Often, when I do color work, I don't spend much time doing any real greyscale work but for this poster I decided it seemed appropriate. It's a good practice and usually pays off in the final color piece; it allows you to very accurately nail down your tonal work. I was taught in school that your illustrations (or photos for that matter) should always have 'black' blacks and 'white' whites, meaning that your piece should cover the complete tonal gamut. A common mistake by artists who go straight to color is to end up with a piece that's all middle tones. The results often look muddy. All this technical stuff aside, I just thought it would look good for the subject matter at hand.
I originally thought I would do most of the greyscale art with paper and pencil but convinced myself to try working digitally to see if I could replicate the look and feel of a traditional pencil drawing successfully in Photoshop.
I started with the camels because it seemed like the easiest element to experiment with. When I moved on to the burning oil wells I quickly became convinced that 'digital' was the way to go. My goal, from the day I started working digitally (ten years or more ago), was to create work that didn't look or feel like what people normally expected with digital art. I've spent a lot of time finding or creating brushes in Photoshop that don't look digital (at least to me). Hopefully I'm not the only one who thinks this. :-)
Happy with the results I moved on to the tech, starting with the Abrams A1 tank, then on to the AH-64 Apache helicopter, the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the USS Arleigh Burke-Class Guided Missile Destroyer.
I tried to save jpegs at different points of my progress, not always when I finished an element, that way some of my nitty gritty process can be revealed.
You'll notice on that last image that there's suddenly some background there. Once the main tech stuff was finished I moved on to the American flag, the map, and the basic background texture that I wanted. I forgot to get some close ups of the destroyer; I'll get some added later.
The poster, when printed, will be 18x24 inches; not huge but a good size. My photoshop file is 18x24 inches at 450dpi. It's pretty big. This poster is the first time I've ever had a file get so large that I couldn't save it as a normal photoshop file. I had to use the large format file that photoshop has - a psb. Fun.
Next up: People.