Grand Space Opera 2D Entry: Nathaniel West


I use 3D only because it saves time, and I can get a really good idea of how big shapes are right away, and can also move them to make the whole thing work better. I also like how I can throw a wide angle lense on the image and make the perspective a bit more dramatic. Also, it makes it easy to adjust the camera angle, and thus the entire composition in a matter of seconds, whereas if I was using a conventional drawing, I would have to start over every time I wanted to change it. I’m able to layout perspective reasonably well, but this is so accurate, flexible, and fast, that it makes sense for me to go about it this way.


Hey everyone,

I’ve begun throwing some colors and a general idea of the value structure onto my 3D model. This is really rough, but since this challenge is about process, I figured it would be best to show the very preliminary stuff before I get into the rest of it. So I’m putting this up for everyone to critique and comment, so please let me know how you feel about how this is shaping up, and if you’d like to see something different please let me know. Thanks!


Whaou ! Really beautiful progression !:applause:
I’m impatient to see more, because it’s one of the most promising thread of the contest…
Keep on !:bounce:


I’ve taken this a little bit further, although it still has a long way to go. I’m going for this huge metropolis that has low clouds over it so as to give that bounced light that turns yellow at night. That allows me to somewhat silhouette the tops of the buildings, which by the way are going to be partially glass and stone.

I still have a long way to go, but I’m just working out a rough study of where all the colors will be before I render this one out. I’d really appreciate some feedback before I proceed to the next step. Let me know if you like the colors, the composition, etc. Feel free to tear this apart. I don’t mind! Just give me you honest opinion–I’d really appreciate some ideas and critiques.

Thanks everyone, and keep up the great work!


It’s coming together quite nice!! Such a vast looking city, and really great choice of colors! I cant wait to see more, so get working! :stuck_out_tongue:


Hi Nathaniel

nice work, has a bladerunner feel to it I like your sketches, and the way its developing
It would be nice to have a character, in the foreground, would help the time period
and style of your submission,

Check my link!

Paul P. Patina!


Hey Nathaniel-

You got a real good start. I love the color palette
you settled on, it ties in nicely with the overall
theme. Great idea about using 3D to block out
perspective. I use that method allot…it’s a real time
saver. My 3D skills are very weak, but I hope to learn
more in depth at a later date.

I really like your last color sketch. At this point it may be too early to offer any useful advice. From the looks of things it
seems like you have it under control. If anything I would say drop in another level of light way in the distance…maybe light emitting upward from another part of the city. This can add allot to the depth of a picture. Pay attention to warm versus cool. Guide the viewers eye’s where you want them to be…your the artist.

I’ll shut up now :slight_smile:



I like the way the building on the left has a lot of windows, and therefor has a lot of light shapes. It would interesting to see more buildings like this scattered throughout the piece.


Thanks for the comments everyone. I’ll continue on the path I’m going on, and I’ll light up the buildings in the background to add more interest and depth, as Greg and Chris mentioned.

As far as the characters in the foreground, they will be there, with some costume reflecting the overall style of the city. The area in the lower right will remain a cooler than everything else, so as to separate it from the rest of the city. I’ll try to watch for the warms and cools to make the whole thing harmonious. Does anyone feel like the cools are too little or too much? Where is your eye going right now, and what would you like the focus to be? Let me know please!


Hi everyone! I haven’t had much time to work on this in the past week because of work, but I’ve done another color scheme, which is similar, but I think it makes a difference. I’m not getting too much feedback, so I’d really appreciate your opinion on which one is better and why. Thanks!


Man, what cool lighting! Your piece has a very “real” feel too it. Nice work. I dig the more brown approach. Feels more like a city to me. Of course i live up north were the clouds are reflecting the light on an almost daily basis. My personal opinion. Keep it up.


I agree with Dougbot, the brown scheme has more possibilities. The purple one is definetly more vibrant and eye-catching, but the brown one has far more sophistication and realism. Can’t wait to see more wips. Good luck. :slight_smile:


I’m more a fan of your yellowish scheme, it feels a little more grungy and gritty. I guess it depends what kind of mood you are shooting for.

The environment looks nice - will there be somehting happening? It strikes me as a bit of an ‘everyday’ shot…sorry if I missed soemthing earlier in your thread regarding this. Other than that point, I think this is coming along.


Dougbot, Gaia’s Herald and Blackarts–Thanks for the input. I really appreciate your comments, and I think you are both right about the brown color scheme. It is more realistic, although the purple is fun to look at. So I’ll use the brown sky on this one.

I think I’m going to attempt to take this to a matte painting level of detail, which I’ve never really had the chance to do. Hopefully it will all work out great.

Blackarts–I’ve decided to go with an everyday scene for this one rather than a certain conflict or chaos. My vision of the future here is more along the lines of an elegant world that doesn’t have industrial space ships, laser guns, and all that good stuff. It’s more Gattaca than Star Wars.
The foreground figures will be exiting the vehicle and walking towards a masquarade ball, or some social event along those lines. They will be dressed in a 1920’s modern style of clothing, and the vehicle will be based off of an old Phaeton, which I’m not sure if I mentioned before or not.
I might put a light source in the lower right hand corner just to give the impression that they are walking towards an inhabited place, but I that’s all the action I’m going to go with. More of a serene look for the future on this one.

Here’s a look at the cars I’m using as reference in case anyone wondered:

And thanks again for the comments everyone. I really appreciate your ideas and opinions!


I think it’s really neat how you’re incorporating the old with the new. The 1920’s clothing style sounds interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing all your designs finalized.

I personally would go for the purple lighting scheme, but I can’t really give any objective reasoning. I’m just more biased to that color :stuck_out_tongue: Like BlackArts said, the brown has a more grungy appeal to it, and I think the amount of pollution it implies might conflict with your original intention of the clean modern twist element. Or maybe this is just my way of thinking.

If I may make a comment, I think the ledge/landing dock for the car is getting kind of lost. When I first looked at your latest progress pics, I was a little confused with the scale because I thought that the car was pulling up to the building on the left on a street. But after looking at your 3d block test, it became more apparent that the camera is actually a lot higher, and that’s not a street. The scaffolding (I think that’s what it is?) that draws a line between the car’s front headlights to the left building also suggested to me that it was a street the car was on. Maybe it’s just me?

I’d be interested in seeing another flying vehicle closer up, I guess more towards the middle ground. I think that would provide the other flying vehicles a better sense of scale and establish more depth in the environment. At least, I think it would :stuck_out_tongue:

Again, everything I said is more a matter of personal taste, so feel free to disregard what I suggested.


YeeWu–Thank you for a very constructive critique that I hadn’t noticed. I will watch out for the sense of scale as I move forward with the painting, and I will definitely put try out some middle ground elements to help the problem out.

You raise a good point about the color of the sky and the grungy feeling. I’ve looked at photos of cities under cloudy night skies, and the clouds end up turning a yellowish brown from reflecting the warm light below. I think I will have to make it apparent that it is a hazy overcast evening in order to make it work, but then again maybe the color itself is going to implie grunge. Hopefully once I get the details in there, it will feel like a clean, elegant civilization under a moody sky. I really like that moody feel that Hugh Ferris got in his drawings, even though his buildings were clean and new. It had a very imposing feel.

So thanks for the great comment–much appreciated. If anyone has any other ideas please feel free to let me know. I’d really appreciate any and all opinions!


personaly i’d go with the purple color scheme. heres why:

Dull Yellow is symbolic of disease, also it emulates reflected light off of smog and polluted air. You could try and cool down the sky a little to make it look more like fog rather than pollution.

The purple color scheme is so much cleaner and so much crisper and like everyone said MORE FUN TO LOOK AT! eye catching isnt a bad thing guys. Besides in this advanced sociaty of the future im assuming that they arnt still burning fossil fuels in the amount we do, so it makes sense to have the air be clean.

i guess it realy comes down to the narative of the piece. are we looking at an advanced high class sociaty? or the slums of the future? i think the color schemes will play a huge role in pushing those concepts.



Thanks for the comment. I agree with you about the color feeling grungy. I’m planning on trying to find a halfway point between the yellow and the purple, but I want to make it apparent that it’s an overcast sky that’s causing the yellow, not because of pollution. It’s a hard problem to solve, but I’ll give it my best and see how it turns out. Thanks again!


This is really minor, but I’ve done one more color comp for you all to see. The one on the bottom is the most recent, and it’s a mix of the top two. A little less brown and a little more purple without getting extreme with it.

Still too grungy? Not believable?

Let me know which one you like of the three please. Just say one two or three! Thanks for the input everyone, and I look forward to hearing your opinions.


I like number 3