Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Process - Fantasy City

Here is a recent piece of work I done for an old client and friend of mine.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Monster Munch - Zombie Samurai

I wasn't sure whether to do a tutorial, or just a fun sketch, so here is a mixture of both.

With this piece I use a different approach to normal, it is a really great way to work if you have not been painting long, or if you are not very comfortable with colours yet. The idea is to get your sketch going, and then to paint the whole thing, pretty much completed in black and white / monotone, and to add colour at the end using either a colour or overlay layer (I use overlay in this one).

This is also a really great method to use when doing concept art, it is a super fast way to do things, and when you need to bang out ideas at the speed of light, this beats spending ages mixing colours.

- Sketch

- Multiply layer under to set initial tone

- Overlay over to start to indicate where to light the image

- Normal layer on top of all, as you could see my first sketch was SO ROUGH :), so there was no point trying to make sense of it by painting under this, although I could make out where the basic anatomy was from the sketch, and had a reference pic by the side of samurai armour ready for this. Painted in only monotone here

- ... Painted some more

- Used an overlay layer on top to start adding some colour into the piece

- Another overlay layer used here to add colour / blood effects

- Finally some further overlay laters to boost the overall colours, a normal layer to tighten up some 'needed to be fixed' areas, and a brightness increase + unsharp mask ready for output.

So there you go, a sketch up of a samurai zombie, the method is great for speedy concept art like I said before, though if allowed more time, jump in there with a normal layer at the end and paint on top of the piece you already have produced to make it in to a better polished piece.

- Greg

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Tutorial - Make your own custom brushes

Click Here to download the Brushes used in this tutorial.

1. Find your source / photo, open in photoshop!

2. Use Brightness / Contrast to alter the image to how you want it.

3. Sharpen with unsharp mask to make it as crisp as possible.

4. Feather off the edges to pure white; pure white is ignored by the brush system, so you will need to make sure there is no pale grey, or use an airbrush with pure white around your brush so that you do not get a grey box effect (yuk!).

5. Select box and highlight the part of the image you want for your brush, then click Edit - Define Brush Preset.

6. Open brush selector and select your brush (last one on the list), then open the Brushes Palette.

7. Experiment!  As with most creative things, the best way to learn is to play, experiment and learn what things do for yourself.  In the Brushes Palette, click and toggle / play with every single option until you have picked up what everything does.  Once you have a basic understanding of the functionality you can then decide what sort of brush you want to create, and then go about making it!

With the one brush, I simply changed the options in the Brush Palette to produce more brushes, and with these I created the image below, nothing special but an indication of how effective the photoshop brush system is.

Here are some types of brushes you could have a go at making:

Dust Particles / or hair brush (same sample just change the spacing!) - Drop dirt or pebbles onto a sheet of white paper and take a photo of it.

Paint Brushes - Load your (real) brush with paint, and make some strokes, photograph these and get experimenting!

Nature Brushes - Go at take some photos of tarmac, trees or any textures you like, just remember to feather off the edges with pure white.

Thanks for reading!
- Greg

Upcoming Tutorials -
- Fixing errors
- Rendering your images

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Monster Munch Pt.2 - Raven Lord

I spent another couple of sessions on this piece, I'll explain the progression below.

To carry on in the style of the last post, most of this is the 5th step (rendering), until later when I come to finish the image and change the overall dynamics of the piece.

After coming back and taking another look (and flipping the image), I noticed some flaws.  The wing, and the direction of the falling leg.  So to correct this, I copy merged the wing / leg, paste into a new normal layer, and shift / rotate it into position, following with erasing the outer sharp edges of the layer to blend it in.

I decided a guy floating in the air was a little boring, so started to experiment with some compositional textures to make the image as a whole look more balanced.

I liked where this was going so to break up the bland textures I added some more bold sharp brush strokes, the ending effect to give the impression of the character appearing upwards from a foggy / steamy atmosphere, the darker area being the foreground, and also acting as a framing element for the composition.

I decided to work in some of the finer details as well as adding some reflective lighting here.

Step 6 - Finishing an image - When I decided I had put in enough detail, I finished the image by looking at the overall tonal balance of the image, which wasn't too striking to me, so with some final overlay / brightness and colour balance layers I pushed the dynamics around and finished by sharpening the main focus of the image (the character) with an unsharp mask (filter / sharpen / unsharp mask).

Thank you for reading, and any questions are of course welcomed!
- Greg

Upcoming Tutorials -
- Make your own brushes
- Rendering your images

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Tutorial - Starting an image...

I'm using Photoshop CS3, layers and brushes aren't too different between software packages however so should be quite universal to pick up!

Photoshop has some half decent basic brushes you can load and customise, I will do a custom brushes tutorial next as I think using your own made brushes is always best.

Starting an image

1. A question I asked myself when I started, and answered rarely - Resolution.  The quick answer is this, start at a medium / high(ish) resolution while you are drafting it out, and before you start with the details / rendering, double the size.  I usually start with an A5 (1748x2480) or A6 (1240x1748) size preset (International Papers).

2. Use a texture brush, or paint bucket to fill the image to a mid-tone colour / shade. As mentioned in my first post, this is so you can highlight and darken the image in the next steps.

3. Add a new multiply layer, and with this sketch your idea, if you haven't had your Berocca today and need inspiration, hit the net (not literally) for reference pictures or art which tickles you (once again not literally).

4. Once you have a sketch down which your happy with (I went for a huge dragon, though more based on a lizard from some nature photos) add a Normal layer under the multiply layer and on here, get some tone down, paint away the basic shapes of the image... All the first steps I would recommend looking more at the thumbnail window than your main one, as you can get a better sense of where the composition is going.

5a. After this phase, use a combination of Overlay and Multiply layers to help you pull your image in to shape, and also to help you find a working colour palette.  I used an Overlay layer first, as I wanted the dragon to be epic and gigantic, I went for a bit of a limited dusk colour palette.

5b. Using a multiply layer next, just to drop in some shadows and again try to shape the images composition.

6. (Optional Step) So here you will be pretty much ready to start work on the image, however if your not confident with jumping in just yet add a new Normal layer just below the Sketch (Multiply) Layer.  This step is a bit like the equivalent of bicycle stabilizers; use the layer to add some larger details in using the colours your previous layers have produced, sharpen some of the rough edges, until you are ready to start working on top of your sketch layer.  You may be wondering why bother with this stage at all - I've found plenty of times rushing in too soon I can personally find myself painting over the sketch layer without a good enough idea of how to develop the image, and then find the ...'charm' of the sketch is lost under the brush strokes painted in the dark.

7. (Ok, more like 5c.) So I'm feeling the image is almost ready, thanks to the last normal layer I can re-look at the image; and decide I want more of a background glow.  I added another Overlay layer on top of the previous normal layer and pumped up the lighting behind the dragon, in retrospect I think a little too much BUT this is the whole point of this tutorial, to find what works before you commit!

Here is a screenshot of the layers -
(Note; I've put these in a folder of their own.  The rendering process can take many additional layers (I've gone into the hundreds before), and keeping track can get annoying, and time consuming!

Weren't expecting a finished image were you? ;) This tutorial will hopefully help you bring your images to this point a lot more efficiently.  I'll do a tutorial on rendering using this image, and a further tutorial on finishing and mastering your final images.

Thank you for reading!
- Greg

Upcoming Tutorials -
- Make your own brushes
- Rendering your images

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Monster Munch Pt.1 - Raven Lord

Greetings, as this is my first post I'd just like to thank you for visiting. I'll be showing a lot of work in progress pieces here, along with thought processes, techniques and tutorials.

Ok so here we go; Raven Lord.

So the first snap here isn't exactly stage 1, and I will post soon about 'starting an image', however for now I will just zoom through the steps I've taken (and usually take).

1. Starting with a mid-tone background, why? With white, you can't paint highlights, with black.. well, good luck ;).

2. Sketch - Using a multiply layer, with the colour of the background selected, scratch away until something appears which you like, in my case... this pretty cool floating demony guy with wings...

3. Tonal composition - Blocking in the darks, using predominantly textured brushes, as these make the image rich, while I dull them down later while rendering.

Using Overlay and Multiply layers at this stage to pull / sink the light and darks is very useful.

4. Rough painting - I've started to paint on top of my other layers now with a Normal layer, I do this until the image looks right when zoomed out / defocussed eyes.

5. Rendering - Ok so this is the stage I am currently at with the image, using mainly my Oil Texture custom brush I make new normal layers and start to chip away at the image until it looks good. Useful ways to check your work for flaws are zooming right out or squinting your eyes, and to flip the whole image horizontally (as old artists used to look at their work in a mirror) look for tonal holes, bad composition and the details (too many? too little?).

I will post again soon on further progress of this image with the rest of my process walk-through.

Thanks for reading!

Upcoming Tutorials -
- Starting an Image (Layers)
- Make your own brushes