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November 25, 2012
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Maelstrom by SamODJ Maelstrom by SamODJ
Keeping the ball rolling after completing The Cataract ([link]) and fleshing out a few new methods of painting nebulae. They seem to be working so far, but i'll be continuing to develop the process.

I'm investing heavily in building up the colours in these works, to really push the depth of the cloud work. Let me know if it's working for you.
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:iconcosmicbound:
cosmicbound Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2012
Good work. However, I further Bryan's points about this piece. Also, I would like to see more of a star-field. Overall the form and detail is indeed quite nice though. I can agree that those planets are marvelous. Additionally some of the detail is very nice (middle in particular). I would urge you add to the depth and detail in parts as Bryan has argued, though.

As to particulars, some of the stars do indeed reflect nicely in the nebulae. Yet some others do not. Just above the largest apparent planet, for example. There appears to be no detailed reflectance onto any nebulae there. Some others, such as those above and vertical to the centre, reflect somewhat onto the nebulae, but would be enhanced in this effect by adding lit tendrils of nebulae adjacent to them. At the moment, it just seems too hazy and "nebulous" (in one too many ways!). Overall, I think this piece has further potential, if you add to it and alter the lighting/contrast/hues selectively.
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:iconsamodj:
SamODJ Featured By Owner Dec 13, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The piece definitely screams for a proper, custom created star-field but laziness did got the better of me (always been a problem that i've never REALLY invested in developing my star-fields, ever). Just the few flares I placed myself work nicely because I bothered to give them some ambient effect on the gases surrounding them, as you mentioned, so really next time i'll have to kick myself until I dress these pieces up with a star-field to do them proud.
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:iconcosmicbound:
cosmicbound Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2013
Another thing I would keep in mind is that even a half-hearted star-field might be better than none -- and once you go that far, you may as well finish it off sometime!
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:iconsamodj:
SamODJ Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I will never create a full starfield! By which I mean I'll try harder next time.
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:iconcosmicbound:
cosmicbound Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2013
Hehe
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:iconbloknayrb:
bloknayrb Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Overall I really like the form of the nebula. I kind of feel like my monitor isn't displaying these properly. Some parts seem lighter than I think you had intended, but I can never be sure on this screen. As a result, it is also a bit too obvious which parts got more attention and which got less, and some depth is lost, almost as if you used levels to eliminate the blacks in the image, but then added black back in on some parts later.

I'm a big fan of high contrast, but the center of the nebula here actually seems to have a bit too much of it. The colors are so saturated and solid that it actually makes it harder to see detail. It's also a bit odd that some parts of the image have such high contrast while others have much lower contrast.

I do like this, but I don't think it's as strong as The Cataract.

And I seriously like the planets you've done in these last two pieces, they come across as very solid and the lighting and color is really spot on.
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:iconsamodj:
SamODJ Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the extended comment Bryan, some great points that i'll bear in mind for my next piece. Monitor difference aside (unfortunately just one of those things we have to accept) you're likely right that there are some odd levels going on in the image. These are no doubt down to the extensive manipulating i'm doing in Lightroom (between highlights, shadows, black levels, white levels) to help achieve the mood I originally envisioned. The problem with this is that it can, as you picked up on, highlight the sections that are lit but not as detailed as the other parts of the image. I'm not generally too worried about this, as hopefully it forces the viewer's eye to the sections with more detail, but as you've noticed it I will definitely have to pay it some mind in the future.

The centre was a bit of an experiment that maybe didn't work as well as i'd hoped. I thought i'd chuck in some really highly saturated turquoise/green to make it look like there was a deep, violent pocket of hydrogen or other gases nestling around the centre star. Unfortunately I fell prey to my usual habit of hurrying the highlighted detail in the centre in a rush to get the piece on dA. You know what they say about old habits ;).
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:iconbloknayrb:
bloknayrb Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You use Lightroom for post processing after Photoshop? It never even occurred to me to use Lightroom for anything other than photo processing. I would think that when building an image from scratch it wouldn't be necessary to manipulate the levels as a whole after exporting to a jpeg. That probably is where the problem comes in.

For the next piece, I wonder if creating a semi-flattened PSD that has each of the main elements isolated might be useful. This way you can work on the levels of each element of the scene without getting bogged down in endless layers.

The problem with the less detailed areas (at least in this piece) is that they aren't working as negative space. My eye is drawn to them; I'm expecting detail and not finding it, as opposed to natural lack of detail that my brain would kind of skip over.

I see what you were trying to achieve in the center, a bit more time probably would've fixed it and that would have looked very cool. I do the same thing, I start rushing to get the piece up and then never want to go back and fix those parts. Sometimes I'll post a WIP in scraps for comments, which helps.

I seriously need to get back into space art.
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:iconsamodj:
SamODJ Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
My inclusion of Lightroom in the process is a recent one. I find it much easier to keep track of what i'm doing in Lightroom, as well as being able to take snapshots of the presets I create (and also being able to revert back to the original). Lightroom can also help pave over some of the cracks that often I miss when I've been looking at an image too long, tying together the tones and values (I often use it when doing matte work or photo montages for this reason).

What I might try is to export to a lossless file type as opposed to exporting from PS as a Jpeg, then Lightroom as a Jpeg, then PS as a Jpeg again, which might up the quality a little bit and cut down on some of the strange lighting in patches of the work.

Either way, I highly recommend giving Lightroom a whirl for things other than just photography. It tends to offer a greater degree of finesse over the values of an image, such as allowing you to dual tone or better balance the highs and lows (i'm sure you know all this as you've obviously got experience in the program). Tell you what, i'll submit the original jpeg into my scraps so you can have a look at what it was like before the post-processing.
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:iconbloknayrb:
bloknayrb Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Interesting. Some areas clearly benefited, while others suffered. Pretty tellingly, it seems the more detailed areas benefited the most, and the least detailed areas got worse. Maybe using some local adjustment brushes in LR will help. If you follow up with more painting in PS, it should solve the problem; you just need to identify which areas suffered and patch them up by adding or removing detail.

And definitely export as a loss-less file. I can't see a difference at this size/because the two images aren't the same, but re-saving the same image as a jpg over and over probably hurts the image.
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