Concept & synthesis

Concept & synthesis

Valentin Scalliet
by vscalliet on 1 Jun 2020 for Rookie Awards 2020

Hi, I'm Valentin and I'm an self-thaught artist from France. Here, you will see my two mains work axis : graphic synthesis with digital painting, and fantasy concept art.

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This year, I want to showcase two projects. The first one is about a graphic research through several illustrations and the second one a world-building attempt including environments and props.

Both have been developped since last autumn during my free time.

Since a few months, I try to understand shape language from several artists as Michal Sawtyruk, Alberto Mielgo, Yun Ling, Wardenlight Studio... I search for my way to develop this kind of synthesis of any object to simple shapes. I found out that this was a great way to understand light, reflections and diffusion, at least for me.

I began to simplify things to essential informations ; shapes and edges. But I was still attached to get the textures right and it did not serve my purpose well.
I usually work from a photography, and this illustration comes from an urbex photography of La Faute à Rélie with her autorisation.

This one is from a photo I took. This was a difficult place to simplify because the concrete is very textured. Again, I lost the purpose during the process, but I was getting the idea. The tricky part was the ground and the walls of the bridge.

This street of New-York inspired me another way of thinking textures. As I took a screenshot of a New York under snow video and did not shoot it myself, I had to make a quick sketch to get the composition right.
Credit to "Nomadic Ambience" on Youtube. Really inspiring videos.
Having transparency and reflections at the same time on windows was at first a challenge. I solved it with transparency, shapes of inside the building and reflections merging together to create more new shapes.
As I thought it was going pretty well, I tried to apply the same logic to the reflections on the road. It took me a bit of time to remember that road has no transparency. Getting mirror-like reflections was way more effective.
But I still had here and there sloppy textures. I lacked the discipline to stick to hard burshes without transparency.

This is, in my opinion, the closest I got from what I searched. The reference is a photography I took.
Here, the overlaying of hard shapes with transparency helped a lot to get the depth of the reflections right. Also, the less the texture, the better the shapes. I continue today to learn to apply this to different scenes and subjects.

This project started from a sketch I did a few years ago while training on thumbails. I wanted to mix different themes together to see what interesting new environments I could get.
This integration of giant mechanicals elements with an eastern bazaar pleased to me, and as I got a few positive feedback on it, I decided to give it a try on last winter.

I wanted to plan a large development to test my design capacities, as I usually create only one image from an idea.

First I decided to widen the place I created. This bazaar needed a story, people living there, a world to be set in.

The place and its inhabitants

The building is an abandoned gigantic spider-like robot carcass lost in the desert. As time passed, sedentary merchants settled in the carcass and transformed it into a little trading city for desert nomads. A caste society emerged : rich merchants living in the upper floors and controlling the bazaar like a mafia from luxurious appartments. The ground floor is where ordinary merchants live and where the main bazaar is. They are protected from the sun inside the carcass and have a permanent status for living here. Outside the building takes place a non-permanent outdoor market. The nearest stalls have some shadow provided by corrugated sheets of metal attached on the carcass. As the market gets away from the bazaar, the stalls are poorer and sunnier. In the hills, the nomads set up their yurts. They come with their clans when they need to trade their production.

In the very center of the bazaar grows an oasis garden. As water is a precious ressource, the garden is kind of a sacred place, but it's also a quiet place for political intrigues. A caste of guards protect the whole bazaar from trouble. They are independant and do not interfere with rich merchants ruling the city, but they keep the bazaar calm and secure. Any argument between a trader and a client is severly punished.

Design choices

The design of the place, clothes and props is inspired by several nomadic cultures, mainly tuaregs and mongolians. As sedentary people in the bazaar needs more elaborated clothes and architecture to express their wealth, I designed them more as regular eastern arabic merchants. A few architectural elements from asian wood castles would ehance the luxurious appartments as wood is a precious good in a desert.

The guard caste needed to distinguish from civil people. I choose to design their clothes from mongolian motifs, as they had to wear fabric because of the heat. They only protect their head, their hands and their legs with armor pieces.

The process

I wanted to communicate this through several scenes : an establishing shot, an argument in the main bazaar, the building entry, a yurt interior, the garden and its political intrigues, the outdoor market, a rich appartment, the camp of a nomad clan... I used 3D as a base, then photobashed and paintover.

During the process, I found the limits of my workflow and the weakness of certain fundamentals. I had to pause the project to concentrate on re-learning what I missed to fully develop this world. Here is what it looks like for now.

At first I sketched a few of those ideas, brainstorming about what each one should tell ; props, characters, architecture, disposition... Making choices for the environment to be cohesive with the place.
Then I choosed to make quick 3D scenes to gain time and have the possibility to change my mind about a framing or to have a new scene idea.

And I finally started to render the images with photobashing and paintovers. That's where I began to realize that I missed knowledge to complete the project as I wanted.

Here are the two most rendered images of this project for now. They're still WIP as I need to ehance my fundamentals, my photobashing and my paintover technics to finalize them as I would like.
I try to compose them like cinematic shots.

Thanks for your attention. I hope you liked it.



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