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Breaking Down a Panel, Again
Posted Feb 27, 2014 - 14:47:40

So a while back I did a panel breakdown for UnCONventional, but I thought it might be fun to do another. Last time we looked at a panel where I built a structure from scratch. This time around, we're going to take a look at a panel where I transformed an existing photograph with additional elements to create a scene in a snowstorm.

I like to refer to this image as "The Mad Dash."

Whenever I do something like this, I like to start with any hand drawn elements, which are (of course) Lynn, Megan, and the backend of Lynn's 1986 Grand Marquis. I do each one of these three separately so I can reposition elements as I go along.

Even though I draw digitally, I still follow the traditional method of "Pencils" -> "Inks" -> "Flats" -> "Highlights/Shading" in my work. Once I have all of these hand drawn elements, I combine them into a single layer.

Now that I've got that part done (and still maintaining them as separate layers), I move on to the hard part.

I start out with an image of a gas station which I found on (a really good source for free images). Now since this isn't a winter scene, I need to do some base-layer modifications. First thing I do is apply an "Oilify" filter which will flatten some of the colors for me. Then I randomly start filling sections as white with the fill tool. This gives us the approximation of some snow in the background.

My next step is to separate the foreground and background spaces. I want the snow to be thicker the further back you go, so I select a portion of the image and turn it into a new layer. Then I create my first "snow" layer. I use an RGB Noise filter on a black layer which gives me a lot of nice, random white pixels. I then color select the white noise, grow the selection by one pixel and fill the selection with white (to thicken the snow) and float it to a new layer. I then add a touch of motion blur to the "snow" to emulate falling in wind. Along with a basic white to transparent gradient, I put my snow between the "background" and "foreground" layers.

Next I add another layer of "snow" up front (without the blur) to put some snow over the foreground and thicken our blizzard. It's at this point that I also bring in the hand drawn elements from earlier. It's very exciting, I know.

Once I'm sure that I like the positions of the characters (and get everything done right), I toss on one more layer of "snow" upfront, and voila! We're done!

Personally, I'm happy with the way it turned out.
- Traegorn

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