Making of: Batman Concept

In this making-of I get to grips with Art Deco, vehicle design, Batman and finally fulfill my dream of seeing him on a cool bike!

Batman Concept Art

With all the Arkham Origins stuff going around I felt inspired to do something a bit Art Deco. Initially I just knew that I wanted to create a 1920s, Art Deco style skyscraper in some inclement weather, be it snow, rain or fog.

As with a lot of my work, I initially see if I can do it loose/quick but (as with a lot of my work) I found that I needed to do a ton of research and wound up preferring a mixture of loose and tight. Onward…

Thumbnail Stage

Batman Concept Art Thumbnails

I mashed up photos with paint to try and get a decent composition. I knew that I’d be making the building in 3d so there was some discomfort in picking a decent angle as it would have to translate well into a more tight medium and may not work as expected.

With that in mind I began roughing some geometry in 3d…

The 3ds max stage

Batman Concept Art

This was the basic building style I came up with having done some rudimentary research on classic New York architecture. My next niggle was seeing what the paint-over process would look like. So I moved quickly on to that phase and mocked up a few pics.

The Photoshop mock-up phase

Batman Concept Art

I’ve hit this wall before with paint-overs. How much to model, how much to paint. If you model too much, you’ll model yourself into a corner, if you don’t model enough then you’ll potentially have to paint a lot of perfect geometry and have to deal with symmetry and perspective etc.

So I tried another model/mock-up with a little less detail to see how it too would work once inside Photoshop…

Batman Concept Art

Hmmm, this time I realised that under-modelling would not be an option because of all the repeating geometry for the windows and floors etc. I decided to model all the basic shapes and let texture overlays do the rest. But first…


I did a lot of research into Art Deco architecture. The usual channels of google image searching. Here’s a collage I made of all the key buildings I’d found.

Batman Concept Art

I kept this image up on my spare monitor while modelling to act as a guide. Also noted the nice foggy atmosphere and how light interacts with it.

There’s also other key features of Art Deco styles such as weird, minimalist sculptures that adorn walls of this style of building. So I tried to incorporate that by downloading a few basic models and hacking them into something that resembled Art Deco. I had to be careful though, at one stage I wondered if I would have to model a whole statue, which would have taken forever. Always better to avoid such routes while trying to make concept art – find quick ways where possible.

The final modelling stage

Here’s what I came up with in terms of the building…

Batman Concept Art

At this stage I started to play with the idea that there might be a motorcycle in the foreground with batman on it. Although I’ve never been good with vehicles or characters, I knew it wasn’t going to be straightforward but would require some bravery and a step into the unknown!

With that I began trying to find free 3d models of motorcycles which I could later embellish upon in Photoshop. It took ages to find something and even then it was far from ideal. Here’s how the basic render looked…

Batman Concept Art

I wasn’t happy with it but was basically praying that my Photoshop skills would be up to it.

The Photoshop phase

Batman Concept Art

I liked the colour-correction of the previous mock-up, so I brought those in and up-scaled them to match the current 4000px document.

Then it was a simple matter of taking night-time building photos from cgtextures and placing them one at a time onto the little holes I’d made (yawn!). Here’s how they looked once I’d done that…

Batman Concept Art

At one stage I had figured out a quicker way – by dragging on a whole vertical strip and making it line up with the vertical strips in my building. Wasn’t perfect but again, there is a loose element here that I want to cultivate.

Next up – Batman. Wasn’t looking forward to this part, like I say, I’m no character specialist. I began by roughing in his shape. No reference for this…

Batman Concept Art

I also decided I wanted an explosion on one of the floors of the building to give it some action. Perhaps Batman has fled from a scene or some such. In my mind the building is the headquarters of a company that manufactures narcotics and Batman has just blown up a key aspect of it then got the hell out of there on his superbike. Nice.

I basically grabbed just about every body part I could and threw it into place in Photoshop. It was fairly quick but quite frustrating to get things looking right without decent reference.

Batman Concept Art

As you can see here, I actually modelled/painted the tail end of the bike. I thought that Batman might not have a cape. For some reason this idea just didn’t quite work and Batman seemed naked without his cape. So on it went…

Batman Concept Art

Finally I had to fill in the mid-ground. I never knew what was going to go here so it was always bugging me and taunting me. I filled it with a wall that was covered in graffiti, ivy and dirt, then added some smoke to break up any co-tangents (some lines were going through Batman’s head).

A little tweakery in Photoshop and I was done…

Batman Concept Art

The last thing I did was to put some highlights on Batman and his bike. This made ALL the difference. It’s always a good idea to do this were possible as it makes your subject/s pop.

And that’s that. Feel free to hit me up with any questions!

About Andy Walsh

Concept Artist in Seattle
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2 Responses to Making of: Batman Concept

  1. John says:

    Cool painting. The only thing that feels odd to me is that it’s almost like Batman knew the explosion was going to happen to he is just chilling and watching the fireworks.

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