Whoosh. I'm back.
My last wallpaper was in March, that I remember. A series of "unfortunate" events happened. It granted me a week-long medical leave and lots of time to work on that previous Ookami wallpaper.
After the failed "full-vector" attempt on the Ookami wallpaper (I just had to use the tablet), I again attempted another full-vector wallpaper here. It's Terra! I like Terra. I know there's this trend of "bishounen" or boys who could pass off as girls (and sometimes, even prettier than girls >.<), but I prefer my men to look
manly? Like Terra.
Please refer to my full reference here. Anyone who bothers to read my journal should know that I am a big fan of Watsuki Nobuhiro's artwork. He is the author of Rurouni Kenshin, for your information. I describe his style as hard, bord, loud and distinctive. I don't like the "soft" style that the many other manga authors employ, for example, D.Gray-Man or Kuroshijitsu. It's just a matter of personal taste, that's all. I've always liked the hard, loud and big style and I think that kind of shows in my walls too. The problem is I tend to make stuff too big. I like to resize things until the edges are barely touching the edges of the wallpaper. And yes, I should employ a bit of subtlety.
ANYWAY, there is a chapter in the manga in Rurouni Kenshin called "The Back of a Man". It's about Sanosuke's father, and it also gives more meaning to the character of evil (悪) on Sano's back. I saved those manga pages in the reference because I wanted to make a wall of it. As per my style, I let the idea vegetate for a long time before I suddenly thought of using Terra for that scene instead. Don't ask me how I got the idea; I don't remember either. But I think it's kind of fitting, isn't it? While playing the game, we players are usually facing the back of the character. So I searched around a bit until I found that image (also in the reference). It's a tiny 480 x 240 PSP screen capture of Terra talking to Yen Sid.
I vectored Terra fully while referencing other official artworks of Terra to get the details
but I think some are still a little off, like his hands. I tried to do it in the RK artwork style but I did not know how to execute that "line-line-line" style of shading. I don't know how best to describe it either; just refer to the image. I added in white streaks on his back to bring out the edges. The part I liked most was his hair. It's actually just all black, but with the addition of the white streaks, it suddenly looks full of volume. This is definitely Watsuki Nobuhiro-style hair; you can see it in his dark-haired characters, the most prominent being Fury Flatliner from Embalming. It's an amazing style.
Before I did the grass, I thought to myself that all I needed to do was to draw in some random strokes and vector the grass; it'd be a cinch. After all, since I couldn't paint grass (I haven't tried, to be honest), I might as well vector them. I couldn't be more wrong. I needed the reference. I'm pretty hopeless on my own, so I duplicated the grass many times over, stitched them together, drew in some miscellaneous strands, and then puppet warped it to that shape you see. It's my first puppet warp, gawrsh. Then I vectored the outlines. It's not line art; I generally don't do line art. I vector in the full black colour shape first, and then I use the shape as a reference when vectoring the coloured (or in this case, white) parts. The white part would skim the borders of the black parts. The reason why I do this is because I like to get a general feel of how the item would look like before I vector the colours. And, I also can control the thickness of the lines by varying the distance at which I skim the black parts. If I skim them by a large amount, I get a thick outline, and vice versa. And I can control the evenness of the outline too.
The grass, in all, was just plain tedious. I spent a long, long time doing it. I know there are some wallers on AP who would say, rather matter-of-factly, "so I decided to add in some flowers
". I look at the result, and I say, how on earth can they say it in such a manner? The flowers must have killed them! It's really boring and tedious! The worst thing about doing the grass was that it took such a long time to do that I improved significantly while doing it. The left side had really thick outlines, which, by the time I got to the right, had been eliminated. So I had to go back to the left to take care of those glaring outlines. Luckily there were some white strokes in front of the grass that helped to block out the thick outlines on the left. Watsuki Nobuhiro-style grass!
Well, that was my first foliage. The next was the trees. The tree trunks were easy enough; the leaves were a horror because of the randomness of it all. It's too random. I defined my own brush shape, which looked something like a standard leaf with rounded tips. Then I set the brush settings to lots of size/angle variation, and topped it off with some scatter. And then I brushed it in. And yes, I used my tablet. Not that I had to; just that it was easier to do so. My mouse is pretty heavy. I left a lot of holes in the leaves in my first iteration. Then, in my second, I went back to patch up some of the holes and redo the others. In my third iteration, I patched up even more holes. My fourth iteration saw me redefining the holes with both the eraser and the brush. And then you see the result. It was a lot more "holey" initially.
While doing the wallpaper, I noticed that the reference mange image had leaves flying about. So I added in those, sans the details on the leaves because it looked really ugly when I did it. Finally, I wanted to do a starry sky like the one in the manga. Anyone who followed my work through Blue Bird and A Town of 3 Districts should know that I can't do stars. But the sky was too plain, so I just added some stars from LadyVictoire's star brushes. As a last after thought, I put in a white gradient behind the trees, because it is in the original reference. Except that Watsuki Nobuhiro's method was to do the "line-line-line" way. Darn.
I put a Gaussian blur of 0.2 on the grass and the flying leaves; 0.3 on Terra; 0.5 on the trees and leaves and 0.6 on the stars. I'm not too sure if it comes across as too blurry, but I needed a 0.3 on Terra, because he had a lot of aliasing issues.
So, wall statistics: ... I don't have my .psd file now, so I'll update later. But my estimate of the number of layers should be...
Very few layers! I think this wall is kind of hard on the eyes though. It employs lots of pure white and pure black. Don't look at it for too long!
My next wallpaper will be
Rurouni Kenshin. Highly likely, that is. I may break off and do another Kingdom Hearts, because this KH one I'm planning looks very promising. But then again, I haven't done a RK wall for some time, and my tablet is wanting, so