KitBash3D recently announced a concept art contest featuring their Warzone Kit. It struck me as an interesting project, and I decided to enter a concept piece. I considered a few options, but I eventually landed on re-imagining a scene from one of my favorite Sci-Fi inspirations, The War of the Worlds.
While planning the image’s composition, I remembered the Rubble Collection hosted on PixelSquid, and I knew immediately that it would complement the scene I envisioned: an old, Panvision style, 2:39 aspect ratio scene at dusk depicting Tripods hunting after a long afternoon.
Building the Scene
I started with a base render in Cinema 4D and OctaneRender, to get the general textures and lighting I envisioned. Octane does a terrific job with path tracing, and I added a few area lights and a HDRI in Cinema 4D.
I wanted to have a dusk shot with the sun going down behind the hunting Tripods in a ravaged cityscape. I used the rule of three and place the Tripods in areas that complement the composition.
Next, I placed the rendered image into a new Photoshop document to add layer effects and to perform color adjustments. Small adjustments like these are great indicators of mood, and can really bring an image together.
The initial adjustments had a dark red tone. It conveyed the ominous feeling I was looking to express, but it reminded me of the period in the original story when the “red weeds” arise. In The War of the Worlds, this particular battle I envisioned happened chronologically before this red menace covered the Earth. Not wanting to draw the ire of any other H.G. Wells fans in the audience, I decided to lighten the tone to avoid confusion.
I love using PixelSquid objects in Photoshop to create depth in a piece by adding them as layers to the foreground. In this case an old downed power line seemed perfect.
Next, I added the skulls. Yes, I know the tri-pod weapons are supposed to disintegrate people, but skulls are cool and you can’t please everyone! I also added debris in the foreground to help reinforce the depth I wanted to create.
Keeping in mind the general rule that foreground objects are darker and more saturated, I make the final adjustments to Hue/Saturation, Vibrance, Curves, etc. in order to create a cinematic feel.
Finally, I tested several filters on the image to consider all of the optional concepts.
In the end I simply softened the image by adding a soft noise and a layer of smoke that is screened in order to create stronger silhouettes and a more ominous tone.
And thus, I had my final product. I hope this was instructional for some of you looking to work with some of these tools.
Ron Domingue is a Designer for PixelSquid. He enjoys painting, drawing, cooking, cosmology, and technology. He has a passion for Francis Ford Coppola and David Fincher films and is an avid Game of Thrones viewer and a lifelong Saints fan. You can see more of his personal work on his website at RonDomingue.com.