Art / Illustration / Play Time

Cozyroth

I’ve always loved the track “On Our Way” from Final Fantasy VII but for some reason I’d come to associate it strictly with Icicle Inn. Maybe because I used to stay in the inn to let the inappropriately-dressed party warm up before going back out into the snowy mountains, so I’d hear the music there for the longest. (LOL) Or was it in Holzoff’s cabin? I don’t remember.

Anyway, the jazz arrangement of this track plays in the jukeboxes in FFVII Remake and it absolutely captivated me. I stayed in the area it first plays in for several minutes just vibing to the track. The point it plays in is also perfect story-wise, paralleling its use on Gaea’s Cliffs. That’s as close as I’ll get to a spoiler on this post.

Though the jukebox tracks aren’t available on the iTunes version of the Remake soundtrack, luckily this track is on the album Square Enix Jazz Final Fantasy VII. There are several good arrangements on this album but to be frank “On Our Way” is the only one that really really makes me believe it; I can picture this playing in a jazz club anywhere for audiences that aren’t familiar with FFVII at all. Then again, I am extremely biased. I can’t express how that saxophone just transports me to such incredible warmth and coziness.

But I tried.

So here’s Sephiroth sitting in an Eames chair in Icicle Inn drinking tea while listening to “On Our Way” on a phonograph.

Cozyroth

I jumped on the “Sephiroth has a pet Pichu” bandwagon even though I’ve never played Smash Brothers but I absolutely love all the Sephiroth in Smash content that fans are making. XD Still, I’m going to make another version of this with a silver/grey tabby in the bed to better complement the rest of the colors in the composition.

This is the most intricate digital painting I’ve ever done. I’m really not much of a digital painter—I still have to start the drawing in pencil first, because drawing on one surface and having the image show up on another is just too incomprehensible to me, I guess—but I put a lot of time and research into this one.

Photograph showing two MacBook Pro laptops and an old Wacom tablet. The old laptop has Photoshop and the line drawing open, while the new one displays reference images, mostly Eames lounge chairs.

The work station

The biggest “level up” for me was letting go of the idea that using Photoshop’s full arsenal of tools is cheating. I’ve always used Photoshop in a way that was pretty analogous to analog media. The main thing I’d allow myself to do was have the line art on one layer and the color on another, for a whopping two layers. This time, I had four layers for line art; I made the quatrefoil rug in Illustrator (my old post on quatrefoil patterns came in useful since it had been over a year since I’d even used Illustrator!); had five layers for color; one photo filter layer (to give warmth to the image overall, as I had painted as if everything were in white light); a few other layers as needed for adding elements not in the sketch; and a couple of layers for special effects (such as the wood grain texture on the floor and furniture, which I learned how to do with this tutorial from 2 Minute Photoshop). I even had some layers set to a mode other than “Normal,” wow! (I know, I know… LOL)

Screenshot showing various references photographs, including Eames chairs, a fancy sconce, a man in a cozy sweater, and a screen from the original FFVII in Icicle Inn.

The Reference(s)…well, some of them anyway. I also had to photograph myself holding a mug from the angle I’ve got Seph in to get the left hand right. The right hand was obviously done from imagination with that Sailor Moon-style pinky. XD

This took about 35 hours from gathering reference for the pencil sketch to the third time I thought I was finished, including research & reflection time. Though come to think of it, it’s probably a few hours more than that, but I’m going off of the time in the “Recently Played” playlist on my old laptop (the one I was mostly working on) but I know I was listening to the Remake soundtrack & jazz album when I was drawing in pencil and those are only on my new laptop. (Damn Apple and planned obsolescence T^T) So probably more like 40 hours? Then again, I did go on a few tangents that took me away from working on this image proper. Still, if I had tried to do this with acrylic on canvas or as a watercolor painting it would’ve taken far longer.

Crop showing the detailed arabesque design on the phonograph

I was gonna make four little corner decorations for the phonograph front, but when I copied and flipped the layer with the design I realized I could make one big symmetrical design. I then went on a one-hour tangent playing with symmetry, rotation, and color variations.

 

Close-up showing the mirror on the mantle. The reflection in it shows a wall and ceiling and the bottom edge of a small chandelier.

This is as close as I’m going to get to pulling a Van Eyck.

A little art history joke for you there. XD Though to me referencing Eames chairs is also an art history joke, since I learned about them in art history. (At least I thought I had… Turns out there’s no mention of Eames in the edition I have of Gardner’s Art Through the Ages. Maybe it was in an art history class whose text I didn’t keep. I don’t remember where anything comes from anymore. Ahaha)

Close-up focusing on Sephiroth, with his "absolute territory" at center.

This is my favorite part of this image, though seeing it at full size reveals some sloppy coloring I gotta clean up… (苦笑)

As I was working out Seph’s outfit and settled on thigh-high socks, I remembered that there was a Japanese word for the bit of thigh exposed between (a girl’s, usually) over-knee socks and skirt. I’ve forgotten a lot of Japanese since not only returning to the States, but also leaving all work that was Japanese language-related. But somehow, it came to me: 絶対領域 (zettai ryouiki). It literally means “absolute territory.” I have the idea that it’s a term made by pervy older men looking at high school girls. But as we’ve seen, I have a horrible track record remembering where things come from, and I’ve definitely heard Japanese high school girls refer to themselves and their lifestyle with the words I thought came from the aforementioned pervs. So who knows. Either way, you gotta love quadriceps.

Side note: In my mind he’s wearing Daisy Dukes under that oversized sweater.

おまけ!

~Bonus 1~

If the jazz version of “On Our Way” is far too slowed down for your tastes, I highly recommend the techno version by FFmusic Dj, “Ahead On Our Rave,” on the OverClocked Remix album Voices of the Lifestream. There just isn’t a version of this track I don’t like!

~Bonus 2~

I got a set of the Polygon figures recently and took the first opportunity to photograph Seph & Cloud in the “snowfields” I could get.

I tweet even less frequently than I blog but if you want to follow me there to not miss these rare events, let me know you came from Warped Frost! (^o^)

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