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Hello and Welcome to this written tutorial on creating a rugged revolver concept art with Tim Von Rueden.
Software: Photoshop CS5
Total Time: 5 1/2 hours
So while I was working on the upcoming creature course, Jonathan asked me last week if I could concept out a perspective revolver with modeling sheets for him for one of the upcoming weeks in his workshop. I have never drawn out an actual gun concept before so this was a new and exciting experiment for me. This was also a learning experience for myself and a great way to show how I go about a concept art subject matter that I am not entirely comfortable with.
With all the concept art I do here, collecting references is a big first step. Jonathan gave me a bunch of initial gun references for the style, shaping, and the type of gun he wanted for me to concept. I took these references as the foundations for my own research and not only for the style but to learn how a gun works and how it functions. I am not familiar with break action revolvers so I looked to inform myself on this before I even got started with the initial sketches.
When I finally got to working with sketching it out, I had a few ideas for the different shapes and look of this gun. I took around 4-5 minutes on each sketch trying to keep each different enough from the next to stand out as a different gun entirely. For the first few stages I only used the standard round, hard-edged brush.
I took the first 6 sketches and handed them off to Jonathan, treating him like a client that I am working as a concept artist for. So throughout this process I would go back and fourth with him to make sure the end product is the concept he wants. He let me what parts of the sketches he liked and I merged them together for an entirely new concept to work with as shown below.
I took this melted idea together and created a clean modeling sheet for Jonathan. I asked him to create simple 3d mock up gun for me to use as the basis of the concept. Because rather than trying to create the perspective from scratch, it makes sense to save yourself time when you can.
Some say that this is cheating because you needed help from a 3d mock up to create concept art from. This is not cheating so don’t let yourself be told otherwise. As a concept artist your time is valuable and the 3d model is still made from scratch. This step is a great example of using the resources you have to your advantage.
After receiving the mock up, I separated the gun from the background with the magic wand tool and selected the gray in the background to delete it. Using the masking tool I masked the gun out and filled it out with color using the standard brushes and the Photoshop chalk brush. I tend to work dark to light, meaning I will lay down the dark hues of colors first and build up my values with the lighter tones and white for the specular highlights.
Since this gun has a metallic look to the barrel and upper front half I used my values appropriately, using white to highlight edges and corners. Before I even started on the value build up, I imagined where my light source was coming from and ran with it. After some build up, I decided to add some rust color to add some more interest in the look of it. I did this using the chalk brush on an overlay layer.
I sent the gun off for some feedback again. I knew certain commentary would include to add more interest in the shaping and detailing of the gun but to my surprise, Jonathan was okay with there being more meticulous detail added to the gun and I had fun adding the nooks and crannies to the shape and look of the gun. I also wanted there to be something more unique to this gun so in the circle area or the “hinge pin” part of the gun, I threw on a CGCookie logo.
TIP: For quick detailing work on metallic surfaces, take a circle hard edge brush, set the size to a small value and do quick brush strokes on different areas of the gun to resemble those small scratch marks you see on this type of surface. It’s a quick way to add illusion of realism and add more interest to your gun!
The next few stages were figuring out what the back end of the gun should be. I went with a cherry wood exterior to add some color and appeal to it but after talking with Jonathan it was apparent that this sort of gun wouldn’t be manufactured with a material that could break so easily. So after a few updates it was apparent that the wood finish was a no go. I settled on a matte metallic finish to complete the gun. The final critique was to re-work the sloppiness in the cylinder, giving it a clean fresh look.
After the final word was in, I took to the levels editor under Image>Adjustments>Levels… and pulled the outer arrows closer to where the “mountain of contrast” begins on either side. I also did an overlay pass with golden hues as seen on the top, a purple pass on the entirety of the gun and a touch of blue on the hammer. Added some speckle to the background, signed it, and called it done!
Below is the final result.
Since this is a concept designed with a 3d intention in mind, I took back to the modeling sheets and updated them with the latest and current version of the gun so that the model can accurately depict the concept art as closely as possible.
After I was done, I gun finally cross gun concept off of my “never done before” list, knowing that I was proud of my first gun concept. As great as it is to be happy with the finished product, to become a better concept artist you have to look at your end result, the process, and time you took and ask, “where can i improve?“.
So after a few days I took back to looking at the concept. If I were to to another gun concept I would treat the process fairly similiar because I felt the 5 and a half hours I took with creating this concept from scratch to final was an effective timeframe for a gun concept. I would clean up the areas i believe are still a bit rough, the grip feels a bit out of perspective and flat. The top of the gun feels flat due to a lack of refinement, and as always there can be clean up work with any piece.
I learned a bunch about creating a gun concept and how a break action revolver works.
+ If you feel you learned from the concept piece you are working on then you are on the right path to bettering yourself and your skills as a concept artist!