Grand Space Opera 2D Entry: Jesse Speak


Arctis - Thanks, I managed to pip you to the post! I can’t wait to get on with the detailing, but I must avoid the temptation and do the groundwork first.

Bloodtaster - Glad you like it, I was planning to set this in a blinding sunset since I always tend to go for dark scenes. I wanted something a bit different.

Leigh - Hi there, thanks! Unless some drastic issue crops up I reckon this latest is the way forward for me. Appreciate the comments, cheers.

Element5 - Thanks man!

LuisNCT - I never really thought I had a method, but certainly recently I’m discovering that an organised approach and a bit of thought go a long way to helping a pic along. Thanks!

Walrus - Oh yeah, green engines. That’ll be the beryllium-oxide quantuum flux dissipation emissions. It’s an increase in tax but hell, they’re worth it. Cheers.

Stunner, Melkao - Thanks to both!

Novacaine - You are most welcome. Any questions, just ask and I’ll see if I can explain further.

Jezzarts - Cheers, man. I’ve still got a long way to go learning composition, though I’m starting to realise the importance of guiding the eye around the pic. Basically, the (western) eye favours moving from left to right, from up to down. Areas of high contrast, high saturation and sharp edges attract the eye, whereas areas of low contrast, low saturation and lost edges don’t. That’s where I am at the moment, there’s bound to be more to it than that! Lighting - that’s the result of a lot of observation and just plain trying to work out the various planes of the pic and what / how much light is hitting them. Oh and the use of gradients to approximate light falloff.
As to the two ships, they aren’t chasing each other. I know what you mean about having it at a 45 degree angle but I prefer it the way it is, simply powering along and about to enter a controlled descent into the lower plateau. I’m trying to concentrate on a sense of scale and majesty rather than an action packed scene.

I am still considering ways of getting a human element in there. Currently I’m thinking of putting some kind of balcony in the lower right corner, as if there is a huge building just off to the right. Some people could be crowded round to watch, and maybe someone hooting and hollering at the passing ship.


I like the concept and the perspective, perhaps the top of the image is too burned… will add more details, and others flying ships…


speaky… :bounce: this isnt good , this isnt nice… this is something that i cant explain with words… i can just say that i am impressed… and about picture not a word…
those colors… make me feel so good…


I could never do such crazy amount of pictures even if i had the imagination for it!

If there is a way for public to vote for Community Award ill be voting for you :scream:
:applause: is this really final desing? Will you try some other approaches as well?


Wow, very cool. The lighting is super tight. Nice work.


I’m a bit of a spectator on this one. Simply enjoying watching it progress.


this looks very grand.

I really appreciate the explanation, learnt alot. I really need to buy some books on this kind of stuff . . . recomend any good ones, on perspective, exposure and everthing else you can think of.

I reckon yuo have a good chanc of winning. At least an honourable mention. can not wait to see the final image… Adn i love the colour scheme!


Lookin real good Speaky. I like the ‘values first’ way of doing things. You’re right, if it doesn’t work at this stage all the color in the world ain’t gonna save it. And I must say, yours is workin’ great. Top job so far, and inspirational.


Jesse, first off, I apologize sincerely for not stopping by your thread. I could’ve sworn I had subscribed, and I hadn’t received any message updates, so I’ve missed a lot of your process. And a thanks for keeping up with mine! I really appreciate it. Anyway, I went through every post since my last visit so I could understand your concept, see where you’re wanting to go, and see if I can humbly try and help you go there at all!

On the issue of my last post of finding your story was to help you personally understand, maybe, your concept, and also to help us as the critics understand. I can totally relate with you when you say you want your images to simply be a source of inspiration, neutral extravagance that the viewer can create there own story. That is a belief of mine that I hold strongly too… which gets me quite a bit of negative feeback being at art-school where everything must have a specific message to convey to the viewer. I disagree. If you have a message you want others to understand, sweet, try and convey it. I do that as well. But a lot of my work is simply to inspire in any way the viewer conjures up, I’m in total agreeance with you. The only reason that we should know is so we can understand what it is you want to convey so we can help you convey it. The judges will not need the explanation, nor will any other viewer. Your process and our critiques should be enough to help you convey the message. The words are simply for the forums purposes.

Speaking of which, your story is fantastic and original. When I think of the concept of this challenge, I think of creating a work that could go into motion at any time with angellic voices belting with full orchestration on top of it. A lot of the participants are interpreting this as a fight. But you’re one of the first I’ve seen to see this as an optimistic potential. This seen could have angels singing and full orchestration. A momentus occasion that is full of operaticness. Bravo. The critiques from here will have to just insure that your image displays this (or really any) as a momentus occasion, and not just a snapshot of something happening or a scene… a postcard, if you will.

You’re method of sketching is extremely conducive to positive results. Starting with a midrange on top of midranges really helps you focus on shape first, lighting value later, and color even later. Very good workflow. You’re comments on exposure are absolutely 100% correct and I couldn’t’ve said it better. It is an issue that, if explored by any artist here, it would make there work infinitely better. You’re one sentence, saying that one image cannot have every value in it, is genius. I could never find a way exactly to say it, but that’s exactly what it is. Understanding how our own eyes work and cameras which capture the majority of images we see, which defines our image of realism, is key.

And your recent color experimentation is about the most intense, dramatic, convincing lighting I think I’ve seen in a digital painting… honestly. It really is incredible. Your use falloff color is so strategic, instead of just a white gradient flashing across the page becomig more and more transparant.

Alright, now all I’ve done is basically praise you and repeat your thoughts… sorry for the redundancy, it is sincere though! However, it really won’t help you much, just enforce you’re credibility and raise your ego! :stuck_out_tongue:

Here are the weak parts I’ve noticed:

I, personally, wouldn’t immediately be able to recognize the center focus as a ship. It looks more like a towered structure in the middle of a barracaded city. I’m not sure if I have any suggestions to help you achieve this understanding, but something you should think about maybe. Possibly add some smoke or steam leaking out from under the ship, such as space ships of today do before the enginse start. Maybe even other steam leaks around the ships body. Before take-off they pretty much freeze the jets and everything around them so they don’t over-heat during launch and disinegrate/melt everything! So that steam/frost cause by that might be a useful effect. Maybe make the bridge to the ship less structurally solid so it would look like something that would move out of the way before launch. You know, like cross-bard supported such as launchpads of today. (i know it’s not today, just to help communicate though) Yea, I really don’t know how to make it read like a ship, but I do believe some thought should go into it. The red light leaking through the ship is genius, incredible.

Next, I admire your compositional value with the extreme bright on one side, and the not so much on the other. However, I believe the top right side is read as ‘unrealistic.’ Not in the sense that it’s not how it would be in real life, but it’s not convincing as something ‘real’ to the viewer, no matter how technically correct it is or isn’t. It’s too bland. The only way I could see that stark of a value change is if there was an enormous mountain behind the ship that owuld be blocking all that light and atmosphere. As the backside of the mountains would probably be close to that value because of the atmospheric perspective, as you have mentioned , the highlights reflecting this incredibly bright light-source would be brighter, I believe. I just don’t see the object blocking this intense light. Again, I don’t understand enough about it to give you help to achieve the effect I’m searching for, it could be many many years before I can create a color sketch as convincing as this. All I can tell you is what I see, and to me, although my wisdom of light is not as thorough and extensive as yours, my first glance at the image reads unconvincing.

The lights contouring the launchpad aren’t convincing either. Even though the sunset is technically a stronger and brighter light source, think about what you said. The eye/camera has to read a value as white and a value as dark. Anything below or above these values simply are black or white. Anything inbetween is detail visible to our eyes. And a camera or eye of any type will not read the brightest bright as brighter than any lightsource. If you were to put a light bulb and a sun in the same picture, the sun would overpower the lightbulb for sure, but the brightest white will still be of a lower value than that of the source in the bulb that emits the light. Therefor, there would still be a glimmer of pure white within the bulb, surrounded by the pigmented falloff. The sun, being stronger, would simply have a larger part of it’s source read as pure white. But either way, any light in a scene will have at least a glimmer of pure white because the camera will not read pure white any brighter than these sources, if it did, the entire rest of the scene would be completely black. So the launchpad lights, I believe, would still have a ‘nucleus’ as white as the whitest white in the scene, ie. the sun, just not of as massive proportions. As they are right now, they cannot be read as light sources, I would merely read them as extremely dim glowing orbs. What I believe it needs it a smaller pure-white nucleus and a smaller, possibly more saturated, falloff.
EDIT: Rereading this, I have to object and say that the nucleus could be a very saturated color of a glimmer. But either way, the center of the light source would be of an intense value of either pure white or an extremely saturated color, not the grayish almost neutral values you currently have in the nucleus of each light source

And in referance for obtaining the distortions one would get with a wide-angled lens would simply be to render the picture with normal perspectives, then take the finished project into photoshop or some sort of software to customize the distortion. Or, take the line-art from the beginning and distort that with a very modestly fish-eyed distortion and go from there. It’s impossible to map this with regular perspective techniques. All the wide angle lense is is a distortion of a reality… that’s all you have to do with yours: Create the reality, then distort it. It would probably be easier and more predictable to distort from the beginning though

and digging for the most minor of details, maybe add a slight light block ray from the lower cruiser and possibly an array of… rays, shooting in between the smaller city buildings just to see how it looks. It could add some intrigue and an interesting intricacy to the piece. But that is merely an experimental idea to maybe play around with on your free time!

And I’m not sure if I like the immense glow from behind the ship or not. It’s either distracting or the most vital point to the composition… so yea, that was a useless thought!

Anyway, hope this book that I have just seemed to have written is more of a help then the nuisance of space it’s taking up! Good luck, I’m excited for your work, and thanks again for keeping up with my thread! take care


I think the lighting in your image is powerful, but the blown out white is very distracting. I would take a look at some reference of some very intense light situations like that and try to see what is really happening. Other than that, it looks to be coming along nicely.


You’ve got some awesome stuff here. I’d say it’s time to pick something and start developing it though. Part of the process is making decisions, which is hard for me as well, but necessary. I’d hate to see you do all this great concept work and then not have time to complete a final render.


Hello again! It seems like ages since I last updated my entry. I’m so swamped with work that I’ve had next to no time to get stuck in to this pic. It looks like my weekend will be taken up with work too.

Anyway, I have stolen the odd half hour here and there and have rebuilt the values on the master pic, which is 3600 pixels wide by quite a few tall. I could have simply taken the low res values and scaled them up by 400%, but I wanted to take what I liked and kind of approach it afresh.

First step was to create lots of mask channels of the various areas - upper plateau, lower plateau, main ship, near building, distant buildings etc. This is a great way of being able to work on selective areas without hampering yourself with the annoyance of layers. I find layers can be so restrictive in terms of making subtle but sweeping changes to the pic as a whole. So basically I’m going to try to work on a single layer throughout and use a layer only when trying something out or using the ‘erase through’ technique I harped on about earlier.

I don’t consider this pic to be the final values, there are many areas that need to be brought up to speed in terms of detail and so forth. Just wanted to get an update up!


Thanks everyone for posting! Some double-quick replies because time is short:

Stefgrafx - Yes, way too dodged and burned. The value sketch wasn’t a detail thing, more of an indication of where I want to go.

Markovicd, Falcor_, Dougbot, Sideache, W!L, Cornishman - Cheers you lot, keeps me going!

Steve - What can I say? Thanks so much for the long reply! I thought some of my posts were comprehensive, but yours… wow! Thanks for the support, and I appreciate the crits. I wish I could do justice to your reply, but can just say: I agree with the building / ship confusion, I’ve taken your advice and made the bridge element much more temporary looking. It’ll be ferrying cargo and supplies aboard in the final pic. Upper right area: agreed, I still need to address this. Good suggestions about the smaller light rays which I’ve taken up in the latest. Bit worried it’s looking washed out, but will stick with it.

Jm. - Thanks, care to elaborate a bit more on how it’s not working? I’ll be the first one to admit I’m still learning how light works, so could you explain your point a bit more?

Banter3 - no worries, theme, composition is all picked. Here it is! Just need to sort the values, colour, details… Cheers!


Well, it’s going better each time…:slight_smile:
Keep on the good work !!


Speaky, the biggest thing I enjoy about this peice is the sense of mystery in invokes. This feels like a hidden base, or ruined city…a place for intrigue. I think the feeling this generates is good, and the values are great, now maybe this needs just a hint more of story or action and it will be very strong. With scuh a large canvas you have a lot of room for detail and these details can help you suggest a story to the viewer.

It’s looking good man!


Short comment from me:

Holy Crap!!! This is so awesome:thumbsup: …totally love it.


I agree with what Tommy said!


I cant believe iits not budder…


I really like the stuff you have posted on your thread! You have great vision to do mindblowing compositions. I guess Your latest isn’t quite my favourite concept of yours and I like the version that is on the page 17 more than this. you can feel the height better in it. But i really like the dramatic lighting situation that’s going on! :slight_smile:


Very nice values on that last one. You may want to consider dropping the contrast of the background in selcted spots, like creating a suble de-contrasted halo around certain forground elements, to make them stand out more. Very nice.