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Mario Dreams process by ken-wong Mario Dreams process by ken-wong
Firstly, this isn't exactly a step-by-step tutorial, I'm not going to slow down to explain every technique. It's just a write-up of some of the process that went into this piece.

One feature that makes digital art unique is the ability to non-destructively try out many different variations, either through layers, history, or saving alternative files. So sometimes when I feel a picture can go in a few different directions, I do tests like these, to explore which direction I like best. WARNING! It can drive you crazy if you're indecisive or prone to procrastination.

Color can be very important in creating mood. To match the nostalgic subject matter, I wanted to use a vintage, slightly faded/yellowed look. One way of achieving this would be to restrict myself to particular colors, sort of to emulate a gouache 1950s sort of look - or analogous to using a particular kind of film. Another method is to use 'true' colors first, then altering them "in post" using Photoshop, analogous to color grading in movies, or hipstamatic filters. I went for the second approach.

In fact I go through this 'post process' in pretty much every picture I do, for two reasons. The first is that whether painting or alpha-masking, Photoshop tends to blend colors linearly, which makes the blends look a bit gray and flat. I think the same is actually true of digital cameras - they capture 'true' colors without the 'personality' that analogue photography tends to have. Playing with contrast, color balance, levels etc is a way of giving more life to the color palette. There are other ways to compensate for this, but this is how I do it.

The second reason is sometimes you can find surprising or unusual color combinations that you wouldn't have found intentionally. Traditional painters might balk at this, as a lack of planning or knowledge of color theory. Fortunately, this is not traditional painting :).

So, the first picture is the original base colors. The other five use various methods, like color balance (try shifting highlights towards cyan, shadows towards red, for example), using a hue/sat/lum adjustment layer using 'colorize', then set to 70% opacity, using an orange layer set to soft light blend mode. The possibilities are limitless. You could even print it out and scan it back in to get printing artifacts, then blend it with the original to soften the effect.

There are things I like about each of these variations, but eventually I went in the direction of #5. In the final version there are tweaks to some of the colors especially the background, and a texture overlay to give it a papery feel (in retrospect I wish the texture didn't have so much jpg artifacting).

For those who are curious, it's not vector art. I use Photoshop's polygonal lasso tool. You can find many other pieces using the same technique in my gallery. It's a very obsessive compulsive way of working.

Checking out the finished work here: [link]
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:iconsupercaterina:
SuperCaterina Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2013
This is awesome. I think This is the best Super Mario fanart I have ever seen, I really love it!!
Reply
:iconginsenglag:
GinsengLag Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2012
I never even thought to use the polygonal lasso too for drawing. I'm glad you mentioned it. I'm definitely gonna try it out!
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:iconken-wong:
ken-wong Featured By Owner Sep 13, 2012
haha, have fun with it.
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:iconginsenglag:
GinsengLag Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2012
I did! [link]
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:iconlunepotter:
LunePotter Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Lo mejor de la vida!, EXPECTACULAR, o sea, es MAGNÍFICO, comparado con lo tuyo lo mío (que aún no subo:P ) es un insignificante intento de intento de dibujo
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:iconmoebarox:
moebarox Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2012
how can you get texture like that?
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:iconken-wong:
ken-wong Featured By Owner Feb 26, 2012
just use a photo of paper, or a similar material. add it as a new layer, then set the layer's blend mode to soft light or overlay. then adjust.
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:iconmoebarox:
moebarox Featured By Owner Mar 7, 2012
can you give me a example?
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:iconmoebarox:
moebarox Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2012
how can you get texture like that?
Reply
:iconmysteryezekude:
MysteryEzekude Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I love the amount of experimentation here! You're never too sure about your final concept until you have plenty of ideas right in front of you.
Reply
:iconchemical-youth:
chemical-youth Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2011  Professional General Artist
woww this is beautiful and very informative. I also tend to work in this post production kind of way, makes more sense for me to get form +composition down first and then experiment freely with colour and texture. I really love the final one you went for..soo cute and really captures a retro game look in a totally fresh way. Not a pixel in sight haha :)
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:iconladysatou:
LadySatou Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2011
this is amazing!
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:iconxrecherche:
xrecherche Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I do like number 3, but nonetheless the final piece is gorgeous.
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:iconcompaargenis:
CompaArgenis Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Excelente trabajo cuando cerca quiero hacer algo así....
[link]
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:iconcompaargenis:
CompaArgenis Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
Excelente muy buen trabajo cuando crezca quiero hacer algo así. [link]
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:iconemmamelia:
emmamelia Featured By Owner Oct 4, 2011  Hobbyist General Artist
superb!!
Reply
:iconambientdream:
ambientdream Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
omg thank you for sharing us your technique here, you're incredibly humble and i will pray that your skills will be thousands even better after this.
Reply
:iconkvweber:
kvweber Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2011  Student Digital Artist
The words are echoing in my head..."polygonal lasso tool...polygonal...lasso...". Jeez man, you must have some kind of patience! :wow:
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:iconken-wong:
ken-wong Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2011
eh it's really not that bad. think about the thousands of brushstrokes it would take to create with a painted style, or the hours of careful inking if it was done with clean lineart. lasso is sometimes faster than these. knowing that backspace = undo for poly lasso helps :D.
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:iconkvweber:
kvweber Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Hmmn. Well, maybe I've been scared off by the thought of working with empty pixels. Everything I've ever done with the polygonal lasso tool was related to masks and I never really got the hang of those either. I guess I just need to take a deep breath and try some new things in Photoshop. It's just so hard after nearly a decade of doing the same tricks to try and learn new techniques- I guess I just want to be lazy! But you've inspired me to try something new and I think I will. :nod:
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:iconsausage-of-joy:
sausage-of-joy Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011
would love to see number 3 in high res! looks slick!
Reply
:iconmathieubeaulieu:
MathieuBeaulieu Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Nice!
I often use an orange layer with soft light blend mode too! that's a sweet trick for mood.

Really cool the lasso tool technique (that must take a while!)

Nice job

PS: I bought the Medium size :D
Reply
:iconken-wong:
ken-wong Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2011
awesome, appreciated! the lasso thing takes a while, but it's sure faster than cutting out bits of paper for real :P. i've gotten really fast at it over the years, too.
Reply
:iconartofedge:
ArtOfEdge Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
This is so awesome! I think I'd definitely like to try something like this sometime :] Thanks for sharing!
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:icontim-n-pens:
tim-n-pens Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Professional
thanks for sharing :)

always wanted to know some insights for art like this.

one question though, how do you shade while still maintaining the paper texture?
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:iconken-wong:
ken-wong Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011
all different layers. everything is on one base layer, which is flat colors only. then there is a separate layer just for the shadows. then a few masked layers for gradients and painting (like the background that shifts from sky to water to sky again). the paper texture is on top, with a blend mode like soft light or overlay.
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:icontim-n-pens:
tim-n-pens Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2011  Professional
cool, thanks for explaining :)
Reply
:iconutria:
utria Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Professional Digital Artist
Really nice work.
Reply
:iconhannakin:
Hannakin Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Professional General Artist
I love the polygonal lasso tool... even when it's not the best tool for the job, I find using it strangely satisfying!
Anyway I'm glad you went with number 5, but I really like 3 as well! It's a great picture!
Reply
:iconneiko-karlsov:
Neiko-Karlsov Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Nice! I really like it!
Reply
:iconkyra-illustrations:
Kyra-illustrations Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
this looks sooooo awesome!! :D :heart:
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