In this lesson we will draw a photo-realistic illustration with a picture of a crystal swan in a glass.
Additional materials, which we need in the lesson:
- Swan photo
- Photoshop Color Wheel Plugin
We will use only two basic brushes. The first brush is needed to smooth out hard edges and create gradient transitions. When drawing in black and white, there is one big advantage: there is no need to constantly select colors, all the necessary shades of gray can be obtained by adjusting the pen pressure on the tablet. The second brush is, in fact, a standard round brush with hard edges and settings. Shape dynamics (Dynamics of form). We will use it mainly for sketching and texturing. Below you can see the parameters of each brush.
Our main task is to draw a crystal swan in a glass of water. We need to recreate three materials: crystal, water and glass. The light source is on top. Now let’s look at the photo of the swans.
We will not redraw the entire swan. We need only the shape of the neck and beak. Wings and tail are not so important, so we focus only on the neck and beak.
Create a new layer, press the D key to reset the colors. We draw the basic form of a swan and a glass with a brush №2. Now we do not need perfect lines, a light draft will be enough to transfer the idea to paper.
We continue to work with the outline. Create another new layer above the previous one. Now we add more details to the shape of the glass and draw the water level. Also note that the tip of the beak crosses the rim of the glass.
This is what the final draft version looks like, quite detailed and neat, so that we can continue the lesson by adding black and white shades.
Next, we will continue to work with a sketch in a slightly different way. In fact, the procedure for creating a sketch is not so important. It is much more important to know what you want to create, to have a clear image in your head. We will use brush number 2, but with a larger diameter, to draw the silhouette of a swan. Pay attention to the beautiful curve of his neck, beak, belly. I intentionally made the wings and tail small so that they did not distract the viewer’s attention.
Detail the silhouette.
Gray color draw the shape of the glass.
We are finishing the edges.
Move on Filter – Stylize – Find Edges (Filter – Styling – Selection of edges).
As a result, we have such a circuit.
Before continuing to draw, pay attention to the picture below. Look carefully and try to imagine how the light will behave and how it will affect objects. The longest line shows the main beam of light coming from above. It passes through a translucent swan, the water and at the bottom of the glass the rays diverge in all directions, creating a bright source of light. This is the brightest point in the picture.
A certain amount of light passes lower through the leg of the glass. The remaining four beams illuminate the head of the swan, the tail and the wings that look out of the water. Remember this scheme, it will be very useful to us in further work.
This is a quick sketch made by brush number 1. We see that the whole picture consists of three levels of gray: 0, 50 and 90. Although the picture looks rather dirty, this does not prevent us from already clearly seeing the idea of the illustration.
Activate the layer with the sketch, take Magic wand tool (Magic Wand) (W) and click on the background to select it. Then create a new layer above the sketch.
Take Gradient tool (Gradient) (G) and fill the selection as shown below.
This more detailed version of the outline will help us correctly fill in individual areas of the picture. You don’t have to do the same as mine. You can experiment with the shades of gray from step 14.
Notice that each item is on a separate layer.
Now with the help Magic wand tool (Magic wand) (W) we select the swan’s head and fill it with the instrument Paint bucket tool (Fill) (G). This detail is flatter, in contrast to those that we filled with the gradient, so here it’s preferable to use Paint bucket tool (Fill) (G). In addition, we can also use the No. 2 brush with a larger diameter to fill the selection.
Below you see a sketch with the exact numerical values that we will use for the fill. As always, you don’t need to copy all the numbers exactly. You can use about the same values that I showed in step 14.
Now we can see the result that we have at this stage of work. Make all layers visible again if they were hidden, including the thumbnail, which is under the filled layers. Group all layers (Ctrl + G) and give the group any name. Hit Command / Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E to merge all visible layers on a separate new one. This is useful when you want to go back a step to fix something. This group will come in handy later when we apply color.
The base is ready. Each subsequent step will be aimed at giving a realism of illustration. The areas marked in the screenshot below are too bright. They need to be made a little darker.
For this we will use the adjustment layer Curves (Curves). Activate the background layer, click on the special icon at the bottom of the layers panel and select Curves (Curves). Or go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer – New adjustment layer – Curves). As a result, a window with settings will appear. Click on the hand icon, move it to the area that we want to darken, and slightly pull it down. You will immediately see the result. Stop when you are happy. Hit the D key to reset the colors. Using the brush number 2, edit the mask of the adjustment layer, filling in the area that we are going to darken.
Then click Command / Ctrl + I to invert the mask.
Move on Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur). Set Radius to 56.1 or so that the edges are blurred fairly well. This method of blurring can be used in any situation where you need to soften hard edges.
We apply the described technique to the remaining problem areas and get the finished result. Not many noticeable changes, but the difference is visible.
Now pay attention to the swan’s belly. Boring, isn’t it? In the real world, clearly separated objects are unnatural. Let’s try to add some movement in this place. Red arrows mark the places where you need to work with a brush.
Use brush number 1 to lighten or darken the areas marked below (red to lighten, blue to darken). Hit D to reset colors, then X to swap them. We will lighten with white color, and black, of course, black out. This is the advantage of the brush number 1, which I mentioned at the beginning of the lesson. We do not need to constantly pick the color for each individual area. We simply press the X key to change colors in places, and as we draw, we adjust the pen pressure on the tablet to get the desired shade of gray.
The result is not very pleasing to the eye, but it did not get any worse.
Now we will work on the sketch. Activate the layer and select the white color (key D, then X). Further Select – Color Range (Selection – Color Range), set the fuzziness (blur) to 30 and click OK. Since we had chosen a white color, which also filled the background, the command Color range (Color range) will highlight all white areas of the image. After that, activate the layer with the swan on which we work. Hit Command / Ctrl + Shift + I to invert the selection. As a result, we created a contour selection.
We take a brush number 2 with a diameter slightly wider contour. Hit Command / Ctrl + H to hide the selection. We take a sample of colors on both sides of the contour and paint over it.
Using the brush number 2 white color add highlights. We use the scheme from step 13.
We will continue to work with the details. The image below shows the areas that need to be improved. The surface of the water is too flat, without reflections, and the area between the wing and the body is not filled at all. The glare at the bottom of the glass has very ugly edges. To fix this, use brush number 1.
Having brought the image closer, we will see a few extra white dots. Let’s get rid of them using the filter Filter – Noise – Median (Filter – Noise – Median), Radius (Radius) 1 px. It is very important that the radius be exactly 1 pixel. Greater value will ruin the job.
There are still a few black dots that you also need to get rid of. This time we will use brush number 2. Take a sample of color near the point and paint it.
Now we will work on the edges of the glass. Good study of boundaries is very important when you need to achieve a realistic result. Look at the mountains in the distance, and you will see that textures and details disappear first, colors fade even further, but clear edges are visible even at a very long distance. It’s funny that when drawing, we do the opposite: first the basic shape, then the color and at the end of the part. See how the glass has changed after processing the edges. This simple tip will make your illustration convincing enough.
At the moment, the swan and the glass are well crafted to proceed to the next stage, but the water is still flat. Since the swan is submerged in water, its wings and tail must be wet. They should have more reflections and highlights. On the left side of the neck should be more light reflected from the glass. In addition, the areas below the wing need to add contrast. To do this, use the brush number 1. Remember that all the changes we make are very soft and neat. Use the zoom to work out problem areas in more detail.
In this step, we will refine three more areas: remove the extra strokes on the left side of the glass, more blur the large glare below and stretch the shadow in the right side along the rim. For work we use Smudge Tool (Finger).
Next, we need to make sure that the glass does not merge with the background. To do this, we will use the already known technology using Curves adjustment layer (Curves). Apply the correction, edit the mask and blur it.
Remember, I said that the beak should intersect with the rim of the glass? This is a very insignificant, but catching moment. Let’s select it. In addition, there is a crack in the back of the body, which also needs to be identified. It is not bright enough, but in order not to upset the fragile balance, we will only edit the area around the crack and make it darker.
If we move our gaze to the left edge of the document, we will notice a couple of areas that do not fit well. Let’s darken them with an adjustment layer. Curves (Curves).
Now everything is so perfect that we could move on to applying color, but it turns out that there are a few more points that need to be improved. Remember that our main task is to create a realistic swan in a glass of water. Realistic. Yes, it turned out beautiful and has a recognizable shape, but it lacks texture. In the real world, nothing is perfect. We take a brush №1 in size 1 pixel and in white color we start adding points on the swan. We also add some cracks and additional shadows in the places indicated below.
Now we are really close to the ideal. We have done everything in our power. Look carefully at your work, pay attention to the glass and water. They lack glare. Therefore use brush number 2 to add them in the marked places. The position of the points on the glass was not chosen randomly. It is in these places that they most successfully emphasize the curvature of the glass and do not conflict with other details.
When working with color, it is very important to consider the temperature of shades. The hue will change depending on how much the color becomes lighter or darker. Mid tones are usually more saturated than light or dark. Therefore, when choosing colors for drawing on a color wheel, try to take shades along a curved line, as shown below. This is the key to the correct selection of colors.
Select and fill with color all the black and white parts of the picture that we created at the beginning of the lesson. For this you can use the tool Paint bucket tool (Fill) (G) or brush number 2. Below you can see the finished version. Choose colors by following the tips from the previous step. The screenshot shows how the yellow color gradually turns into red, and the central hue has the highest saturation.
Another tip: most of the colors in the real world are quite dull, so do not overdo it with brightness. In traditional painting, as a rule, they start with soft shades. But in the digital era, we can easily fix the result. A glut of color will also help us quickly identify bad areas of a pattern. If you don’t like it, just discolor them. Next, we will closely work with color, reduce and increase saturation, achieving a suitable balance.
Change the color layer blend mode to Color (Chromaticity). Note that it should be above the black and white layer.
Let’s add saturation to the picture. Click on the button Create new fill or adjustment layer (Create a new fill or adjustment layer) at the bottom of the layers panel and select Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation).
Using the sketch layer, select the background, then activate the layer we are working with and apply Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur (Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur) with a radius of 41.1 (select the value most appropriate for your work). As a result, the background became smoother and more beautiful.
Now the image is too bright. We must reduce the saturation of the entire illustration, except for the swan, which is the main element and should attract attention. Good contrast is one of the components of a successful pattern. If you notice an unfortunate place, do not immediately redraw it. Try first to work on the area around this place. This method is called drawing negative space. Look carefully at your work and identify the bad places. Let your eyes be your critic.
Now we will try to reduce the brightness of the background. Create a new layer with blend mode. Saturation (Saturation). In turn, load the selection of the background and the legs of the glass and paint them with an unsaturated shade using brush number 2. If there are rough edges, blur them.
Having finished with saturation, we merge all visible layers on a separate Command / Ctrl + Shift + Alt + E). The left side of the image is still too bright. Let’s use the previous method to fix it. Create a new layer with blend mode. Saturation (Saturation), choose a less saturated hue and paint over the area with a brush number 2. If necessary, blur the hard edges of the filter. Gaussian blur (Gaussian blur).
Now the illustration looks better. But we still have to make a small color correction to breathe life into the drawing. Take the brush number 1 and change its blending mode to Linear dodge (Add) (Linear clarifier). We take samples of color in the places noted below. Then we begin to gently draw, adjusting the pressure of the pen on the tablet.
Hit Command / Ctrl + J to duplicate the layer. Change copy copy mode to Overlay (Overlap) and reduce the opacity to 33%. This we have added a bit of contrast.
Add an adjustment layer Hue / Saturation (Hue / Saturation).
We draw the shadows on the stem of the glass with the help of brush No. 1 to compensate for the loss of volume due to color correction.
Zoom in (Ctrl +/-) image to look at it again. It turns out that I forgot to reduce the brightness of the glass. We are finalizing this area as described in step 50.