class come together to create magic. In this lecture, I will help you understand theme and how it relates to story, premise, setting, and character. We will talk about how to make theme a useful tool that can drive and unify every visual decision of a piece, including emotional tone. I will go over some ways in which audience and purpose will modify theme as well. We will explore theme creation, and how different themes can be interpreted through lighting and surface. You will learn how your theme can guide your lighting decisions, helping them make more sense and be more appealing. Assignment: Paint a scene using a theme to guide and unify the decisions you make in every aspect of the piece.


Anyone who is thinking about taking some classes in the new year, consider taking the plunge with us! @F87 I'd love for you to participate if you can.

Iruka on
F87
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Posts

  • acadiaacadia Registered User regular
    Uh yeah, all of this looks great. When?

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    @acadia Shoulda put the link in the op: http://www.schoolism.com/school.php?id=29

    Right now We're going to start talking about deadlines at the end of the week, but I'm thinking of trying to have assignment 1 done by the 23rd, and space them out week by week after that.

    If you want in, just sign up for the self taught version of the course, you can watch the lessons on your own time, but we're going to set deadlines as if the class was in session! After that, you'll have a year subscription so you can move onto another course (you have to pay a dollar to switch) I will probably keep bouncing and trying new courses, but if this works out I'd love to keep doing it with people.

  • acadiaacadia Registered User regular
    Alright, I'm all subscribed and signed to that class. 23rd works for me!

    F87
  • F87F87 So Say We All Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    This looks awesome! I have to finish up some work I have this week but hopefully I can afford it soon and join in.

    F87 on
  • KallistiKallisti Registered User regular
    This is going to be really good for me, I'm super pumped.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    I'm really excited too! I haven't decided If I'm going to color his lines for assignment one or try my own. I've watched through most of the feedback videos, but I want to watch the initial instruction again. I think I'll tackle this next week.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2016
    starting with my "Values First" ones. I did this one of arin, Planning to follow his process and add color.
    6k25xskuvajj.png

    But I'm going to actually do something much simpler for the assignment, because I'm not going to figure out an occlusion pass on that mess up there. So I figure deedeedee is a good, simple shape. Still working on the values.
    tg4cbvhan3r3.png

    Has anyone else started up?

    Iruka on
    F87
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Progress!
    wnsau93c1rt6.png


    After doing the values, I did a multiply layer as he does in the video. It does preserve a sort of rich color, as he says, but there's a lot of work to be done to keep the values right.
    7jnjhdn07ayu.png

    Here's where I got after alot more fussing overall.
    twgjv2pqwpvc.png

    tapeslingerProspicienceF87BrainPainteLIOTaLEXANDER
  • NeolightNeolight Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    I have joined - gonna get started soon

    Neolight on
    F87Iruka
  • F87F87 So Say We All Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    @Iruka Lookin' awesome! I like it.

    I started this with the value first process and felt like it was too dark. So I'm trying again. Here is where I'm at so far, but I'm having trouble with the multiply/color layer. Maybe it's still too dark. : \

    z6a4q63c3n8n.png

    Also, I've started the Render Pass method and I'm not sure I'm doing the Ambient Occlusion right...

    But yeah I would like to watch through all the videos again for lesson 1. There was a lot of info in those and the critiques!

    I'm excited to try the under lighting method too, that looks really fun! And I'm going to try to get these done by the 23rd, that's the deadline right?

    Edit: Update, got some colors going. First is the multiply layer and second is after touch up.

    aveo9dp7w35c.png

    n9mdansp7vcn.png

    F87 on
    eLIOTaLEXANDER
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    I ended up using a bit of adjustment to make sure the value layer didn't just turn everything dark when you place the color on it. I also, personally had a little trouble thinking of what to do with that bird overall, which is why I just went for one of my own drawings.

    I would say other than being overall dark, you might benefit from some better edge control, everything still seems squishy and he kind of looks clay like in the wing area.
    1f0loxdkwzre.png

    Since materials so heavily change how light interacts with an object, its a little weird of him to throw that bird into the mix, because you really have to make a lot of stylized choices to accommodate for his simple, cartoony lines in a situation with actual lighting. But, still, its not bad practice in making those kinds of choices. I saw some students smooth things way out, but I think you either have to commit to those gradients and a cartoony kinda smoothed over bird, or you have to make sure you have some edges in there. He did mention not using the softest brush you have to avoid tons of repainting, just a bit of an edge helps.

    F87
  • BrainPaintBrainPaint Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    I participating!!!!

    I started the render pass process on a little self portrait that Iruka insisted I work with. It will most likely replace my avatar on here at some point. Here we go!

    5ud744gezjrp.jpg
    f42y741zt7hn.jpg

    BrainPaint on
    IrukatapeslingerF87NightDragoneLIOTaLEXANDER
  • eLIOTaLEXANDEReLIOTaLEXANDER Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    Startin' late, but wanted to share the progress. :)
    pi7inwel6hv4.jpg

    eLIOTaLEXANDER on
    IrukaF87NightDragonBrainPainttynic
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Yaaay Participating! Glad to have you both in here. Also glad to have you in here @Neolight

    I'm going to do the occlusion pass next.

  • BrainPaintBrainPaint Registered User regular
    So I got pretty far along in this one, and then realized how much i didn't like the eyes. something got lost from the original sketch so i went back to something simpler. I also added in a bunch of tweaks with just a normal layer on top. I figure at a certain point you gotta stop following the process to the letter and just paint so anything from here on will just be on that edit layer.

    n96qrx6fw2ww.jpg
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    IrukaF87tapeslingereLIOTaLEXANDERNightDragon
  • acadiaacadia Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    Render pass on the provided lineart, I'm seeing weirdness in the ear area. And general sloppiness. I'll revisit this.
    lf0zcfbiqw6m.png

    acadia on
    IrukaeLIOTaLEXANDERF87
  • BrainPaintBrainPaint Registered User regular
    Allrighty, I'm wrapping up the render-pass process. I could spend longer, but I have quite a list of work I gotta do this month so I'm going to just take what I can from these assignments and then move on instead of trying to get them perfect. I think it came out alright, it definitely shed some light into some problems I have with occlusion lighting. My next one I'm tackling is the values first process.

    8056ydrkh8u9.jpg
    69wjf41vw0ub.jpg

    eLIOTaLEXANDER
  • BrainPaintBrainPaint Registered User regular
    More done on the values first process...

    3i2m6kh1tfv1.jpg

    acadiaF87
  • eLIOTaLEXANDEReLIOTaLEXANDER Registered User regular
    OK, here's my 'Values First' entry finished. Learned that while this method is fun and flexible (used several layers to adjust colors individually), it takes freaking forever. Did a little painting over top of the whole thing when done. On to the next one kiiiiiid.

    doblgjy8g52l.jpg

    3f7jkpo8454c.jpg

    IrukaacadiaF87NightDragonBrainPaintbombardier
  • BrainPaintBrainPaint Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    Finished the values first method. Coloring shadows from black is weird and it doesn't get that saturation i like. I could keep adjusting this until my eyes bleed O__O

    f4kkzlp10a2v.jpg

    o8t42rrzq2uz.jpg

    BrainPaint on
    NightDragontapeslinger
  • eLIOTaLEXANDEReLIOTaLEXANDER Registered User regular
    Render Pass Method. Much messier to save time. I've used this method many times specifically to save time, but I notice that I find myself rushing when I do. Feels like it should be faster so I try to work faster, leading to a slightly sloppy look at the end, or at least a feeling that I skimped on effort. Still find it can be very useful for specific parts of a piece. I do like the color pallet more in this one thought :)

    aduhy80bcd89.jpg
    1qov3hr2kr5n.jpg

    tapeslingeracadiaBrainPaintKallistiNatribombardier
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2016
    I love the second one, Elliot! Are you going to try and light him from a different direction at all?

    @acadia, The background you have there is very saturated, which is dulling out your dude. I would tone that purple way down and bring the color into your skin tones. This isn't perfect, but its more along the lines of what I mean:
    5b3iles83p1g.png

    Otherwise, your tones feel very gray. It would still require some tweaking, but even if you don't go quite as warm/red as this, I wouldn't let his skin stay so gray/green.

    Iruka on
    acadia
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    Hey guys, this is neat. I wanna participate, I just subscribed. Should I just start with the first assignment, even though I'm joining late?

    F87
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Yeah man. The time line is really loose, and I think its best to go in order. I'm probably not going to get my first assignment done till after pax south. Working together in the thread should be enough to help us all press forward, but I think I'm going to go through and set the deadlines for the rest of the assignments in February

    Happy to have you join up though @Lamp, I think the class would be great for you.

    Lamp
  • acadiaacadia Registered User regular
    @Iruka I definitely see that. I was watching a bunch of the feedback videos today, and that was a common theme, getting the skin to look 'alive'. I'll keep it in mind for my next go through on this guy.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2016
    To be fair, he doesn't really cover it in his initial videos, I'm guessing he probably has a section on skin tones in his first schoolism course.

    Iruka on
  • eLIOTaLEXANDEReLIOTaLEXANDER Registered User regular
    Thanks @Iruka! And yeah, I'll be trying some different light sources and schemes in my other two processes.

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    I don't understand part of Nielson's render pass method. During his mini demo, he flats the colors, does the occlusion pass, and then shows how he uses an overlay layer to paint in the key light. But he cuts that pretty short, and jumps to the point where he has all the layers finished and combines them. His key light layer looks like this:

    259z0s2m4wta.jpg

    I don't get it? Is that the result of his overlay key light pass? If so, why is it in greyscale?

  • acadiaacadia Registered User regular
    I think he's dropping a grey tone in the background so that you can see the effect of the overlay layer (which is just a very light, slightly warm color) without the influence of the color/shadow below it. That grey doesn't factor in to the final piece.

    ChicoBlueBrainPaintLamptynic
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    Ooh, that totally makes sense. Thanks Acadia!

    So here's my render pass painting. And, well... huh. That was interesting. This is so totally different than anything I would have been able to produce with all the methods I've tried before. Totally gonna try to crank out some more stuff this way, learned a lot this time so I will change a lot about my approach next time.


    x269oen267xs.jpg



    Lamp on
    F87
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited January 2016
    Whoooaaa the underlight process is cool too.....

    7fc4d9nw7h2f.jpg

    Lamp on
    F87
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    what did your tones look like on the render pass, out of curiosity?

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    With lines
    wbpalbdr9ez6.jpg

    Without lines
    w9wag13ht388.jpg

  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    edited February 2016
    This was my values first painting. I went ahead and tweaked the drawing to mix things up.

    Anyway: what a miserable way to paint! I spent way too much time fiddling with layer adjustments. And quite a bit of painting over after that. Here's the result.

    5mizm72jqbp4.jpg


    7x44hftluy79.jpg




    Lamp on
    F87
  • F87F87 So Say We All Registered User regular
    edited February 2016
    @Lamp Very nice! Would you say you like the render pass the best? On the values first, did you paint above your color/multiply layer after laying down colors? I feel like it's a pretty natural way to paint that's good for me because I have trouble thinking of color in terms of value.

    Very nice work everyone! This is going to be such an awesome class.
    I have been struggling with this assignment though. The bird was a poor choice, so stylized and lots of feathers...I don't know. I'm not terribly happy with how I handled them.

    hm0pq52dubwp.png

    Values First: I was most comfortable with this process but I'm trying keep from getting too dark with the values. Which is a recurring problem for me... so I redid this one.

    Render Pass: I really like the idea of this one and the control you have over lighting is awesome. There is a learning curve though and I did feel like I needed a good deal of touch up at the end.

    Under lighting: Had a lot of trouble with this one. What he mentions about saturation levels is very important here I think. Painting something in the shadows was probably the tough part for me and I had to do a big touch up layer. I still feel like it's flat and unsuccessful.

    Coloring Book: Love the control with this one but keeping the lighting consistent is hard for me, like the video mentions. I also struggled with my edge control/layer management...keeping things lined up after a change was hard. And my brush/edges still need work all around...

    I think the render pass and under lighting would be really good for complex images/lighting. The values first is still my favorite, but I think I got a better result on the render pass? All in all I feel like I can do better but I'm stoked I know more about different processes so I have some options when starting an image.

    F87 on
    LampacadiaKallistieLIOTaLEXANDER
  • eLIOTaLEXANDEReLIOTaLEXANDER Registered User regular
    Here's my underlighting process. I found it really awkward to paint without key lights, the beginning was definitely a struggle. So I actually went ahead and added the key lights from the orb about halfway through. This helped me a ton with the rest of the rendering, and in the end I had a lot of fun tweaking things. Of course the flexibility with the light placement was very useful. Loving everyone's work, keep it up!

    ww2roc0h58j6.jpg
    jcaqxi6noqfa.jpg

    ChicoBlueacadiaF87tapeslingerLampKallisti
  • LampLamp Registered User regular
    @Lamp Very nice! Would you say you like the render pass the best? On the values first, did you paint above your color/multiply layer after laying down colors? I feel like it's a pretty natural way to paint that's good for me because I have trouble thinking of color in terms of value.

    Yeah, I pretty much like some variation of the render pass method best. And yeah, that's pretty much how I approached the color overlay method. I find it tough because the values I put down initially won't necessarily line up with the colors that I wind up wanting to get in the end. I'm also really impatient and have a hard time sticking it out to make a tight B&W rendering before jumping to color. After I put down some colors it's easier for me to see what still needs work.

  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    I'm pretty behind, But I'm going to try to wrap up my assignments this week and get started looking at week two. Hopefully I won't only get one assignment done a month, sheesh.

    @F87 I'm actually glad you chose the bird, working on your materials will really help you going forward, and learning how to render soft/varied surfaces is going to be something you really want to tackle. Those four are a big improvement on the first one you posted. The render pass is the strongest of the bunch, and I agree with your general thoughts. Good job self analyzing!

    @Lamp I think your chunky stroke maybe a bit distracting in this instance. Your second attempt is better, but you are getting a lot of blurred forms and edges. For the sake of the assignment, I would give a smoother, more exact rendering a shot. You don't want to lean on a stylistic flare while learning, shifting outside of your comfort zone will tell you more.

    Lamp
  • KallistiKallisti Registered User regular
    Very late to the party but glad to be here!
    c6elxyb9i8tl.png
    n1rf6cq18hlk.png

    Black and white method to color. Not so great, ended up really flat, I found I just didn't have the patience to get the color to work nor enjoyed starting from a greyscale base. Also having color saved til the very end kind of misses out on the enjoyment of its application.

    s85rjf8ln2dd.png

    Underlighting + Colouring book + Occlusion = Yes! This was kind of a breakthrough for me, I was incredibly frustrated going from paint tool sai back to photoshop that I felt I had to find a way to make it work for me so I tried out Adam Ford's tutorial. I found for me it's best to start with a dark base and build up light rather than starting with mid tones, this was crucial. Lots of fun, lots of flexibility, I had a better sense of thinking about and planning light that I just didn't get from black and white. I used brushes by Gimaldinov and a blender by Sam Nielson in this version and it made all the difference. I really really enjoy this method because I kept light on a light layer, shadows on a shadows layer, and it made it so much easier to go back and make tweaks. There was barely anything to adjust at the end and that felt really good. I think it's going to become my staple process for anything I approach moving forward, this was a great assignment albeit long and repetitive but I'm happy to have gotten so much out of it.

    I could polish this forever, I might change it as I've only seen it sofar on my cintiq monitor which is notoriously bad at colour shifting, but I'm calling this done, cramming all the processes together counts right? I'm ready for assignment 2.

    acadiaNightDragonIrukaF87tynic
  • IrukaIruka Registered User, Moderator mod
    Thats a huuuge leap, I'm glad you worked through the frustration.

    I think that sam has a bit of a "Draw the rest of the fucking Owl" syndrome, where in all these processes there's a missing step that is covered by "make it look good". But, thinking about these processes in a more analytical way really pinpoints the stuff you don't normally consider when just jumping into a piece. I want to do the occlusion pass and an under lighting pass before moving on, but hopefully I can tackle those this weekend.

    Kallisti
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