Cavers of the future in Photoshop

Final image:


In this lesson, I will show you the process of creating a scene that takes place deep underground.

I will show how to create realistic destruction and proper lighting, convey the atmosphere of the image, and add a couple of details that will help tell the whole story, and share some ideas that I think will be very useful in the process.

The background of the work is as follows: people returned to the planet Earth, which swallowed up all the cities, turning them into huge underground caves.

Step 1. Explore, explore, explore

I created this image specifically for Facebook’s “Super SpeenPainting Funtimes’ group, the main rule of which is a time limit of 50 minutes per drawing. And here it is very important to note that the research part of the work, in which it is necessary to find a topic and material for the future image, is not included in these 50 minutes.

You can spend as much time as you need for searching for ideas or photos that you intend to use in your work. The fact is that no matter how much time you spend on research, this will never be enough, regardless of what you want to portray. But, nevertheless, it is very, very helpful for the artist if he explores as many resources as possible and prepares as much material as possible for his future work.

Step 2. Foundation

On most of the pictures I came across, researchers were depicted, seemingly tiny against the backdrop of huge stone caves. And then I had the idea to turn the stone walls into underground skyscrapers. First, I filled the first layer with a dark brown color, which will serve as a background for my cave. Then I drew rectangles with the tool. Rectangular area (Marquee Tool). I filled it with almost black color, since later this color will be visible from the windows of my building. Next, I tilted the rectangle, copied it, flipped it and placed it on the other side. The “foundation” of my image is ready.

Step 3. Creating windows using layers

To paint the building and window cladding, I first used the texture of the wooden fence on the building on the left. Then I tried to apply the same texture to the building on the right, but it looked too flat, and in order to create realistic depth, I had to paint the windows myself.

I turned off the layers so that only a blank page remained in front of me. On the new layer, I created a dark color grid. Then I copied the grid layer and made the color lighter. Next, using the tool Move (Move tool) you can move any of the layers slightly left or right to create a volume effect for future windows.

I think the most important part here is to create a grid, transform and rotate it so that it superimposes on the previously created block, and only then copy it, change the color, and shift a little.

Step 4. Dust and fog

It was time to create the atmosphere of my scene, and since the action takes place deep underground, it is necessary to add dust and fog to fill the air in these caves. A large soft brush and a new layer play a major role here. I reduced the percentage of opacity, so that further it became possible to create the desired density of air in different parts of the cave. If in some places the density is too strong, I can always adjust the layer opacity.

Also, it is important to leave the right building sufficiently “clean” to later add a few important details to my image.

The more dust you add, the more distant your object will appear, even in bright daylight. Play around with different techniques to add depth to your scene.

Step 5. Light

Light penetrates everywhere, even in caves. Using the previous technique with a lighter sand color, I add more dust and change the blending mode to Lightening basics (Color Dodge) to depict the light that enters the cave and is reflected from buildings. This will add color to the atmosphere and make it even more interesting.

Step 6. Foreground elements

On the new layer, I added to the foreground a stone hill, on which my researchers will stand. I used tough brush ( Brush) and dark brown color, which I also used earlier. I turned off the visibility of the layers that could interfere with me and chose the color I needed using the tool Pipette (Eyedropper Tool). This helped in maintaining the constancy of color in the image. When creating an elevation form, the opacity of my brush was set to 100%. Then, I used a brush with a specific texture and medium opacity and the color of the dust around it, so that the stone had the appropriate texture.

In this scene, the closer the stones are to the observer, the farther they are from the light, and therefore darker.

Never forget the depth of the scene when you intend to create realistic images. Think about light, fog or haze – how will their density change depending on the location of the object in relation to the observer?

Step 7. Destroyed buildings

At this stage we will be greatly helped by the fact that we placed our elements on different layers. It is necessary to add damage to the lining of our buildings. I looked into my library (remember, I told you how important the selection of textures and images is before starting work?) And selected the appropriate textures. You can also find free textures on any relevant sites.

I turned off the visibility of the layers to the layer with windows, and applied a rocky texture by setting the blending mode to Overlap (Overlay), and, with the tool Move (Move), placed it on the left building. About this building, you can not worry too much, because when I turn on the visibility of all layers again, most of it will be covered with dust and fog. But, my second texture – the rust texture – has a red-orange color, and it will be visible even through the layers on top of the texture.

I bleach the texture (Alt + Shift + Ctrl + B on Windows), slightly erase its central part, and place it on the building on the right. The blend mode I set to Bright light (Vivid Light) so that the details are better visible on the light background of the building.

By adding textures you can achieve realistic images.

Step 8. Cave inside the cave

Now, when my buildings look rather destroyed and dilapidated, I want to add one important detail to my image – the cave inside the cave. This is one of the elements that makes the image more mystical – what lies behind this hole? This research is done by my cavers.

Using a pipette to pick the right color and a brush with a texture, I painted a hole in one of the buildings. I thought about adding wires, piles, and different floors that previously could have existed in this building. I drew a hole on a new layer, in the place that I had previously specifically left clean from dust and fog.

Step 9. Cavers of the future

I turned on the visibility of all layers again, and now the stage seemed too light to me, so I added more dust and haze to darken it.

And now it’s time to add another important detail – the researchers.

It is important to preserve their scale in comparison with the skyscraper. I relied on the size of the windows to keep the size. I magnified the image and painted two people with all the equipment and helmets protecting them from the toxic gases that might be in the cave. The details in their uniform are practically irrelevant, with the exception of the orange beacons, which I added to their backs. I imagined that these were indicators of remaining air, or, for example, the battery of their costumes. I drew these indicators on a separate layer, setting the blending mode to Linear Dodge (Linear Dodge). To one of the cavers, I added a device that may, for example, contain information about a cave.

Step 10. Light beam

To complete the image, and link its two main parts, I added a lantern light. With the tool Polygonal Lasso (Poligonal lasso) I drew a narrow triangle, then painted it with a light sand color and placed it under the layer with the researchers. Next to the figure I applied Gaussian blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur), and slightly corrected with a soft brush of the same color. I also added reflected light from the lantern to the place where dust and smoke surround a hole in the building.

Now I merge all visible layers into one new layer (Shift + Ctrl + Alt + E).

We make the latest adjustments! I played a little with the Levels and Curves of the new layer to adjust the lights, shadows and color, and also added noise to the whole image (Filter – Noise – Add Noise / Filter – Noise – Add Noise).

That’s all! This is how the images look before and after adjusting Levels and Curves.

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