After making some sketches, it was time to make a finished version of my winter woods image. I decided to make it a collage for two reasons. First, I just like working with both watercolors and cut paper. Second, collage makes it easier to work on the different layers of the image, adding and removing elements and adjusting their positions along the way.
It’s a perfect technique for me, since I don’t have the patience to do a lot of planning and sketching — although I’m working on it!
If you want to see what an awesome artist can do with this kind of technique, do have a look at Phoebe Wahl‘s fantastic work. Needless to say, I’m nowhere near that level, but bear with me!
After seeing some tutorials here and there, I tried experimenting with watercolors and salt for the sky: I used coarse salt, so I obtained a pretty rough texture. Next time I’ll try finer grains. Initially I had not drawn any trees on this background, but I added some when I realized that the whole image looked really weird without them.
Since I wanted to be able to adjust each layer all along, and because scanning non-flat images doesn’t work for me, I scanned everything separately and made my collage digitally in GIMP. Many of you are probably used to working with either GIMP of Photoshop, but I’m rather new at it. I hope you won’t mind me sharing very basic techniques as I’m learning them. Also, any tips?
Using a green background (or a red one for the trees) as for chroma keying made it easier to find the contours of each object using GIMP’s foreground select tool.
After putting each object in a different layer, I was able to make a rough draft. Of course the contours still needed a lot of work, the quick foreground extraction left some unwanted transparency on the bottom left tree and there were too many saturated pixels on the path.
I re-scanned the bottom part of the background with different contrast settings. This way I got rid of most saturated pixels, but the colors were still not very good.
Here is the result after I spent some hours cleaning the contours. Thankfully, there are good podcasts to listen to! I also adjusted the colors on the path and in the ray of light. I added the character’s shadow using the “perspective shadow” tool in GIMP.
Finally I added some drop shadows to give the whole thing a cut-paper-y look.
What do you think?
This was fun, I learned a lot, and I feel motivated to practice more.