Unicorns? Free space? And why not all together? In this lesson we will mix fantastic elements in one unreal portrait.
Before we begin, I will clarify that in order to successfully complete the lesson, you must have basic knowledge of Adobe Photoshop, such as using basic shapes, working with layers, and creating new documents. We will work only in Photoshop, from beginning to end.
1. How to create an initial sketch
Let’s start by creating a new document. I decided to work on a document 11 inches long and 14 wide, with a resolution of 300 dpi.
Create an initial sketch on a new layer – you can do this by clicking on the icon for creating a new layer in the lower part of the layers panel.
I prefer to create sketches with a rigid round brush with Opacity Jitter (Fluctuation opacity) and Flow Jitter (Fluctuations in the amount of paint) set to Pen pressure (Pen pressure). This means that the pressure I put on the pen will affect the opacity and amount of paint in my brush strokes.
As soon as the initial concept will suit me, I continue to draw over the sketch on a new layer, creating a more elaborate sketch. This can be achieved by creating a new layer on top of your work, and then lowering the opacity of the previous layer with a draft so that it can only be partially visible.
2. How to add the first colors
First you need to delete your first sketch or hide its visibility – either click on the icon with the eye near the layer thumbnail in the layers panel, or click on the icon in the trash can at the bottom of the layers panel. If you haven’t saved your job yet, now is the time! I feel better when I have a backup file, as I often merge layers.
Then create a new layer on top of the second draft. Change the blending mode of this layer to Multiply (Multiplication). I prefer to paint over my lines with this method. I like to work this way, because this way the lines become even larger, as shown below.
Sometimes I paint with a specific color on a separate layer, specifically selected for it, as well as using clipping masks. In particular, this is what I do if I’m not completely sure what colors to use, or if I work with a composition that can have a lot of colors.
To do this, first I continue to paint in color on the original color layer with the blend mode Multiply (Multiplication) (as in Step 1). Fill the entire area of the picture with the main color of your choice.
Next, create new layers and make clipping masks from them. To do this, right-click on the layer and select Clipping Mask (Create clipping mask).
Why clipping masks? You will notice that the selected color can not go beyond the sketch line, which means you can not worry about it.
To show you the convenience of this technique, let’s change the character’s hair color. Maybe I don’t really like yellow, and maybe pink or blue will look better. I could choose the color manually, but instead let’s change the color tone and saturation.
First select the layer with the color of the upper part of the hair. Next, click Image – Adjustments – Hue /Saturation (Image – Correction – Hue / Saturation). This action will open a window Hue /Saturation (Hue / Saturation).
Check that there is a check mark in the Preview column. Next, change the values Hue (Color tone), Saturation (Saturation) and Lightness (Brightness) to experiment with the color of this part of the illustration. I think this is a cool way to look at a few different colors to see what I like best.
When I am satisfied with all the chosen colors, I usually combine all the layers with the work (leaving the background separate).
Let’s add a background color with the tool. Paint Bucket (Fill). I chose a dark, cold color because I want to position my character against the dark sky. Apply color to the background layer.
However, it seems to me that the colors I chose could interact better with the background color. So I will make the colors a little colder using blending modes.
Create a new layer on top of the image and create a clipping mask. Dark, rich, cold color fill the layer with the tool. Paint Bucket (Fill). You will notice that the color appeared only in our picture – thanks to our clipping mask!
Change the blending mode of this layer to Linear Dodge (Add) (Linear clarifier (Add) to add shade to our work. I lowered the opacity of this layer to 75% so that it was not so intense.
Take a look at the difference yourself!
Before we start working on a character, let’s give the character the initial volume. In this step, I think about where my light source is located and how it can affect the character.
In this case, I wanted the light source to be located in front of the character.
Create a new layer and make a clipping mask out of it. Change blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). Then, using hard and soft brushes, draw the volume with a light purple color.
3. How to create a background
Let’s start working on our background. To begin with, create a new layer between the pattern and the backgrounds. Here we will draw our stars.
Use a round hard brush to draw small dots. I prefer to draw them in small clusters than as in a given pattern – so they will look more organic in the sky. I drew dots in light blue.
Now our stars just look like small dots. Let’s use a filter Gaussian blur (Blur according to Gauss) to add something like a luminous haze to them. I set my filter radius to 15 pixels (you can find this filter by clicking Filters – Blur – Gaussian blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur).
Then, to make the stars colored, I created a new layer on top of them, and then made it a clipping mask.
Using a soft round brush, add different colors to the stars. I chose rich pink and yellow shades, trying to create a variety of colors in the sky.
Let’s add more color to the sky as a whole.
Create a new layer above the stars and change the blending mode to Soft Light (Soft light). Using a round soft brush, add a pink stripe to the sky. Try not to make the line “too perfect.”
To make the colors in the area diverse, create an additional new layer. Blend mode of this layer leave Normal (Ordinary). With the help of a soft round brush, I added light blue and purple spots.
Let’s create another new layer. We will add some texture to our starry sky so that the colored spots resemble clouds.
Check that black is selected as the base color and white as the background color. Next, while on a new layer, add a filter Cloud (Clouds) by clicking Filters – Cloud (Filter – Rendering – Clouds).
You will get a pattern that resembles smoke, as in the screenshot below.
Change the blending mode of the filter layer. Cloud (Clouds) on Color dodge (Lightening the basics). You will notice that now this pattern creates the effect of clouds on our sky.
I also decided to make some stars not so bright. On a new layer, above the layer with the stars, I took a round soft brush and added dark colors. Now some stars, especially on the edges of the composition, look receding.
Since the light source is in front of the character, I decided that it would be fun to add a shooting star there as an interesting point.
Using a soft round brush, draw a curved line in the sky. Then, use a soft round eraser to soften the edges and weaken the saturation of the tail of our star.
When I decided on the shape of the star, I fixed the transparency of the pixels of this layer so that I could add other colors — for example, pink and purple — in the tail of the star.
4. How to color a character
When it comes to character coloring, my workflow consists mainly of painting over work using varying opacity and amount of paint. Remember that “opacity” means how transparent the stroke will be, and “amount of paint” means how much paint will come out.
I usually draw with Opacity Jitter (Fluctuation opacity) and Flow Jitter (Fluctuations in the amount of paint) set to Pen pressure (Pen pressure), but I also adjust these parameters manually, if necessary, on the properties panel. You can find them on the top bar when the tool is selected. Brush (Brush).
Let’s demonstrate this concept when working with hair.
Here I began to paint over my work on a new layer. I used a stiff round brush with low opacity and amount of paint. I usually use the tool Eyedropper (Eyedropper) to choose colors in this area – so they will mix better.
When I paint my hair, I like to think about how they move, how they lie and fall. I recommend you to create lines purposefully – chaotic lines will not look natural.
For highlights, I prefer to create a new layer and change its blending mode to Color dodge (Lightening the basics). I added pink in the hair area according to how the light falls with a soft round brush.
Further, I continued the same way as in the previous step – I created a new layer and painted on top. In this case, I prefer to use the Eyedropper tool (Pipette) to select light colors formed by blending mode. Color dodge (Lightening the basics). Then I can change these colors, making them lighter or darker to imitate the appearance of the hair strands.
When it comes to the face, I prefer to work with a soft round brush.
Concentrate on mixing colors and working out volume. You will notice that I reinforced some contours, and some lines, on the contrary, mixed with color.
The same applies to the entire skin. I mostly work with a soft round brush, unless I come across something that casts a hard shadow. Remember the light source.
When working with clothes and pleats, I rely on a stiff round brush. Next, for blending, I return to the soft round brush. In the process, I constantly switch between them!
This lesson is linear, and we move step by step, but do not be afraid to go back a little and fix something before continuing.
Let’s add additional volume, in particular in those places that additional shadows do not interfere. Create a new layer with overlay mode. Multiply (Multiplication).
As we did before, make this layer a clipping mask. Let me remind you that in this way we will not have to worry about the fact that we are “getting out” beyond the edges.
At this stage, I added dark shadows in the area with the bow and back of the character. I added them with a stiff round brush.
5. How to add final touches
We have not finished with the volume! Unicorn horns and a hanging star need it very much.
Create a new layer, change the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication), and add shadows, not forgetting the source of the light. I used a light purple color, as before in the composition, to maintain the color temperature. For deeper shadows, for example, on a star, I chose purple darker.
With horns and a star, I worked with a stiff round brush. Remember, you can use a soft round brush and / or soft round eraser to soften the edges.
I want the light on the character’s face to be dramatic, so let’s add some more shadows!
This time there is no need to create a new layer – we can continue to add purple on this layer (blending mode – Multiply (Multiplication)). I used dark shades of purple on the left side of the character, because I really wanted to darken everything.
At this stage, I combined all the layers with a pattern (except layers with a falling star and background).
Let’s add light as if coming from a shooting star.
Create a new layer on top of your drawing and change the blending mode to Color dodge (Lightening the basics). Make a layer with clipping mask. Choose a yellow color (I recommend using the Eyedropper tool (Pipette) to select a color from a falling star), and paint the light with a soft round brush.
Then I worked with a hard round eraser and removed the extra yellow in the area of my lines (I wanted them to stay a little darker).
Since this character is in space, I thought it would be interesting to experiment with reflected light or another source that affects the shadows. I added a light blue color on the other hand to achieve this effect.
To do this, after merging the layers of my work, I created a new layer. Again, I used a clipping mask. Change the blending mode to Screen (Screen) and paint in blue with a round soft brush.
This process is similar to the previous one, only with a different blend mode (Screen (Screen)).
With fine details, such as glare on the horns of a unicorn, I recommend working with a soft round brush. Do not forget about the source of light!
I also added a yellow line here connecting the horn and the star. I drew it with a stiff round brush, as well as small dots in the middle of the line.
I also decided to try adding soft pink shadows.
To do this, create a new layer and change its blending mode to Screen (Screen). I added color with a hard round brush, and then I used a soft round eraser to make a soft transition from shadows to skin color.
Finally, let’s diversify the hair – curl here and there, and a few strands behind, where blue light falls on the head.
I drew them with a stiff round brush on a new layer.
When it comes to new strands that were not there initially, I add a dark outline to fit the strands to fit the rest of the illustration.
You got to the end of the lesson – congratulations and thanks for joining! I hope that you have learned something new that you will be able to use in your future space work.
Posted by: Daisy Ein