Spectacular 2D Entry: Michaël Zancan


Michaël Zancan is entered in the “Spectacular Challenge” update: View Challenge Page

Latest Update: Final Coloring: central close up




For some deep reasons that I will explain later, I decided to depict a scene where giant humanized plants were growing up in a luxuriant garden under a large glass dome.
I have traveled to Nice (south-east france) to make reference shots of a big dome of such kind. I gave me a great insight into the humid tropical atmosphere I should render, good perspectives and viewpoints, but the building needed to have a very old look, yet fully functional, as if it had been built centuries ago and had been repaired and renewed along time, to continue to serve as a shelter for its precious inhabitants.
The gold age for wide glass dome was in the early 1900’s. I got inspired by an event held in Paris in the end of September: the reopening of the “Grand Palais”, after a 12 year period of enclosure. Built in 1900 for Paris’ Universal Exposition, it has a very Belle Epoque look with an Art Nouveau feeling. It is today the widest alive glass dome from the era.

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to travel to Paris to make reference shots and sketches and the Grand Palais has closed its doors once again.

A few sketches fixing up the main idea revealed that I needed a consistent perspective basis to support the whole scene. Therefore I started to sketch up the building in 3D (using Cinema 4D software), considering the various real life references I had collected along with various sketches (such as the Gravier’s Kiosk in Agen my native town).

Here’s an early rendering of the 3D model for my building concept.


The 3D model served as a trustable perspective basis, upon which I’ll be able to draw the scene. I tried to distort the perspective as much as possible, something that I usually do when drawing wide scenes to give the viewer a more unusual look.
The counterpart of using 3D software is that you can’t distort the perspective lines in an unnatural manner, you have to stick to real-life lenses, and fish-eye did not really leaded to what I wanted.
I placed avatars of the giants ( See I really s_ck at 3d modeling …), and, playing with the camera, chose a satisfying viewpoint, allowing me to see the floor and the ceiling at the same time.
Due to exaggerated lenses distortion, the frontmost characters appear very weird. This shows the limits of detailing my scene in 3D. Time for traditional sketching now.


I’m happy to not be alone south France man to participate the spectacular 2D challenge. Your Idea looks great, It will be a big work on painting, and I wait to see the sketch.
This could look really spectacular.
’ ça peut déglinger ’ as I often say in my native langage you’ll understand.
Good Luck Zancan !


I had already sketched various characters on paper. Now it was time to get everybody together in the building I had built especially for them.

Since I had a good rendering as a trustable perspective basis, I wanted to use it for my sketch.
I used a weird technic I had already put into use a few times: direct transfer from computer to paper. I don’t know if I should be ashamed of this one, but it proved its usefulness a couple of times.Receipe: turn off the lights, allow just enough ambient light to distinguish the lines you will be tracing. Apply the sheet on the notebook’s screen. Adjust the zoom factor so that it matches the sheet’s. Transfer the line art the way you learnt when you were 5 year old.
Okay, I should really learn how to get those so-called “printers” to work one of this days :wink:

Then it’s usual sketching stuff, graphite on paper.
I must add something. I’m usually no CG artist, I prefer painting with oils, because it involves me as a whole, my body and all my senses, getting together with real materials, touchable canvas texture, odorant mediums, running, crouching, doing wide gestures in a intense and integral ballet. CG as a whole lot of exceptional advantages, but to me it always lead to a sort of frustration.
That the reason why I will be painting a real canvas in parallel of the computer painting. The oil painting, much longer to achieve, will continue a long time after the challenge is finished.
I’ve assembled a wide canvas ( 200x120 cm) and have already started to transfer the line art onto it (using dried pastels). This way I’ll fill “filled” with this artwork.


Hello neighbor! :slight_smile:
The sketch is there, I was late in posting the first millestones and just fixed this after a whole weekend devoted to the challenge.
It is going to be a very long painting work, indeed.
GOod luck to your entry too, and thank you for visiting!
( je ne connaissais pas l’expression “ça va déglinguer”, sûrement issue du patoi toulousain!)



Beautiful lineart! I like your characters the most, lovely gestures and life in them!
Im looking forward to see how you will blend the colors of the skin with the vegetation!
I would also like to know some more thoughts behind it, background story?
I’ll check back later! :slight_smile:


Hi! I have tried indeed to give my characters a lot of sensuality / sensitivity, that’s the reason why they will be only woman shaped. There’s a strong background story behind that I’ll explain in a moment!
I’m too longing for the colored version to be finished… sigh :wink:


Here’s the basic coloring, in which I have set up the primary values and made a few arrangements in the composition.
Everything is organized in layers (about 10 layers for the moment). I’m using Photoshop CS.
Despite the underlying 3D-rendered structure, I couldn’t get rid of perspective construction using vanishing points etc…
The suspended flower stand in the middle was removed to free up the space in the vanishing point direction.

Todo next: narrow the circles on top of the dome. Increase depth and contrast. Start to draw metallic decorations all over the building.
Then a huge work on drawing the vegetation.
I need to enlarge the color spectrum with blue and red hues.
The background sky will have big clouds with a break in the middle throwing a lot of light.
The characters will be shedding tears, meaning that they’ll need to look wet (late steps)

Oh, also I need to explain the concept in details. Lazy me.


great colors, good work:thumbsup:

Keep it up!

peace, pete


well this image is outstanding … i have nothing to say. just observe your work.


Wow Michaël! That’s indeed outstanding spectacular! :scream: Really cool stuff! I’m looking forward for the ‘healthy look’ of the final (with all that green, it might get to look ‘healthy’, isn’t it?!)! As far as I can conclude from your sketch you got a brilliant feel of color, shape and style! :slight_smile:

It’s really interesting to see quite allot people stepping out of the general theme, to get something more creative, more remarkable and more outstanding… Just ‘different’! :applause: But as só much people do it, it seems thát kind of stuff is getting convential, and the other stuff to be ‘special’… :scream:

Good luck on the challenge! I’m looking forward to updates! :thumbsup:


This is really neat! Beautiful design and color choices. Keep going…I can’t wait to see the finished one and here the story behind it


Man, that’s cool :thumbsup: :thumbsup: Very surreal and interesting idea. I LOVE IT. The angle is great too. No critzs, just want to see this one finish.



Good concept! I like what i am seeing so far. I can’t wait to see your final version. I have no crists for now! Good job!

Good luck!:thumbsup:


woow woow! the skech is really good.i’m not worried about the coloring. your start is blowing me allready.with such a nice concept you’ve got 50% done to come up with one of the best painting around. keep it up!!!


Hi there,

Here’s an update of the coloring on which I’ve been working a lot lately, despite an overloaded schedule.
This one shows the perspective lines that I use to add new elements in the scene.
It’s a regular perspective with a vanishing horizon line and a vanishing point at the bottom for all vertical lines.
I’ve been working a lot on specific parts and couldn’t help but detailing a lot, beyond the visible. I’ve always been a maniac for details.

I’m working at 3600x6000 resolution, which is huge for my little iBook 12’’ to handle, considering the multiple layers that keep on accumulating on the stage. And 12’’ is rather small, my eyes suffer a lot from the long painting sessions. But in the end it’s so much fun!

The deadline is not that far now, and I feel really pressured since there are millions of things to add to this painting for it to conform to what I have in mind! o_O


Very great sens of perspective!! congratulation zancan!! nothing to say about your work…that’s very good so far…keep goin’ on and good luck for the challenge.:thumbsup:


I really like this…for me its the lighting, just love that lighting! And the idea is a very original one as well, it’s just a great angle on things.

keep going dude.