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14 August 2013

Behind the Scene – Creation of a Seascape

Back in the autumn of 2012 I had seen a design on Zazzle that I liked quite a lot. It was a limited-palette, multicolored, layered, southwest United States-style design. I got the urge to create something using a similar concept, so after letting my subconscious mull it over for a bit I woke up one morning with the idea of a seascape and quickly made a sketch.

Original Seascape Sketch

The design I came up with was composed of layers which varied from a shoreline at the bottom of the image to various depths and choppiness of water as it moved out to sea until it reached the horizon, where there was a sun setting with a few layers of sky above. I created various representative creatures and objects to occupy many of the layers and give the image points of interest.

I did the initial layer creation in Inkscape, each layer being represented by a particular style of line.

Seascape Design Layers

[NOTE: The screenshots in this article were made with up-to-date versions of the software running on a Windows 7 PC. Back when I created the original design, I used older software versions running on a Windows XP PC.]

I could have made each line into a closed object that could be filled with color, but I was feeling lazy, so I exported the image into GIMP for coloring. For choosing the colors, I found a couple of beach photos on the web and picked colors out of them using the Color Picker tool. I used the Bucket Fill tool to fill those colors into the various scene levels. Then I created a separate layer for the sun and overlaid it with a red to yellow radial gradient layer masked to cover the sun only.

Colored Seascape Background

My next step was to create each of the creatures and objects to put on the various layers, so I found some examples that would help me with my drawing, loaded them into Inkscape for references, and drew them. I created the star using the Create stars and polygons tool. Then I made multiple copies of each object and laid out a black and white test image, flipping and rotating each object to create variety.

Seascape Black and White Test Design

Once I was happy with the basic design, I colored all the objects in Inkscape.

Crab Object
Shell Object
Buoy Object
Fish Object
Sperm Whale Object
Bird Object
Cloud Object
Star Object

Then I exported each object as a separate .png file and loaded them into GIMP as separate layers on top of my background design. I copied each object as many times as necessary, and rotated and flipped the copies until I achieved a look that I liked. Here is the final result.

Seascape with Sperm Whales

After showing my design around I received comments from a couple of persons indicating that they didn't like the sperm whales. One person asked me to do a version with orcas.

Seascape with Orcas

Update 18 July 2014

I eventually decided that I like the orca version best. I also decided that being lazy and doing a lot of the work in GIMP was a bad thing because the final image was not resizable. It also looked rather pixellated along the curves. So in June 2014 I sat down and redid the entire background in Inkscape. I also made a square version so I could put the image on pillows and tote bags.

Square Version of Seascape in Inkscape

Lesson: Don't be lazy. Do it right the first time.

(Please note: All images in this tutorial are provided for instructional purposes only. I am not giving permission for copying, transmitting, selling, or otherwise using these images for any purpose other than practicing using Inkscape. Exception: Posting an unaltered image to your website for display only with credit given to me and a link provided back to this post is allowed.)

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