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Dramatic Concept Art

Leading concept artist David Levy shows how to paint a piece that’s full of drama, using custom brushes to create a nuclear winter image.

Creating dramatic concept art means capturing the correct mood for your piece. The mood that I’m going to try to achieve in this workshop is one of a nuclear winter, which still has a poetic atmosphere to it. Opposing or contrasting ideas always make for great painting subjects, and a saturated winter is not a very common way to approach an image. With that rough idea and direction, we will let chaos direct the first part of the painting, then slowly give it a meaning and a more concrete perspective, lighting and mood.

For this workshop, I’ll start using the same brushes I created for the Gnomon DVD From Speedpainting to Concept Art, but will also create new variations using the Dual Brush settings.

Before starting this kind of exercise, it’s important to have a good knowledge of perspective, composition and lighting. Without these basics, speed painting can be frustrating: speed and technique only come with practice. Nevertheless, there are rules that make the job easier, and ‘atmospheric perspective’ is one of them. In most environments (aside from space), the atmosphere acts as a filter and creates a hierarchy in contrasts. I’ll use that rule to emphasise the atmosphere in my painting. I’ll try to imagine what a somewhat sad mood mixed with a futuristic design might look like.

The Dual Brush feature will help me create elegant shapes that will disappear in the depth of the fog. The tools used might seem complex, but their use is based on classical painting techniques. I’m going to overlay colours, starting from the background, slowly moving forward and finish close to the viewer’s eye, as a painter using oils might do.

From issue 13.

Click here to download the full workshop for free (PDF)
Click here to download the support files (16.17Mb)

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