We draw a portrait of a cat in Victorian style in Photoshop

Computer graphics artists have a unique opportunity to plunge into the atmosphere of the past, using technology, as well as wearing their characters in the style of past eras. In this tutorial, I will show you how to create a fun portrait of a stylishly dressed cat, this style of clothing inspired by portrait paintings of the Victorian era. My tools I’ll work with are Adobe Photoshop CS6, as well as the Wacom Intuos tablet. So let’s get started!

The final result:

Discussing the Victorian Era

Cats with human whiskers and costumes always create very funny pictures! But I had no idea when I began to create this project that the idea of ​​humanoid animals was so popular throughout the history of art that it even has a name.

According to Wikipedia, “Anthropomorphism” (try to speak five times faster) – endowing human beings with animals, objects, phenomena, mythological creatures.

Many storytellers used animals in their tales that talked and wore human clothing from time immemorial.

Elements of the Victorian Era

For computer graphics artists, creating reproductions of paintings that mimic traditional styles, such as acrylic and oil painting, is actually a fun activity. To get the best picture of the Victorian era of painting, I studied many images using Google to select common features in the technique of execution, as well as in the form of content. Here are some points I have highlighted that could help in creating the picture:

  1. Usually, the main character is located opposite the picturesque landscape or decorative draperies.
  2. The character’s view is often slightly set aside from the center of the picture.
  3. Always used saturated colors of dark shades (red, brown and black).
  4. The paintings looked realistic, but intermittent brush strokes were used to add detail.
  5. Artists focused on dramatic lighting with a mass of shadows that enveloped the character.
  6. Museums and owners of private collections often decorate such paintings with decorative gold-plated frames.

As soon as I gathered enough information, I could begin to study the clothes that my cat would wear!

1. Outline Drawing: Victorian Cat

Step 1

I came across a really interesting site Pinterest, which is dedicated to Anthropomorphism and used it as an inspiration for my painting. Tumbler also helped gather information, as many people have already dedicated their pages to the fashion of the Victorian era.

So, create a new document in Photoshop. Set the following settings:

  • Image Size (Image Size) 8.5 x 11 inches
  • Resolution (Resolution) 300 dpi

Step 2

Before you start dressing your cat, create a rough outline with a picture of a cat by downloading the original image from the link at the beginning of the lesson. To create a contour drawing, I used a standard round brush.

Step 3

Of all the material that I learned, I had three options in my head, how my cat would be dressed.

Step 4

Having studied all three options, I decided to combine some of the details that will help create a truly real picture. Considering all the details, I created a cleaner version of my original sketch, adding additional details, such as a monocle reflecting the Victorian era.

Step 5

In order not to overload the picture, I decided to create an ordinary oval frame, which will be enough. Using tool Oval area (Ellipse Tool (U)), create an elongated oval, then create a duplicate layer, then reduce the scale of the duplicate layer by placing the duplicate inside the first oval.

Next, I just placed the cat inside the frame, using the tool Free transformation (Free Transform Tool (Ctrl-T)). When scaling, hold down the (Shift) key to maintain the proportions of the cat.

2. Create a Halftone Base

Starting drawing on a white background right away may seem too intimidating, so I used two layers to create the foundation.

Using tool Fill (Paint Bucket Tool (G)), I filled the background with a light gray tint.

Next, using a round hard brush, paint over the frame and inside the frame with a dark gray shade.

3. Add Colors

Step 1

Create a new layer (Ctrl + Shift + N). Convert this layer to a clipping mask to a layer with a dark gray oval. Clipping mask will help you not to go beyond the contour of the oval when painting. Select a texture brush in the brushes panel to begin painting.

Add primary colors, paint over the head and costume, referring to your original image, from which you paint the cat, to match the color shades.

Step 2

Create a new layer, change the blending mode for this layer to Multiplication (Multiply). Brush color is dark brown. Next, start adding deep shadows in the style of old Victorian paintings.

4. Create Texture, Lighting, Shadows

Step 1

To convey realism when creating any picture, it is very important to paint over a layer with a sketch drawing. Start painting over your outline drawing, highlighting the texture of the cat’s face and its costume. Pay particular attention to the original original image of the cat to understand the natural direction of the coat.

Step 2

To a layer with a gray oval, add a new adjustment layer. Hue / Saturation (Hue and Saturation) as a clipping mask in the same way as the previous layer. Reduce value Brightness (Lightness) to -70, so we can add more contrast between the cat and the background.

Step 3

Creating pictures in digital format in different blending modes allows you to adjust color shades without destroying actions for the picture. I used blending mode here. Overlap (Overlay) to lighten the image a bit by painting it with a warm yellow shade.

Step 4

Experimentation with a cat can lead to many surprises! Adding an additional light source will help make our picture really expressive, so I will use a combination of a hard and soft brush to paint over the areas where the light hits the cat.

5. Draw Drapery on the Background

Since the various elements of the picture are created on separate layers, we can easily add an element of the background, such as red curtains. First, create a new layer as a clipping mask for the portrait oval layer, placing this layer below the cat layer. Next, using a stiff round brush, start painting red curtains that resemble Victorian draperies.

As a final touch, choose a grunge brush to add texture to the curtains.

6. Strengthening the texture of fur and costume

Step 1

So, it’s time to revive the picture! Recreate the texture of the fur with short strokes in the direction of the wool flow. Using a hard round brush, create a general texture and then switch to a soft round brush to create a fluffy effect.

Step 2

Change the blending mode for the layer to Multiplication (Multiply) to create deep shadows for the whole picture. Next, for the second layer, set the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay), use a white brush to create light highlights and add contrast to a dark background.

Step 3

In order to draw realistic fur, it is necessary to use several layers with shadows, middle tones and light highlights and, accordingly, recreate the desired direction and shape of wool. Vary the length of the brush stroke, try not to chop off the fur abruptly, otherwise you will get an unnatural effect.

7. Use Corrective Layers to Enhance Color

I cannot complete the picture without adding one or two adjustment layers. Navigate Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Levels (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Levels), set Input values (Input Levels) for parameters Shadows (Shadows), Mid tones (Mid tones) as well Light highlights (Highlights) to enhance contrast.

Add another adjustment layer. Color Balance (Color Balance) for correction Medium tones (Midtones) and Light glare (Highlights) to add a blue tint.

8. Draw a frame and background

Step 1

Let’s go to the frame, as well as to the background. Using tool Oval area (Ellipse Tool (U)), create an oval shape on top of your outline, fill the oval with white.

Step 2

Right-click on the layer with an oval and in the appeared window select the option Overlay options (Blending Options). Select the following layer styles: Shadow (Drop Shadow) and Inner shadow (Inner Shadow).

Step 3

Create new layers as clipping masks to the oval layer to create shadows, add color and create a texture for the frame. Complementary layer masks will allow you to paint over the brush without fear of going beyond the contour of the oval.

Use rich red as the base for the frame, and also apply a bright golden texture on top of all layers using the grunge brush.

The final view of the picture frame.

Step 4

It’s time to add color to the background. Create a new layer. Fill this layer with a dark blue color, convert this layer to a clipping mask to a layer with a gray background. Of course, you can fill the gray fill layer itself, but I like the elements of the picture to be created on separate layers, which makes it easy to make corrections.

9. Create a Damascus Pattern

Step 1

Let’s hang our Victorian painting on a wall with a simple damask pattern. Create a new document in Photoshop, draw a damask pattern. Fill the pattern with black using a stiff round brush.

Step 2

Duplicate the pattern several times by combining duplicate patterns together with a tool. Free transformation (Free Transform Tool (Ctrl + T)). Merge all the layers with the pattern into one layer. Once you create a merged patterned layer, select the pattern with the tool Rectangular area (Rectangular Marquee Tool (M)) and on, go Editing – Define a brush (Edit> Define Brush) to create your Damascus pattern.

Step 3

Using a damask pattern brush, gently apply the pattern to half the wall. Next, duplicate the patterned layer. Flip duplicate layer horizontally Editing – Transformation – Flip Horizontal (Edit> Transform> Flip Horizontal) to create a seamless pattern for the background. Next, change the blending mode for the patterned layer to Bright light (Vivid Light) and also reduce opacity (Opacity) layer up to 12%.

Add a simple vignette effect by creating a new layer and filling it with black. Next, with the tool Eraser (Eraser Tool (E)), process the center of the image. Change the blending mode for the vignette layer to Soft light (Soft Light), layer opacity 80%.

10. Final Details

It’s time to complete the picture! With the help of a hard round brush with opacity (50-100%), drag a picture to retouch. During this stage, I mainly focused on the details being clearly visible and not too blurred.

Do not forget about such details as a mustache, a gold chain for a monocle, including buttons on a vest. And, of course, additional reflection of light on the cat’s fur!

Your Victorian Cat is drawn!

I hope you enjoyed the process of creating a fascinating picture. Today you learned about the new technique that will help you expand your knowledge in the field of digital art, embodying them in Photoshop. Wish you luck!

The final result:

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