Media Production Mentoring

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Blood Elf and Layers

Once I saw a sound guy's timeline for a mix he was working on. He had hundreds of layers with sounds and bits scattered everywhere.

'Why does he need so many layers?' I thought to myself. 'I never hear more than a few sounds at any given time.'

But I just created a single image that spanned four files with over 60 final layers (not to mention all the ones I flattened along the way). Granted, the layers were all copies of the steps I had taken in case I needed to go back and redo something--which I ended up doing several times--even so: 60 layers for a single image?

What could possibly require that?

First, the back story:

When I heard that they were planning a live-action Warcraft movie, I was a little incredulous; 'Live action? What are you thinking, Blizzard?'

Then I saw a picture of Taylor Swift, and if they cast her as a Blood Elf, I'm sold. In fact, I even made this idea a formal suggestion.

Taylor Swift

So, I decided I needed to make a "proof of concept" piece just to increase Taylor's chances of moving from the world of country music to the digitally projected silver screen.

Step 1: Cut her out of the background so it can look cool.

Step 2: Fix her up.


Edited:Scratches, skin folds, dress

Step 3: Add Blood Elf eyes.

This was difficult. It took me many tries of various techniques to figure out how to make the eyes look right (you're welcome to use my method, Blizzard). In the end I had five layers for the eyes: I boosted her eyes, added some green, added more green around her eyes, whited out her pupil, and then whited out the very center a little more.

After that, I added in her long eyebrows.

Eye Layers

Blood Elf Eyes

Step 4:Ears

These killed me. And, honestly, they are the worst part of this image. See, Taylor doesn't show her ears (at least, not in any of the images or videos I found of her). So, I needed an ear model to stand in for her. So, I chose Lindsay.

Miss Lohan's Ear

This I cut out and added to Taylor's image and changed the color to match, used Liquify to reshape, and some lighting effects to make them fit more in the space.

A Few Ear Layers

Step 5: Putting it all together.

At this point I got a Horde symbol, vectorized it in Illustrator (since it wasn't nearly big enough originally), added text (which I then painted with Liquify to get the font a little cooler), and then added a white blurred version of that layer behind it to make it stand out a bit more.

For the Horde!

So, there she is: The girl who should be a Blood Elf in the upcoming Warcraft movie.

And if I need that many layers to make a single image, I have a slightly better idea of why it may be helpful to have that many layers of sound as well.

...and that is probably why my films haven't had very good sound: I didn't have nearly enough depth to the sound track. Because if I need five layers just to make Taylor's eyes look right, I'm guessing I need more than just a dialog and music track for sound.

~Luke Holzmann
Your Media Production Mentor

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