A reminder of the inspiration before I continue. Brian had written a blog entry title “Ramps and Colors” while he was stationed in Bagram that described the scene of an Honor Guard bringing fallen Special Forces soldiers onboard a C-17 to bring them home.
The reference picture is a collection of a number of pictures from different sources:
1. The C-17
This was pretty much what I was looking for. Jeanette cropped out the tarmac and trimmed the outline from where I had cropped it from the original.
2. The C-17 interior with lighting
This is also pretty much in tact. I did just a bit of scaling to make it fit with the C-17.
3. Replacement color guard on the ramp. This took some research to make sure I scaled them reasonably close. Fortunately, the interior picture had a soldier standing where I placed the color guard so I was able to scale them relatively easily.
4. The troop formation and escorts
The troop formation is pretty much what I had in mind except for a color guard to the right. Jeanette cropped out the color guard and clones in a few stand-in soldiers.
4. The mountain background
I wasn’t happy with any mountain backgrounds I had found including a photo of the mountains outside Bagram, Afghanistan. A Painter article I read mentioned the use of Vue to generate landscape environments. Vue 8 Pioneer is a free version that contains a watermark in the lower-right corner. A $69 add-in will allow for hi-res output and remove the watermark. I used Vue to create the mountains in the background and define the scene pre-dawn lighting.
I wasn’t sure I was going to even be able to create the correct lighting through filters in Photoshop alone. With the mountain background as a lighting reference Jeanette was able to match up the other layers. She also removed the shadows of the soldiers.
The challenges I still have before I have a usable reference picture are:
1. To clone out the vehicles inside the C-17
2. To make the lighting direction as consistent as possible. The mountains and the troop formation show the light source from the upper-left; however the C-17’s tail and upper wings show it being from the right. I will probably have to correct this in the underpainting and not in the reference picture.
3. After re-reading the post, I will need to add two more light sources one from the left from generator powered light sets and a blue light on the HMWVV casting a blue tint on the scene.
4. I will also need to turn the Honor Guard around so they are approaching the C-17. Again, that will need to be done in the painting.