Grand Space Opera 2D Entry: Nathaniel West


I like the saturated sky more, too

and it’s becoming a cool pic :thumbsup:


YeeWu–Thanks for the input! I’ll try and tone down the sky a bit, and I’m going to play with some color variation too. I’ll work on brightening up the background on the left as well. Hey, yeah, I just noticed the head, but sorry, it’s not going to stay! So I’ll keep working on the rest of it and see if I can figure out what’s not working for me. There’s just something that doesn’t seem right.


Any time! :slight_smile:

About that thing that doesn’t seem right…I think I have a hunch what it might be. Feel free to disregard this, but I think one thing is…the piece still feels kind of normal? I think what may be missing is a sense of absurdity. Something really big and dramatic. I mean, the sky is great, the architecture looks wonderful, but at the same time, the architecture still seems to have its roots firmly grounded in early 20th century buildings (please correct me if I’m wrong. Art History is far from one of my strong points :stuck_out_tongue: ). I know that you wanted that time period to influence your piece, but I think it just needs that extra “oomph” to make it go from great to excellent.

This is something that happened with my piece (Though I really hate to compare your piece to mine!). It seemed like I needed something really different with the architecture, so I threw that kind of abstract cathedral-ish structure in with the flying buttresses. I don’t think you need to necessarily fill your piece with these dramatic buildings, but if I were to pick one in your piece that I would have changed, I would choose the one towards the middle. My eye tends to go towards that one, so maybe it would benefit from some sprucing up. Of course, I guess that also poses the problem of it sticking out too much if you did play with the architecture.

Anyway…not sure if that was of any help, but maybe that would give some ideas as to what doesn’t seem right to you. :slight_smile:


Yeah YeeWu, I think the normal aspect of it is one thing. I do want these buildings to look simple and refined, which tends to lean more to the normal side. Of course I can’t add anything crazy hanging off of it so this is an interesting issue. What I want to do is make some of the buildings in the background look more like glass, and have different shapes from the standard skyscraper, which I feel they are beginning to look like. The bright areas in the front buildings will be essentially all glass, and you can see all the way through to the other side somewhat. I’m hoping that will give that absurd feel. We’ll see how things pan out, and thanks again for the great input. I can always count on you for some serious critiques and interesting points. Much appreciated.


I’m deffinitely liking the more saturated sky more. It’ll be interesting to see what your color variations look like two, though.


I’ve put a new sky on another layer because I figured out what was bothering me was that I had lost that mysterious foggy quality to the horizon. I know some of you liked it more saturated, but I’m hoping this will also work. Other than that, I’ll adjust the colors further, and I’m still working on the window details.


The details look great, and the light blue on the car doesn’t dominate the picture any more! I kinda liked the contrast in the previous update, but that’s just me. YeeWu made a good point about the arquitecture being too conventional, but you’ll be the one to decide whether to go more towards the odd and modern, or to the retro and stylish. It would be facinating to see a mixture of both, but I wouldnt know how to achieve it (but you will cause you’re so good; I envy you ;)).

Looking great :cool:. Good luck!


I’ve gotten rid of some of the buildings in the background, and I’m going to replace them with a faint silhouette of a large domed structure. I’ve sharpened up the figures a bit more, although there is still a lot of work to be done in that area. Someone please let me know what’s not working for you. Thanks!


Outstanding work Nathaniel. Beautiful mood you have created. :thumbsup: :thumbsup:


Those characters look great. You really know how to paint figures!. The buildings also look perfect. What you could try is to make some more of the interior light of the “car” wash some more of the creatures and the sidewalk. Also, try making some more defined clouds or give more contrast to some areas. It’s hard to look for things to improve in an already great piece.

Great work, man!


I love the “glamorous” feel of this. The future doesn’t always have to be grim and gritty.

It seems to me like there could be something of medium scale in the image, although I don’t know if adding elements at this point would help you out. What I mean is that the people in the foreground seem to be very close to us, and the buildings in the background are very far away, but there doesn’t seem to be much “in between” if you know what I mean. One solution might be to decrease the size of the people so they seem further away, and hence closer to the background? I hope you understand what I’m saying.

Great piece you have here.


I agree with Francis on this one. That being said, the concept, the architectural style and the palette appeal to me. It’s a very stong piece Nathaniel and you have chosen your palette well. Nice one



Thanks for the comments so far.

Sideache–Thank you so much for the kind words!

Andreasrocha–Thanks, I’ll try working on the interior lights, and the overall foreground lighting to see how to punch it up a bit more.

Francis001 and Unit Studio–Thanks for pointing that out to me. I’ve known that there was nothing in between the foreground and background, mostly because I want to keep that whole area light so as to better separate the dark foreground. I’ll play with putting the hint of some lower buildings in between, much like the domed one in the lower lefthand corner. I also had the idea of using some of those floating cars as middleground elements, and to show scale in relationship to the car in front. We’ll see how things go, but nonetheless thank you for the critique…it’s a very good point. Thanks again!


Nathaniel - It’s looking beautiful! I know you’re in a rush to finish right now, but at some point when you have time, I would love to hear in more detail the steps that you’ve taken to add all of the wonderful architectural details and windows to this piece. They’re really convincing, and quite lovely!
Good luck!



Walrus–Thanks for the comment. I’ll give you a quick run down of how I do the windows. It’s really easy, just time consuming and monotonous.

What I do first is make a grid structure in black and white, using either photoshop or illustrator. Imagine looking at a building straight on, and the windows are just a bunch of rectangles. Now that’s what I create, without thinking of perspective etc. Then I get that grid on a new layer and then I select the whole thing using the magic wand. I hit layer mask, and it masks the whole shape for me. Then I can adjust the grid to fit the perspective, and I can then add colors to it without disturbing the shape of the windows if I have to erase anything out.

The rest of the details, which I really haven’t gotten to, will be done using the lasso tool to keep shapes crisp and straight, and a whole lot of little brushes. I’ll be posting some close ups of this piece very soon so that everyone can see all of the detailing as it progresses.


Always good job, the work on the windows of the building is fantatik, very realistic, there is a really impression of light, very good work


I don’t know how I didn’t see your thread before, cause your work is very good, remembers me to craig mullins artwork. (and I can’t wait to see what’s the big shadow floating between the buildings)


Wow!! Love the atmospheric feeling in your piece. Great progress! Judgeing by what I see in the background you still have some work ahead of you. GOod luck!!


I darkened the sky a bit just to see how it changed things. I really feel like the sky needs a darker feel to it to capture the mood I’m going for. Not enough time to really dive into things today, but tomorrow’s another day. Let me know if you like this one more than the previous. Thanks!


Nathaniel: this looks great. You have a gift brother! I don’t know how you manage to convey so much, sometimes with only a few brushstrokes. I honestly admire you :).
Best of luck!