This isn't a very good wall to end the year, but I can't exactly control the timeframe in which I finish walls.
I am rather disappointed with how this wall turned out. There's potential for it to be so much better. The problem is, I don't know how I can make it better. After toggling the layer visibilities of the flowers, moving them up and down, left and right, I decided to just leave it.
So, let's start from the beginning. One fine day, I was very bored at work. When I get bored, I tend to go to the ladies a lot. So I was sitting on the throne and staring at nothing at particular when this tribal image of Ammy popped into my head, and I decided that I was going to wall it.
…I'm serious. That's how the idea got into my head.
Anyway, my initial draft was for tribal Ammy to be white. The background would be black, and there would be a faint Japanese pattern in the background. After sourcing around for relevant Ammy reference images, I remembered that Ammy was the sun god. I also remembered that the sun pattern was a focal point in the game. So I decided to change it such that tribal Ammy would now be the pattern in the sun. I searched around Google images for Japanese patterns I could reference, and the general concept (as can be seen in the wall) came out. In fact, I decided to do both versions. The black one would have been called "Wolf ~Crescent~", and the sunny one would be "Wolf ~Sun~". I started with the sunny version.
The first stage of a wall should always be planning, followed by a rough sketch of the concept. I sketched out the tribal Ammy pattern, placing a circle behind as a sun reference. Then I sketched out the swirls. I used these 2 images as references. This is where planning stopped though. I cut and pasted flowers from Japanese patterns I referenced and placed them around haphazardly. The idea was that I could change the position of the flowers later.
Trouble started brewing the moment I started to vector Ammy. First up were the streaks that defined Ammy's fur. Should I subtract from shape and allow the sun's colours to show through, or should I use streaks of lighter red? Eventually, after observing the normal Ookami sun pattern, I decided to go with the red streaks.
But this was a minor problem. The first major problem emerged while I was doing the flames. Initially, I broke the flames into portions that represented bubbles. The idea was that I could get interspersing flames, with the broken lines in between to mark out the twirls. So what happened? I did that, and I realized that the flames came out looking just as I had planned – like bubbles. The fact was that it had looked really good in the sketch! I guess once the actual colours were used, the design just didn't cut it.
So, I deleted the flame layer, and agonized over how to do the flames. I decided not to intersperse the flames. Instead, I had them in strands. So they came out looking like…strands of hair. In desperation, I opened my good ol' Ookami sun vector and stared at the pattern…until I came up with the idea of using a huge block of red for all of the flames, and using red streaks to define the different swirls of flames. I also added in the circles near the reflector, as per the sun pattern. This also took a lot of experimenting, as I have a tendency to over-detail vectors. This meant that I added too many red streaks, making it look messy. Anyway, the final result is as what you see in the wall. It's still somewhat hair-like, but it's the best I could manage.
With all this ruckus over the flames, I realized that I was losing something. Others would normally say "losing their mojo", but I don't like to use that word. I will say I was losing my Photoshop touch or something. Luckily, the swirls were done up without much of a fuss. I created the patterns in a separate square document and then applied them in layer effects. The main problem with the swirls is that I didn't really know what colour to use. This would emerge soon, as another problem.
Next, I did the flowers that lined the top of the swirls. That's where the colour problem came in. I didn't know what colours to use. I created the flowers in a separate document, using "angular guide lines" to make the petals equally spaced out. But from there, I was lost. What colour should it be? And how should I place the flowers? I started to get very anxious and irritated, but I still managed to finish this top layer of flowers without losing my sanity.
It was while doing the other flowers that all hell broke loose. The initial flowers followed a guideline – the top of the swirls. The other flowers have no guidelines. In addition, I had decided to add fans and one other miscellaneous Japanese pattern circle at the sides, which just did not quite cut it. The colours for these objects was difficult to decide as well. I did so many versions of fans, I added in the wagasa (umbrellas), I duplicated, moved, HSL-ed, deleted, toggled visibility…basically every time I opened the document, I got irritated. It didn't help that Photoshop was lagging really badly despite my recent RAM upgrade (I just got 8GB of RAM, up from 4GB). I truly felt as if I had lost control over the wall.
I decided to take a week-long break and played my Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance. I love Meow Wow and Necho Cat! I especially love Necho Cat's description: "It doesn't just blast you with magic – it 'hits you with magical awesome'". Anyway, after a week in the dream realm, I went back to Photoshop…and again, the moment I opened the document, I felt that sense of control spiraling out of my hands. I just couldn't take it anymore.
For the last time, I moved some flowers around and deleted some others. Then I published it to .PNG. That was the end. I was disappointed, really, but I hated that feeling of loss I got when I opened the .PSD file. Well, now it's set as my wallpaper, I don't find it that bad, but still…it could have been better. It could have been so much better.
Anyway, I wanted to keep my promise of doing 2 versions of the wallpaper, so I set about doing the black version. The problem emerged the moment I turned the tribal vector to white colour. It looked terrible. The moon pattern that I wanted to use was another big problem. But I decided to go ahead with the pattern for the background. After adding it in, the wall reminded me of my standard 3 years ago – lousy. So I ditched the idea.
That's all. I'm not going to bother counting the layers, because each flower has about 4 layers, each fan has about 4 – 5, the wagasa have 3 or so…basically, it's a pain to count. Just seeing Photoshop lag so badly is a good indicator of how many layers I used.
1) I just cannot do random. Placing things randomly while making them look organized is out of my league. I need order. The flowers that followed the top of the swirls were still fine as I had a guiding line. But the others went out of control.
2) The original size of the pattern is important. I did some patterns at 1024x1024, and when I applied them to my image, I ended up resizing them to such a small size that the details I had included ended up working against me. Eventually I toned down the size to 512x512.
3) Working on a large canvas really allows one to catch details. I did some fan vectors on a small 500x500 canvas. Eventually when I enlarged them, I realized that I had several glaring errors in the enlarged version that I could not catch in the small canvas.
4) While planning is important, improvising along the way is just as important. I planned my Ammy tribal vector and look what happened.
5) Getting "swept up in the wall" isn't a good thing all the time. This wall got stuck in my head and I just couldn't stop doing it initially. Look what happened.
Okay. This wall was a major pattern user. I used almost every cliché Japanese-y thing you could think of. I also created a lot of patterns. The butterflies are from my own origami paper - I was looking through origami paper that I had bought from Japan, and I found this pattern very nice. So I scanned it in and vectored the butterflies. I hope I can use all of these patterns in the future.
In the meantime, I am jumping between 2 Kingdom Hearts wallpapers and one Subarashiki Kono Sekai wallpaper. I don't really know which to focus on now…but I do want to do painting. It's been a while. But I am crummy at painting. I was just told to "not do painting and just stick to vectors because my painting is bad". So now I'm pretty demoralized. What a crummy way to end the year...