Create a fantastic illustration in Photoshop

Creating light effects is usually not a complicated process. Giving such effects to life and realism may require a little more skill, time and patience. Today, I will show you how to create a grunge street-style composition of Street Fighter using light, photographs, and text effects. Let’s start!


The inspiration for this work was the Pandorum movie poster. I like the engraved inscription and how it contrasts with the rest of the composition. Therefore, my main task was to concentrate as much as possible on creating such a text effect. And then go to the character. I’m a big fan of science fiction and all the supernatural and I wanted to create some kind of superhero. I would like to create a character similar to Ryu from Street Fighter with light energy emanating from his body. Ryu’s bubble-like energy looks too boring, so I decided to give it a silhouette of a formidable animal, inspired by the cartoon Pokemon and Harry Potter, in which the main characters have magical defenders who they can control.

Here are some details of the close-up work.

Step 1. Create a new document in Photoshop. I used the size of 1920×1200, as well as the resolution of my monitor, in order to use the work as a desktop screensaver. You can do the same. After that, fill the canvas with gray (# b8b8b8).

Step 2. Create a new layer and fill it with black. Make sure that the primary colors are black and white, otherwise press CTRL + D. Apply filter Filter – Render – Clouds (Filter – Rendering – Clouds). I want to make a beautiful linear effect out of these clouds. Therefore we pass Filter – Blur – Motion Blur (Filter – Blur – Blur in motion) with a distance of 999px and Angle (Angle) 0. Set the layer blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication) with Opacity (Opacity) 60%.

Step 3. Load the faded blue texture and paste it onto the working document. Decrease Opacity (Opacity) up to 35%.

Note that the left side is darker than the right. To fix this, we take Burn tool (Fade) (O) and draw in the right area to balance the colors.

Create a new layer, take a black soft brush (B) with Hardness (Hardness) 0% and working along the edges of the canvas. Decrease Opacity (Opacity) to about 15%. We will arrange the text in the center. Having darkened the edges, we focused attention in the center of the composition.

Step 4. Work on the background. We must add three adjustment layers. Let’s start with Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Gradient Map (Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Gradient Map), set the blending mode to Overlay (Overlap) with Opaciy (Opacity) 70%.

Further Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Brightness / Contrast (Layer – New adjustment layer – Brightness / Contrast): Brightness (Brightness) -18, Contrast (Contrast) 80.

And finally, add the last adjustment layer. Gradient map (Gradient map), but this time we use dark blue (# 082a75) and orange (# ffba00). Set the blending mode to Overlay (Overlap) with Opacity (Opacity) 40%.

Step 5. It’s time for symbol and text. Let’s start with the symbol. We use Rectangle tool (Rectangle) (U) to create the first shape, then duplicate it (CTRL + J) and rotate it 90 degrees (CTRL + T).

Step 6. Create a new layer, load the image with cracked edges brushes and work brush on the edges of the symbol. We use these brushes to create the effect of destruction. Don’t worry about the color, we’ll fix everything later.

Step 7. Select the three layers with the plus symbol (two layers with rectangles and one with cracks) and press CTRL + ALT + E to merge them into one new layer. You can hide the three original layers, as we will use only the merged layer below.
Click the right button on the layer with the symbol and select Blending options (Overlay options). We first apply Color Overlay (Overlapping with color) (# 630707).

Next, add Inner shadow (Inner shadow) to create an engraving effect. Remember that the parameters depend on the size of the symbol.

And finally, we add Drop shadow (Shade) white with blend mode Linear dodge (Linear Brightener) to complete adding effect.

Step 8. Now we have to add the effect of scratched metal. Download Scratched metallic textures. Place the texture on the working canvas, adjust the size (CTRL + T) and set the blending mode to Overlay (Overlap). Remember that this effect only applies to the plus sign, so adjust the texture layout so that you are satisfied with the result.

Step 9. We continue to work on the layer with the texture, hold down the CTRL and click on the layer with the plus, then click on the button Add layer mask (Add layer mask) at the bottom of the layers panel. Thanks to the actions done, the scratch effect will only affect the symbol. Decrease Opacity (Opacity) up to 60%.

Step 10. I think the effect will be more realistic if there are black and white scratches. Duplicate (CTRL + J) the texture and delete the layer mask. Move the white texture so that it does not intersect with black. We press CTRL + I, to invert colors and set blend mode to Screen (Lightening). Thus, we will save only white areas. Apply the mask again, using the plus as an auxiliary form.
If we install Opacity (Opacity) at 100%, we will see a small problem: white scratches are on top of the shadows. Do not worry, we will fix this problem in the next step.

Step 11. To move white scratches under the shadow, it is necessary that all effects Layer style (Layer style) were on a separate layer. Fortunately, this is possible to do in Photoshop. Click the right mouse button on the layer style on the layers panel and select Create layers (Create layers).

Now move the layer with white scratches between the layer with the inner shadow and color fill. Also reduce Opacity (Opacity) to about 30%.

Step 12. In this step, we will add the TUTPLUS text (Edistys font) and apply the same effects to it as the logo. You can experiment with brushes and textures so that the result does not look monotonous.

Step 13. It seems to me that the atmosphere is too gloomy. Create a new group and change its blend mode to Color dodge (Lightening the basics). Create a layer inside the group, take a large soft round brush (B) white and click once in the center of the canvas. Decrease Opacity (Opacity) to about 45%. Now the text has become more noticeable and vivid.

Create a new layer, choose a red color, take a brush from the Toxic Paint brushes set and click once on the canvas.

Step 14. Having carefully considered the poster Pandorum, you can see something like a floor behind the text and a metal surface. I would like to create the same effect. To do this, select all created layers and merge them together (CTRL + ALT + E). Name the layer “merged”. Hide all other layers. In the next steps we will use only the “merged” layer.
We load the image of Chateau Noisy and place it on the working document under all the other layers. Activate the merged layer and add layer mask . Using black big soft brushes (B) gently erase the bottom area.

The floor is not very similar to the metal surface. It seems to me that the whole problem is in color: it is too discolored. Find the adjustment layer Gradient map (Gradient Map) with the blue-orange gradient we created earlier, pinch Alt and move the adjustment layer over the metal floor. Thanks to this, we duplicated Gradient map (Gradient Map) and placed a copy above the floor.

Step 15. Now that the background is done, we can focus on the main character and the lighting effects. To begin with, we have to release the photo of the guy from the background and paste it on the working canvas. Then duplicate (CTRL + J) this layer and set the blending mode to Overlay (Overlap) with Opacity (Opacity) 70%; duplicate again and apply the filter Filter – Sharpen – Smart Sharpen (Filter – Sharpness – Smart sharpness) to create the effect of dirt and a little detail. Duplicate the layer last time and apply Filter – Other – High Pass (Filter – Other – Color Contrast), set the blend mode to Overlay (Overlap).

Step 16. Via Burn tool (Dimmer) (O) darken the left side of the character.

Step 17. The colors of our hero are too saturated. Select all layers with a guy and merge them together into a new layer (CTRL + ALT + E). Press CTRL + U to open the window. Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation) and decrease Saturation to -30.

Step 18. It’s time to add some details for the guy, because now he looks more like a dirty child, and not like a superhero after a bloody battle. Create a new layer, zoom the eye area, draw the eyeball with a white brush (B). Our superhero is now in trance.

Step 19. Now add the scars. To do this, activate Brush tool (Brush) (B). I used the tablet to draw three scars. After selecting a round red brush (about 5px in size), open the brush settings window (if you are using a tablet) Window – Brushes (Window – Brushes) and activate the parameter Shape dynamics (Dynamics of the form), so that the thickness of the line depended on the force of pressing the pen.

Create a new layer and place it under the scarred layer. White brush (B) draw along the edges of the scar. This should give a realistic look.

Step 20. Now we can experiment with light effects. Create a new group of “light effects”. Add a new layer inside the group and take Smoke brushes. Let’s start with the light coming from the hands. Select the appropriate brush from the set and click once.

Try to imagine how this smoke effect can interact with a superhero. Adjust the size, tilt.

We use Eraser tool (Eraser) (E) or layer mask to remove excess smoke details.

Step 21 Apply layer style to smoke Gradient overlay (Overlap gradient) from light azure (#cffeff) to light yellow (#fffeeb).

Step 22 Using the method of Step 20, create another light path.

Step 23 To create the face of a tiger, we need an auxiliary image. Load the tiger photo and open it in Photoshop. We use Pen tool (Feather) (P) or Lasso Tool (Lasso) (L) to cut the head, then move it to the working canvas. We have in the right place.
Bleach the image (CTRL + SHIFT + U) and reduce Opacity (Opacity).

Step 24 Create a new layer and click once with a brush with smoke.

Find an area resembling a tiger’s tooth.

Move to the right place.

And finally eraser (E) remove excess.

Step 25. Repeat the above process. If necessary, duplicate the smoke layer to make the effect more saturated.

Step 26. Hide the tiger layer. At this stage, you can add more details for the tiger to give it a personality. You do not have to repeat my actions exactly.

Step 27. As you can see, this technique is very simple. You can use other brushes and add more details, experiment with color. All you need is patience, because this process is easy, but slow. That’s what I got after one hour of work.

Step 28. The composition is almost ready, there is something else that we have to do. Create a new group and change its blend mode to Color dodge (Lightening the basics). We will use this group to add final light strokes. Create a new layer inside the group, take a soft large brush (B) white and start drawing light effects. If necessary, reduce Opacity (Opacity) layer.

That’s what happens.

Here is the final result. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and learned something new.

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