This look, inspired by the opening titles for Hansel & Gretel Witch Hunters, was created using Cinema 4D, Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects with plug-ins from Borisfx, GenArts, and Red Giant Software. Check out the breakdown below:
The look started in After Effects with a red 2D solid, placed at the bottom of the layer stack.
A Shape Layer with an orange red to black gradient and Exclusion blend mode was positioned in z-space.
A dark solid with soft feathered mask was placed at the lower third of the frame.
Trees, grass and bushes were drawn in Illustrator, using the opening titles as a loose reference.
One tuft of grass was saved as a Symbol in Illustrator and easily duplicated using the Symbol Sprayer.
The fur trees were placed in z-space behind the gradient layer. The gradient layer both colorises the trees and acts as fog.
Taller trees and branches were placed in front of the fur trees. Creating the branches individually allowed for more flexibility when fine tuning the look of the trees in After Effects.
More tall trees and branches were place in front of the gradient layer in z-space.
The grass was warped into place using the Bezier Warp effect.
More grass was layered in z-space with varying opacity and different Bezier Warp settings.
The bushes were created using Illustrator’s Blob brush, then roughened with the Roughen filter to give them a thorny look.
They were then layered in z-space in After Effects with various opacity settings.
The foreground and hero tree texturised using masked stock images of trees. Soft feathered masks fade the bark off to blackness, giving the trees the illusion of depth.
The foreground trees were comped in front of the grass and the hero tree just behind the first layer of grass in z-space.
A custom camera view showing the layer placement in z-space.
A black solid with soft feathered mask adds darkness to the top and bottom of the frame.
A stock image of a forest was used to add detail. The image was desaturated and comped behind the main trees.
A layer of smoke created using the After Effects Turbulent Noise effect was comped behind the hero tree.
The stock image used to add the main bark was fairly low resolution, so a larger resolution patch of bark was added for the close up view of the poster.
The patch was masked and colour corrected to match the existing bark more closely.
A stock image of old parchment was colour corrected with Curves, masked to remove corners and a hole for the crossbow bolt. The Roughen Edges effect was used to remove the sharp edges, with Edge Color set to a deep orange to mimic burned edges. This looks quite effective when the flames are added.
Another slightly different parchment with the Multiply blend mode was used to add variation and texture to the paper.
The parchment was then duplicated and darkened with the Levels effect, then masked to add darker, scorched areas.
The title logo was blurred using Fast Blur and comped onto the paper using the Overlay blend mode.
The Gradient Wipe effect – using the first parchment image as the Gradient Layer – was used to give the title logo texture and combined with the parchment using the Multiply blend mode.
The key art was treated in Photoshop using the Chalk & Charcoal style combined with the Photocopy Style to give it a hand sketched look.
As with the title, this was then blurred using Fast Blur and comped onto the paper using the Overlay blend mode.
The Gradient Wipe effect was also used on the key art which was combined using the Multiply blend mode.
The title logo and key art composite.
Coffee Stains from Rampant Design Tools – comped using the Multiply blend mode – add subtle stains to the paper.
The flames were shot hand-held on an iPhone and stabilised using the After Effects 2D Tracker.
These were then positioned around the poster and masked.
Luma Key was used to pull remove the black areas around the flame. Simple hold out masks were used to protect the ash from being keyed out.
Once the flames were positioned they were precomposed. The precomp was then duplicated, colorised and blurred using Sapphire’s S_Blur effect.
The flames and glow comped with the poster.
A copy of the parchment was darkened using Curves, with animated masks used to create the growing area of carbon around the flames.
The After Effects camera was animated in z-space towards the trees and poster. The project was then exported to Cinema 4D, where the bolt was positioned in z-space using the imported After Effects camera.
This was then rendered out of Cinema 4D with an alpha channel and graded in After Effects using the Curves effect.
The bolt comped with the trees and poster.
Shading was added around the entry point using black solids and masks.
The Curves effects on an adjustment layer to adds contrast.
Rampant Design Tools Smoke FX stock footage was used to add smoke. This set includes 55, 3K smoke clips.
The spark and smoke composite.
Magic Bullet Mojo on an adjustment layer adds a subtle overall colour grade with added contrast.
BCC Film Glow on an adjustment layer was used for a soft overall glow.
A final layer of sparks from Rampant Design Tools Dust FX collection adds subtle, out-of-focus particles to the foreground.