A Behind the Scenes Look at the Work Processes of World Renowned Artists

At the FanExtra network we believe that the best way to learn is from experts in your field. That’s why we employ some of the best tutorial writers and bring you regular quality content.
Tutorials are great, but I often find myself looking at work from some of the world’s top digital artists and wondering about the thought processes, techniques and workflows used to create such incredible art. I always think ‘if I only I could get my hands on their original Photoshop files I’d be able to break down exactly what makes their work so awesome!’.
Well that’s exactly what we aim to offer you guys, as part of our new series ‘Artist Breakdown’. We’re going to be talking to some of the world’s most respected digital artist’s and offering an insight into how they’ve created some of their most popular works. We’ll also provide a full .psd source file for our FanExtra members to explore. This will allow you to look through every layer, object, blending option and technique used. It’s a true behind the scenes look into some world-class work, and we hope you enjoy it!
Artist Breakdown #7. Olli-Pekka Jauhiainen: Escape From Reality (Source File Available)

Today we’ll be talking with Olli-Pekka Jauhiainen about his stunning piece Escape From Reality. You can check out more of Olli-Pekka’s work at his Behance profile.

1. Before we get down to anything else, I’d love to know what Escape From Reality is all about. It’s a really interesting, but very unusual piece.
What I had in mind was this concept about post-apocalyptic version of Noah’s Arc with a surreal twist. The woman in the middle is the master key holder on some futuristic planet where all the last animals from earth have been rescued due to extinction, pollution or an uninhabitable environment caused by humans.
By opening the cages, the key holder not only sets the animals free but also releases them from not being dependent on humans indifference. This was originally made for Slashthree’s exhibition entitled “Unleashed”.
2. Beyond the main subject, there is a lot of detail in this piece. How do you choose which elements to include in your compositions?
I often, and this wasn’t an exception, choose only the main elements before I start working and the smaller, supporting elements come during the process and after testing different things. I tend to change things all the time while working on the piece because that way I usually get more ideas that feel better than the one I planned at the beginning.
Nowadays when I start something I make a sketch with pencil, sometimes really refined one and sometimes just a rough one with base lines, but I try to think of all the elements before I scan it for Photoshop. I feel if I have everything thought upfront on the sketch phase I don’t have to waste time on trying things and I can concentrate on the “big picture” from the very beginning. This also naturally makes the final outcome more coherent. And experience have taught me that the saying “Well planned is half-done” is something to follow.

3. Despite so many elements that perhaps shouldn’t fit together all that naturally, the image is blended to perfection, giving the impression of a single cohesive scene. Do you have any tips for blending so many images so cohesively, or perhaps could you share some of the difficulties you faced in the blending of this piece?
I can’t remember facing any difficulties, but of course it takes some time to fix all the colors on elements to make them look as if they belong there. Especially on this where everything should look like cold and icy and none of the original stock photos are like that. But I guess patience is the key here. As a tip, pay attention to the light source. Elements won’t blend that well unless the lighting and shadows are right.
4. If you had to give a quick summary of your workflow for the entire piece what would that look like?
Concept/idea -> finding the main stock photos -> cutting and placing them -> making the background, texturing & creating the overall feeling for the scene -> sketching some ideas on top of the main elements to see which combinations could work -> adding more elements by painting, using photos or 3D modelling -> color adjustments and blending -> painting and refining details -> lighting & color adjustments and emphasizing the overall atmosphere -> final small details to add depth and the feeling of a realistic scene.
5. Do you have any favorite aspects of this piece? Perhaps small details that the rest of us may not notice, but that were a challenge or achievement in it’s creation for you?
My favorite part on this one was the koalas. I always want to challenge myself when working on a new piece and I hadn’t painted realistic looking animals from scratch digitally before in a way where they should work together with photos.
Source File for ‘Escape From Reality’