Photo of the day: Rocky hill

Rocky hill

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Petrel Cove, Encounter Bay

Petrel Cove, Encounter Bay, South Australia
Petrel Cove is a small beach situated at Encounter Bay on the coast of South Australia. Pictured here is the steep bluff of Rosetta Head, together with some of the steeply dipping metasedimentary rocks, which form prominent jagged rock platforms. There is just a 50m pocket of open sand and a bar, which is also the location of a permanent rip. Petrel Cove is a notorious spot on the south coast, causing trouble for swimmers and surfers with its dangerous currents, large waves and rocks, or for those exploring the slippery and hazardous rock pools.

Gone Troppo: Last Wave at Waitpinga

Last Wave at Waitpinga
Hand lettering, photographic manipulation and graphic design for Gone Troppo track Last Wave at Waitpinga – a great surf-rock instrumental.

I’ve created a 16-page pdf booklet as a bonus download on bandcamp, which features a selection of the photos taken by me during filming, together with a few video stills of the pro surfers shown in action during the video clip. All of the images have been given an appropriate ‘grunge’ surfing look, adding texture and colour enhancements to accurately capture the coastal feel. Here’s four images from the booklet:

Last Wave at Waitpinga Last Wave at Waitpinga

The song is available as a double single with another instrumental titled Looking Down the Barrel on CD Baby and bandcamp for only $1. Also available as a single track release on iTunes.

The previously posted music video can also be found here.

Tales of Quahnarren: The Battle of Velkonnen Plains

The Battle of Velkonnen Plains

These expansive grassed plains could not speak – however, they had their own violent tale of misery to tell any who would care to listen. Scattered across this recent battlefield lay the butchered remains of many men, their bodies destroyed by weapons fashioned for savage destruction, brutally wielded by murderous men possessing souls touched by an unfathomable darkness.

Reason, respect and any sense of justification departed in this theatre of war, by the hands of a callous and disreputable horde. Flesh ripped, bones were broken and crushed, and copious blood splattered and pooled over these plains. The air and earth had thundered with the tumultuous immensity of human slaughter and malicious intent, and billowing dust clouds, formed by the struggles of man and beast, had rapidly filtered the light from the bright midday sun.

An overwhelming and uneasy presence of death lingered and haunted this land, a location forever marked by a terrible and significant event, and the final quiet resting place for many souls.

* * *

This is a newly created piece from my ongoing Tales of Quahnarren series of illustrated fantasy stories.

The written concept came firstly to me some time ago, and I had originally intended to show a much wider view featuring many visible human remains amongst the grass. But a chance viewing of an image showing a crow sitting on a soldiers helmet made me realize that a tighter focus would portray the scene in a more impactful way. This illustration came together relatively easily and completion time was somewhere around 15 hours. All the original painting for the vulture-like bird, skull and grasslands was completed in Corel Painter 12 using oil brushes, with final grass detailing and overall editing finalized in Adobe Photoshop CS5.

Tales of Quahnarren: The Silent Tower

The Silent Tower from the Tales of Quahnarren

This digital illustration is a brand new addition to my ongoing fantasy universe ‘Tales of Quahnarren‘. Located in the more populated eastern region of Quahnarren, The Silent Tower is the locally given name to the Tower of Xaanagh – a landmark structure sitting in the fertile Dehanthor Valley.

This illustration, completed in Photoshop CS5, was slowly completed over the last 6-7 months and became quite an extended and laborious project in many unexpected ways. Originally proposed as a more fluid and sketchy landscape image, the illustration quickly became heavily detailed after experimenting with standard brushes to form the foreground grass. As I was happy with this unanticipated level of micro detailing, it now set the direction for all the remaining areas and the creative process took itself off down a different path.

To visually document my techniques and approach to image creation, I’ve saved versions of my progress throughout the completion of this illustration. These files were combined into a short video, recording the evolution from the original idea through to the final finished illustration. Here you can watch the early basic forms of my initial layout gradually change into fully detailed areas of colour and interest:

Shaded Path, Nuriootpa

My adventure with oil pastels continues: this piece is my second large format oil pastel ‘painting’, and the first true landscape illustration that I’ve ever attempted. ‘Shaded Path, Nuriootpa’ is based on multiple photos taken around Nuriootpa, a town surrounded by vineyards and rolling hills, located in South Australia’s famous Barossa Valley.

The creative process

For this image I decided to record the creation process, by taking photos at significant points or after reasonable progress had been made. Tracking the evolution of an idea like this became an interesting process by itself, as it was now possible to go back and view previous incarnations and watch my ideas come to life as I made decisions and settled on style and detail across the image.

Step 1 shows the base sketch and initial colour blocking – my key focus here was to develop the concept to the point where I could see the balance of trees, sky and foreground and decide if I was happy with the overall direction as a complete image. My white areas on the trees indicate patches of bright light and this helped me to plan the application of colour with the pastels, a media that require a bit of careful thinking, otherwise it can be difficult to build light into dark – unlike my reverse process for digital creations. I was still to decide exactly what effect I wanted for the path surface and was also intending to place a few extra posts along the tree lines.

In Step 2 I began to work up detail in what I believed were the important parts of the image: the area around the end of the path, the hill line behind the vines and the front right tree trunk. I was now focusing on the texturing of the trunks – beginning to build up layered detail and discovering how to generate differing varieties, as was desired for the right side trees especially. Further work continued on the rear trees and I also began to detail the grasses that would eventually fill both sides – I was undecided on what I would fill the smaller area along the right edge with until after I had completed the small grass section shown here.

I was really happy with the progress of the elements at the back of the image, as shown in Step 3. By now I had added streaky clouds to the sky and had created a slight glow effect with my cloud forms rising off the hilltops, which added some contrast and a nice sense of depth. The remainder of the trees and grasses had been coloured and I was beginning to sort out my thoughts regarding the path and shadow construction.

Step 4 was all about the shadows. By now I had decided that the path would be a natural surface, featuring short to medium length grass around the outer area and worn grass with soil showing through the middle track. Again, I planned out the light and dark patterns as basic forms and proceeded to gradually build up these areas, using a wide range of colours to ensure that there was plenty of life within the shadows.

Step 5 shows the completed tree shadows and the final path shape. I was continually adjusting various small parts and details, particularly the brightly highlighted grass areas near the tree lines and I was also blurring some of the branch shadows that required little defined form. At this point I could finally see the overall image coming together and was pleased that my original thoughts regarding both the composition and the colour palette were bearing pleasing results.

The major element added for Step 6 was the tree canopies. Most of the forms for the small tree branches and leaves were no more than suggested shapes and I was a bit surprised to find that this part of the image was comparatively quite quick to finish – unlike the tree trunks or the foreground path, which were many, many hours of detailed work to complete. I continued to adjust some of the trunks, with a lot of attention on the shadowed trunk (third from the right) which I had basically left unfinished from early on as I wasn’t really sure on how to execute the final surface texture and look that this tree required.

Shaded Path, Nuriootpa

I finished off with minor adjustments and additions across the entire image and corrected a few mistakes that I felt required some attention. Estimated time for completion would be around 35 hours, which is longer than I would wish, but as part of a learning process isn’t too bad for this type of image. The final result captures the mood and quality of light I was wishing to reproduce and has given me some genuine confidence to tackle further projects with the oil pastels.