From Star Wars to Rogue One, we just can't get enough of this series as it continues on to the new generation. I know that I myself can't get enough of the Star Wars saga, let alone the numerous examples of fan art out there, including photography concepts. Photographer Steve Brown has created an amazing Last Supper with The Emperor, Darth Vader, and Imperial Stormtroopers. The final image just blew my mind. From sketching, planning, and retouching the final product, we bring to you the step by step tutorial on how he created this masterpiece.
- Canon 5D Mark II
- Bowens Gemini 400, 500 and 1000w monolights
- Large Softbox, 2 strip softboxes and dishes
- Z Brush
Creating such a concept was a journey for Steve, he explained to us on how he created this amazing image from scratch
Being a fan of Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper," Steve took the composition and poses of the painting, and used Star Wars characters to populate The Last Supper concept. Using Stormtroopers as the apostles, Steve placed the Emperor in the role of Jesus and Vader as Judas, echoing the movie plot, in which Darth Vader ultimately betrays The Emperor. This concept was solid and Steve was ready to move on to the next step.
After laying out and sketching the idea, Steve had a clear concept on what he wanted to do. He placed the scene in the Emperor's throne room on the Death Star, including the iconic window from Return of the Jedi and The Emperor sitting on his throne, in front of a hologram of the second Death Star.
Knowing that if he tried to shoot this for real, the massive set required would be impossibly costly, Steve decided to create the background using 3D modeling. His good friend Steve Newman, a whiz with 3D modeling program Z Brush, came to mind to help him with the concept.
There was no way I could even begin to attempt to build a physical set, so much as I would have liked to make everything physically, I had to design a completely digital set.
Utilizing friends who were Star Wars costumers, Steve was able to gather an Emperor, a Darth Vader, and four Stormtroopers to act as models. Since he only had four Stormtroopers, and with limited space in the studio, Steve decided not to photograph the whole scene at once. The painting is composed in groups of three, so Steve decided to break the image that same way.
I decided not to attempt to create the full scene in one go. The painting is composed in groups of three, and then Jesus in the centre, and so I split my shooting into the same groups.
Using Bowens Gemini lights, he kept the mood of the shots cool and moody using blue gels. Red gels were added to replicate the light coming from the Death Star hologram in the center of the image.
Since Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers have no facial expressions, Steve focused on recreating the specific poses of the various characters in the original painting.
Steve Newman built the 3D CGI set for Steve's concept. Having the sketch prior to the shoot really helped Steve relay how the images are going to look. Newman had a clear understanding on what Steve wanted to have in the image, so he was able to recreate the scene from Return of the Jedi, with the Last Supper table right smack in the middle.
Steve Newman built the set gradually, and I gave a lot of feedback along the way, and in the meantime I cut out the characters in Photoshop and arranged them behind the table.
Steve didn't want the CGI background to look too smooth and fake, so he added some texture to the surfaces in Photoshop to mimic a real world environment, and used the actual zinc tabletop from the studio for it’s real world texture, while Newman created the little 3D holoprojector in Z Brush. Kristin Boyesen, another friend, made the Death Star wireframe hologram. The Emperor’s throne was also made in Z Brush and built up using multiple lighting passes with added texture in Photoshop.
Planning everything prior to the shoot with lighting and positioning really helped Steve merge the final product in Photoshop. With minor color and tonal work in Photoshop, Steve was able to match the temperature and the shadows perfectly.
Because we had been so thorough in matching the lighting between the set and the people, when I dropped the people in they sat into the set really nicely.
The Final Image
The final image was a great success and simply captivating. Steve and his crew pulled off the most iconic painting and rendered it to the Star Wars universe. This was definitely a pleasure to learn and see how the concept was brought to life. What do you think? Can you pull off something like this?