I would like to preface this work by saying: This is my first finished piece with Adobe Photoshop and my first piece where I got to draw on a screen instead of a tablet, and it rules, by far the best I have ever done.
The original concept for this work was to draw a room, an older looking man in the corner looking longingly at the doorway with the axe hanging above it. I quickly gave up on that (lets just say I'm not the best at drawing any kind of scene). My family recently started watching a show about football and one man gets injured on the field and everyone comes rushing to make sure hes OK. An idea suddenly clicked for me.
I wanted to make sure I could show off the feature of the axe splitting apart, two halves of a hole. I consider me and my best friend attached, neither of us are quite our best selves without the other. I knew immediately a battle scene was in order, but not a high action one, I wanted to represent the idea of being split apart.
I wanted the dead guy to have part of the axe and the living one to have the other. They depend on each other figuratively and literally. The one who is alive is crying over his friend in the field, not even realizing that he can put the axe together now, releasing its full potential.
I realize now that the armor is actually brighter than the axes when I was trying to make it duller, but I think that is alright because of the way I did the line art. At first every detail in both the men and the axes were outlined, but while I was trying to find a layer I needed I accidentally hid the lines and the feeling changed, suddenly this heavy work was lifted up and made more whimsical and friendly, an emotion I was still trying to create even though the idea was so harsh. After that my idea was to erase all the lines but the outside ones, this just created a sense of confusion because there was little separation between all that was going on. After many different iterations of the idea I decided upon a look that helped bring focus towards the axes that would usually go unnoticed in this very center focused piece, detail them, but not the people. This worked wonders.
The next step was giving this piece a place, with a blank white background it looked disconnected and pointless. The grass around the people and the axes helped. My dad suggested a slightly tinted background (he suggested green, I had to prove to him that the yellow was a much better option). All of this seemed to pull the edges in and create the feeling of whimsical sadness I was going for, but it wasn't quite enough. I found this Photoshop brush that just looks like a lot of rain droplets and started to play around with that, my original idea involved either the grass fading into the distance or fog coming to envelope them, but I yet to have enough skill to do that so this brush I found did the trick.