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Photoshop The Professional

®

TM

The ultimate guide to becoming an expert Photoshop user

• Image editing • Graphic art & design • Photomanipulation


Welcome

Welcome

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The Professional Photoshop Book is your ultimate guide to using Photoshop’s tools and mastering commercial-standard imagery and effects.

Over the next 260 pages, we present a series of expert tutorials, split into four key categories: Photo editing, Photomanipulation, Graphics & type and Digital painting. The tutorials in each section are written by Photoshop professionals, giving you insight into how high-quality artwork is constructed. © Doucin Pierre

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Within each section, as well as the Workshops, you will find detailed features, looking in-depth at industry trends, as well as interviews and profiles with some of the best-known digital artists in the world. At the back of the book you will find a free disc, which has the project files that you need for completing the workshops, as well as bonus resources, including stock photos, brushes, textures and fonts. Our amazing cover image is courtesy of Gry Garness (www.grygarness.com).

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© Christian Nauck

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© Markus Vogt

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Photoshop The Professional

ÂŽ

TM

Imagine Publishing Ltd Richmond House 33 Richmond Hill Bournemouth Dorset BH2 6EZ % +44 (0) 1202 586200 Website: www.imagine-publishing.co.uk

Editor in Chief Jo Cole Production Editor Julie Bassett Design Danielle Dixon Printed by William Gibbons, 26 Planetary Road, Willenhall, West Midlands, WV13 3XT Distributed in the UK & Eire by Imagine Publishing Ltd, www.imagineshop.co.uk. Tel 01202 586200 Distributed in Australia by Gordon & Gotch, Equinox Centre, 18 Rodborough Road, Frenchs Forest, NSW 2086. Tel + 61 2 9972 8800 Distributed in the Rest of the World by Marketforce, Blue Fin Building, 110 Southwark Street, London, SE1 0SU. Disclaimer The publisher cannot accept responsibility for any unsolicited material lost or damaged in the post. All text and layout is the copyright of Imagine Publishing Ltd. Nothing in this magazine may be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the publisher. All copyrights are recognised and used specifically for the purpose of criticism and review. Although the magazine has endeavoured to ensure all information is correct at time of print, prices and availability may change. This bookazine is fully independent and not affiliated in any way with the companies mentioned herein. Photoshop is either a registered trademark or trademark of Adobe Systems Incorporated in the United States and/or other countries and is used with express permission. The Professional Photoshop Book Š 2011 Imagine Publishing Ltd ISBN 978 1 908222 1 38


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© Chris Crisman

© Gry Garness

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Contents

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PAGE

08

40 expert secrets revealed

© Marco Bauriedel

Top Photoshop tips from today's hottest artists Photo editing 18 Feature: 20 essential

photo-editing techniques Retouching, compositing and more

26 Retouching techniques Ten ways to perfect your portraits

32 Profile: Juan Zambrano

Professional image editing showcase

34 Professional

product shots

Bring boring photos to life

37 Profile: Phil Roberts Commercial sports imagery

38 Cinematic retouching Get the movie poster look

43 Profile: Taylor James

Behind the scenes of a top studio

44 Explore Adobe Camera Raw 6 How to use the latest version

47 Profile: Tim Tadder

Inspirational photo editing examples

6

48 Cross-process your photos

83 Profile: Joe Diamond

51 Profile: Rosen Dukov

84 Dynamic layer effects

Give your images a retro look Creative retouching revealed

52 Retouch architectural images Blend location lighting exposures

57 Profile: Adam Spizak

HDR effects give this work a pro feel

58 Creative lighting effects Pimp your portraits with this guide

61 Profile: Erik Johansson Photo editing meets surrealism

62 Interview: Chris Crisman

High-end photography and retouching

Photomanipulation

Imaginative manipulations

Create a great living tattoo effect, by making elements coming to life

88 Master light and colour

Make striking images with abstract designs and a little bit of Photoshop magic

94 Dynamic lighting effects

Re-create popular sports advertising images

101 Profile: Arseny Myshtsyn More inspiration for your projects

102 Advanced lighting techniques Create a sci-fi themed photomanip

107 Profile: Philip Brunner

Simple but effective manipulation

108 Advanced selections

Build a dynamic artwork using stock

70 Feature: CGI and

Photoshop: uncovered We explore this popular trend

78 Creative designs

Make a mechanical bug from photos

113 Profile: Markus Vogt One pro opens his portfolio

114 Black-and-white surrealism

Blend multiple elements for impact when working in monochrome


118 Expert transformations

Turn any model photo into manga

122 Profile: Cliff Vestergaard Dramatic photomanipulations

124 Working with perspective Create a 3D-esque abstract building

129 Profile: Doucin Pierre

See this pro's amazing work

136 Interview: MDI Digital We chat to the UK-based studio

136

©MDI Digital

135 Profile: Dimo Trifonov

Photomanipulation

Digital painting

Photo editing

Use the Pen tool for light effects

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130 Expert blending skills

Photo editing

Creative photomanipulations

144 Feature: Film FX

In-depth look at concept art for films

152 Dynamic painting

Paint a professional character

157 Profile: Chris King

Digital painting

Expert digital painting inspiration

158 Steampunk concept art Re-create a retro-futuristic airship

163 Profile: Dragos Jieanu

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Dark and atmospheric paintings

164 Fantasy lighting

Graphics & type

Give portraits a fantastical feel

168 Using paint textures

No painting skills? Use photos instead

172 Profile: Jonas De Ro Incredible digital paintings

174 Pro matte painting

Create realistic environments

180 Give digital photos a traditional twist

Get to grips with Photoshop brushes

185 Profile: Omar Díaz

Soak up these amazing portraits

186 Create a digital

matte painting

Use a blend of 3D and 2D techniques

191 Profile: Christian Nauck More painting inspiration

192 Fantasy painting

Create a mystical character

196 Interview: Radical Publishing The graphic novel giants speak out

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Graphics & type 204 Feature: Editorial illustration How to work to a brief

212 100% Photoshop illustration Use the Pen tool to draw concept cars that look three dimensional

218 Design thematic typography Design type from a set theme

221 Profile: Sadi Yann

How simple shapes can be dramatic

222 Mixed-media illustration

Throw traditional and digital into the mix to create striking designs

226 Logo design

Build an effective logo with 3D elements and a bit of Photoshop know-how

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230 Digital collage techniques Create an abstract poster design using geometric shapes and textures

234 Futuristic typography

Emulate the popular Tron look with this guide

238 Playing with shapes

Circles, squares and triangles combine

242 Create depth in

your illustrations

How to give your creations a tangible feel

247 Profile: Rogier de Boevé Graphical inspiration

248 Interview: The KDU We chat to this super agency

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Expert secrets revealed

Expert secrets

REVEALED Illuminating tips from today’s hottest Photoshop artists

8

8


01

RELAY THE MESSAGE Sorin Bechira

www.bechira.com Always begin with an idea of a message, not with a whole visual. Think on the message for a few days, chew over it and build upon it. If the message is strong, the visual representation will naturally be coherent. Also make sure that the visual interpretation will enhance the message through a strong emotional pull – created through visual elements such as colour and iconography. Viewers are more receptive to strong messages which involve emotions – they are human after all.

03

WORKING WITH THUMBNAILS Mike Corriero

www.mikecorriero.com Preproduction concept work often focuses on unique shapes, silhouettes and ideas. It’s more efficient to work at a thumbnail-sized scale in order to produce a larger variety of concepts. Working at such a small scale allows you to provide enough important information to communicate your idea to an art director. Proportions are also much simpler to handle working at the thumbnail scale and can easily be retained when blowing up the rough sketch or refining those all-important details.

02 UNDERSTAND

YOUR CLIENTS

04

PRE-RENDERS IN CG WORK Christian Hecker

www.tigaer-design.com I work a lot with 3D tools to initially create a base picture, which is then added to using digital painting techniques in Adobe Photoshop. Since I’m an environment artist, I work a lot with e-on software’s Vue. When I’m not sure what setup will look best, I invest some time in playing around with image elements and composition, rendering smaller previews before I get in a scene or the overall lighting. When working with Vue I often try out different positions for the sun and cast lighting, until I find the correct one, or I position and refine clouds and atmospheric effects in general. These test renders are also seen as some sort of concept art. It helps to clarify the image you have in your mind, which is why I initiate this process. Sometimes results from test renders produce some interesting effects you would have never encountered if you hadn’t experimented. It can also help you to mentally prepare yourself for the following Photoshop work, as it offers a glimpse at parts that will require attention in postproduction. Most 3D tools also have multipass rendering and the ability to create masks for each rendered object, which can be quite a time-saver.

Ask clients questions such as their preferred layouts and colours, what image from your portfolio they like, deadlines and budgets, to help you get a strong idea of what they really want – Studio Blup, www.studioblup.com

05 COLOUR WASHES

Marco Bauriedel

www.marcobauriedel.com Marco Bauriedel combines 3D, photo stock and painted elements to create still and motion masterpieces.

Apply an Overlay blending mode, dropping opacity. You can edit Hue effects, fine-tuning the image lighting and effects via adjustment options

Copy and paste a painted layer into your main work and scale it up beyond the workspace, creating a soft, hazy colour wash

Decide whether your image needs some additional colour tension, creating greater appeal through a wider colour palette

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Expert secrets revealed

06 CHARACTER CONSTRUCTION Marco Nelor

08

www.thurd-eye.com Currently residing in Dallas, Texas, Nelor finds passion in painting the figure and creating characters. A great glass of coffee, a vintage record in the background, a few ideas and some free time is his great recipe for creativity.

Step 1: Initial sketches

In initial stages, it’s always best to just sketch and explore your ideas on paper or digitally, fundamentally letting the character come to life. Iteration of costume, pose, face and even proportion design is integral, letting the character come forward from your imagination in a natural, organic fashion. Basically just have fun!

PREPARING FOR MAJOR COMPOSITES Mike Campau

www.seventhstreetstudio.com I always make sure to take time isolating elements with the appropriate techniques. If the object has distinct edges, I go to my Pen tool to outline the subject. If the subject matter has both distinct edges and organic variations (hair, fur, etc), I’ll first path out the hard-edged shapes, create a layer mask, then go back to the image channels and create another selection for the organic areas that can easily be brushed into the existing layer mask.

Step 2: Refining the costume

It’s good to pick a couple of the thumbnails, and really dig in and try to add a theme to the costume. It’s also important to try and show the producer any sort of materials, trinkets or patterning in the costume. Make your marks clear and not sketchy. This will sell your idea more fluently.

Step 3: Final glamour and colour palette

For the final glamour shot, pick a colour scheme found in nature. I usually Google exotic flowers for some inspiration. This tip comes from my teacher, Justin ‘Coro’ Kaufman, who once said: “Nature don’t make no mistakes”.

07 LESS

COMP-LICATED

Window>Layer Comps saves hard drive space. Also, you can turn the visibility of several layers or groups on/off to toggle in a more convenient way through image versions within a single file – Guillaume Le Tual, www.letual.ca

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09

ILLUSTRATION BLUEPRINTS Ollie Munden

10 TONAL ADJUSTMENTS Alex Varanese

www.alexvaranese.com While I don’t do it nearly as often as I should, I find that I always benefit from starting a project with a lowresolution mock-up created from a series of placeholder photos and typography texture samples. Crude brushwork can also be an effective method for quickly blocking out the size, colour and positioning of desired elements within a composition. Lastly, I often set up adjustment layers which have an affect on colour balance, texture, tint and contrast, etc, before actually creating the artwork itself; I prefer this way, as it means the majority of the styles and toning of the piece are in effect from the ground up.

11 SCRIPTED ACTIONS Steve Pugh

stevepughcom.blogspot.com

www.megamunden.com Quite often when producing a handdrawn piece, I’ll create a PS mock-up using a patchwork of found or scanned photographs. I cut elements out with the Pen tool and arrange them to create a loose composition. I also find the Warp and Distort tools can be incredibly useful.

I often use Photoshop’s scripted actions and I’m very structured with my layers. I make use of groups to divide the piece so actions only work on precise areas; eg, if I run my action to convert a piece to be prepped for print, it runs a Smart Sharpen filter and a Curves adjustment.

STOCK 12 LISTS

Jaroslav Stehlík

http://jaroslavstehlik.com When you are searching for images to use in your photo compositions, be sure that you’ve subscribed to some of the royalty-free stock sites – eg iStockphoto.com, Getty, Shutterstock, Fotolia and more. They already have all the references that you need and they are mostly at a good resolution thanks to strict submission guidelines. Of course you then have peace of mind when it comes to permission to use the licence in your commercial work. Subscription is cheap these days, so it’s not a big problem to afford it. If you’re going to take your own photo stock, there are a few things to keep in mind. Shoot everything you have around you and try to shoot it at different angles and with various light setups. Eventually you will build up a comprehensive and extremely practical database for both your personal and commercial ventures – saving you the outlay of premium stock. Elemental shots seem very common at present in artwork – ie fire, smoke and water are often used. You can shoot these in the bath, outside the house and against different backgrounds such as black, grey and white, and you will never have problems with special effects in photography. If photography and CGI elements are perhaps too expensive at the time, and you need to make a really drastic change in your image as elements don’t have the right perspective or lighting, then repaint these references in Photoshop to ensure everything is correct. Practice makes perfect here.


13 MATCHED LIGHTING

Jamie Martin

www.jamiemartindesign.co.uk Jamie Martin is a trained automotive and industrial concept designer, who primarily uses Photoshop to create and enhance his 3D concept images. Sun flare, highlights and lowlights are added to select areas for emphasis and contrast

The model is photographed under similar lighting conditions and camera angle to the 3D image

Figure outlines are traced with the Pen tool and cut out, along with their matching shadows

CREATE YOUR OWN 14 LIGHTING BRUSH Pete Harrison

www.peteharrison.com I only really use one brush for lighting effects, and I also use it as an eraser. To create this, simply use the Ellipse tool, holding Shift to keep the aspect ratio and form a circle. Use the colour black on a white background. Then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. Check Preview and edit the slider until your shape is pretty blurred. Next, use the Rectangular Marquee tool to select the whole blurred circle and go to Edit>Define Brush preset. Name it Lighting Brush, and then go to your Brushes menu – it should have appended to your current brush set. Play with Shape Dynamics and Scattering to create star effects.

15 OVERLAY BLENDING MAGIC James White

www.blog.signalnoise.com Using the Overlay blending mode to add a colour layer on top of existing elements can have weak and lacklustre results. Try dropping the Opacity to 35%, then duplicating that layer three to four times in the Layers palette. These additional overlays bring a saturated vibrancy to the colour without distorting or blowing out the images beneath. Great for lighting effects, neon glows and your average light cycle trail.

Shadow enhancements are airbrushed in on a new layer, fixing imperfections in the 3D render

TOOL 16 BLUR IMAGE EDGES Aimee Stewart www.foxfires.com

For photomanipulations, when all layer elements are extracted and in place, use the Blur tool with a soft round brush set to 25%, and sized so that it will overlap the edge of an extracted picture by 20 pixels. Brush over all edges to give all elements a uniform appearance.

18 SYMMETRICAL VECTOR SHAPES Jeff Miracola

www.jeffmiracola.com

17 CONTRASTING SHAPES

Combining traditional and digital elements – like triangle, square, slanting lines or flying blob Photoshopped shapes allows me to get that mix of digital and academic style I love – Grzegorz Domaradzki, www.iamgabz.com

Step 1: Use a guide

From the side ruler, pull out a guide for your line of symmetry. Use the Pen tool (P) to draw one half of your shape. Start drawing your shape along the guide.

Jeff Miracola is an award-winning illustrator whose work can be seen on more than 100 Magic: The Gathering cards, as well as videogames, books and magazines. Some of his clients include Scholastic, EA, Target and Hasbro. He lives in Wisconsin, USA.

Step 2: Save time by duplicating

Duplicate your shape layer (Layer>Duplicate Layer), Flip Horizontal (Edit>Transform Path>Flip Horizontal), and align your second shape with your first.

Step 3: Combine your shapes

Switch to the Path Selection tool (A). Select the second shape and Copy. In the Layers palette, select the first shape layer and paste. In the Options bar, choose Combine to finish.

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Expert secrets revealed

19 BE SMART

WITH VECTORS

Whenever you paste a new object into your canvas, remember to convert it into a Smart Vector Object. This will enable you to resize it as many times as you wish without any distortion

MULTIMEDIA 22 ELEMENTS Phil McDarby

www.philmcdarby.com Award-winning artist Phil McDarby uses a number of methods to create his imagery, from 2D painting using a graphics tablet to 3D modelling in Maya, Bryce and 3ds Max.

– Radim Malinic, www.brandnu.co.uk

Mix your media. I use ZBrush, Maya, Photoshop, my own photography, pencil sketches – anything and everything – to bring an image to life

EYES 20 FRESH

Nicholas Miles www.exula.co.uk

There is no point creating an incredible landscape if there are no characters to bring it alive – these add narrative

When you’ve fleshed out the foundations of an idea, it’s a good idea to take a short break. It’s easy to become blind to a piece of art and overlook glaring errors. Taking a break allows time for the concept to settle and for your eyes to adjust. When you return, you’ll often see things you missed and be raring to realise your imagination.

DETAILS 21 IMPORTANT Tobias Roetsch

www.gtgraphics.de/gtgv4 You often only need little elements to make a meaningless image tell a story. The key elements in my picture are the trail, ship and moon. Before I added them it was an image with a beautiful sunset but no deeper idea. Photoshop’s standard brushes changed that. Particularly important is the blown part of the trail as this combines all of the compositional elements through one line of sight.

Fade (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+F) is accessible only after immediately completing an action, and is a great tool for graduating lighting effects and colour correction, etc

Paint shadows using a large soft brush; insert the History Icon beside that History State, erase the shadows and use the History brush to paint them back in layers

23 COLOUR PRINT CHECK Andy Potts

www.andy-potts.com This may not be the most technically advanced bit of Photoshop magic, but I find it essential and it’s something I do constantly. I work in RGB for more versatility and I quickly switch to CMYK mode with Cmd/Ctrl+Y to see how the colours are translating as I work. It saves potential palette misery later on if I have to convert to CMYK for the client.

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The first 95 per cent of an image is the easy part. The last 5 per cent might take you as long, but is even more important – push it as far as you can

24

OVERLAY-NEUTRAL

Manually dramatise exposure by Opt/Alt-clicking the New Layer icon, setting a Multiply blending mode, activating Fill with Overlay-neutral and painting to the new layer using 10% black/white brushes

– Adam Smith, www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk/user/Adam


Create detailed selections using the Lasso tool in increments. By holding Shift, you can gradually add to your selection rather than all at once

LANDSCAPES 25 TRANSFORMING Andrew Brooks

www.andrewbrooksphotography.com To bend and curve a section of an image, make a rectangular selection, then use Skew to transform – as long as two sides stay parallel, the pixels should join the rest of the picture up on the side that didn’t move.

AND ENERGY 26 MOVEMENT Pablo Alfieri

www.pabloalfieri.com One of the major visual cues that characterises my artwork is the use of diagonal structures. This image, Pank, demonstrates this. I start with the open hand and cluttered shapes in the bottom right-hand corner of the piece, and finish in the top right with a series of scattered, smaller image elements – a complex start to a simple finish. Combine this with contrasting colours of all elements, transmitting different emotive values, and it gives the whole artwork a dynamic ebb and flow. By colour complementing direction, you generally create energy and movement in your art, drawing a viewer in and guiding their gaze.

AN ILLUSIONIST 27 BECOME Feng Zhu

www.fengzhudesign.com When doing production paintings, I’m essentially creating a big illusion. If you think about it, we have two eyes to help us see in three dimensions, but the final delivery device for our work is nearly always in 2D – a cinema screen, a piece of paper or TV, etc. Therefore, we only need one eye to see it. As a result, paintings can feel flat unless the correct values, perspective, tones and lighting are applied.

METAL 28 MANUAL TEXTURES Dan Luvisi

www.danluvisiart.com I first begin by applying a solid colour. Then I’ll add my highlights to this, using applied brushes and integrating them in with blending modes. Next, I’ll use a stock photograph of metal, set it on top of the coloured layer and desaturate this texture if it has any source of colour, before setting it to Overlay blending mode. Sometimes I’ll mess with the Curves adjustment options, which brings out nice scratched elements in the texture layer, adding authenticity to the image.

PHOTOSHOP 29 AND 3D TYPE Barton Damer

www.alreadybeenchewed.net Barton Damer is a motion designer and digital artist who creates under his studio brand, Already Been Chewed, LLC. For over 12 years, he has designed for a variety of mediums including print, web, live productions and broadcast. His digital illustrations are heavily influenced by his motion work.

Step 1: Combine 2D and 3D Using Photoshop, I was able to create custom textures and Bump maps for my 3D models. CINEMA 4D allows me to texture with multiple layers from my PSD file.

Step 2: Add a background

I rendered an Alpha channel and a separate pass of the shadows to use in PS. Now I can add whatever background elements I want.

Step 3: Build up the scene

The remainder of the work is developing a composition out of photographs that will complement my 3D render. I composited vintage and new photos to make up my background.

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SATURATION TECHNIQUE

Try to adjust the overall saturation in order to make the focal points stand out. If going for a realistic result as far as image saturation goes, less is always more – Alexandru Popescu, www.alexpopescu.net

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Expert secrets revealed

31

COLOUR CAST

Overall colour adjustment layers such as Color Balance and Photo Filter will make your image more coherent by making the elements share final colour casts

34 UNSHARP MASK Maxime Quoilin

www.remainsteadfast.net When I’m finished, I often make a copy and merge the whole artwork and use the Unsharp Mask option on the resulting layer. Be careful not to overuse it, but a

subtle sharpening can bring in some really effective highlights and details to make the existing image pop. It’s a way of adding more contrast to your work without changing any of the colours.

– Andreas Rocha, www.andreasrocha.com

32

FINAL BLENDING MODES Kirk Nelson

www.thepixelpro.com As a final step, I often create a composite layer at the top by pressing Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E and set this layer to a Soft Light or Overlay blending mode. This can help give a quick boost to the colours and create some additional contrast to give the image a finished and more polished appearance.

COLOUR EXPOSURES 33 MANUAL Darek Kocurek

www.darekkocurek.com Usually during a photomanipulation, I create a homogenous tone by applying a layer on the highest level and setting the blending mode to Color. Any colour will suffice as, at this stage, the decision about graphic tone is not set in stone. It’s in the postproduction phase when I seriously consider using dominant colour palettes. I am creating the following layers in different colours, setting the blending modes to Color or Linear Burn. I use a basic soft-edged round brush at 80% Opacity to erase and hide parts of graphic layers, varying colours. We can also adapt this technique to help pick out highlights and shadows, eradicating the need for permanent Dodge and Burn tool application. In the image below, I applied a final black gradient at 65% Opacity to darken the base. I also lit the valley on the left using similar techniques and varying tones. On a new layer, I created a big white ellipse using the Ellipse tool, which I blurred using Filter>Gaussian Blur. I then applied a 65% Opacity Lighten blending mode to lighten further, before final resizing. I use this last technique very often to create strong focal light effects in my compositions.

35 PHOTO COMPOSITES Clint Davis

www.clintdavis.net Without the help of Photoshop, many of my images would simply be impossible to create. I take the most optimal exposure of the subject and background then combine them in order to achieve a

14

hyperrealistic look. I primarily use the Pen tool to finely clip out objects – then combine the multiple images together for a final piece. In the end, I add universal texture, lighting effects and match the colours to tie everything together.


39 MATCHING SHADOWS

KEEP YOUR 36 REFERENCE NEAR Douglas Sirois

www.dougsirois.com When you start to work on an image, it’s always a good idea to have some reference material close to hand, even when developing thumbnails. Though you may not want to rely heavily on your reference images, it’s always good to see how things look in real life rather than making it up from memory.

37

LAYERING SEQUENCES Steve Cullen

www.welcometocreature.com When it comes to finishing work in Photoshop it seldom comes down to a single move; usually it takes 1012 sequences. For this poster, the base layer is composed of scanned chipboard and craft paper layers with colour tweaks. Next came the main illustration elements – the character, reference images and type. These were all created first in Illustrator then retouched in PS with a variety of handmade brushes, styled after street art markers. The final details were to arrange the composition to generate the correct balance, and then do some styling. This means texturing and applying layering effects, ie knocking out, Hue/Saturation, and Dodge and Burn.

When placing an object into a new background, always use the Eyedropper tool to sample the shadows in the background image. Then create the new shadow to match – Robert Frolich, www.filtrestudio.com

40 PAINTING PERFECT SKIN Jo Denning

www.jodenning.co.uk Designing for both print and web, Jo Denning shows masterful skill in her super-realistic digital paintings, image manipulation and digital art

Step 1: Brush in shadows

By using a soft and reasonably large brush, at around 12% Opacity, begin brushing in shadows. If you find it starts to look patchy where the colours overlap, use the Eyedropper tool to sample the lighter colour of the shadow, then brush over the patches to blend.

and design projects, wonderfully demonstrated by her ever-expanding portfolio of work. Here she shares her advice on painting smooth skin for expert portraiture work.

Step 2: Add warmth

Turn on Shape Dynamics and use a soft brush, 30% Opacity, filling in the hair, gradually building up the colours. On a new layer, use a very large soft brush, around 10% Opacity, adding some warmth to the image. You can paint over details, playing around with opacity/style afterwards.

Step 3: Sharpen details

To refine and sharpen details, zoom in very close and use a fine soft brush – kept small at 1-2pt in size – at around 30% Opacity. Next, slowly brush over edges with a darker colour to create the illusion of sharpness. You may need to create shadows and highlights below/above your sharp lines to soften at a later stage.

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CHECK YOUR LEVELS With the design work done, always do a last check of your colours. Use the Levels option to adjust the tonal contrasts if needed – Cristiano Siqueira, www.crisvector.com

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16

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© Juan Zambrano

PAGE

PAGE

Photo editin 26 32

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© Taylor James © Adam Spizak

g

PAGE 43

PAGE 57

©MDI Digital

photo-editing techniques Retouching, compositing and more

26 Retouching techniques Ten ways to perfect your portraits

32 Profile: Juan Zambrano

Professional image editing showcase Photomanipulation

34 Professional

product shots

Bring boring photos to life

37 Profile: Phil Roberts Commercial sports imagery

PAGE 38

38 Cinematic retouching Get the movie poster look

Digital painting

43 Profile: Taylor James

Behind the scenes of a top studio

44 Explore Adobe How to use the latest version

47 Profile: Tim Tadder

48 Cross-process your photos Give your images a retro look

51 Profile: Rosen Dukov Creative retouching revealed

PAGE 62 PAGE 62

Graphics & type

Inspirational photo editing examples

© Chris Crisman

Camera Raw 6

© Chris Crisman

Before

Photo editing

18 Feature: 20 essential

Photo editing

Photoshop excels at photo editing. It can transform, enhance and improve any flaw, or make complex composites

52 Retouch architectural images Blend location lighting exposures

57 Profile: Adam Spizak

HDR effects give this work a pro feel

58 Creative lighting effects Pimp your portraits with this guide

61 Profile: Erik Johansson Photo editing meets surrealism

62 Interview: Chris Crisman

High-end photography and retouching

17


Feature

20

Essential photo-editing techniques

Photoshop excels at photo-editing tasks. It can transform, enhance and improve any flaw, or make complex composites. Here we reveal the 20 must-know photo-editing tips

01

PROBLEM: Wrinkles Removing signs of age is a common retouch and this includes wrinkles, eyebags and skin pockets

RETOUCHING:

PORTRAITS

BEFORE

PROBLEM: Blemishes Hiding blemishes is key if you want to create a flawless finish. Heavy-handed use of the Clone Stamp tool will be obvious to viewers, so it requires a practised and steady hand

PROBLEM: Skin One of the biggest areas that is likely to need retouching is the skin, which needs to be smoothed but still retain detail for realism

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Before you begin retouching, you need to mark up the areas that require the most work. The rest of this section will go into correcting these areas in detail

PROBLEM: Sculpting Whether working on face or body shots, it is likely that some form of reshaping will be required, which means getting to grips with the Liquify filter Š GRY GARNESS – WWW.GRYGARNESS.COM


02

RETOUCHING:

DE-AGEING

AFTER

SKIN

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

When getting to grips with retouching, you need unretouched images to practise on, so take snaps of a willing friend or even yourself to get a source photo.

05

RETOUCHING:

BODY SCULPTING

BEFORE

01

Healing layer

Create a new layer above your image and turn off any layers above. For blemishes away from edge detail, select the Spot Healing Brush (J) and set it to Sample All Layers and Proximity Match.

02

Switch tools

Size the brush a little bigger than the blemish and click. Undo and redo if the result doesn’t blend first time. For blemishes near edge detail such as the eyes, lips or nose, switch to the Clone Stamp tool to avoid dragging in texture.

03

Graphics & type

The professional approach to body sculpting is to outline the body with the Pen tool (P), turn the path into a selection with Cmd/Ctrl+Enter, Select>Modify>Feather by 1px, and float to a new layer with Cmd/Ctrl+J. Now roughly select the first part of the body you want to reshape with the Lasso tool and use Cmd/Ctrl+T to initiate a Free Transform. Move any of the handles to alter size, or hold down Cmd/Ctrl and drag a corner handle to distort the shape. Add a layer mask and use a black brush to blend the join with the original material if needed. Repeat for other parts of the body. If you’re slimming down, you’ll need to clone out the original body shape underneath using existing background. Create a new layer between the two for the cloning and the new shape will remain untouched.

texture. The Clone Stamp tool is best for working on small areas, such as removing hair, while the Spot Healing Brush can cover blemishes. To brighten the skin, consider a Curves adjustment layer with a Luminosity blending mode. This will enable you to subtly change the highlights and shadows, without losing the underlying tones. A gentle Surface Blur applied on a new layer with a mask so that only the skin is targeted will help to smooth the skin; keep it at a low opacity so as not to overdo the effect. The skin tone and colour can be modified using a Selective Color adjustment layer if needed.

Blemishes are best removed with a combination of the Spot Healing Brush and the Clone Stamp tools

Digital painting

When it comes to retouching, one of the most important areas to master is the skin. We’ve all seen over-airbrushed skin in magazines, where every last imperfection has been smoothed away, leaving an unrealistically blank expanse of onetone flesh. The aim with skin retouching is to remove blemishes and imperfections, creating smooth skin that still retains its texture and tonal range. The Healing tools are your main go-tos, given that they have been designed with retouching in mind. The Patch tool is perfect for removing larger imperfections, making sure that you drag the selection to an area that has similar skin

BLEMISH REMOVAL

Photomanipulation

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RETOUCHING:

04

RETOUCHING:

Photo editing

BEFORE

© MATT HENRY – WWW.MATTHENRYPHOTO.COM

De-ageing is a matter of wrinkle, line and eyebag removal, and the amount of work required depends on the age of the subject. It’s always best to work on a separate layer directly above the Background layer and start out using the Spot Healing Brush for wrinkles in even tone areas. Set the brush to Sample All Layers and Proximity Match. Use a brush size thicker than the wrinkle and click away a bit at a time along the trajectory of the wrinkle. Crow’s feet can be removed this way too, but be prepared to switch to the Clone Stamp tool as you get close to the eye. The eyebags are best tackled with the Clone Stamp tool only. Create a new layer and size the brush roughly to the proportions of the first eyebag. Source from the area underneath with Opt/Alt then brush over the eyebag. Add a layer mask and brush out any unwanted areas such as the lower eyelid. Drop Opacity to 50% and darken the layer a touch with Brightness/Contrast.

Clone advice

Set the Clone Stamp tool to Current and Below. Make sure the Aligned box is unchecked and take a brush a little bigger than the blemish. Source from a clean area as close as possible to the blemish and brush over once only.

AFTER

© MATT HENRY – WWW.MATTHENRYPHOTO.COM

© MATT HENRY – WWW.MATTHENRYPHOTO.COM

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Feature

06

COMPOSITING:

SELECTIONS

VECTOR MASKS Paths can be used to generate a selection or simply as a vector mask. The new Masks palette even allows for feathering on a vector mask.

QUICK SELECTION TOOL

COLOR RANGE

CHANNELS

PEN TOOL

The Quick Selection tool is Adobe’s latest weapon in the fight against difficult selections, and what a weapon it is! It is essentially a brushbased selection method that detects contrast in order to find edges. You simply brush over areas to select and Photoshop expands the selection outwards from the brush tip until it finds an edge. If the tool selects an area you don’t want, hold down the Opt/Alt key and paint over that area to deselect it.

The Color Range feature is like the grown-up version of the Magic Wand in that it creates selections based on similar colours. Go to Select>Color Range to get the dialog box. On the image your cursor turns to an eyedropper. You can either click once to sample or hold the Shift key and drag across the image to select a range of colours. The Fuzziness slider enables you to make live adjustments to the selection.

This technique is one of the most powerful for difficult selections like flyaway hair, fur and trees. In the Channels palette look for the colour channel that contains the most contrast between subject and background. Duplicate the channel and use Curves or Levels to increase the contrast. Use the Brush tool to touch up areas and then Cmd/ Ctrl-click the thumbnail to generate the selection.

When you need a smooth, precise, curved selection, there really is no substitute for the Pen tool. Be sure to set the mode to Paths and turn on the Rubber Band option to help visualise the path. Click once to lay down a control point then drag out to adjust the tangent handles. Hold down the Cmd/Ctrl key to move a control point and the Opt/Alt key to ‘break’ a tangent and adjust each handle separately.

Smart Radius With this option engaged, Photoshop will evaluate the radius for hard or soft edges separately. This generally provides a better selection than when it is turned off, which treats the entire border uniformly

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COMPOSITING:

REFINE EDGE

Shift Edge If you find the selection is grabbing a slight border of the background, use this slider in the negative values to pull the selection edge inwards and trim

Decontaminate Colors This helps to defringe stray colours from the resultant layer. This operation actually changes pixel colour, so Photoshop insists on the output being a new layer

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The Refine Edge command is available in two guises. The first appearance is as a button in the Options bar after a selection is made. The second is through the Masks panel when a layer mask is active, but there it goes by the name Mask Edge. The dialog box itself is broken down into four sections. The top-most section is the View Mode, which changes the way the selection is displayed on your image. The second area is Edge Detection with a single slider bar for Radius. This essentially controls how far away from the selection border Photoshop evaluates pixels for refining the selection. The larger the setting, the softer the edge. With the radius adjusted appropriately, brush over the border of the selection to engage the edge detection. This is particularly useful with a high-radius setting for selecting things that are wispy and fade out. The Adjust Edge area contains controls that are all logically named and create very noticeable differences in the selection. Use these parameters to get a rough edge first before refining. The last section, Output, doesn’t adjust the selection edge in any way, rather it determines what is done with the selection when the OK button is pressed.


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COMPOSITING:

BLENDING ELEMENTS Comping images together into one photorealistic result can be mastered, but it’s easy to get wrong. Here are our top tips...

Match lighting

Choose where your main light source is going to be in your image; in this case, the sun rays in the top right

Photo editing

Use an Overlay-neutral layer to dodge and burn the skin for dynamic highlights and shadows, matching the light direction

Light direction

Accurate selections If your selections are dodgy then the final result won’t look realistic no matter how much work you do on it

Skyline A dramatic sky can seriously change the mood of an image, which is why we have added in this stormy background

Photomanipulation

Colour change Quality stock

By running a gradient map across the image you can tone down the colours for a grittier vibe to match the new sky

Make sure that all the elements you use are of high resolution so that they don’t lose detail when integrating them into a scene

LET IT RAIN

COMPOSITING:

© MATT HENRY – WWW.MATTHENRYPHOTO.COM

LAYERS

If you imagine layers as sheets of acetate material placed over a photograph, it’s easy to see why it’s advisable to use them when making a composite image of several different parts. With the background separate from the new elements, you can move those subjects anywhere you like, resize them, flip them, or even change their brightness, contrast and colour. In our example, the new background was placed over the two subjects and we made adjustments to both the subjects and the new background. When making changes to layers added above the Background layer using adjustment layers, you need to use clipping masks (hold down Opt/Alt and click between the layers) so they don’t affect the Background layer. If you’re making changes to the Background layer, just add adjustment layers between this and the layers above.

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COMPOSITING:

Graphics & type

09

Digital painting

Create rain on a new layer with Add Noise applied (Gaussian, Monochromatic), giving it a Motion Blur and a low opacity to finish.

CONTENT-AWARE FILL

BEFORE

AFTER

Content-Aware Fill was introduced in CS5 and is a fantastic tool for photo editing, thanks to its ability to save time cloning out unwanted elements. Photoshop analyses the area where something needs to be removed and replaces it with what it thinks will lie behind. There are two ways of using it. First, it is a mode within the Spot Healing Brush tool, making it perfect for removing small imperfections in retouching skin or removing lens spots in landscapes. It is also a Fill option, meaning that you can make a selection of the object to be removed and fill it with background. It’s never 100 per cent accurate, and the more complex the background, the less perfect the result, but it’s a good starting point and you can then use the Clone Stamp tool to tidy up the image.

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11 Feature

© ADOBE 01

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02

04

DYNAMIC RANGE:

EXPOSURE MERGING

With Photoshop CS5, one of the key new features was the improved handling of HDR imagery. Photoshop could already merge multiple exposures via Merge to HDR, but CS5 added the all-important Pro on the end, giving more control when creating dynamic images. It works in the same way, by selecting File>Automate>Merge to HDR Pro and then selecting the exposures that you want to merge. This loads the images into the Merge to HDR Pro dialog window with a merged exposure generated automatically. Along the bottom of the dialog are all the images used to make up the final exposure, and you can check and uncheck the boxes for each image to include or exclude them from the final exposure, which is great for tailoring the result if you have plenty of exposures to pick from. There is a wide selection of presets for customising the result, though some of these are more stylistic than realistic. For a personalised finish, use the sliders to tailor the settings to your own needs and save as a preset. There is a deghosting option to remove artefacts left over by the merging procedure, a common flaw in HDR imaging. By playing with these options, it is possible to create an HDR merge that looks realistic, but with perfect exposure, increasing the EXPOSURE ADVICE dynamic range and hence the impact of the Merge to HDR Pro can work with a final result, as shown in our example minimum of three exposures, but five to seven exposures will give you images to the right. a better result.

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USE A MASK

Use a layer mask to localise the colour to a specific area. You can copy the mask across to the second adjustment layer.

DYNAMIC RANGE:

COLOUR CORRECTIONS

BEFORE

© MATT HENRY – WWW.MATTHENRYPHOTO.COM

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AFTER

MERGED

Colour correction fazes a lot of people chiefly because they rely on a single Hue/Adjustment layer to do the job. Any one colour is comprised of three components: its hue (the main colour ingredient), its saturation (the vividness) and its lightness (the brightness). The first two can be easily controlled with the Hue and Saturation sliders in the Hue/Saturation adjustment, but the Lightness slider in that same adjustment dialog is rather crude and shifts the black and white points, which makes it useless for colour correction. The trick is to make use of an additional Curves adjustment layer and use this to control the lightness after you have added the Hue/ Saturation layer. Between the two adjustment layers it’s possible to produce any colour in the available spectrum. In our example image, note that not only did we turn a brown carpet green, but also a white skirting board dark brown, something that would be impossible using just the Hue/ Saturation layer alone.


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DYNAMIC RANGE:

DYNAMIC RANGE:

ADJUSTMENT LAYERS Tonal range correction The first row of icons here gives access to the Brightness/ Contrast, Levels, Curves and Exposure options

Photomanipulation

Quick convert and presets

Digital painting

SAVE A COPY When you run the HDR Toning adjustment, you will be forced to flatten your image, so save out a layered copy if you need one. Photoshop CS5 introduced the HDR Toning tool, which gives tone-mapping abilities after you have merged exposures together using Photomerge. It also enables you to create HDR-style images from a single exposure. It is harder to get a natural look using this method, but if a more stylistic result is what you are looking for, then this is definitely worth a gander. Open your source image and then select Image>Adjustments>HDR Toning to open the HDR Toning window. The initial default setting is usually pretty awful, but choose the Local Adaptation Method from the dropdown to get a more realistic effect. Then you can play with the sliders to customise the result, toning down the Saturation and Vibrance options to suit the look you are after. The Toning Curve gives you more accurate control over the dynamic range in your image.

03

Graphics & type

HDR TONING

Add the adjustment

Hitting the Auto button is a good starting point, or go through the presets to find one that gives the result closest to the final look. You can create custom presets too, perfect for batch processing.

The final row has Invert, Posterize, Threshold, Gradient Map and Selective Color, which can all be used for more creative purposes

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01

02

Effect controls

DYNAMIC RANGE:

Use the non-destructive Black & White adjustment layer for controlled results Not all images work in black and white, so ensure that you have a good dynamic range as highlights and shadows will be exaggerated. Next, apply a Black & White adjustment layer from the Layers palette options.

Colour options In row two are Vibrance, Hue/ Saturation, Color Balance, Black & White, Photo Filter and Channel Mixer

DYNAMIC BLACK AND WHITE

Photo editing

Adjustment layers are essential in photo editing thanks to their non-destructive nature. With Levels you can set the colour and tonal range of the shadows, highlights and midtones using a histogram, whereas Curves adjusts the tonal range of any point within an image, not just the three defined in Levels. On top of these you have Brightness/Contrast, which is a simple adjustment for tonal range; and Exposure, which offers up Exposure, Offset and Gamma parameters. Exposure adjusts the highlights of an image without affecting the shadows, Offset deals with the midtones, while Gamma enables you to modify the shadows without affecting the highlights. Next are the colour correction tools. Vibrance is still relatively new, being introduced in CS4, and it’s a smarter control for colour saturation than using a Hue/Saturation layer. The Vibrance adjustment increases the saturation of less-saturated colours more than the saturated colours. Color Balance is the first stop for reducing colour casts, Black & White does what it says on the tin and Photo Filter replicates traditional photo filters. Channel Mixer used to be the best method for monochrome images, and it still comes in handy for creative colour combos. The final row of icons offers more creative controls. Invert creates a negative effect and Posterize adjusts the number of tonal levels. Threshold converts an image into a two-colour, which produces a sketch-like look, the Gradient Map adjustment maps custom colours over the greyscale tones of an image and Selective Color adjusts individual colours within an image.

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Targeted adjustment

Use the colour sliders to finetune the effect. Make use of the Target Adjustment tool to click on areas that need altering. This will automatically pick the right colour slider for that area.

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16 Feature

BEFORE

AFTER

EDITING:

DODGE AND BURN

Dodging and burning are skills that have been brought into the digital darkroom from traditional methods used to selectively edit the exposure of an image. The Dodge tool is used to lighten pixels while the Burn tool darkens them. By careful application of these tools, applied via a brush painted in the required areas, it is possible to improve exposure, draw attention and add impact with a higher dynamic range. The Range setting controls whether the tools affect the highlights, midtones or shadows of the image. As the Dodge tool lightens, this is most often used on the highlights, and the Burn tool darkens, so it is commonly used on the shadows. The Exposure option controls the strength of the effect, and it is best to start with a low value (3-5% is common) so that the effect can be built up gradually. There is an Airbrush option that can be turned on and off to suit, and the brush is set up in the same way as any painting tool, with settings for the hardness and size. There are plenty of ways of correcting exposure in Photoshop, and Dodge and Burn are used less often in colour photography now, with the preference being for using Overlay-neutral layers and SAVE A COPY masks, a non-destructive method. Using Dodge and Burn tools is However, for black-and-white destructive, so make sure that you photography in particular, these work on a copy of your original image tools are still great options. so you can go back and start again.

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WHY RAW? We recommend shooting RAW if possible, as the resulting image is unprocessed, leaving key adjustments to Photoshop.

EDITING:

BEFORE

SHARPEN UP AFTER

When it comes to sharpening an image, there are various stages at which sharpening should be carried out to get the best effects. The Camera Raw plug-in offers very effective sharpening for RAW images, and sharpening is best achieved here if you are working straight from a goodquality camera. Presuming that you’re coming straight into Photoshop with a JPEG, however, means that we’re looking at corrective sharpening rather than capture sharpening (as in Camera Raw, when you’re working with a completely unprocessed image). The Smart Sharpen filter can be very good at what it does, but is prone to introducing artefacts if overused. Smart Sharpen is best applied as a smart filter so that adjustments can be made to the photo nondestructively. There are three modes for sharpening to pick from: Gaussian Blur, which is similar to the Unsharp Mask filter; Lens Blur, which corrects blur caused by the camera’s optics and Motion Blur, for when you’re editing moving objects. By selecting the right mode and adjusting the sharpening values, shadows and highlights (the latter in Advanced mode only), you can remove blur and restore detail to an extent. For localised correction, consider the Sharpen tool in the main Tools bar, which has a Preserve Detail checkbox in Photoshop CS5 to reduce artefacts, which can simply be painted on to individual areas.

“Smart Sharpen is best applied as a smart filter so that adjustments can be made to the photo non-destructively” 24


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REDUCE NOISE

EDITING:

Although not as effective as noise removal in Camera Raw, you can find a similar filter in Photoshop via Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise.

NOISE

BEFORE

BEFORE

© TIM SHELBOURNE – WWW.TJSHELBOURNE.CO.UK

The art of lens correction has become almost foolproof in CS5, thanks to the new Auto-Correction addition to the Lens Correction filter. Via the AutoCorrection tab within the filter itself, simply checking the boxes for Geometric Distortion, Chromatic Aberration and Vignette will automatically adjust these aspects of the image based on CS5’s built-in camera and lens profiles. There’s even a Show Grid checkbox, which supplies you with a grid overlay to line up verticals and horizontals. Of course, by choosing the Custom tab, you can NO PROFILE? still make manual adjustments to any lens distortion, via simple sliders, either to tweak the If there’s not a built-in profile, you can choose both camera model automatic corrections or to make entirely and lens from the search criteria manual corrections if a suitable camera/lens and look for one online. profile can’t be found.

Photomanipulation

AFTER

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LENS CORRECTION

AFTER

Photo editing

When it comes to dealing with noise in images, Adobe Camera Raw should be your preferred choice, even with JPEG images! In Bridge, Ctrl/right-click your image and choose Open In Camera Raw. There are two distinct types of noise in digital images: colour noise and luminance noise. Colour noise can be seen as small red, green and blue spots of colour. Click the Details tab in Camera Raw and make sure to zoom in to at least 100%. Use the Color slider to remove this colour noise, slowly dragging it to the right until all signs of the noise disappear. Dragging the Color Detail slider to the right will reduce any softening of the image. If you’ve pushed the exposure or the processing of an image too far, you’ll also see luminance noise, appearing as sharp, dark peppering over the image. Use the Luminance slider for this, slowly dragging to the right until the peppering is softened just enough. Pushing this slider too far will over-soften the image, so be careful here; having a little noise remaining is much better than over-softening. Increasing the Luminance Detail slider will restore some of the tonal detail back in to the image without introducing the noise again. You can toggle the effect of your noise removal on and off simply by hitting the ‘P’ key on the keyboard or by using the Preview option within the Camera Raw workspace. Make sure to do any sharpening of the image after you’ve finished the noise removal.

EDITING:

AFTER

EDITING:

Graphics & type

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BEFORE

Digital painting

“There’s even a Show Grid checkbox, which supplies you with a grid overlay to line up verticals and horizontals”

RED EYE REMOVAL

There’s a specific red eye removal tool in Photoshop, and it works very well at correcting this all-too common photographic flaw. You’ll find the Red Eye tool nestled with the Healing tools in the main Tools bar and using it couldn’t be simpler. Start by making a marquee selection around both eyes and copy and paste this to a new layer. Grab the tool and drag it over the entire iris, one eye at a time. It’s important to include enough of the eye in this selection, not just the pupil, to get the most authentic effect. As soon as you release the mouse button, the red pupils will vanish. You can control the darkness of the pupil replacement via the Darken Amount slider in the Options bar. The great thing about doing this on a pasted copy of the eyes is that you can simply erase any pupil spill by using the Eraser tool to tidy things up a touch. You’ll also find the Red Eye Reduction tool within Adobe Camera Raw to use when you’re processing RAW images, so if you have the option, you can nip this flaw in the bud when you are working on the unprocessed version of the image.

© TIM SHELBOURNE – WWW.TJSHELBOURNE.CO.UK

25


Workshop

Before

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Retouching techniques Retouch portraits to perfection with ten of the best techniques from a professional photographer www.matthenryphoto.com Matt works as a freelance photographer in the advertising industry and writes extensively on Photoshop and retouching for a number of magazines and journals.

Tutorial files available

1

Technique Skin healing

The techniques here are all weighed and measured to provide a sense of subtlety Healing work Now locate your first blemish and make sure that it’s in an area of relatively even tone – we don’t want to go near edge detail like lips and eyes just yet. Resize your brush to a little bigger than your first blemish using the square bracket keys, click on it and watch it disappear. Repeat in all even-tone areas.

04

Cloning work Position your cursor in a clean area next to the blemish and away from edge detail and Opt/Alt-click to source the clean area. Next move over the blemish area and click on the blemish to replace with a cloned version of the cleaned area. Repeat the process as needed.

Graphics & type

Set up the Clone Stamp tool For areas located very close to edge detail such as the spot underneath the nostril, hit the ‘S’ key to switch to the Clone Stamp tool and set it to Sample All Layers or Current and Below in the Options bar. As before, use the ‘[’ and ‘]’ keys to resize the brush a little bigger than the blemish.

02

Digital painting

Set up the Healing tool Start by creating a new layer using the button at the base of the Layers palette. Select the Spot Healing Brush tool (J) and set it to Sample All Layers in the Options bar. Zoom in to 100% with Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/Alt+0. Click and drag while holding the Space bar to get to a suitable starting point to remove skin blemishes.

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applied in moderation. And that’s the caveat; this sort of work should be there to enhance character and beauty, and not to distract from it. We’ve all seen grotesquely over-retouched images and they’re never a pretty sight. The techniques here are all weighed and measured to provide a sense of subtlety and needn’t be applied just to fashion beauties or celebrities; trying them out on your best friends and family could well earn you some favours. Just bear in mind that as an ostensibly beauty-based technique, there’s nothing here for major wrinkle removal. Everything else shall be polished, preened and perfected!

Photomanipulation

01

A

ll the techniques you’ll come across here are pretty standard for any fashion or beauty magazine worth its cover price. Sure, there are many ways to skin the Photoshop tabby, but the simple fact is that you’ll struggle to find a picture of a model or celebrity in one of the glossies that hasn’t had the skin, eyes, teeth, lips and hair enhanced via some method or another, and that’s before we’ve even got on to the body in the case of full-length portraits. Like it or not in moral terms, such work seems to make the face more appealing at first glance, at least when

Photo editing

Our expert

Matt Henry

27


Workshop

206

Technique

05

Eye brightening

Adjustment for eyes Next for the eyes, which need brightening and the colours boosted to draw the viewer in. Start by adding a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer via the menu at the bottom of the Layers palette. Select Blues from the dropdown menu, the ‘plus’ eyedropper and click around both irises a few times. Push Saturation up to +35. Select Reds and reduce Saturation to -35.

The eyes need brightening and the colours boosted to draw the viewer in

Brush into the eyes Now invert the layer mask to Hide All with Cmd/Ctrl+I. Take a white brush and paint into the iris and whites of the eye. Cmd/Ctrl-click the layer mask to load it as a selection, then add a Curves adjustment layer. Plot a point in the shadows and one in the highlights, and push the highlights value up.

3

Technique Teeth whitening

07

Adjustment for teeth Move across to the teeth and add another Curves adjustment layer. Push upwards a touch with a single point to lighten then select Blues from the dropdown menu. Push up by a single point to add a fraction of blue which effectively removes any yellowing.

08

Paint in and tweak Next invert the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+I) to Hide All and paint into the teeth with a white brush. The model here has very white teeth to start so we remove the Blues. There’s some red reflection from the lipstick so we remove this by selecting Reds and pulling down a touch.

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4

Technique Lip adjustment

09

Adjustment for lips For the lips, start by adding a Curves adjustment layer and plotting a point in the shadows and highlights. Pull the shadows point down a fraction, and the highlights point up a little bit to increase contrast. Invert the layer mask as before and Hide All. Now is a good time to rename the layers to avoid confusion.

Quick tip Eyes and teeth can be tricky; viewers can immediately pick up if you go in too strong here. You can get away with neutralising colour with teeth or increasing colour saturation with eyes to a much greater extent than you can lightening the whites in both these cases.

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Paint in and tweak 2 Brush into the lips only with a white brush. You can check you’ve included all of the lips and not strayed anywhere else by hitting the ‘\’ key to load a temporary mask. Switch to black to brush out unwanted areas with the mask loaded, or brush with white to include more. Press the ‘\’ key again to remove the mask.


5

Technique

11

Under eye

Sample nearby colour Create a new layer above the blemish layer but below the adjustment layers. Name this ‘Eyebags’. We want to avoid removing eyebags entirely for fear of creating too artificial an effect so we’re just going to tone down any discolouration and wrinkles. Take the Brush tool and sample a colour below the first bag using the Opt/Alt key.

Technique

15

Adjust highlights

6

Sample nearby colour 2 We can use the same ‘under eye’ technique to tone down any distracting highlights that often gather in places like the nose, inside of the cheekbone, upper lip and forehead. Create a new layer above the last and rename it ‘Highlights’. We’ll start with the nose; use Opt/Alt to sample a colour from the nose close to the highlight band.

Quick tip

Brush over the bags Now press ‘2’ to set the brush to 20% Opacity and resize the brush very large so it covers the entire eyebag and even a little of the eye. Brush over the eyebag once – don’t worry about moving into the eye or eyelashes at this stage. Brush over a second or even third time for particularly prominent bags.

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Brush out of other areas Add a layer mask. Change the foreground colour to black and hit ‘0’ for 100% Opacity. Now brush over the eye and eyelashes on the bottom lid to remove colour. If you stray into the eyebag area, switch to white and brush back in with the layer mask still active.

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Do the brushwork Again, set the brush to 20% Opacity and work over as required; no more than three times though or you’ll start to lose skin detail. Move to the area between the eye and the nose – just above-right of the cheekbone. Work over again, increasing the size of the brush first off to cover the area as a whole.

Photomanipulation

12

Photo editing

Some eyebags and highlights will require more work than others. Remember that the more work that’s done the more texture that’s destroyed, so don’t be shy of adding a little noise directly to the layer to simulate texture.

Digital painting

14

Graphics & type

Iron out wrinkles If there are any lines or wrinkles in the eyebag that you want to reduce further, zoom in and select the layer again rather than the mask. Use the Clone Stamp tool at 50% Opacity to work over each line with a brush as wide as the line, sourcing from an adjacent clean area. Repeat Steps 11-14 for the second eye.

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Brush out Next zoom in closer and move to the area above the upper lip. Take a small brush, sample from a suitable area and trace over the highlight lines on the upper lip once only. Add a layer mask as before and brush out any unwanted areas that we’ve worked on in the last few steps.

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Workshop

Technique Add skin glow

7

Selective Color

You can give skin a real glow by altering its colour component slightly. The best tool for this is the Selective Color adjustment layer

Technique Alter hair contrast

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8

Choose the Reds

Red is the main constituent of Caucasian skin, so select Reds from the dropdown Colors menu in the Selective Color dialog

Boost hair contrast We can give the hair a little more sheen with a contrast boost by adding a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer and pushing Contrast to +25. Invert the mask and paint into the hair with a white brush. You can also lighten the hair if you wish by experimenting with the Brightness slider in the same dialog.

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Reduce Cyan and boost Yellow

You can now add more red by dropping Cyan to -20 and add more yellow by setting Yellow to +20 to produce a warm glow

Mask out other areas

To ensure that no other areas are affected, we invert the layer mask with Cmd/Ctrl+I and paint into the skin only with a white brush

Technique Alter hair colour

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9

Change colour if desired At this stage, we can also alter the colour of the hair if we wish. Cmd/Ctrl-click the previous hair layer mask for contrast to load it as a selection, then add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Drop Saturation for a more pure white, or increase it for more yellow. You can even alter Hue to change the colour completely, depending on the final look you want.


10

Technique

20

Skin touchups

Lighten the skin Next add a Curves layer and push upwards with a single point as shown. Invert the mask and paint into the whole of the face, the neck and the hands with a white brush at 100% to lighten a touch. We can then ensure the brightest highlights are protected by Ctrl/ right-clicking the layer and selecting Blending Options.

Take a white brush and carefully paint the blur layer into the skin areas

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Protect highlights At the bottom of the dialog you’ll see a section entitled Blend If, with two ramps, plus black and white sliders on each. Hold down the Opt/Alt key and click the white slider on the top ramp to split it in two. Now drag the left half of the white slider all the way leftwards to the black slider. The highlights are now protected.

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Skin smooth layer Now make sure the top layer is selected and use Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E to create a merged duplicate layer of everything else on top. Then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and run a suitable Radius (around 5-15 pixels, depending on the size of the image).

Photo editing

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Simulate texture with noise Next hold down Opt/Alt and click the ‘Create new layer’ button in the Layers palette. Select Overlay from the menu and check the box that appears below. Now go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise and choose an Amount of 10% – we can always drop the strength later. Also check Gaussian and Monochromatic options.

Photomanipulation

Paint into the skin Add a layer mask to this image and invert it to Hide All via Cmd/Ctrl+I. Now take a white brush and carefully paint the blur layer into the skin areas only, avoiding features like eyes, nose edges, lips, face edges, shadow edges and hair.

Digital painting

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Blur the noise and copy the mask Now run Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and choose 0.5 pixels to blur the noise just a touch. Hold down Opt/Alt and drag the layer mask from the smoothing layer to the noise layer to duplicate it. Drop the opacity of the noise layer to reduce its potency until it looks realistic as skin texture.

Skin smoothing Graphics & type

Smoothing skin is one of the most commonly applied techniques in glamour, fashion and portrait retouching and probably the easiest to get wrong. The purpose is to even out skin tone and hide problematic areas, yet this is typically done with strong amounts of Gaussian Blur which will inevitably destroy the natural detail. It’s for this reason that it’s paramount not only to do the majority of the blemish removal prior to any skin smoothing with healing and cloning, but also to even out skin tone first with the technique described in Steps 20/21; the lightening effect can help hide patchy areas without destroying detail. Once you’ve got skin to a decent stage, you’re not reliant on applying too much blur, and the detail that is compromised can be hidden with a bit of Gaussian Monochromatic noise to simulate texture and prevent the overly smooth, porcelain look that’s a sure-fire giveaway of retouching!

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Professional’s profile

Juan Zambrano Website: www.paraeso.com Clients: Motorola, DMAX Imaging, Logitech, XYZ Graphics, RichardSolo, Papyrus Photographer and retoucher Juan Zambrano was introduced to commercial photography when he began working as a retoucher at a pre-press that focused on fashion, beauty and product campaigns after graduating in 1999. “I had a lot of questions for photographers as a retoucher, scratching my own head wondering why they shot it a certain way,” he says. “I took it upon myself to figure it out. Eventually I moved into photography full time in 2004, starting out doing small jobs – plus lots and lots of testing – and now I am shooting global campaigns for Fortune 500 companies.” Zambrano’s first commission came after using his own initiative: “I asked one of the sales reps at the pre-press I was working at to ask her client to give us a shot at doing in-house photography. Logitech agreed, [giving] me my first go at commercial photography back in 2003.” His aim is to “push the envelope by combining amazing photography with amazing retouching”, which is something that he will carry through into his latest project: “I am currently working on putting together a photoshoot and producing a behind-the-scenes video with Colleen Quen (www.colleenquencouture.com).” Being so experienced in retouching, and with photography and retouching ad work published in Vogue, GQ and Elle among others, Photoshop is at the forefront of Zambrano’s workflow. He tells us: “Since I came from a retouching pre-press background, Photoshop is always on my mind, figuring out what is going to save time and money from start to finish. When I walk into a photoshoot I already know what I am going to do in postproduction.”

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THE BEAUTY OF HAIR: “Working with some of the best in the industry, like hair stylist William Soriano, is the only way you will get these kind of results. Hair is one of the most difficult things to retouch. I want to admire the beauty as soon as I take the shot, not later after it has been retouched for hours”

UP-CLOSE BEAUTY: “I strongly believe that you are only as good as your team! I work with some of the best in the industry – like make-up artist Victor Cembellin. Just because you know Photoshop doesn’t mean you should cut corners; Photoshop should only be the finesse in your photograph. Working with a strong team will get you the best results”


Photo editing Photomanipulation Digital painting Graphics & type

GHT): BOVE AND RI URE DRESS (A SMOKE COUT e model first then I shot lots of e th ett “I photographed ch as incense, dry ice and cigar su a rainy day er aft s ud different smoke, clo y raphed mood of Big smoke. I photog phed the coast wife t least, photogra and, last but no For the couture dress, I had my ia]. on top of rn tte pa s Sur [in Californ es dr n sketch out a t. This Shawna Arzado as my blueprin e and I used that to shoot all of the hs the model imag nt a couple of mo project took me ate the final images� cre components to

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Professional product shots A

dvertising campaigns attract consumers with professional images of their products. As with all commercial photography, retouching is an essential step in ensuring each image is of a great quality and high enough standard for print. Those in the industry use software such as Photoshop to do this and, by using similar tools and techniques, the same professional results can just as easily be achieved at home using your own photographs. In this tutorial we are going to be showing you how to retouch a product shot like the pros using Photoshop CS4 and a previously shot image of a perfume bottle. Glass objects can be notoriously hard to light and photograph,

with distracting reflections and refractions that can often prove difficult to retouch or remove in postproduction. However, by using some simple adjustment techniques in Photoshop we will be showing you how to correct, improve and enhance your shots, guiding you through improving overall image exposure and contrast alongside removing any unwanted colour casts and dust particles to create that flawless finish we’re used to seeing as consumers. Follow along with our simple step-by-step guide and put into practice some of our basic retouch tips, which can help you get top-quality product shot results that wouldn’t look out of place in a pro’s portfolio.

Our expert

Learn how to retouch your product shots in Photoshop to enhance your portfolio Hayley Paterek Hayley is a full-time staff writer on our sister title Digital Photographer. She has spent the last six years studying fashion photography and has learnt the ins and outs of photo retouching in the process.

Tutorial files available

Before

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01

Create a new layer Open up your original image in Photoshop. In the Layers palette, duplicate the original layer by Ctrl/right-clicking on the Background layer and selecting Duplicate Layer. Rename this new layer ‘Exposure correction’.

02

Cropping in Select the Crop tool from the Tools bar and click on the top corner of the image, dragging the crop cursor diagonally down to the opposite bottom corner. Holding the Shift key to keep the original proportions, pull up the bottom corner cursor, cropping out the edges until you’re happy with the position of the perfume bottle in the frame.

Adjust levels Open a Levels adjustment layer to make corrections to the overall image exposure (Image>Adjustments>Levels). Begin by pulling in the slider on the left-hand side (Highlights) of the histogram to where the mountainous range begins to gain height. Now move the midpoint (greys) slider along to create a punchier contrast.

When previewing your Levels histogram you will notice a mountainous range that represents your image exposure. In its simplest form this reveals how well exposed your image was to light. The left-hand side represents the shadows, the middle section is the midtones, while the right-hand side is the highlights. A well-exposed image will have a balanced mountainous range that does not peak at either end. When using Levels adjustment layers, you do not want to make destructive modifications by clipping the graph and pulling the shadow/highlight sliders in too far. This will result in you compressing the midtones and, although this will create contrast, you will lose key detail in the shadow and highlight areas.

Photo editing

03

Keep level-headed

04

Photomanipulation

Clean up Now create another new layer titled ‘Clean-up layer’ and select the Clone Stamp tool that is located in the Tools bar. Adjust the brush settings so it has soft edges and is sized proportionately to the dust spots that you want to remove (you may need to alter this as you go). Keep the Opacity at 100%.

Digital painting

Cloning out Zoom in to check for obvious marks and spots. Using the correctly sized Clone Stamp tool select the area next to the mark; holding down the Opt/Alt key to select the clean area (for each flaw), place the cursor over the mark you wish to remove and press down to clone it out.

06

Masking For harder-to-remove dust marks on reflective surfaces cut out the area using the Quick Mask mode (press ‘Q’ on your keyboard for a shortcut). Select the Brush tool with 100% Opacity and paint the area, using the Eraser tool to correct any errors. Hit ‘Q’ to preview the selection line and, when happy, go to Layer>New>Layer via Copy (or Cmd/Ctrl+J) to create a cutout of what you have masked.

Graphics & type

05

07

Remove finer dust Select your new cutout layer and go to Layer>Filter>Noise>Medium and blur the pixels with an 8px Radius, or thereabouts. Now adjust the Opacity of the layer to around 80%. Edit the layer by first selecting a Darken blending mode and then Linear Dodge (Add). You can reduce the overall layer opacity if you need to.

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08

Replace colour Even out the background colour by selecting Image>Adjustments>Replace Color. Use the Eyedropper tool and click on the darkest background area (eg the right-hand corner), drag the Lightness slider up to brighten out the dark regions and create an evenly white background. Make sure you zoom in to your image and check that the white is the right brightness and blends with the already existing white background colour.

10

Contrast and flatten For a final contrast boost use a Shadows/Highlights adjustment layer. Really push the Midtone Contrast slider for best results. When happy with the final look save the layered file separately as a PSD file in case you wish to go back and edit further. Now flatten your final image layers (Layer>Flatten Image).

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Resize Now you’ve made the last tweaks you’ll want to resize it for web or print use. For a goodquality print you will need to increase the image resolution to 300dpi (go to Image>Image Size>Resolution). For web use, decrease the resolution to a smaller value such as 72dpi.

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11

Final touchups Zoom in to your image and check for any unwanted marks you may have missed that still need to be cloned out. If you want to make further adjustments to the tonal range in the bottle use the Replace Color adjustment again and select a light blue area. Lighten this using the Lightness slider slowly to avoid cut-out-like results.

Quick tip When using the Replace Color adjustment layer ensure that you zoom in close to your image. Try to avoid using the Hue or Saturation sliders as heavyhanded adjustments can result in an unprofessional posterised effect.

Saving Remember to watermark your images before you upload them to ensure they are copyright protected. Once your work has been correctly resized to suit your output you should save the final image as a JPEG file (File>Save As>Format: JPEG) and then print out for your portfolio or upload to your online gallery.

09

Colour correction Remove the warmer tones from the bottle and bring out the blues using the Color Balance adjustment layer (Image>Adjustments> Color Balance). Enable Preserve Luminosity and begin working your way through the sliders, adjusting through the Highlights, Midtones and Shadows. Continually toggle the Preview button on and off so that you can see the modified results as you go along. Remember, you don’t have to make adjustments with every slider; work gradually for best results.

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Sharpen up Before you save your final image make sure it is sharp, adding definition to edges and improving the overall quality. Go to Filter> Sharpen>Unsharp Mask and activate the Preview button to monitor the effect. Up the Amount to 100% with Threshold at 0 levels and bring the Radius up slowly to around 2.6px.


Professional’s profile

Phil Roberts Website: www.philrobertsdesign.com Clients: Bombay Sapphire, Ricoh, Shadowplay, MCN, The Co-operative, TONI&GUY, Phil James Photography

BADMINTON: “Th is was my second commission for ph Phil James’s portfo otographer lio. He shot the ba dminton player in the intention of dro the studio, with pping him into an urb streaks of light pa an environment. I ssing added dramatic and to em through the racket to make it a bit more bed him in the sce ne” Photography: Phil James

Photo editing

Phil Roberts is a British freelance designer working under the business title of Phil Roberts Design, a relatively new venture started in early 2010. He describes his style as “hyperreal, gritty manipulations”, working mainly on retouching commissions. With such big clients as TONI&GUY and Bombay Sapphire under his belt, it’s hard to believe that Roberts is, in the main, self taught: “I completed one year of university studying Graphic Design, but it wasn’t for me. I felt the learning process was slow and not relevant to the path I wanted to take, so took the decision to leave and teach myself.” Roberts is certainly a man who knows what he wants from life and is unafraid to make big decisions to help him pursue his career: “During 2009, after putting together a showcase of work, I made the decision to quit my job and concentrate on design. This was a huge step for me, but I knew with some hard work that I could make it happen. I continued to build my website and portfolio and entered Photoshop competitions online. The variety of briefs helped me learn and gave me the confidence to start and maintain a successful business.” His images have a unique HDR look to them, which he achieves using Camera Raw and the HDR Toning feature in Photoshop CS5. Looking to the future, however, Roberts has also been undertaking a course in Maya. “I’ve already got a few 3D projects under my belt,” he tells us, “and I’m hoping to take that side of things further.”

Photomanipulation Digital painting

RUNNER: “This is a recent image for Phil [James’s] portfolio book, to be printed in 2011. The runner was shot in the studio and composited onto the stadium background. The composition of the stadium image was right, but shot at around midday, so I had to match it to the runner. I then added the floodlights in the distance to get a backlit look” Client: Phil James

Graphics & type

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Cinematic retouching

Replicate the latest commercial styles in film advertising Our expert

Tutorial files available

Retouching skills become paramount when presenting your model, using the Clone Stamp and Patch tools

02

Clone Stamp and Patch tools You can apply your retouching to this layer without consequence. For a smooth process select the Clone Stamp tool (set at 30% Opacity) and rectify image areas – Opt/Alt-clicking from clean areas. Sometimes this treatment can wipe skin texture, so reapply by selecting, dragging and placing using the Patch Tool, set to Destination.

Straighten nose

Armpit wrinkles

Waist crease Hip groove

Adam Smith has been around the creative block once or twice. Here, he brings his graphic skills to our retouching project – a style he really enjoys.

Graphics & type

Straighten arm

Target areas As with any retouch style, apparent defects (in a creative sense) must be addressed before visual effects are applied. Importing your own model image (‘iStock_000012464245Small.jpg’), zoom in at 100% and, on a new layer, circle areas you wish to amend, using the Brush tool. As there may be many, this is a good way not to miss any out. Once complete, duplicate your model layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J).

www.advancedphotoshop.co. uk/user/Adam

Digital painting

To help you retouch the correct areas of this model, we have included this annotated image for you to scrutinise. Here you can see a detailed example of the minor retouches you may otherwise miss like palm wrinkles, torso creases and eye highlights, etc. Another treatment you may notice is the reconstruction of facial and torso sections, for example fingers and nose. The best way to apply these is to make a rough selection around the body section you want to treat, then activate the Filter>Liquify tool. Select the Forward Warp tool, set Brush Density at 20, Pressure at 100 and Rate at 8. Now you can tuck and expand at will.

Adam Smith

Photomanipulation

01

Reshape retouch

Palm creases & reshape

Patch tools intensively. Then it’s time to get active with blending modes, colour adjustments, layer effects and manual brush techniques – all of these will work together to produce dynamic lighting and hyperreal exposures. Special effects are also deployed in this workflow using little more than simple stock and traditional Photoshop filters, including fire and mist types, amalgamated with other applications to create a comprehensive cinematic result. So ready the popcorn, switch off your mobile and let’s take Photoshop to the movies!

Photo editing

F

rom old favourites such as Attack of the 50ft. Woman and A Clockwork Orange, with their strong graphic design approach, through to the more modern digital approaches, the film poster has always served up iconic visual effects. With the massive success of bold, cinematic phenomena in branding for Twilight and Harry Potter, etc, we have decided to prove that you don’t have to be from a huge Hollywood studio to re-create these hyperreal poster effects. Retouching skills become paramount when presenting your model stock, using the Clone Stamp and

Straighten finger

03

Skin softening initiated We’re now on the home straight with retouching. Looking closely, you’ll see that your model’s skin shows many bumps. When sharpening later these can really show up, so we need to smooth them now. Begin by duplicating your model copy layer and set blending mode to Vivid Light and invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I).

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04

Skin softening finished Select Filter>Gaussian Blur, applying a 2px Radius. Select Filter>Other>High Pass, applying a 2px Radius. Select Layer>Layer Mask>Hide All. Now select a soft-edged white brush at 80% Opacity and zoom in at 100% to apply. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E, repeating three times for noticeable effects. Once satisfied press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E again. Name this new whole layer ‘Merge all’.

05

Pore treatment At this stage you can reapply some of the pore texture in the facial area, recapturing a sense of realism. Copy and paste in face textures from the original Model layer, setting a Luminosity blending mode at 40% Opacity, and start softly erasing edges. Merge all into an additional new layer before you continue to the next step.

07

Background light source Copy and paste stock.XCHNG’s ‘Clouds’ image, horizontally flip and place in the top right corner of your composition. Set a Screen blending mode and apply a layer mask, integrating layer edges with a 70% soft-edged black brush. Repeat with stock.XCHNG’s ‘before the storm’ image and/or other sky stock, applying Screen, Hard Light and Overlay blending modes (to highlight and darken respectively) and integrate edges, until you have a high-exposure sky backdrop.

At this stage, you can reapply some of the pore texture… recapturing a sense of realism. Copy and paste in face textures from the original Model layer, setting Luminosity blending 40

08

Woodland stock Build up your cloud layers to create exposed light from top right, to shade bottom right, following the original lighting on our model. Merge all the effects into a single new layer. Copy and paste in stock.XCHNG’s ‘Misty Forrest’ image, rescale and position in the bottom right corner. Apply a Soft Light blending mode and layer mask, integrating edges.

06

Backdrop atmosphere Copy and paste in stock.XCHNG’s ‘Storm 2’ image. Vertically flip this and rescale before applying a Soft Light blending mode. Add a layer mask and erase effects from your model using a soft-edged black brush (100% Opacity). Take notice of how light falls on our model as this will determine your backlight effects.

Simple adjustments Minor adjustments can go a long way. Attention to detail is everything, especially when constructing your background sky from various stock. Often you’ll discover perfect sky stock, but once applied to your image with blending modes, colour variations emerge. Rectifying this is simple. When applying darkening blends ie Overlay and Hard Light, a quick desaturation of your layer will work wonders. When applying a Screen blending mode, colours show through stronger, so tweak and match through the application of simple Hue slider options.

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Mist it up Copy and paste stock.XCHNG’s ‘Dark clouds’ image. Desaturate and invert this layer, setting a Soft Light blending mode. Place above your woodland area, apply a slight Filter>Gaussian Blur and mask away edges, integrating and creating a mist effect. Merge all into a new separate whole layer, duplicate this, then select Image>Adjustments>Shadow/Highlights. Set Highlights values at 50% and other values to 0.


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Over exposed Set this layer’s blending mode to Multiply at 90% Opacity and apply a layer mask. Next, add a Hue/Saturation layer from the Layers palette’s ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ options. Decrease Saturation to -30 and place this layer beneath your Shadow/Highlights. Mask through background sky colour. Activate your Shadow/Highlights layer mask and apply a 10-20% Opacity, soft-edged black brush to highlighted areas of your model’s skin, where light falls.

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Refining effects In this layer, you are looking to achieve a bleeding light effect in the sky, as well as contrasting highlights on the model’s skin – all creating a dramatic exposure in your image. Brush opacities will vary to obtain strength effects, but take time and you’ll achieve a good balance (see the ‘before’ and ‘after’ thumbnails for an example).

To apply smoke effects press Cmd/ Ctrl+Opt/ Alt+Shift+E, create a black square shape layer and apply Filter>Render >Clouds. Apply Soft Light blending at 55% Opacity and integrate edges using a layer mask. Create a new light greyfilled layer beneath your merged layer, apply a layer mask and erase with a soft, low opacity brush to let other effects shine through.

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Colour conversion Merge all effects in a new separate whole layer and then copy and paste that into a new document, which you’ll be working with for now. You can proceed with your original document, but all adjustment layers will be erased. Save this new copy document as ‘Film Effect.psd’, so you don’t lose any workings, then select Image>Mode>Lab Color.

Digital painting Graphics & type

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Curves control Apply a Curves layer from the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer’ options. Activate the Curves flyout panel and select Load. Upload the ‘She Wolf effects.acv’ example. You can tweak Lightness and the ‘a’ and ‘b’ values to get effects to your taste. Activate your model layer and select the Channels palette.

Quick tip

Photomanipulation

Apply a soft-edged white brush from 5-15% Opacity, varying sizes to accentuate highlighted and shaded skin tones. This will produce a gloss effect

Curves masks Apply a soft-edged white brush from 5-15% Opacity, varying sizes to accentuate highlighted and shaded skin tones. This will produce a gloss effect. Raise Opacity to 75% and apply to backlighting on your Curves highlights layer mask, to create a strong bleeding light effect. This is just a base effect, so don’t overdo it or increase opacity levels much more than suggested. You may also wish to amend your Highlight/ Shadows layer at this point.

Curves layers First create a Curves layer from the layer adjustment options. Create strong blown highlights and then activate your layer mask thumbnail and hit Cmd/Ctrl+I. This will invert it black and hide your effect. Add another Curves layer, but this time with strong shadows and repeat the inverting process.

Photo editing

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Sharpen and noise Activate the Lightness channel and select Filter>Sharpen> Smart Sharpen. Set Amount to 200%, Radius to 1px, Remove to Gaussian Blur. Activate ‘a’ and ‘b’ channels, applying a 2px-Radius Gaussian Blur. Select the Lab channel and your model, then Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Set Amount to 1%, Distribution to Gaussian and activate Monochromatic.

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High Pass effects Merge all layers into a new separate layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/ Alt+Shift+E), then copy and paste back into your original image document. Duplicate this new layer and apply a Gaussian Blur (with Radius at 5px) and Screen blending mode. Next, select Filter>Other>High Pass and set Radius to 6px. Lower this layer’s Opacity to 10%.

Copy and paste and layer up fire sparks from your stock image into this group, rescaling, positioning, applying Screen and Linear Dodge blending modes

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Fire glow effects Create a new layer and select a soft-edged orange brush. Apply this over your texture layers and apply a high Gaussian Blur filter and Vivid Light blending mode at 60% Opacity. Soften effects by integrating with a layer mask and 30% Opacity, soft-edged black brush. Build the effect’s strength by duplicating the layer, applying a layer mask and adjusting opacity to taste.

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Layer stacking Select Fill Color from adjustment layer options, and pick a dark blue tone. Set the blending mode to Soft Light, Opacity to 65%, Fill to 60%. Duplicate your newly pasted layer once more, place it at the top of your layer stack and decrease Opacity to 50%. Merge all as before into a separate layer.

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Added shadow Merge all into a new separate whole layer once more, selecting Image>Adjustments> Hue/Saturation, and decrease Saturation to -50. Next apply a Color blending mode, with Opacity at 30%. Create another new layer and paint a soft black brush to the bottom left of your image, setting blending mode to Soft Light, at 80% Opacity. Next copy and paste stock.XCHNG’s ‘Burnt Paint’ image into the composition.

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Apply texture Desaturate this new texture layer, then rescale and position it in the bottom left of your image. Select Blending Options from the Layers palette fx menu. Holding Opt/Alt, click on the This Layer shadow slider, splitting it to a value of 0/95. Drop the Opacity to 19%. Duplicate this layer, reposition and edit with layer masks.

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Fire spark effects Use’ iStock_ 000013631940Small.jpg’ to create fire effects. Make a group titled ‘Fire Sparks’ and begin to copy and paste and layer up fire sparks from your stock image into this group, rescaling, positioning, applying Screen and Linear Dodge (Add) blending modes, while varying opacity. Lastly, apply Gaussian and Motion Blur filters (both with Radius set to 1px) to create the impression of movement.


Professional’s profile

Photo editing

Taylor James

Photomanipulation

Website: www.taylorjames.com Clients: Coca-Cola, Mercedes, O2, Evian, Saatchi & Saatchi, BBC Taylor James (TJ) has matured, over the years, into a complete creative production company. With all its services brought in-house, it offers clients flexible, efficient and cost-effective solutions spanning across digital, print and motion. “We recently completed our sixth international broadcast commercial, firmly moving our business into animation. Our studio has grown to 40 employees and we are seeking more talent as we continue to expand,” explains managing director Glen Taylor. This larger working team has expanded its ability to command even more projects. With creativity at the heart of everything it does, Taylor explains: “Each brief opens new challenges and we always strive to push the boundaries. Creating matte paintings and textures for the Calor Gas and Bermuda Tourism jobs was quite a complex process, and a new discipline for some. A tight workflow was crucial to maintain consistency, and achieve a realistic and seamless result.” Taylor James’s TV commercial for Bermuda Tourism last year saw the company take on the complete direction and production, including the live-action shoot, integrated with its CGI and postproduction expertise. “Our achievements on this job later led to our production and co-direction of the UK TV ad for Calor Gas, launched in March, which saw us apply the same CGI and matte-painting techniques,” adds Taylor. Photoshop is, however, still critical in pulling together different imagery, manipulating it to suit project requirements and achieving that slick final result. Taylor explains: “Our core retouching skills are now adapted for CGI and motion campaigns as well as traditional print media, from textures for CGI models to complete matte paintings. We’re continually refining our internal workflows and finessing our skills to suit the various demands that each type of project brings.” Log on to www.taylorjames.com to see its latest projects, vacancies for careers and the company and much more.

Digital painting

WESTFIELD SHOPPING CENTRE, PR creative conc INT CAMPA ept behind th IGN: “The ese stunning was that the sh models were leaving behind ots for CHI & Partners a shell of their last season’s former selves, clothes as their latest th and stepping reads” Agen cy: CHI & Partn into autumn/winter in ers, London

AD: “This UK ad HINK TANK’, TV CALOR GAS ‘T diences nationally in March. We au was launched to und ad, through 30-second flyaro rtise in CGI, 3D co-directed the d our expe ine mb co ich TANDEM, wh gent Elliott on” Agency: Co and 2D animati

Graphics & type

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Workshop

Explore Adobe Camera Raw 6

Final

Our expert

Find out how to make the most of your RAW files with Adobe’s updated plug-in Josie Reavely www.jreavely.com Freelance photographer and writer, Josie is an expert on all things photography-related. From choosing the best kit to shooting to honing your shots in postproduction editing, Josie offers a wealth of experience.

Tutorial files available

R

AW files are essentially digital ‘negatives’: they contain a vast amount of data, some of which is lost when shooting compressed JPEGs. RAW files contain all of the data received by your camera at the time of taking the shot, with a wider range of dark and light tones as well as detail being stored than if you were shooting in an alternative format. Saving images in RAW file format also presents other advantages; for example, while RAW files are tagged with the data relating to the white balance, sharpness and other colour settings you’ve applied, these are only actually applied to

the JPEG you might choose to shoot at the same time. This is where your RAW editor comes into play: opening up these untouched files in Adobe Camera Raw later means that you have complete control over all of these options and more. In this tutorial you’ll discover all of the functions Adobe Camera Raw 6 has to offer and how to use them to perfect your own RAW files. Once you’ve got to grips with the plug-in, you’ll be fully equipped to develop your own RAW files and ensure you make the most of your digital camera’s capabilities.

In this tutorial you’ll discover all of the functions Adobe Camera Raw 6 has to offer and how to use them to perfect your own RAW files 44


01

Open up To start, load up the RAW file provided, or locate the RAW file you want to edit on your computer. Adobe Camera Raw 6 now supports RAW file formats from 275 models – including DNG format – so unless you’ve got a justreleased camera, you should be able to work with the updated plug-in.

02

Get acquainted As we’ve established, there’s a lot of information stored in a RAW file, so there’s plenty of scope to tweak and hone a shot. To that end, Adobe Camera Raw 6 provides a wealth of options, presented in an easyto-use slider interface. We’ll work through each of the new options in turn to demonstrate their capabilities and perfect our image.

03

Balance the exposure Not a new feature but essential to get started, use the histogram at the top right of the interface to gauge how your exposure is looking. If all of the tones are bunched to the left or the right, then you need to take steps to even things out. To do this, you can simply click Auto and allow ACR to correct things, or use the Exposure slider to tweak things manually.

Photo editing

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Brighten up To inject a bit more light into our image – without touching the exposure – we can use the Brightness slider. To do this, as before, simply drag the slider to the right to brighten things up, or to the left to darken the overall look of the image. We set the Brightness at around +25 to retain detail in the brighter areas.

Digital painting

To convert to a black-and-white shot in ACR, click the HSL/Grayscale icon below the histogram. Tick Convert to Grayscale, then use the sliders to hone the results. Drag the individual sliders to the right or left to alter how individual tones appear, enhancing each one in turn or knocking back any that are too prominent. Next, zoom in and check to see whether you’ve introduced additional noise with any of the adjustments, returning to the Detail menu to compensate if necessary using the noise reduction sliders. To finish off, add a vignette by selecting the Effects (fx) tab and using the Post Crop Vignetting sliders to darken the edges and keep the attention on the centre of the frame.

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Photomanipulation

Monochrome magic

Assess the colours The next thing to tackle is the white balance. If you’re pleased with the colour temperature of your own image, then there’s no need to touch this, but for everyone else, there are several ways to alter the colour temperature in ACR. Use the drop-down menu to choose from a range of presets, similar to those offered by your camera or use the Eyedropper tool for a more precise adjustment.

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Graphics & type

Boost the contrast The image is looking a little flat, but that’s easy to correct. This time using the Contrast slider, drag it to the right – around +35 should be about right for our shot. This should bring some punch back into those shadow areas and inject a bit of life back into the image as a whole.

06

Lift the shadows If you just want to give the shadow areas a bit of a boost, the Fill Light provides the means to do this. For our shot, we dragged the slider to around 20 – just enough to give the darker areas a lift and reveal a bit more detail, without affecting our highlights.

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08

All clear The next slider in the ACR workflow is the Clarity tool. This slider mainly affects midtone contrast. You only need a touch of it to give the image a lift, but dragging the slider to the right slightly should enhance the textures in your image. Don’t overdo it though, or it’ll start to look unnatural – around +20 works well for this shot.

11

Add grain Access the Effects (fx) icon, and – ironically – there’s an option to introduce Grain, if you want to do so for creative effect. Drag the Amount slider to the right, and then hone the Size and Roughness of its appearance using the corresponding sliders – you have full control over the extent of this effect.

13

Quick tip To compare how your image is looking following adjustment to how it was when you first started, hit the ‘P’ key or tick/untick the Preview box at the top of the interface to toggle between your ‘before’ and ‘after’ preview images and keep track of how your shot is progressing.

Keep it natural If you’d rather keep the colours of the image looking natural, without too much of the darkening or over-saturated effect characteristic of the Highlight Priority option, select Color Priority from the drop-down menu instead and repeat the process detailed in the previous step to generate a more subtle result.

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09

Clean up There’s some new technology involved in ACR 6’s sharpening, de-mosaicing and noise reduction tools. Go to the Detail tab, located below the histogram. Note the Luminance and Color sliders. To remove colour noise from your image, move the corresponding slider to the right and the blotchy effect disappears. With the artefacts gone, you can bring back the detail and saturation using the Color Detail slider.

12

Add a vignette The Post Crop Vignetting section of this tab lets you add a vignette to your images. There are three Style options to choose from – we picked Highlight Priority for our shot. Use the Amount slider to darken or lighten the edges of the frame, tweak the Midpoint slightly, then increase the Roundness and Feather respectively to perfect the look.

10

Recover detail The Luminance slider is particularly impressive in the new ACR – move it to the right and you’ll see a dramatic reduction in the noise in our woodland image, but be careful not to overdo it or things will look too smooth. Bring back the detail and texture using the Luminance Detail and Contrast sliders, without going so far as to reveal the noise again.

The Luminance slider is particularly impressive in the new ACR – move it to the right and you’ll see a dramatic reduction in the noise in our woodland image

14

Enhance the details The final step is to select the Detail icon below the histogram again. Zoom in to an area then move the Amount slider to the right to apply some sharpening, keeping the Radius below 3. Once you’re happy, click Open Image to continue working within Photoshop, or Done to simply save your changes.


Professional’s profile

Tim Tadder Website: www.timtadder.com Clients: Miller, Pepsi, Ubisoft, McDonald’s, adidas, Microsoft, TYR, Sony

Photo editing

NINJAS: “We cre ate the models conta d this image after cte said, ‘Hey, we are d us directly and stunt people and we want to shoot wi th yo would be amazing u.’ I figured that , so this is what we came up with. Am azing women wi th swords –how co uld you go wron g?”

Photomanipulation

MOVIE MAGIC: “This was created for Sony as part of a catalogue for the VAIO Computer range. It was a collaboration with The Orange Apple, where we worked together to create the final magic of this image”

Digital painting

Tim Tadder’s creative path was found through education – but not quite how you’d expect. “I was a high school computer teacher and I started playing around in Photoshop 2.0 back in 1997,” he explains. “I would play with photos while my students were working on projects in class.” Knowing that he wasn’t going to stay a teacher for long, Tadder began a ‘search and destroy’ mission on every publication he could find that printed the image styles he created. “Eventually someone gave me an assignment to cover a parade for a local travel publication,” he reveals. He has since worked for international clients such as Pepsi, Ubisoft and McDonald’s, among others. Photoshop is still an important part of creating his hardedged, hyperreal imagery. “It comes into the equation after the edits are done in Adobe Lightroom or Capture One PRO. Depending on the complexity of the image, I may spend a few hours or even days putting together pieces of the visual puzzle,” he explains. Tadder is keen to reveal a ton of new works he is now producing, most of which are high-profile commercial jobs: “I’ve just finished a cool Go Go Girls shoot, which was pretty sick. There’s work running in Europe for Marlboro and all over the US in magazines and billboards. We have ads running in publications such as Outside and ESPN. He also likes to endorse those peers who inspire Tim Tadder projects: “We use The Orange Apple (www.theorangeapple.ca) in Canada to handle overflow, so have to mention the work they do. Other studios with which we collaborate are S&B, Taylor

Graphics & type

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Workshop

After

Before

Cross process your photos Our expert

Give your images a vintage look using adjustment layers and masking

48

Julie Easton www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk Julie is the editor of Advanced Photoshop magazine, and she also writes for a number of other titles including Digital Photographer and Digital Camera Essentials. She enjoys exploring photoediting techniques.

I

t is ironic that in this modern age, with so much cutting-edge technology available to us, we still seek to emulate the past. This is certainly true in the area of photo editing, where re-creating old-fashioned, traditional darkroom techniques is the staple diet of many a tutorial website. Over this three-page workshop, we explore the art of cross processing, which is becoming an increasingly popular postproduction treatment in the field of photography. Originally, cross processing involved developing one type of film in the chemicals designed for another type, producing an eyecatching special effect. The slightly faded, muted

colour scheme, and a blue/green cast are the major elements associated with this technique, so these will be key to nailing the look. It’s very simple to achieve using Photoshop, with just the careful application of layers and masks. However, each image will require differing settings, so there is a degree of trial and error involved when translating the steps of this tutorial to your personal imagery. When it comes to picking your start image, avoid anything that looks too washed out or has a limited dynamic range of tones – and ensure that you have a distinct subject and foreground. As soon as you have the image you want to work on, we can start to get retro.


01

Choose an image While you can follow these steps on any image, the ones that work best tend to have a lot of contrast and a good tonal range, plus a main subject and a background that can be isolated and blurred for a natural depth-of-field effect. Open your chosen image to begin.

02

Prepare the image We want our workflow to remain as non-destructive as possible, so begin by duplicating your photo and renaming the layer ‘Original’, so that you always have a point of reference. In photo editing, there is a lot of trial and error, so labelling your layers from the start helps you make future tweaks.

03

Curves adjustments We’re going to use Curves to tweak our tones. We’re aiming to get the muted colour scheme and green/blue tone to emulate the cross-processing style. Add a Curves adjustment layer so we can return and edit as needed. The values that you need will depend on the image.

Photo editing

Using Curves

04

Curves settings For our image, we set the following Curves values: two points in the Reds – Output 117, Input 0 and Output 135, Input 138; two points in the Greens – Output 25, Input 0 and Output 145, Input 117; and three points in the Blues – Output 59, Input 0, Output 143, Input 138 and Output 191, Input 255.

05

Color Balance The Curves process is likely to create a strong colour cast. To remove this, add a Color Balance adjustment layer. Tick the Preserve Luminosity box and target the Shadows, Midtones and Highlights independently. Our settings are Shadows: R 11, G -8, B -2; Midtones: R -58, G -27, B 36; and Highlights: R -7, G -8, B 23.

Photomanipulation Digital painting

A quick search for tutorials on cross processing will throw up a number of different methods for creating the effect. The process that we go through here is the one that we have found the most effective, but whichever method you plump for, the most important element is being able to use Curves effectively to ensure that the tonal range and contrast is right. It is these tonal curves that give the various traditional film types their unique look, so by manipulating them, we can emulate pretty much any type of film. There is a Cross Process preset built into the Curves adjustment panel, but we found the effect garish to say the least; this said, it can be helpful to do a quick test to see if an image will work when cross processed, but the longer way is always best for the real thing.

06

Graphics & type

Lower saturation We’re happy with the tones and colours in our scene, but it’s a little over-saturated for a cross-processed image. Add a Black & White adjustment layer with the default settings. Lower the Opacity to 50% and the Fill to 92% to let the colours come back through.

Add a Black & White adjustment layer with the default settings. Lower the Opacity to 50% and the Fill to 92% to let the colours come back through 49


Workshop

07

Bring colour back For effect, we’re going to selectively mask out certain image areas on the Black & White adjustment layer to let the full colour shine through. Select the adjustment layer’s mask and, using a black, soft brush, brush carefully over the eyes, lips and model’s top. When you’re happy, merge all layers to a new layer at the top of the layer stack (Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+Opt/Alt+E).

09

More masking Target the layer mask for your Blur layer and then select a large, soft black brush. Paint over the model to remove the blur. Reduce the brush size when working on the edges of the model and finer details such as strands of hair, until just the background remains blurred.

11

Blur it out Name this new layer ‘Blur’ and then add a mask to this layer. Next, go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur. We want to blur the image to add depth of field to the background, so ignore the effect on the model but look for a Radius amount that gives your background an attractive soft blur. A Radius of 15 pixels works for us.

Quick tip If you are interested in re-creating lots of different types of film and want a real timesaver, consider a plugin like Alien Skin’s Exposure (www.alienskin. com/exposure/ index.aspx), which can replicate over 500 film types and is widely used by professional photographers.

White vignette To take this effect even further, we’re now going to add a white vignette and white spots, as though the highlights have been blown in areas. On a new layer (called ‘White spots’) set to 78% Opacity, use the same brush as for the mist in the corners of the image, coming in more from the left where there is more background space.

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08

10

Mist The actual photo effect is now pretty close to being finished, but before we add the final touches, we’re going to create some mist effects to add a soft finish. Create a new layer called ‘Mist’ set to 20% Opacity, and use a large (we went for 500px) soft brush with white to paint around the bottom of the image and over the model’s body.

12

Solid Color To finish off the image, we add a Solid Color adjustment layer to the top of the layer stack. Pick ‘#c5edee’ as the colour and then set the layer to 20%. Use the mask and a soft black brush to take the effect off the model as we did for the Blur layer in Step 9… and we’re done!


Professional’s profile

Photo editing Photomanipulation

oholic ed for a local alc visual was creat ment on his vir “T : en KA 3D a AS VODK A AL s recreated in ercial. Later it wa figure and frozen object” e drink TV comm th rotating around with a camera

Rosen Dukov Website: www.rosendukov.com Exposure: SIA Advertising, PRO.BG, RING.BG, Camera Ltd, Mortonward Ltd

Digital painting Graphics & type

MAMA’S LITT LE PILOT: “Im age created fro which starts th m se e Battle Royal ev ery year. All cont ed file, have the same estants file and develop it as they like. Th rule is to keep on e on e element from the original seed ly ”

Rosen Dukov knows how healthy competition can be – literally. Operating under long serving creative studio Deffecto (www.deffecto.com), he explains: “Bulgarian television channels PRO.BG and RING.BG hired me after the 2008 iStock Battle Royal Challenge, where I qualified in second place. It’s really amazing how far you can push your skills in these types of contests. After seeing the composites from this on my website, they contacted me about producing a few digital collages on sporting events and promoting thematic shows.” Dukov’s style is described as dramatic, sharp, deep, rich in detail and full of impact. However, even with its contemporary edge, he values traditional ideals. “Old-school techniques from my art college days help me a lot in my digital manipulations – the right combinations of warm and cold colours, lights and shadows, and the perspective and balance of a whole image,” he explains. Dukov will sketch up whole compositions in his mind, then make a rough pencil or tablet sketch before visualisation. He adds: “I like to put traditional things in non-traditional environments, and try my best to make the image look convincing to the viewer. The story behind the visual is always something I like to play with.” Dukov’s own creative story has many chapters to play out, and his latest plan reveals the edge that competition gives him: “Currently I’m working over a few new composites and one CD cover for a local band. Recently released is the Bulgarian/English movie called Mission London, for which I am graphic designer and art director. This year I want to take another step forward and try to evolve photomanipulations into the world of motion graphics. A tough challenge, but the result will be worthwhile.”

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Our expert

Workshop

52

Michael Baxter Michael is an award-winning commercial photographer, specialising in architectural photography for advertising, design portfolios and editorial. www.baxterimaging.com


Retouch architectural images

Photo editing

Use both location lighting and Photoshop blending to create stunning arch-vis images at twilight

Photomanipulation Digital painting Graphics & type

Turn The page To follow The TuTorial >

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Workshop

W

ith the arrival of HDRI software, many photographers have abandoned the practice of old-school location lighting. Although HDRI is a great tool, especially with the control that you get in Photoshop, it’s constrained by the state of existing light; essentially where the available light currently resides during an exposure. It is no replacement for the intentional placement, direction and manipulation of multiple light sources. Although styles vary, architectural lighting can generally be classified into two broad categories by photographers and retouchers: natural and theatrical. While a natural approach often requires supplemental light to provide even lighting, it tends to maintain a real-world finish. This is the commonly accepted style most frequently seen in home decor magazines, for example.

01

Ambient light Start with an underexposed image to ensure key highlights aren’t lost. It should be taken when the evening sky and brightest house lights are balanced. Blown-out light fixtures are a telltale sign that time exposure was used. Duplicate the layer. Maintain a duplicate layer at all times to ensure a quick fix in case a mistake is made.

A theatrical approach, on the other hand, results in a more dramatic image, which can appear CG, partially due to the short window of evening time it represents, along with unconventional light placement and more artistic additions. It is this look that we’re going for here; it’s believable but almost hyperrealistic in its finish. This tutorial looks at the entire process of architectural retouching, so we will kick off with how location lighting is used at the shooting stage, for those of you who are responsible for the whole project. However, we will mainly be focusing on Photoshop postproduction, as this is likely to be the point at which you, as the PS expert, step in. The two techniques together can be used to produce a more powerful image than either alone. This project is very much open to artistic interpretation and you can try it out on your own photographs to get a unique result.

Work in progress Stack layers of light for an HDR-style finish

Illuminate the driveway

02

Add light to the foreground trees Place this layer above the others then select the Lighten blend mode. This is a major timesaver (compared to manual layer blending) and will be used a lot. It allows lighter areas of lower layers to show through, thus constructing an image quickly, while providing for the overlap of various frames.

Switch on the porch lights

Harmonise the colours

03

Maintain a duplicate layer at all times to ensure a quick fix in case a mistake is made Shooting advice When you are shooting multiple exposures of the same scene for use in Photoshop, whether bracketed exposures for HDR merging or, as in our case, shots with different areas lit, there are certain rules to bear in mind. If you are shooting in low light, as we were, then you will need a high ISO and a high aperture to let as much light in as possible, though this may lead to problems with noise. You should also use a tripod, as even the slightest change in position can show up as ‘ghosting’ when the images are overlaid.

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Illuminate the pavers and fountain Although all the layers can be added at once, we advise adding a few at a time in order to carefully build the image in sections. At this stage the location lights are becoming quite prominent and can be removed. Using the Eraser tool, eliminate the visible light source on each corresponding layer. For the sake of maintaining a manageable file size you may need to flatten layers as you go along.


Quick tip

Photo editing

The Lighten blending mode is a huge timesaver for compositing multiple light sources. It allows for the various illuminated areas to overlap together without the need for tedious precision tracing or cutting with the Brush and Lasso tools.

04

Photomanipulation

Turn up the house lights The difference in this time exposure is that it is captured after the evening sky is past its peak, which allows for the house lighting to become more prominent without overexposing the sky. This is why it is so important to ensure you give enough time over to the shooting phase, or instructing your photographer about the exposures that you will need. Follow the same process of adding the layers and selecting the Lighten blending mode to enable the underlying lighting effects to show through, then remove the light sources using the Eraser tool.

Digital painting

05

07

Illuminate stone pillars and border trees Again, this process is a repetitive one. If at some point you determine too much light has been added in a new layer, use the Eraser tool (via a feathered brush with a low Flow rate). If the light is simply too intense, use the Burn tool to selectively darken the area. This is all part of the creative process that makes a distinction between artists’ styles.

Graphics & type

Revisit the ambient light Using a slightly overexposed ambient light image provides an opportunity to open up heavy shadows and tone down theatrical lighting for a more polished look. Add the layer to the scene and select Lighten blending (lowering Opacity to 45-65%). Duplicate the underlying layer and place it at the top of the stack. There should now be two identical layers: above and below the ambient shot.

06

Turn on the building’s entrance lights Incorporate the next two layers and use the same methodology we have used in the previous steps to seamlessly integrate the lighting effects into the existing scene. As you can see we’re beginning to get a real HDR-style effect starting to take shape, but there’s a little way to go before we’re done. Next we shall be readdressing the ambient light, first considered back in Step 1.

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Workshop

08

Blend ambient light back into the scene Using the Eraser tool, once again select a feathered brush with a low Flow rate. The heavily shadowed areas between the illuminated ones can be opened up ever so slightly, without sacrificing the moody atmosphere. Use caution at this stage to ensure that the image does not return too closely to its original form, which is little more than a typical time exposure.

09

Enhance the sky Capturing an architectural image at the right time will usually ensure that the sky is the perfect cobalt blue, but it may still need refining. Start by duplicating the layer twice then use the Magic Wand tool (Tolerance set between 25-45) to select the sky. Next feather the selection by 2px and delete it. Set the underlying layer’s blending to Multiply (10-45% Opacity). Be sure to check edges at 100% magnification for unwanted remnants or areas of the sky that failed to select.

12

Regardless of the most precise white balancing and consistent light sources, some colour shift is almost inevitable

10

Enhance the sky 2 Isolating the sky also enables you to independently increase the colour saturation, which would otherwise oversaturate the warm orange of the house lighting. Go to Image> Adjustments>Replace Color, then click the areas and adjust the Fuzziness level to include as much sky as possible (to avoid colour artefacts). Increase the Saturation level to between 15-30% depending on taste, but avoid shifting the Hue or Lightness settings as they will likely degrade image quality at this stage.

Make colouring consistent Using a feathered brush with a low Flow rate, wipe away areas that show variation in colour tone until there is acceptable consistency in the image. Again, it’s mostly an issue for exterior paint colour, paving slabs or other continuous surfaces, rather than more varied areas like vegetation.

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11

Even out the tones Regardless of the most precise white balancing and consistent light sources, some colour shift is almost inevitable. One welcome addition of this visible shift is a bluish atmospheric colour cast. Well-lit areas may require some colour variations. To balance out tones, duplicate the layer, add a blank layer below, then use the Eyedropper tool to sample the paint in an area where it appears most accurate (or pleasing). Fill the layer with this colour, setting blending to Soft Light at 45-75% Opacity.

13

Polish the image This process is so focused on the lighting design, it can distract from the overall image. On a fresh look, you’ll often see inconsistencies that were invisible from looking too hard. It’s also recommended to explore the image at 100% magnification, looking for any unwanted items, ghosted vegetation, power cables and objects like aeroplanes or birds. Use Curves to precisely tweak the overall tonal range to finish.


Professional’s profile

Photo editing

ERASER: “The idea was to create a dynamic scene with two characters and bits of detail – in this case, drops of saliva. The image was created in Photoshop from two photos and the saliva was hand-painted”

Photomanipulation

Adam Spizak Website: www.spizak.com Clients: Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Bet1128.com

Digital painting Graphics & type

PIN-UP 3000: “I painted over the girl for an oldschool look. The cyberbike and small UFO were created in CINEMA 4D and then tweaked in Photoshop”

Adam Spizak can’t recall never having a computer at hand to help him realise his active imagination. First came the ZX Spectrum, then the Atari 800XL with the popular Commodore Amiga 500 soon to follow. “When I bought my Amiga 1200, which was around the midNineties, friends showed me software called ImageFX developed by Nova Design. I was so impressed that I put away all my computer games and started to play with the software.” From then on, Spizak knew he wanted to be a digital illustrator. He started to realise his potential shortly after, when creating a poster for the local philharmonic orchestra’s upcoming events in 1998. This certainly let him cut his creative teeth, and since then Spizak has studied IT at The Academy of Humanities and Economics in Łódź, Poland, worked on commercial projects for mobile phone giants Nokia and Sony Ericsson, and now works as an interactive designer for PartyGaming UK. Photoshop is integral to all he creates, as he explains: “In my case Photoshop bridges all my work. I try to combine as many different tools as possible. I constantly jump from one to other and I need to have a tool that will bind it all in one time and space. My illustration usually starts in Photoshop, mocking up images and hand drawings. After that, depending on the style, I use CINEMA 4D, ZBrush or some other tools to get the desired effect, at the same time merging it all in Photoshop. Going back and forth, I repeat this process many times until the image is complete.” He describes his style as surrealistic collage: “I like to have a story in my images. To be honest, I won’t start a new piece if I don’t have this backbone narrative, as I really don’t like to produce empty, meaningless images.”

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Workshop

Creative lighting effects C

reative photo editing is a fine art. You’re looking for more than a standard retouch – something that adds more texture, more depth, more colour. At the same time it’s not a photomanipulation; we want to stay true to the beauty of the original image and come up with something that is still very photorealistic. What we’re doing here is a popular effect, often overdone, ruining its appeal. We’re adding a soft rainbow of colour over a beautiful portrait, with subtle lighting effects to create an ethereal atmosphere. The key is being patient when applying

the colours, so that warmer colours are shaped into the model’s skin, paying attention to light direction and where highlights and shadows fall. Keep the more creative colours for the background, which will also benefit from the application of layers of different textures to take the model out of her everyday surroundings and make her the focus. We have supplied you with imagery to work with, but it’s a simple technique that works on any portrait image, so it’s well worth trying it out on your own photography to get a more personal piece of work that you can add to your PS portfolio.

Our expert

Make your photos pop with these simple tricks to create great artwork Julie Bassett

www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk

Julie is the editor of Advanced Photoshop, coming from working on photography titles. She enjoys working on photo projects and creative effects.

Tutorial files available

Before

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01

Set the stage Create a new document at 235 x 154mm, or whatever your requirements are, with a white background and CMYK (for printing). Import your chosen stock model (we’re using ‘6133206’ from iStockphoto, which you can find a small version of provided) and place it on the document as required.

Lower the tone Whichever image you are working on, for this to be effective, we need to lower the saturation. Do this using a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. We dropped the Saturation slider down to about -65, but have a play to see what works best for your image to get a similar look to the screengrab.

Blend the texture in Reduce the Opacity of the texture layer to around 18% so that it just shows through the image, concentrating on getting the background to look right. Add a layer mask, then use a soft black brush to sweep over the main model and remove the texture from here.

Quick tip The most useful textures are the ones that are pictures of very ordinary things, such as concrete walls, wood panels, pavements, etc, so get your camera out and start snapping to build up an essential library.

03

Texture love We’re going to add a bit of texture into the image before we start colouring, as the background doesn’t really work with the grungy finish that we’re going for. Import a texture (we’re using ‘252219’ from iStockphoto). Desaturate the layer and set the blending mode to Overlay.

Photo editing

04

02

05

Prepare for colour Create a new layer at the top of the Layers palette, setting it to the Soft Light blend mode. This is the layer that we will be using to add our colours. Also set up a soft-edged brush, around 50px. Load this with the first colour that you’d like to apply – in our case, blue.

Photomanipulation Digital painting

06

Graphics & type

Start colouring Begin painting your colour onto the image. It won’t look too great right now, so just try to think about which colours you want in which areas of the image and we’ll blend them later. Keep changing colours and the brush size to suit.

We’re adding a soft rainbow of colour over a beautiful portrait with subtle lighting effects to create an ethereal atmosphere 59


Workshop

07

Colour layer Add warmer tones to the model’s face and highlights where the light would be hitting, saving the brighter colours for the background. This screengrab shows our colour layer in isolation so you can see where we have applied the various colours for our image.

08

Blur to blend When you are happy with where you have put the colours, it’s time to blend them in. For this we will be applying a Gaussian Blur. Make sure that Preview is checked so that you can see the effect as you adjust the Radius slider – you’ll need a high value of roughly 120px, or whatever looks right.

09

Starry light The colour effect is done, but we want to add some more texture and depth. First, we import a layer of stars. You can find your own or download the same one as us from iStockphoto, image number ‘147146’ (there’s a link provided, as well as some free bonus textures you could use instead). Desaturate this, set to Overlay and lower the Opacity to around 46%. Copy the layer mask from the original texture layer onto the stars layer.

Quick tip

11

Merge We need a merged layer with all our effects on it, but also leaving the layers intact, so hit Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+Opt/Alt+E to merge everything onto a new layer at the top of the layers stack. This is the layer for you to do any lastminute tweaks using options such as the Brightness/Contrast or Levels adjustments.

12

Make some noise We decided that our image still looks a little on the clean side, so we have gone to Filter>Noise>Add Noise and added a small percentage of noise (Uniform, with Monochromatic checked). And we’re done!

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If you want to apply the same layer mask onto multiple layers, the quickest way is to click on the original layer mask, hold down Opt/Alt and drag to the layer you want to apply it to in order to duplicate it here.

10

Lighting effects We’re going to go through exactly the same process with another texture – this time a lighting effect (there’s a link provided to download the same as us – iStockphoto ‘466964’ – or alternatively use one of the supplied bonus textures).


Professional’s profile

G: “I ANLAGD ÖVERSVÄMNIN won a Scandinavian photo photo. challenge in 2007 with this salves” It was inspired by Rob Gon

GO YOUR OWN ROAD: “I think this is one of my most popular creations. I wanted to plant a road in a different way; first I thought about having a truck making the road in a similar way, but I like having people in my pictures so this became the final photo instead”

Photo editing Photomanipulation Digital painting

Erik Johansson Website: www.alltelleringet.com Clients: Dragster Gothenburg, Ogilvey Cape Town, Jerhammar Norrköping

Graphics & type

sea. y sister working at WORK AT SEA: “M successful t firs my This was one of ns back in 2007” photomanipulatio

Erik Johansson is a 24-year-old freelance photographer and Computer Engineering student with a penchant for photomanipulation. He has been snapping photos since he got his first digital camera back in 2000, which is when he discovered how much he enjoyed manipulating photos. It was investing in a DSLR that really moved his artwork forward. “In the spring of 2007 I was out on a walk with a friend who bought a DSLR about a year earlier. I thought it was a really nice camera compared to my compact camera and decided to buy one myself,” Johansson says. “Once again I discovered how fun it was to manipulate photos, but this time I started to do more serious manipulations and bigger projects. It started as a hobby, but during the past year I have begun to do some work for different advertisement agencies.” Surprisingly, Johansson is self-taught, picking up tips from web tutorials and magazines. He works on a number of personal projects, from which the images shown here stem, and he’s currently working with Ogilvey with some photos for a campaign for WWF. His images use two key elements: a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Photoshop: “I use no other software and only work with photos I have captured myself. When I have found the right environment and have taken the photos I need, the work in Photoshop begins. I want to create the unexpected and sometimes impossible; Photoshop is the tool that gets me there.”

61


Interview

Chris Crisman www.crismanphoto.com @crismanphoto

In order to be successful you need to be a strong communicator who is capable of organising and presenting your work to a broad range of individuals

BULL-RIDERS (RIGHT): “This image was shot on location in Austin, TX.” It typifies Crisman’s vintage style and unusual subject matter © Chris Crisman

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We discuss how to maintain a productive balance when approaching commercial projects and honing a solid artistic vision with this globally acclaimed photographer

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nternationally recognised photographer and professional Photoshop user Chris Crisman believes that a balance between creativity, communication and personal style are integral to becoming an accomplished digital artist. His opinion holds a lot of weight too, with a vast portfolio consisting of over 30 national and international well-known clients – including Warner Bros Records, Cirque du Soleil and Leo Burnett to name just a few. His own success owes much to his unwavering artistic vision, which creates consistency throughout his work and is why he is held in such high esteem in the creative industry. Beyond working to shape that artistic vision, he also reveals: “In order to be successful you need to be a strong communicator who is capable of organising and presenting your work to a broad range of individuals. Arguably most crucial is the need to be personable – someone that people will want to work with. You may be the best artist in the world, but if you’re difficult to work with you might want to choose another field.” Crisman has developed a solid notion of rapport through extensive work experience in his formative years. Once a sporting athlete this career path was cut short and photography became his new raison d’être. “I began assisting professional photographers while I was still at college and then took a full-time assistant position upon graduating in 2003, working my way up to full studio manager,” he explains. From this he learnt of the necessity to constantly evolve – “both in your vision and in your work. My career has been a result of continually pushing myself both conceptually and visually, making every photograph better than the one before. If you’re trying to break into the advertising arena, it’s difficult and it takes time.” This is a creative market constantly in a state of flux and Crisman doesn’t advise emulating others’ work that might come to be pigeonholed: “By the time your work is noticed… [a certain design] mould might just be old news,” he warns. “It’s integral to spend at least a couple of years assisting, apprenticing – even interning – with professional photographers working in the arena you aspire to [join].”

In addition to actively avoiding old-hat styles, Crisman also aims never to distract from, but support the narrative in any given image, through his applied techniques. He steers away from habitual digital HDR styles, as he says: “Ultimately, what appears to be the use of HDR should simply extend the dynamic range of the photo in an almost undetectable way, keeping it as subtle as possible.” For him the idea of high dynamic range applies more to expanding the range of the camera, but only to the extent that ensures he captures the essential information needed for total freedom in postproduction. “When shooting, I always make a point of bracketing and shooting background plates to allow for that flexibility in editing. It’s also important to consider the supplemental lighting that I’m using as I shoot – often this opens up shadows and creates shaping and interesting light on my subjects,” he tells us. Concentrating on creating work that inspires, lighting has become one of his key considerations. “I’m always paying very close attention to how the light is interacting with the subject and how I can control that light to give the photograph interest, contrast and shape. I feel that in most cases, when people react to the lighting in my photographs, it should be an almost subconscious reaction – that they realise the light is beautiful and shaping, [rather than] overpowering the subject.” If the light can tell the viewer something about the subject beyond what the photograph can show, then Crisman has succeeded in his eyes. Whether quiet or boisterous in nature, the variable energy in each of his images reflects his life and the stories he’s trying to convey. Sometimes there is calm, and sometimes there is great activity, as Crisman believes photography should be a reflection of reality. However, he confesses: “I don’t think I would be able to choose a [single] theme as my favourite because I feel like the boundaries between those themes, and between the different genres of my work, are blurring. I think a lot of my portraits feel similar to my landscapes, and my lifestyle images blend subjects into environments even more as a natural extension of that process.” This process of blending and many of his other techniques owe much to digital software, as Crisman reveals: “Photoshop allows me to take subjects and place


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FIREFLY GIRL (BELOW LEFT): “Shot for a personal project, the girl was photographed in the studio against a green screen and composited into the background – a time-exposure shot in rural Pennsylvania” © Chris Crisman THE GUNSMITH (BELOW MIDDLE): “Burtis Frankes, gunsmith, is a portrait in the personal series of work from my hometown of Titusville, PA. The subject was lit and photographed in one exposure, then multiple background plates of varying exposures were shot and hand blended in Photoshop – creating a specific mood” © Chris Crisman

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CIRQUE DU SOLEIL & INFINITI 2 (BELOW): “Another shot for Adeyaka magazine. The car was photographed in a parking garage and later composited into the space to appear as if it’s hanging by a rope” © Chris Crisman

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them in environments where they otherwise couldn’t be photographed. In a nutshell, Photoshop enables me to complete my vision when reality just won’t [cut] it.” He continues: “I use Photoshop as both an editing tool and a manipulation tool. The real power of Photoshop is that it allows me to go beyond capturing an image in a single frame.” In terms of editing and manipulation, the application enables him to blend multiple photographs into a single image, picking and choosing certain elements from each frame, creating a composite that matches Crisman’s ultimate vision.

plug-ins and hardware technologies. Crisman is very keen to endorse his own production kit: “Aside from Photoshop, I use Capture One while shooting tethered with my studio’s digital medium-format back system. The other piece of software I have been experimenting with in the studio is the PTGui panoramic stitching software. PTGui is particularly useful for working with landscape images.” Crisman shoots primarily with his Canon Mk III 1Ds and Phase One P45+ digital medium-format back on a Hasselblad H1 camera. He evaluates: “The Canon is a rock solid [piece of kit] that’s dependable, rugged and reliable. The Phase One system, on the other hand, may be a bit less rugged, but the image size and quality of a 45MP sensor is unparalleled. The Phase also handles long exposures of up to half an hour virtually noise-free, which can come in very useful at times.” Crisman feels lucky to have worked with a host of diverse clients, but clearly the know-how to wield expert kit, matched with proficient application and production skills, hasn’t hurt his

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CIRQUE DU SOLEIL & INFINITI (ABOVE TOP): “Photographed on location at Cirque du Soleil world headquarters, in Montréal, QC, for Adeyaka magazine. The aerial acrobat was captured all in one frame” © Chris Crisman

As it is for many photo editors, Photoshop is essential to Crisman’s workflow in instances where one single frame in camera cannot capture everything that he wants from a shot. “Whether it’s a limitation of the camera or of the scene itself, Photoshop… [gives me the power] to expand upon what the camera can capture,” he explains. “Much like in my landscape work, extending the frame left and right to allow for a wider panoramic perspective, or in the case of some of my environmental portraiture, using Photoshop to modify backgrounds or subjects to match the creative elements. “I often like to contrast the time lapse of my subjects with the time lapse of other elements, such as the background, setting, props, secondary subjects, etc, in the image. I have some shots where the environment is a 10-30-minute exposure, [while] the exposure on the subject is 1/500th of a second. The blending of an image like this wouldn’t work without Photoshop.” Nor would it be achievable without the assistance of

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ROCKET BOY (LEFT): “Shot for a personal project, the rocket prop and boy were photographed in the studio and composited into the final scene” © Chris Crisman

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AQUARIUM GIRL (BELOW LEFT): “The model was lit and shot on location in front of an aquarium tank. The lights were then removed and the image exposed for the background. Multiple plates of the background were made and combined to achieve the number of fish and complexity of movement” © Chris Crisman

LAKE PLACID (ABOVE RIGHT): “This panoramic image was shot at Lake Placid, NY, for a body of personal landscape photography. The final piece is a result of approximately ten vertical frames, hand toned and assembled in Photoshop” © Chris Crisman

HOH RAINFOREST (RIGHT): “This panoramic image was taken in the Hoh Rainforest, part of the Olympic National Park in Washington State. It was shot for a body of personal landscape photography. The final piece is a result of multiple vertical frames, hand toned and assembled in Photoshop” © Chris Crisman

commercial success. Ranging from ESPN Magazine, Field & Stream and Inc. magazines to Forbes, it’s the Infiniti/Cirque du Soleil project that sticks out, as he recalls: “The project was a very exciting production. It brought my crew and I to Montréal, Canada – the world headquarters of Cirque du Soleil. We spent a week there photographing the performers practising and behind the scenes of the various productions that they put on. Since

Most importantly… [the Florida lifestyle shoot] was a great project in that since it was entirely self driven, my artistic vision could be expressed to its fullest potential 66

Infiniti was also involved in that project, we needed to find a way to work in one of its vehicles to our shoot – in this case the FX35.” Crisman found himself shooting a series of performers either suspended or flying through the air and thought it would be great to incorporate the car in the same way. “We didn’t have permission or the equipment to suspend the car in the air, so we had to light it while it was on the ground, and then composite that into an image that would support the idea and lighting. It was an amazing trip and an exciting challenge.” However, his most liberating work appeared in the form of a self-initiated, self-financed project – ultimately a device for filling a gap in his own portfolio. This lifestyle shoot took place in Florida, during February of this year. 2010 was a good year for Crisman, which saw lots of commercial jobs, but he felt like many of them were looking for a lifestyle component that his work was lacking. “To solve this issue, I decided to shoot a portfolio of lifestyle images around the theme, ‘Young and in Love’,” he tells us. “This project was liberating in many ways. First, it enabled me to take photos I’d

DESERT ATHLETE (RIGHT): “Shot as part of a personal series, the runner was photographed in the studio and composited into the overall scene. The model’s hair is a result of actual hair extensions in combination with retouching to increase the volume and amount of hair” © Chris Crisman

never done before and adapt my personal style to a new genre of photography. It was also liberating in the sense that I approached lighting differently, working with the sun and available light instead of overpowering them with strobes. Most importantly, it was a great project in that since it was entirely self driven, my artistic vision could be expressed to its fullest potential.” This self-exploration has inspired Crisman to initiate further creative ventures to meet clients’ demands and indeed his own. He concludes: “I’m hopeful this will be the year when I’ll be able to complete a book on the people and the place that is [my hometown] Titusville, PA. As for commercial projects, there’s always something new and I can’t talk about these until they are released. This year I have made a conscious effort to keep the studio’s activities as public as possible. Please follow us on Twitter and the studio’s blog.”


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70 Feature: CGI and

Photoshop: uncovered Photo editing

We explore this popular trend

78 Creative designs

ŠMDI Digital

Make a mechanical bug from photos

83 Profile: Joe Diamond Imaginative manipulations

84 Dynamic layer effects

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Create a great living tattoo effect, by making elements coming to life

88 Master light and colour

Make striking images with abstract designs and a little bit of Photoshop magic

94 Dynamic lighting effects

Re-create popular sports advertising images

101 Profile: Arseny Myshtsyn More inspiration for your projects

102 Advanced lighting techniques Create a sci-fi themed photomanip Simple but effective manipulation

108 Advanced selections

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In progress

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107 Profile: Philip Brunner

Build a dynamic artwork using stock One pro opens his portfolio

114 Black-and-white surrealism PAGE 102

Blend multiple elements for impact when working in monochrome

Š MDI Digital

113 Profile: Markus Vogt PAGE 136

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118 Expert transformations

Turn any model photo into manga

122 Profile: Cliff Vestergaard Dramatic photomanipulations

124 Working with perspective Create a 3D-esque abstract building

129 Profile: Doucin Pierre Creative photomanipulations

130 Expert blending skills Use the Pen tool for light effects

135 Profile: Dimo Trifonov See this pro's amazing work

136 Interview: MDI Digital We chat to the UK-based studio

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Feature

CGI and Photoshop: uncovered

We take a look behind the scenes at some of the top creative production studios to find out how they work, how to get a foot in the door of this lucrative industry and how Photoshop helps to bring everything together

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GI and 2D software such as Photoshop are combined in a variety of ways throughout many contemporary styles. Now more competitive than ever, design studios have to seriously raise the bar when matching a new breed of multi-talented production houses – introducing the ‘creative production studio’. Removed from much more linear working processes associated with other mainstream CG and 3D-based markets – ie in the gaming and visual effects industries – geared towards specialising in one aspect of production, creative production studios tailor

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skillsets across a broad spectrum, in a variety of stages in the creative pipeline. CGI, animation, illustration and photo editing are all practised, helping to improve upon and mastermind diverse formats, which include film, advertising, branding and more. Photoshop plays a huge part in such production and this feature reveals some of the most significant ways in which it makes a contribution to working practices. This article also sets out to expose the ins and outs of this industry area in a systematic fashion – revealing the daily routines, liaising schedules and production phases, which will ensure you


Citrix 2 Chameleon / “Bringing this character to life in print and motion meant the team had to effectively capture its every detail and movement, pooling expertise within R&D, CGI and concept development” Copyright Taylor James

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Copyright Taylor James

(www.taylorjames.com), explains: “Our artists have deep roots within the full gamut of our technical disciplines, allowing them to maintain flexibility on a job to ensure the best results. By offering all of this, as a creative production studio, we can deliver unified campaigns across broadcast, interactive and print media that offer production efficiency while enhancing the brand message. That’s a powerful thing.” Such diversity means that when approaching a vocation in such a studio, there isn’t a ‘standard’ route. Like many creative industries the notion of a clear career path is becoming something of a myth.

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understand what it takes to become an integral member of any creative production studio, with advice from industry-leading design teams. To really appreciate the work ethic that presides over any design studio – whether large or small – it becomes essential to truly understand the ‘nature of the beast’. A creative production studio, or for the sake of this feature, a CPS, is quite distinct yet also familiar in its setup. As with all art production, each and every project is directed from concept to completion, working closely with clients to help develop their vision and awareness of what is achievable using innovative methods, cutting-edge technology and a dash of talent. Incorporating a plethora of disciplines through its team members, however, is how a CPS distinguishes its own working routine. Anna Roberts, general manager at production studio Taylor James

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Citrix 2 (opposite page) / “This multi-platform campaign is a strong example of the benefits an innovative and crossdisciplined creative production house can offer to bring a concept to life”

Show diversity Alex Jefferies, a director at CGI studio MDI Digital (www. mdi-digital.com), tells us that each member of staff has entered the company from a different direction – some starting out in the games industry, some from product design and many from a traditional illustration background. “While we do all have some form of higher education, it’s never something we look for in a CV,” he reveals. “The most important thing to remember >>>

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Calor Gas - final / “This ambitious script was made possible by utilising existing 3D assets and time-saving techniques, like camera mapping and matte painting” Copyright Taylor James

Calor Gas (left) / “This 30-second UK TV ad for Calor Gas guides viewers through a 3D animation of an idyllic rural home” Copyright Taylor James

>>> when working in a visual medium is that your portfolio or showreel does 90 per cent of the work for you – clients and employers will make extremely quick decisions on whether or not you’re right for the job based upon it.” This means you must ensure your portfolio represents the type of work you’re capable of and, importantly, the type of work you genuinely want to do. “It’s no good taking a portfolio of giant orcs and dragons to a product visualisation studio or trying to fill a character artist position with technical drawings,” Jefferies adds. Essentially, you should be able to show a good grounding but clear knowledge and aptitude in your area of choice. Roberts couldn’t agree more, telling us: “We look for the ability to approach any job

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in a creative way and bring more than just technical skill, rather than judging [purely] on academic qualifications. I would advise people starting out to look at companies they’re interested in and to tailor their CVs and showreels to that arena. Our speciality is creating photorealistic images; it’s amazing how many cartoon-style reels we see – all very good, I’m sure, but just not applicable.” An early evaluation of the CPS arena is that although your technical skills need to be diverse, studio styles can be more specific. Taking into account our experts’ views,

It’s important to have a keen interest in other creative fields how does one tailor a more inclusive-yet-focused portfolio? Some believe that a good understanding of real industry workflow through work experience or internships is extremely valuable. However, this should never override extra-curricular activities.


KME (below) / “In the final stages, the retouch team worked their magic to refine the raw 3D image by carefully balancing and refining tones”

KME (inset) / “Taylor James’s CGI artists sculpted each house installation for this series of works for KME from scratch”

Copyright Taylor James

Copyright Taylor James

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The majority of the MDI Digital team is unsurprisingly self taught, with teaching assets available to aspiring CG artists at an all-time high. The biggest boon is the advent of downloadable video lectures, created by professionals who work in the industry. A great example of such is The Gnomon Workshop >>>

Industry kit

The key programs used by creative production studios Software / Adobe Photoshop CS5 Website / www.adobe.com Photoshop is inclusive of all production stages, delivering results for low-resolution comps, assembling high-resolution multipart compositions, colour grading and processing, creating developed texture maps to applying the final retouch. It’s used to perfect the overall look of a campaign.

Software / Autodesk 3ds Max 2011 Website / http://usa.autodesk.com 3ds Max facilitates the core of a CGI workflow, completing previsualisation, scene setup, modelling, texturing, lighting, shading and animation. Other software types, achieving more specific needs, supplement this program. Pretty much everything CGI goes through this software in some way, shape or form.

Software / Pixologic ZBrush 4 Website / www.pixologic.com

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Jefferies goes some way to endorse both routes: “Unlike the visual effects and gaming industries, which are often geared towards specialising in one aspect of production, our artists need to have a broad spectrum of skills in a variety of stages in the pipeline. You need to wear many hats during a project and having a gap in your skillset can be crippling in a tight spot.” So, as well as technical skills, it’s important to have a keen interest in other creative fields, not just Photoshop work. “At MDI, our team all enjoy photography, life drawing, traditional painting and sculpture. Not only does this provide an important break from staring at monitors all day, but it also enriches and informs the artwork we create.”

Primarily a sculpting and modelling application used for texturing, ZBrush is ideally suited to organic modelling and retopologising complex meshes. It handles just like sculpting clay, making working with highly detailed geometry very simple.

Software / Chaos Group V-Ray 2.0 Website / www.chaosgroup.com V-Ray is a highly advanced render engine, which is used within other programs for lighting, shading and rendering. It translates and outputs all of the computer data into a final image, which artists are then able to work on in Photoshop or alternative compositing applications to execute final postproduction.

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Case study We take an in-depth look at Air CGI’s production phases for an international commission, giving us a better understanding of the standard working routines expected at a commercial creative production house

Project / Mars Ice Cream, ‘A little bit tasty’ Studio / www.air-cgi.com Stage 1 / Press campaign concept art The vehicle concept was developed with a freelance car designer, rather than our concept artist, giving the necessary technical as well as creative input. The commissioning ad agency had a specific look required for the overall ad and the fantasy ice-cream van needed to reflect that style. The briefing asked us to create a vehicle that looked as if it could technically work as an ice-cream van.

The commissioning ad agency had a specific look required for the overall ad and the fantasy ice-cream van needed to reflect that style. The briefing asked us to create a vehicle that looked as if it could technically work as an ice-cream van Stage 2 / Wireframe The wireframe was modelled by the CG artist, based upon the concept art. Usually everything would be signed off at the concept stage before modelling, but on this occasion we did some minor tweaking on the vehicle trim to give the client the exact detailing required. Alongside the CGI, preproduction was being organised for the shoot; this preparation included pre-pro meetings, casting, wardrobe, location scouting and permitting.

Stage 3 / Backplate and HDR The photographic elements were shot on location in Brighton, UK, by Harniman Photographer; this involved a two-day shoot to capture the backplate, props, models and HDR. A real ice-cream van was used on location for the shoot to give the models a focus to interact with. A low-poly ice-cream van model was used for on-location previsualisation, enabling the art director to fix positions and angles.

Stage 4 / Backplate ambient occlusion and car Back in the studio with the CG and photographic team back together, the digital files were processed out and the CG scene setup took place. Textures were applied, along with lighting and HDR effects – the high-resolution ice-cream van model was rendered into the backplate.

Stage 5 / Final treatment The final compositing was completed with the models, props and final colour grading applied in Photoshop. Throughout the project we worked closely with the agency’s creative team – at all stages – to get a great final result. This image has gone on to win several photographic awards, including a Campaign Photo Award in 2010 in the Grocery, Household & Soft Drinks category and a place in the Innovation section of the Association of Photographers Awards 2010.

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Mr Mini Peperami (above and right) / “The final images, with all elements brought together with the finishing touches – shadows, colour tweaks, etc – applied” Copyright MDI Digital Ltd

at MDI has had experience of working like this at some point and, while it’s not something we’d advise everyone to do, it’s certainly strengthened us as a team.” Founder of digital creative production studio Air CGI (www.air-cgi.com), Nigel Harniman says that a shot at studio work should be grabbed with both hands: “The main benefit has to be spending more time working on

Technical attributes All of this is sound advice that will undoubtedly help you to improve on the skills necessary for consideration at a CPS, if given the required dedication and creative input. But make no mistake – competition is fierce. As well as a high level of technical skill, a super-keen appetite for productivity is paramount. You must be focused. You must be driven. You must be flexible. Harniman elaborates: “Projects generally involve working as a team to a greater or lesser degree depending on the brief, from input on research, liaising with clients and the interaction between visualisers, CG artists, retouchers and photographers; everyone needs to communicate effectively to make it work.” This helps a CPS to meet the high standards being set within the creative industries, with clients commissioning studios based upon the quality and style of their portfolios – much the same merits upon which a studio might employ you. Each project is a balancing act, with studios combining a client’s visions with their own. The creative exploration stage is essential in aligning, >>>

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Working as a team, rather than in isolation, is more industrious

the creative side of projects without having to get involved with the business end – accounts, chasing payments, etc. Also diversity of projects within the studio and working as a team, rather than in isolation, is more industrious. We’re always on the lookout for talented new artists with an eye on 3D.”

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>>> (www.thegnomonworkshop.com), which has tutorials on a wide range of subjects and software. For more CG-specific training, you can try Eat3D (http:// eat3d.com) and CG Academy (www.cg-academy.net). “Another excellent website is The Guerrilla CG Project (www.guerrillacg.org),” adds Jefferies. “It has free instructional videos that explain the fundamentals of working in 3D superbly. CGSociety (www.cgsociety.org) is also one of the largest and most active CG-themed communities on the internet. But the biggest tip I can give is don’t forget to go outside.” However, he divulges: “Admittedly when most artists think of freelancing, it often refers to being self employed – working from home and self-managing projects, which can be a fierce experience for even the strongest individual. Each of us

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>>> challenging and developing concepts. Roberts concurs: “Almost every project starts with the client’s idea. The more information we gather the better, as it allows us to tailor effective solutions that add creative value and optimise production in line with the timeframe and budget.” However, as with all creative fields, design processes can be deceptively intangible – nailing down production times can be likened to tackling the

It’s important for professionals to be as flexible as possible rhetorical question: how long is a piece of string? Photoshop has become an integral device, amalgamating with all other CG techniques to deliver

fast results. Once in production, it’s used extensively – from creating texture maps for 3D elements to colour correcting, creating initial ideas and low-resolution comps, assembling high-res multi-part compositions, to finessing the overall style and grading of a campaign. The final stages of any still project are 100 per cent Photoshop, tying together all of the elements, performing passes of grading and retouching necessary to achieve the final result. Roberts goes into greater detail, using existing projects as examples: “We also use Photoshop in the creation of animation matte paintings, as [we did] with Calor Gas and Bermuda Tourism. Our award-winning work with GSW Worldwide, for KALBITOR, is a perfect example of how Photoshop plays a crucial role in seamlessly integrating photographic and CG elements, producing a series of photoreal images.” Taylor James produced three dramatic shots to portray the symptoms of hereditary angioedema (HAE) by utilising photography, 3D sculpting and 2D compositing. “Our reputation for realism comes from our experience in the

Lexus Press ad – final (above left) / “Final grading and colour work came together in PS. We made use of all of the render passes and masks to enhance and manipulate the image to its final state” Copyright Air CGI/Lexus

Lexus Press ad – layout (top) / “CGI project producing highresolution print stills for the CT200 Hybrid launch. Extensive research took place prior to the modelling; the brief was forward-looking but not futuristic” Copyright Air CGI/Lexus

Lexus Press ad – Ambient Occlusion pass (above) / “An AO pass is a method of aiding the impression of the overall reality in a model created in 3D, producing subtle shadows in the angles where objects meet as it would occur naturally” Copyright Air CGI/Lexus

photographic arena,” adds Roberts. “At the core of our success is our artists’ understanding of the rules of realism: the study of scale, perspective, light and how all these factors affect material properties. The final stage of all projects goes through Photoshop colour styling to maximise the unique impact of the image.”

Industry shifts

Get your foot in the door / The CPS industry is all about what you know. Here’s some advice on how to deliver the perfect portfolio In any industry your portfolio is important; when it comes to the CPS arena, it’s king! This creative field moves extremely fast and it’s crucial for all artists to create a style that’s both engaging and illustrative. It’s always interesting for studio employers to see a shot breakdown as opposed to just the final result as it’s good to see the process behind an image. Make showreels no longer than 90 seconds so not to deter attention from the interview as

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a whole, and include links to your work on a website, so that they can be followed up at a later point. If you have been working on a group project, always describe your role in achieving the final result as well as the software you used. As with any career, you have to be very committed and enthusiastic about perfecting your abilities. Treat every experience as a new learning curve and be dedicated and proactive to succeed.

High demands for work are synonymous with evolving software and hardware, driving the industry forward – fast. As the technology has improved, emphasis has been put on upping the commercial standard of photorealism. As with all rapid evolution, studios must be able to keep up with sudden changes in style and content. Jefferies very much agrees: “When we started out, the majority of CG work was defined by the limitations of the technology. The emphasis now has been on photorealism. An interesting side effect of this is that, recently, a noticeable backlash against the


Dr Oz Vegetable portrait – final (right) / “With the textures applied, the final image is rendered, colour graded and some retouching is needed” Copyright MDI Digital Ltd

Dr Oz Vegetable portrait – progress (below) / “Once all of the items are in place we can focus on the lighting and shading of the scene” Copyright MDI Digital Ltd

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hyperreal, polished and super-clean image has occurred. People have started to move towards showing imperfections, having items traditionally crafted and a need for real, physical props. We’ve certainly noticed an increase in glue, cardboard, foam and Sellotape in our photography studio!” These types of shifts are commonplace in the creative industry and it’s important for professionals to be as flexible as possible to accommodate both the changing software and the expectations of clients. “We like to keep an open mind

when it comes to trends and not be heavily influenced by fashion,” explains Roberts. “There are constant developments in our industry, which in the main are driven by technology. Sometimes style is dictated by what’s achievable technically and what’s currently considered ‘cutting edge’. CGI is trendy at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that it’s suited to every brief.” So it seems the creative production studio industry is one constantly blurring boundaries, where diversity not only enables employees to deliver a more complete in-

house solution but also to be flexible. It’s this internal flexibility which makes it possible for studios to keep up with external, ever-changing market forces. The only thing moving faster than technology, it would seem, is client expectations, and Jefferies’ final thought is on this very issue: “The key piece of advice that I can offer to anyone looking to enter this marketplace is to stay on your toes. Be aware of what’s going on around you and be willing to adapt. No creative studio nor individual can ever afford to stand still and hope for the best.”

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Workshop

Creative designs Learn how this amazing mechanical bug was put together using stock imagery, renders and Photoshop know-how

Our expert

Devin Schoeffler www.ds9creations.com

Devin is a freelance web and graphic designer with more than seven years’ professional experience and an extensive list of clients from all around the world.

Tutorial files available

This workshop is based on several popular designs that fuse organic creatures with mechanical parts. These types of projects are great for fine-tuning your skill to blend images together

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Getting started Begin by creating a new image, 235 x 300mm, 300dpi in RGB. Create a new layer and fill it with white (‘#ffffff’). Open up the ‘flying insect green beetle’ image (see the link provided) and cut it out from the background using your Pen tool. Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and enter 32, 1.09 and 239 into the fields.

Add lighting To give our beetle an ultra-realistic and slightly unearthly look, we need to amplify the lighting and shading. Add a new layer, setting it to Overlay with 60% Opacity. Use a large soft brush filled with white (‘#ffffff’) and apply highlights. Use the photo as a guide for specular.

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n this tutorial we’ll learn how to effectively combine a large number of elements into one convincing scene by carefully blending them together using a variety of Photoshop tools and techniques. In addition we’ll explore ways to use brush presets to achieve more random, organiclooking features that will help bring life to our robo-bug image. In order to create a truly cohesive end result we’ll focus the majority of our attention on

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Add shadows Make another layer (name it ‘Shadows’) and set it to Soft Light with 80% Opacity. Use a large soft brush coloured black and begin adding shadows to the image in the same way that we added lighting in the previous step. You may wish to add extra layers of shadow and light. Again, use the photo as a guide and simply exaggerate the lighting and shadows already established in the image.

lighting, shading and details that will really help sell the final image. You should have fairly good knowledge of basic Photoshop features such as the Transform tool, layer masks, blending options and of managing layers. This Workshop is based on several popular designs that fuse organic creatures with mechanical parts. These types of projects are great for fine-tuning your skill to blend images together and, more generally, can be an ideal opportunity to push your imagination.

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Clean up Our photo has a few flaws that may look off in our final piece so we need to zoom in and clean them up. Use the Spot Healing Brush tool with a Diameter of 55px and a Hardness of 0% to remove all of the white chips from the carapace of the beetle.


Photo editing

Photomanipulation

Digital painting

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05

Insert hair In our first step we lost a bit of detail when cutting out the beetle – mainly the creepy insect hair that covers the legs and back of our bug. To get that detail back, we’re going to use a brush to reinsert it. Select the default Dune Grass brush and use the Eyedropper tool to sample a colour from part of the beetle. Using the brush’s default settings, carefully add some hair along its back and legs.

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Start your engines Now it’s time to start adding some machinery to our beetle. Open up the ‘Jet Engine’ stock image and cut it out from its background using the Pen tool. Place this into a layer group and call it ‘Engine’. Go to Image>Adjustments> Brightness/Contrast and set the Brightness to +33 and the Contrast to +52.

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Engine seams Since we painted over the engine seams we’ll need to redraw them. Make a new layer and set it to Soft Light. Set your brush to 3px at 100% Hardness and ‘#000000’ for the colour. Use your Pen tool to make an arc on the engine. Then go to the Path Selection tool, Ctrl/right-click the path you made and select Stroke Path. Repeat this step, but stroke the path with a white brush and place the two lines next to each other to form the seam.

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Gear up Grab the ‘Metallic Gear’ image and cut it out from its background. Scale it and place it around the beetle’s neck. Once you’re happy with its position, add it to a new group and call it ‘Gear’. Apply a layer mask to the group to hide the gear behind the wings and head of the insect.

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Quick tip When working with a complex image, it can be easier to group components rather than naming every single layer. Often, you may find yourself adding and deleting layers just to try something new and it can become extremely tedious to label every one. Grouping layers will help you stay organised.

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Shade the gear Go to Brightness/ Contrast. Set the Brightness to +2 and the Contrast to +100. Next go to Hue/ Saturation and set the Saturation to -57. This will help the gear to match the other metallic components of the bug. Just like the engine, repeat Steps 3 and 4 with the gear and add highlights and shadows where appropriate.

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Colour the engine Isolate the blue of the engine and go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation. Set Hue to -120, Saturation to -16 and Lightness to -24. Use the Eyedropper tool to sample colour and use a soft brush to paint over reflections. Then go to Filter>Noise and add 1% Uniform, Monochromatic noise to the green paint.

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Shade the engine Repeat Steps 3 and 4, but this time for the engine. Add a new layer for your lighting and a new layer for your shadows. Once you’ve finished shading your engine, duplicate the Engine layer group and place it under the beetle image. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T to enter Free Transform mode and scale the engine down slightly and move it to the beetle’s right side.


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Shade the thorax Open the ‘Carbon Sport Exhaust’ image, cut it out and place two versions of the image under the turbines that we built earlier. Just as we’ve been doing from the start, add two layers and proceed to shade and light the elements. Use the shadows to help hide parts of the images that may look out of place or that don’t fit together.

Quick tip Continuous blending is necessary to bring all of these separate images together in one convincing piece. You’ll need to experiment with the Brightness, Contrast, Hue and Saturation of every element you intend to combine in order to give them a cohesive look.

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More gears Open the ‘Cog’ image and place it between the wings of the beetle. Duplicate the gear twice and stack these behind one another. Tone the Brightness, Contrast, Hue and Saturation to match the rest of the composition and then apply shadows and light as previously.

Photo editing

Build the thorax Open the ‘Ski doo’ and ‘Mechanical concept in black/white’ images from the links provided. Also open the ‘Gear’ image at this stage. Cut out the black plastic piece to the rear of the seat on the snowmobile as well as the big metal skid. Cut out both gears and arrange them over the thorax of the bug, where you feel they work best. Adjust the Brightness, Contrast, Hue and Saturation of each image to ensure they match the colour scheme and style of the rest of the image.

Photomanipulation

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Abstracts Now our bug is starting to look pretty mechanised. Open up the 3D abstract renders (provided) and place them accordingly. You’ll want to place one of them on top of the thorax imagery we created in Steps 12 and 13 and set it to Linear Dodge blending mode at 90% Opacity. The renders will help add a bit more of an organic and chaotic feel.

Wings Open the ‘wings.png’ image and place them into the main image. You’ll want to duplicate the wing on the right and move it to the left, scaling it horizontally to help sell the perspective of the image. There’s really no wrong way to place these more abstract elements; you might even try using a derivative of your favourite grunge brush to give them a unique finish.

Digital painting

18 Mix it up Take one of the 3D renders we used in Step 15 and place it over the head of the beetle. Set the layer to Screen at about 85% Opacity. Duplicate that layer and flip it horizontally, applying it to the other side of the head. Repeat this step, applying a 3D render to the jet turbine we incorporated earlier; this will serve as a reflection for the shiny engine.

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Add some chaos Load the ‘beetle_brush.abr’ provided into your Brushes palette. This brush is set up with a high Scatter, Size and Angle Jitter to provide a really random look when used. Make a new layer and take a few swipes with the brush around the wings and back of the beetle to simulate the pieces flying off of it.

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Glows Make a new layer (0% Fill and Opacity) and add a ring around the centre of the top gear with a hard brush (around 5px). In your blending options, add an Inner Glow set to Color Dodge (‘#fbe31a’), with Choke at 23% and Size at 174px. Now add an Outer Glow (‘#ff7800’), with Choke at 11%, Size at 27px. Use these same techniques to apply various glows to the engines and exhaust pipes.

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Colour adjust Place a Color Adjustment layer over the background and floor shadows and set the Midtones to Cyan 0, Green +43 and Blue +33. You can also add a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer of the entire image and tweak the settings to help develop a more cohesive colour scheme.

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High Pass As a final step, merge the entire image and Paste a copy on top (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+ Shift+E). Set this layer to Overlay at 75% Opacity and go to Filter>Other>High Pass and set it to about 4.5px. You can also use the random brush we used earlier plus a Gaussian Blur to apply some depth-of-field effects around the beetle.

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Background Make a layer group under the bug and call it ‘Background’. Use a Radial gradient to fill the layer from white (‘#ffffff’) to a light grey tone (‘#bbbbbb’).

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Shadows Use a big soft brush to add a main shadow under the bug. Once you have that, draw a shape with a marquee tool from the end of each leg back under the belly of the beetle. Fill it with black then go to Filter>Gaussian Blur and use a Radius of 9. Adjust the opacity of these shadow layers to get them to blend together.


Professional’s profile

DAYDREAM: “One of my few surreal pieces. I tried to evoke peace, given by the home and the personal belongings, which make us feel safe and protected”

Joe Diamond Website: http://jtotheotothee.deviantart.com

Photomanipulation

how fast it king deeply about life and MOMENTS: “I was thin e looking hav we d min of e stat cold goes. The robot marks the ” bles bub like by sing , pas at some precious moments

Photo editing

Joe Diamond (real name Ioana Nestorescu) is relatively new to the Photoshop world. She’s entirely self taught, learning from tutorials on the internet and, with a lot of patience, she has mastered her own unique brand of photomanipulation – which she describes as “very colourful and very much alive” – in just one year. Her artwork is on the fantastical side, which she explains is her escapism from the daily grind: “I’m living in Romania – not the best place someone would wish to live – [and I grew] tired of all the crowds and noise. I wanted to get away from the usual and known, so I created my own version of escape, a world of fantasy. I love art, but I haven’t studied traditional painting, so I chose [the] digital way.” Diamond’s artwork is a personal endeavour in the main – her day job is within a government institution in the press department – but she has picked up some commissions: “I’m not famous so it’s not like clients are breaking [down] doors to hire me. I had a few commissions from local photographers for simple retouches. I hope that in the future, I could make my way in the real artist’s world.” For now, Diamond understands the value of getting her work out there: “I’m planning to join more contests to help become better known, and to combine my digital art with artisan craft to create some unusual cards, calendars, etc.” With her unique style, we can see this artist is a true Diamond in the rough who will no doubt go far.

Digital painting Graphics & type

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Dynamic layer effects Our expert

Apply Photoshop’s tools to create a stylish portrait where the body art comes to life Adam Smith

www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk/ user/Adam Adam is well versed in commercial styles, however he’s creating this living, breathing tattoo effect for the sake of experimentation.

Tutorial files available

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malgamating two or three digital techniques into one composition can throw up some novel, innovative and, at times, just totally entertaining styles. In this tutorial we’re exploring several techniques to create our own take on living tattoo effects. This is one that will need you to experiment and play to grasp the nature of the applied methods, but once you have, you should be reproducing them to the standards in this book. Depth of field (DOF) effects are essential when creating realism and energy within this piece, whereas illustrative shape layers promote

surrealism and an aesthetic edge. All come together to create a tangible mixed-media work. This is achieved using typical Photoshop tools and options. We explore how to use the Pen Shape and Path tools, complemented by the application of intuitive clipping and layer masks, to create various design elements, as well as retouch techniques and colour adjustments. We also show you how to apply displacement filters and brush types, along with brush and blending modes, to create realistic tattoos. All these effects can be adapted to your own design ideas, or used as we have. Like tattoos in general, it’s all about defining your own style.


01

Edit lip tones Before we can even contemplate adding special effects we need to treat our model according to our theme. First we’ll apply smoky make-up effects. Colour picking a light skin tone from your model, create a make-up lips layer set to Color blending mode, and then apply a likewise Color blending brush at 30% Opacity to your model’s lips.

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Mascara effects Create a new layer set to 8% Multiply blending mode. Select a soft dark grey brush at 30% Opacity, set to Screen blending and apply carefully to the area around your model’s eyes. Use the Smudge tool to spread application. Paste in Stock.XCHNG’s ‘Ink Splatter 2’ image (see the link provided), resize and transform to taste using the Image>Edit>Transform Scale and Warp tools. Set a 45% Multiply blending mode.

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Smoky eye make-up Apply a layer mask to your mascara layer and erase until you have seamless integration. Duplicate this layer, upping Opacity to 80%, and erase once more, only leaving the tips of your drip – creating a pooled mascara effect. To complement this smoky eye make-up, we need to highlight our model’s brown eyes. Begin by selecting them with the Elliptical Marquee tool.

Photo editing

Soften skin Activate your original model layer and duplicate your selection (Cmd/Ctrl+J), applying a Screen blending mode. Erase selection edges with the Eraser tool, and edit eye Hue using the Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation options. Next, duplicate your original model layer and apply Filter>Blur>Surface Blur. Set Radius at 8 pixels and Threshold at 5 levels.

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Dampen effects Apply a 30% soft-edged black brush to reduce the wet effect, also showing through pore areas. Be selective but maintain a sense of wet skin. Once satisfied, press Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/ Alt+Shift+E, merging all into a new layer. Next, apply a Black & White adjustment layer, from the Layers palette options.

Graphics & type

Wet skin effect Work into this blurred layer, using 50% Exposure Midtone Dodge and Burn tools for highlights and shadows. Select Filter>Artistic> Plastic Wrap. Set Highlight Strength to 4, Detail to 7 and Smoothness to 15. Open Hue/Saturation and boost Saturation to 10. Add a layer mask to your treated model layer with Opacity at 90%.

Digital painting

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Depth of field (DOF) effects are essential when creating realism and energy within this piece, whereas illustrative shape layers promote surrealism and an aesthetic edge

Photomanipulation

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Black-and-white treatment Set Reds at -64, Yellows at 28, Greens at 40, Cyans at 60, Blues at 20 and Magentas at 80. Decrease adjustment layer Opacity to 65%. Duplicate this adjustment layer, decreasing Opacity to 30% and apply a Multiply blending mode. Apply a black-to-white gradient to your layer mask, from the top right corner to the model’s left shoulder.

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Black-and-white treatment 2 Apply a 30% soft-edged black brush to facial areas where shiny skin effects should be evident. Also apply a 100% Opacity black brush to the eyes – both layer masks – letting colour shine through. Merge all as before and name accordingly. With the Rectangle Marquee tool, make a selection over the empty space in the top right of your background and press Cmd/Ctrl+J, creating a new grey square layer.

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New background First apply a layer mask to this new layer and erase the top edge to merge with the backdrop. To match colour tone, apply a blackto-transparent Gradient Overlay – Opacity set to 29% and Angle at 90 degrees. Use the Move tool to adjust the effect until accurate. Finally duplicate the previously merged all layer, placing it at the top of the stack.

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Cut-away section Apply a layer mask to this layer. Using selection tools (eg, Pen Path) make a cut-away selection, erasing using the layer mask (see example). Now it’s time to apply our tattoos. This will take time and attention. Let’s start by pasting in iStockphoto’s ‘Hand Drawn Koi Fish’ image a couple of times, resizing and positioning.

Displace filter effects

To match colour tone, apply a black-to-transparent Gradient Overlay – Opacity set to 29%, Angle at 90 degrees. Use the Move tool to adjust until accurate

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Tattoo design Add layer masks to both tattoo layers, erasing from both to create one design. Zoom in to 300% and manually join edges with a hard black brush. Create a new colour layer, opening the Brushes palette (F5). Check Shape Dynamics, turning Size Jitter Off. Check Airbrush, Smoothing and Other Dynamics, setting 10% Opacity Jitter.

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Tattoo colouring Select sections of your tattoo illustration with the Magic Wand tool and paint to your tattoo colour layer, set to Multiply blending mode, using a 50% Multiply soft-edged colour brush. Once complete, hide all layers bar your tattoo and tattoo paint layers, and merge these into a single new layer. Drop your original tattoo-themed layers into a group at the foot of your stack.

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Skin cutouts Apply the Magic Wand at a Tolerance of 10 to the outside of your merged tattoo layer. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I, then copy and paste from your model merged 2 layer. Name this layer ‘model’, and then place beneath your merged tattoo layer. With the latter active, Ctrl/right-click the layer and select Create Clipping Mask. Activate both and select Link Layers.

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The way we apply paint in Steps 12 and 13 helps to create about 90 per cent authenticity. As we have used a vector file to apply our tattoo decoration, lines are too crisp. In effect real-life tattoo lines are far softer. To create this illusion, paste in your model merge 2 layer into a new document and apply a 2-4px Radius Gaussian Blur, and save this file as ‘Displace’ to your desktop. Activate your merged tattoo illustration layer, select Filter>Distort>Displace, and alter settings to gain a realistic effect.


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Begin DOF effects Now you can expand your new tattoo beyond the borders of your model, overlapping Step 10’s cut-away. Repeat Steps 12 and 13 for various applied tattoos, placing elements until you’re happy with a fully realised decoration. Hide your grey square layer (from Step 8), and draw a scale shape layer using the Pen tool and Rasterize.

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Scale shape layers Ctrl/right-click this new shape layer’s thumbnail and duplicate from your merged model 2 layer. Call this new layer ‘Scale skin shape’, placing it above your greyscale layer, activating this once more. Duplicate your scale skin layers several times, building up DOF layer effects, applying previous painting techniques.

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Scale shape layers 2 At this stage, you can use the Edit>Transform>Warp tool to alter forms. Then, using the same techniques from Step 15, make selections and duplicate scale skin shapes cut from the model’s neck, creating effects as seen in the example below. Integrate shape edges with neck skin tones using applied-to layer masks. Next select the Pen Shape tool and proceed to create ribbon shapes bursting from your model’s torso cavity. Make sure you use consistent image tones.

Photo editing

Photomanipulation

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DOF layering effects You’ll need to start repositioning layers to get DOF effects. Also Rasterize these new shape layers and apply a 1px-Radius black Stroke to each. To add to the authenticity of your DOF effects, use applied layer masks and Dodge and Burn tools to create drop shadows and highlights.

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Engaging image elements The effects in the previous steps are easy to grasp, with experimentation. Take time to create more skin cutouts and ribbon shapes – building up this bursting effect – applying clipping mask techniques, and Warp, Dodge and Burn tools. The more you populate your image with these elements the more energy your final piece will have.

Digital painting

Water effects Time for some water effects. Resource a splash stock image – we’ve used iStockphoto’s ‘water splash’ image, the link is provided – and desaturate using Hue/Saturation, decreasing Saturation to -100. Tweak levels, increasing dark values and Invert (Cmd/Ctrl+I). Apply your Magic Wand to the white background and erase it, then copy and paste into your document.

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Extra effects Purposefully place numerous water stock layers in your layer stack, applying the Screen blending mode. You can heighten effects by duplicating layers and decreasing Opacity to 50%. We’ve added more illustrated tattoo elements and typographical layers with drop shadows, converted to Smart Objects, to boost the intensity of the DOF.

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Take time to create more skin cutouts and ribbon shapes – building up this bursting effect – applying clipping mask techniques, and Warp, Dodge and Burn tools 87


Workshop

Master light and colour

We explore how to create striking photomanipulations using simple stock images and textures, brought to life with dynamic colours and lighting transformations, colour corrections, setting lights, optical lens flare effects and working with blurs – all to develop more varied compositions. Ideally, you’ll already have basic Photoshop skills and, by mastering this tutorial, you will be able to re-create the paint/splash effect in any future work. We’ll be using PS CS4, but the extended transformation possibilities in CS5 would make it even easier to complete this piece.

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Let’s start Create a new document by going to File>New Document and choose a resolution of 235 x 302mm. You can work in a smaller size, but only if you’re not looking to print it out later. Fill the background with black (‘#000000’), double-click the layer to unlock and create a new layer group. Call the group ‘Background’ and open the main model image (see the link provided).

If you work in a small resolution it’s harder to add detail, so we seriously recommend you always work at large resolutions 88

The girl Copy the stock image into the main Photoshop document and duplicate it. Make a Smart Object from one copy (Ctrl/right-click to see the menu option) and name the layer ‘Girl’. Name the other layer ‘Wall’ and put it into the Background folder. Double-click the Smart Object to open it and use the Pen Paths tool to trace around the woman. Ctrl/right-click to choose Make Selection, then add a layer mask of the selection. Work on the smaller details on the mask with a small brush size.

Alexander Otto (DiftNorm)

Our expert

I

n this tutorial we will show you how to create a blasting paint/splash effect in combination with stock images. In this case we will work with a female model and just a few textures. We will actually work with the same stock again and again to replicate this dramatic illustration. Because we will be recycling the same material over the course of this masterclass, we will talk a lot about

www.diftnorm.com Alexander is a young designer and illustrator from Hamburg, Germany, specialising in interactive, still and motion design. In 2008 he became a member of global collective The Keystone Design Union.

Tutorial files available

Why details are important The details are one of the most important things you need to work on in any PS artwork. As you will see, it’s not overly difficult to create them using processes such as copying, rotating, resizing and adjustment layers like Levels or Curves. Sometimes it’s the extra little elements that make your work more unique and special. If you work in a small resolution it’s harder to add detail, so we seriously recommend you always work at large resolutions. Work with masks and, if possible, Smart Objects, so you can change your layer every time you want to go back to the original one without losing time and quality. When you’re working with filters on Smart Objects the result looks different from time to time. For example, use the Gaussian Blur as a Smart Object and fill the mask with black. Take the Brush tool at a low opacity and draw carefully on the mask with white. You will see that your object gets a slight blur, which is much easier to change; it’s as if you are working on it in a different layer.

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The wall Once you have cut out the model from the background be sure to save the Smart Object before returning to the main document. First change the Opacity of the Smart Object to 70% and then take the Wall layer from the Background group and make a selection, as demonstrated in the screenshot. Hit the Delete key and duplicate the layer. Next we need to flip the layer horizontally and merge both Wall layers. Duplicate the layer as often as you need to cover the whole of your background.


Photo editing

Photomanipulation

Digital painting

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04

Setting the stage The next item on the agenda is the stage. Create a new layer and use the Brush tool at a decent size. Draw a small circle in the middle of the layer and vertically transform it with Cmd/Ctrl+T to 15%. Duplicate the layer and create a group with Cmd/Ctrl+G called ‘Stage’. Copy the layer again and change all Fill sets to 60%. Now start to arrange the layers as shown in our screenshot to create a stage for the girl to stand on. Don’t be afraid to transform and experiment to personalise your stage.

Experiment with compositions between the white and the coloured shapes. Let them flow into each other and break the flow

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Colour correction We will now add some colours to the wall, stage and background. Create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Saturation to -100 to make sure that we have full control over all the colours. Create a new layer and fill it with a soft red (‘#a28682’). Set the blending mode to Pin Light and create another new layer. Fill that with a soft blue (‘#5f7179’) and set the blending mode to Vivid Light. Duplicate this layer, make an inverted layer mask and draw carefully on the stage area.

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Overwork the girl We are now going to work on the look of the girl so that she fits the main illustration concept. Doubleclick on the Girl Smart Object and create a few new adjustment layers to work on the Color Balance, Curves, Levels and Hue/Saturation. Add a clipping mask for every layer on the main girl layer (see screenshot). Play with different looks, but keep in mind that your model should always look realistic.

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Colourisation Now we are going to colourise her and the dress, which is fairly simple. Create a new layer and set the blending mode to Linear Dodge. Fill the whole layer with black and choose the Brush tool with a soft blue (‘#0090a4’). Simply start to draw over her dress and experiment with shadows and lights. Once again create a layer, change the blending mode to Vivid Light and fill the layer with ‘#5f7179’. Make sure that every layer has a clipping mask to the original main stock.

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Place her centre stage Once we have finished the small preproduction on the model, we need to place her on the stage. For that we just have to add a small reflection to her shoes. Make a copy of the Girl layer and choose Edit>Transform>Flip Vertical. Invert the mask layer and use the Brush tool to draw a slight gradient on her shoe. Copy the layer again and then repeat the process for her other shoe.

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Add textures to the stage Open ‘stage_texture.jpg’ and paste it into the Stage layer group and name it ‘Stage texture’. Vertically transform the layer to 15%, set the blending mode to Screen and create a layer mask. Use the Brush tool with a size of 650px and an Opacity of 50% to draw over the bottom corners. Add Levels and create a clipping mask of the Stage texture layer. Play with the Levels to integrate the texture with the stage.

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Soft Light When you are done with the adjustments, create a new layer and set the blending mode to Soft Light. Now start to brush over her face (carefully), clothes and body with just black and white. Work with a small brush size (with Opacity 10-20%). Try to add more details to her clothing and set shadows and lights on her body and face. With a little patience and careful placement, you will see a huge difference in quality between the original stock image and your modified model.


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Splash effect Now open the stock image of splashing paint (see the link provided). Paste the image into the main Photoshop document, name it ‘Splash’ and convert it into a Smart Object. Double-click on the Smart Object layer to open it. Because of the high quality of the stock and the strong contrast of the splash and background, we can simply extract it with Select>Color Range. Pick the black from the background and create a layer mask with the selection. Invert the mask and save the Smart Object.

Experiment

Photo editing

Experiment with compositions between the white and the coloured shapes. Let them flow into each other and break the flow. Be sure to work in a small size with both the Drops and Splash Smart Objects. Copy the layers as often as you wish, but always rotate and transform them – no splash or drop should look copied. If you’re working with a graphics tablet, you can also easily draw on the splashes with a 1px brush to make them look more dynamic. Last, add highlights and shadows with black/white paint.

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Creating drops Duplicate the backup of the splash by Ctrl/ right-clicking on the layer and choosing New Smart Object via Copy. Call the layer ‘Drop’ and double-click to open it. Select a small area with the Crop tool and click Enter. Now just draw in black with the Brush tool on the layer, masking over everything that’s not looking like a drop. Save and close the Smart Object.

Photomanipulation

Transform and copy Now the fun part – you can start to play with the splash! Make a backup from the layer and start to duplicate the Smart Object as often as you like. Transform it with Cmd/Ctrl+T and Ctrl/right-click on the selection, choosing Warp. Have fun and experiment with it. Use a mask and the Brush tool to cut the splash and try to get a similar dynamic composition to the one in our image. When you’re done, select all the splash layers and click Cmd/Ctrl+G to create a group called ‘Splash effect’.

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Adding drops Take the Drops layer (keep it as a Smart Object and Transform it to 15%). Put the layer above the Splash effect group and create a new group named ‘Drops’. Now start to duplicate and rotate the Smart Objects and transform them from 5-25%. Do this on every layer.

Digital painting

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White out Back in your Splash group, choose one of the big splashes (only splashes which are lying across the girl) and create a new clipping mask with a layer. Fill it with ‘#5f7179’ and change the blending mode to Vivid Light. Underneath the layer create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer and set the Saturation to -100. Add a Levels adjustment layer as a clipping mask on your Splash layer. Set the Shadows down and Highlights up, and make sure greys are made a lot more white.

Graphics & type

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Colour changing After you’ve added that layer setting to most of your Splash layers, create a mask on the Hue/Saturation layer. Take the Brush tool in a decent size and simply draw over the shapes to create a smooth-looking mix of coloured and white shapes. Try to get a clean crossover, and play with the size, the Opacity and softness of the Brush tool for results that pack a punch.

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Composition Finally we need to arrange the girl with the splashes for a perfect composition. Make sure her face appears through the splashes so we keep eye contact. The white splashes should blast into the image and flow into the girl. The coloured shapes/splashes should fly out in some kind of swirl above her chest. Bear in mind the ‘golden ratio’ and other design rules if you are working on your own composition from scratch.

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Background textures Again open ‘stage_texture.jpg’ and paste into the Background group, calling it ‘Background texture’. Set a Screen blending mode and create a layer mask. Create a new Curves adjustment layer and apply a clipping mask. Reduce the Highlights to fit the rest of the image. Change the Opacity to 45% and arrange it above the stage. Use a 450px brush with an Opacity of 50% to draw behind the splash effect and the girl.

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Sunlight Create a new layer with Linear Dodge blending mode, call it ‘Sunlight’ and fill with black. Take a soft brush at 250px and draw a white circle on the upper right of the girl’s face – carefully. Add a new layer with Screen blending mode and start to draw sun-like colour with soft yellow (‘#fcfb75’), Opacity 15% over the Linear Dodge layer. You can play with Hue/Saturation options.

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Noise The texture should just give more structure to the wall. Create a new layer, fill it with black and choose Filter>Noise>Add Noise (see the setting in the screenshot). Change the blending mode to Soft Light and press Cmd/Ctrl+L. Change the levels of the noise effect and set the Opacity of the layer to 25%.

21 Brighter light To give your splash/paint effect more lighting, copy your Splashes group and press Cmd/Ctrl+E. Next press Cmd/Ctrl+U to change the Saturation to -100. Set the blending mode to Vivid Light and set maximum Highlights and minimum Shadows with Cmd/Ctrl+L. Copy the layer and set the Radius under Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur to 3 pixels. Change the Opacity of the first layer to 80% and select both layers. Group them and create an inverted group mask. Use the Brush tool at 250px to draw accents on the splashes for definition.

Atmosphere Work that blending effect out to conform to the atmosphere for the illustration as a whole. If needed, duplicate the layer group several times or change the size of the brush and opacity when you’re working on the masks. You can change the layers’ saturation and colours fast by using Cmd/Ctrl+U.

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Blending Group all layers used for the sun effect and name it ‘Sun light front’. Duplicate the group, change the name to ‘Sun light back’ and put the copy behind the Girl and Splash groups. Create a mask for the Sun light front group and fill with black. Use a small white brush (10% Opacity) and draw in light effects, blending as you go.

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Blur the drops Choose one of the drops from the back of the main splash/paint effect. Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set the Radius to 5px. Take the Paintbucket tool (G) and fill the Smart Object filter mask with black. Use a soft brush to work some nice blur effects in the background. You can play with the opacity and Gaussian Blur levels.


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Blur the splash It’s a little harder to blur the splashes. Use the same workflow as for the drops and only blur the Splash Smart Objects. Work in front of the sunlight effect with the Brush tool and in the very back of the Wall group. Start with a brush Opacity of 15% and frequently change the size of the brush and its softness for realistic variation.

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Light strokes Open ‘light_stroke.jpg’ and paste it into a new layer group called ‘Light strokes’. Name the layer ‘Light stroke’ and apply a clipping mask to the Levels. Set the blending mode of the Light stroke layer to Screen and adjust the Shadows and Highlights to the rest of the image (Cmd/Ctrl+L). Put the group over the Splash and Drops layers, and transform the strokes to follow the shapes. Copy the layer and repeat to your heart’s content.

Photo editing

Photomanipulation

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Fire Open the fire texture from CGTextures (‘Various0326’) and paste it into a new layer group called ‘Fire’. Name the layer ‘Fire explosion’ and add a clipping mask to the Levels. Set the blending mode of the Light strokes layer to Screen, and, again, tweak the Shadows and Highlights with a new Levels adjustment layer.

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Warm lights Next we will add some soft red/orange warm light effects to the background to add another level of atmosphere. Create a new layer called ‘Warm light’ and set the blending mode to Screen. Use the Brush tool with a soft brush at 450px and an orange/red (‘#ee6135’) at 5% Opacity. Put the layer at the top position of the stack and create a group named ‘Warm lights’. Copy the layer and start to carefully draw on it.

Digital painting

Drops: the next level

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Lens flare effect Finally we add a lens flare effect to the bottom of the image to enhance the sunny feeling in the illustration. Open the file provided (‘lensflare.jpg’) and copy and paste it into the document. Set the blending mode to Screen and name the layer ‘Lensflare element’. Make a new Levels adjustment layer and create a clipping mask on the Lensflare element layer. Change the settings of the Curves so the layer blends into the image.

Graphics & type

Set the lights Continue drawing on the layer; for small areas use an Opacity of 5% and for big areas use 2%. Switch the colour from orange to darker red (‘#b20000’), as well as changing the brush size. Be creative! When you need a new layer just copy the first one, which means you don’t need to set the blending mode and the opacity every time. We worked with about ten layers to get the result. When you’re done, combine in a single group.

Open the Drops layer group and choose one of the Smart Objects drops. Ctrl/right-click on the layer, selecting New Smart Object via Copy and rename the layer to ‘Drop extended’. Now double-click the layer, create a new background layer and fill it with grey (‘#bfbfbf’). Rasterise the layer mask on your original splash stock image. Create a new layer underneath and fill with black. Select both layers and press Cmd/Ctrl+E. Go once again to Select>Color Range and choose Shadows. Set the Fuzziness to 70 and hit Enter. Create a mask and invert it with Cmd/Ctrl+I. Click on the mask and make sure the Masks window is open (Window> Masks). Hit Mask Edge and set Contrast to 25%, Smooth to 80 and, lastly, Contract/Expand to -10%. Create a new layer, fill it again with black and you can see how the drops have changed. Save and close the Smart Object and set the blending mode to Screen. Transform and rotate the object and add a masked Gaussian Blur. Work on the same workflow you used on the original Drops layers. The more you experiment, the greater the impact of the effect. For example, simply copy a Drop extended, boost its opacity and make the rings more visible.

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Dynamic lighting effects Create commercial-standard artwork for sports brand advertising http://adomas.jazdauskas.lt

Adomas is a 23-year-old graphic designer and art director with five years’ experience in interactive and print design. He provides top-notch graphics for clients such as adidas.

Tutorial files available

01

Set up the canvas First of all we need to create a new document that’s 235 x 302mm, 300dpi and CMYK. Paste in the main iStockphoto ‘Tennis Player’ image that’s provided and transform it so it fits the canvas. Duplicate it, outline the tennis player with the Pen tool and, by making a selection, delete the background.

W

e see stunning sports advertisements with powerful effects and incredible detail almost everywhere, whether on billboards, in magazines or on TV. At first, it may seem very difficult to achieve this type of style, but it’s not as hard as it looks if you have the right Photoshop knowhow and the necessary resources. In this tutorial we will learn how to effectively create a sports advertising image, which shows the movement and high energy of the athlete. Specifically, we will be using stock photos and basic PS tools such as the Pen and

Brush tools to achieve powerful light effects. Also in this Workshop, we will discover how to blend splattered paint stock images into our main scene to make it even more dynamic. Ultimately, we will be making our tennis player look as if he is half made out of a hologram. For all this you should have a sound knowledge of the fundamental Photoshop tools and features, including the already mentioned Pen and Brush tools, as well as the Smudge tool, blending options and adjustment layers. Photoshop is simply the best photo-editing program to perform this type of project.

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Digital painting

Guide shapes Next, we’re going to use the Pen tool again to create some rough shapes to act as a guide for the light. We will keep things simple by just making two shapes (see the screenshot for guidance). These provide not only an outline of the area where the main hologram effect is going to be positioned, but also give the eye something to focus on when working on flow. Set the shapes’ colour to ‘60d2d0’ then select both shapes and merge them into one layer (Cmd/Ctrl+E).

Photomanipulation

Our expert

Adomas Jazdauskas

Graphics & type

Lighting effects

03

Blur effect Apply Gaussian Blur with a 10px Radius to the merged shape-lines layer. Duplicate it and move it to the left side. Now, using the Eraser tool, delete unnecessary parts. Create a new layer, select a soft round brush (Radius set to 666px), and brush the indicated area between the blurry shape lines.

It’s extremely popular these days to use powerful lighting effects in sports advertising; for examples, just check out recent projects made for companies like Nike or adidas. First, if you want to achieve these effects, you have to select your light source. In our project, the main source will be the tennis player, who will be made to look as if he is half real, half hologram. We have to set the direction of the light, stroke that direction and then add smoke textures and lighting stock to make it more lively. These stock images and textures can easily be found on sites like Stock.XCHNG, but we’re also using resources from http://mediamilitia.com.

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Create brushstrokes Select an 8-10px round brush set to 50% Hardness and make sure your Foreground Color is set to ‘717bb8’. Use the Pen tool to draw a nice path, then Ctrl/ right-click and select Stroke Path. Set the tool to Brush and check the Simulate Pressure box.

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More brushstrokes Create more brushstrokes with the same shade, then change the colour back to ‘60d2d0’ and add more strokes. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and apply with a 5px Radius. These few steps have created a nice base for us to really make our lighting effects shine.

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Keep working on strokes Now we’re going to add white brushstrokes. Let’s make them thinner and sharper this time, so create a new layer and select a 5px round brush (100% Hardness). Draw the white lines over the red-dash lines in the screenshot. Don’t draw too many of these lines – six to nine is plenty. We will later be duplicating these.

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Glowing lines Now we are going to apply a glow effect to our sharp white lines. Go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options>Outer Glow. Set the colour of the glow to ‘2955a9’, Opacity to 100%, Spread to 3%, Size to 17px and Contour to Rounded Steps. Duplicate the layer and orientate to create a more powerful atmosphere.

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Glowing lines 2 Duplicate glowing lines layers and move them on top of the direction lines (see Step 6). Press Cmd/ Ctrl+T and rotate the lines by 27 degrees so it flows in the right direction. Also, add some even finer white sharp lines with a 3px brush set to 100% Hardness.

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Smoke textures Open the ‘Smoke_V1_1021.jpg’ texture and scale it to fit. Press Cmd/Ctrl+U then change Hue to -30 and Saturation to +39; this will make the smoke texture look more colourful and vibrant. Now set the blending mode to Screen and, using the Eraser tool, delete unnecessary parts of the texture.

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Warp tool Use the powerful Warp tool to make the smoke in the scene look more varied. Sometimes you only need a single stock image to make it look as if you have used a wide range of photos.

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Build up smoke Now repeat the previous step using other smoke textures (either from those provided or your own). The goal is to make lighting effects more intense and smoke textures serve this purpose very well. Don’t be afraid to experiment; play around with values and try different angles and colour schemes.


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Begin to add details Open the ‘Media_Militia_Lighting_Effects_035.jpg’ stock image and paste it into the main file. Resize and change the blending mode to Lighten. Use the Free Transform and Warp tools to match the direction of our alreadyestablished lighting lines. Erase the unnecessary parts and repeat this step a few times to build up the light.

Group your layers Grouping your layers will keep you organised and it will be much easier to make edits to your project file later on in the process.

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Skin tones Group all brush lines and smoke textures. Stroked lines should be under the tennis player and smoke textures above. Duplicate the tennis player layer and erase everything bar his face, arms and legs. Apply these Color Balance settings to the body parts layer: Shadows +25, 0, +16 and Midtones -63, +6, +37. Also reduce the Saturation (Cmd/Ctrl+U) to -20.

Photomanipulation

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Photo editing

Blend the light and player The lighting effect doesn’t currently feel as if it’s part of the player so we need to blend the two together. Select a soft round brush (75% Opacity) and brush the area shown in the image. This is a simple yet effective method for boosting cohesiveness.

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Paint splatters Open the ‘4.jpg’ paint image and use the Magic Wand tool to remove the black background, before pasting it into our scene. Erase everything except the part of the splatter we want (see screenshot). Go to Color Overlay and apply a Color blending mode. Using the Eyedropper tool select blue from the player’s shorts; this will change our splatter colour to the same tone.

Digital painting

Use the Free Transform and Warp tools to match the direction of our already-established lighting lines

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Graphics & type

Remove flaws Our paint splatter has a few flaws. First we need to make the edges of the splatter smoother. To fix this, we will use the Smudge tool at 25% Strength with a soft round brush. Subtly apply to the edges and it will look much better. Also Area 1 in the screengrab doesn’t look real. To amend, just copy and paste Area 2 over Area 1.

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Erase areas Now we need to blend the copied Area 2. To do this simply delete the corners of Area 2 as indicated with a soft round brush. And there you have it! We have our first well-blended paint splatter which looks very realistic. Let’s keep up the good work!

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Add more splatters Open the ‘8.jpg’ image and integrate it into our main project file as per previous steps. Erase the unnecessary area (marked in the image) with a soft round brush and place this splatter beneath the other splatter. Layering the splatters like this creates a more dynamic image with greater depth.

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Add more splatters 2 We’re going to add more paint stock now. Open the ‘15.jpg’ and ‘18.jpg’ files. Use these images to add more splatters on the right-hand side of his shorts. You have to take a step back and decide on the best positioning for these splatters. Try to imagine the real-life movement of the tennis player.

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Get a move on The tennis player is moving from the right to the left side to reach the ball, so we are going to add paint splatters on his T-shirt and tennis racket which indicate this motion. The splatters make the player look like he is moving in slow-motion – and that is one of the key objectives of this project.

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Create a pattern We’re going to make our athlete half solid and half hologram and for that you’ll need to create a new pattern. Open a new document, 1px wide and 10px high. Fill it with white and erase 5px from the bottom. Go to Edit>Define Pattern, name it appropriately and hit OK.

Skin tone: Reduced saturation and balanced colouring makes the skin look more realistic and natural. That is the first thing we are looking for in advertising

Lighting effects:

Combine stock images with drawn-line elements to get high energy. It’s a great effect to use in sports advertisement, as it reflects the activity of the subject matter

Background: Do not change the background. Keeping the tennis court keeps the image in context and is ideal for the advertising feel we are looking for

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Paint splatters: Splatters help to emphasise the movement of the athlete, as well as his strength and power. It is achievable using stock photos and basic Photoshop features

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Start the hologram Turning off the body parts layer, pull up the tennis player layer and make a selection. Create a new layer and apply an Inside stroke (10px/‘0075e7’ colour). Add a Motion Blur (Angle -36 degrees and Distance 48px). Erase the stroke on the left where there’s no hologram.


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Further layer tweaks Duplicate the tennis player layer. Up Brightness to +110 and reduce layer Opacity to 60%. Erase the left side of the layer again. In Blending Options, select Outer Glow with: colour ‘277cbd’, Spread 0%, Size 5px, Opacity 100%, Noise 0%, Range 50%. Change blending to Normal and apply Motion Blur with the same settings as Step 21.

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Add the pattern Make a selection of the tennis player with the boosted brightness from the previous step (Select>Load Selection and hit OK). Create a new layer, go to Edit>Fill and select the pattern created in Step 20; press OK. Reduce the Opacity to 63% before erasing the pattern from around the figure’s face.

Make a selection of the player, create a new Photo Filter adjustment layer and select Cooling Filter (82) with 86% Density Photo editing

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Photo Filter layer We need to make the player look bluish, and to do that we will be using an adjustment layer. Make a selection of the player, create a new Photo Filter adjustment layer and select Cooling Filter (82) with 86% Density. Lower the adjustment layer’s Opacity to 83%.

Photomanipulation

Finalise the holographic area Duplicate the tennis player layer once again. Move it over the Photo Filter layer and erase the right side of the layer where the hologram is going to be positioned. Next, turn on the body parts layer and erase the left arm and leg. The right-hand side of the player should now have turned into a nice hologram effect, except it has a major flaw: it’s not transparent yet!

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Work on transparency First of all we have to lower our main tennis player layer’s Opacity to 8%. Next we are going to cut out an area from the background and reposition it beneath our hologram. Erase the edges with a soft round brush so it blends smoothly into the background.

Digital painting

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Graphics & type

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Complete the hologram In this step we’ll be working up the details of our hologram. Draw two white lines over the hologram which align with boundary lines on the tennis court. Set the lower line to 35% Opacity and the higher one to 22%. Also brush over his left leg with a 600px soft round brush; this will make it look as if his leg is made out of light.

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Work in the fine details Paste the ‘Media_Militia_Particles004.png’ image into the project file and scale to fit. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+U and enter these settings: Hue +180 and Saturation +50. Delete most of the small particles, leaving just a few; we don’t want the final image to be overly busy.

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Fake HDR lighting We are going to simulate HDR lighting by dodging and burning some parts of the skin. You can follow the red and blue arrows in the screenshot for convenience. Dodge highlights with 20% Exposure where the blue arrows point and burn midtones with 30% Exposure where the red arrows point.

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Background adjustments Create a new layer behind all layers except for the background. Select a 2,500px white brush and pass it over the top of the canvas; lower the Opacity to 45%. Next, change the Foreground Color to black and use a 1,000px brush to paint in the bottom corners; set this layer’s Opacity to 77%.

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Blend particles Our particles look a little bit flat, so we are going to blend them better into the scene and also make them look brighter. Go to Layer>Layer Style>Blending Options and select Inner Shadow, Outer Glow and Inner Glow. Apply white colour with the blending mode set to Overlay. Experiment with other settings until you are satisfied with the result.

Anchor points Getting smooth lines is crucial. Choose the Pen tool and select Paths in the Options bar. The little squares are called anchor points; these connect different path segments. Create two anchor points, click and hold the mouse button down and then drag your cursor any way you want. Drag in multiple directions and you’ll notice the path segment curves depending on how you drag the cursor. There are many ways of editing anchor points. For instance, if you place your Pen tool on an existing point you will see a minus sign appear, offering a chance to delete it. Place the cursor over a path segment, however, and you will see a plus, which can add an anchor point. You can also hold the Opt/Alt key to change the direction of the anchor point. When happy, Ctrl/right-click on the curve and choose Stroke Path to finish.

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Final touches As a last step, we are going to change our overall image colouring. Create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, select Cyans and tweak the Hue to -37. Now the image looks solid and finished except for one thing – there is no tennis ball! Open the main stock image, then cut and paste the ball into the final image. Resize and we are done! Dynamic light effects, aced.


Professional’s profile

Photo editing

Photomanipulation

IN THE WOODS: “A fantasy illustration with my good friend as the model. Don’t know how the story ends, but I hope the man in the background is just a lost woodcutter!”

Digital painting

BROKEN: “Sometimes I like to replace heads with something else. I don’t know why, but I find it attractive and sexy in some ways within the design”

Arseny Myshtsyn Graphics & type

Website: www.deadbrush.com Clients: Create Studio, Kap-Kan Records, Mazzar Records Arseny Myshtsyn describes his work in many terms, including: surreal, atmospheric, conceptual and photomanipulation. All are applicable, but overall Myshtsyn prefers the more simplistic term ‘illustration’. It befits his themes, which all serve to tell their own fantasy-based stories. His own tale began when he wrote an email to a young local band with a proposal to create a cover for their album. “They liked my art but I don’t actually know why, because it was my first step in digital art. Honestly, it was horrible,” he admits, “but it was a good start.” Exposure to the music industry has brought him more and more success, as Myshtsyn reveals: “There are always some projects I’m working on: CD covers, book covers, websites, advertisements, videogames, etc. This month I’m working as an art director and concept artist on a music video. It’s something new for me and very interesting.” His achievements are in the main self taught, quitting art education after a few months. Photoshop and peer inspiration has filled the gap. His favourite artists include Ashley Wood (http://ashleywoodartist.com), as well as lots of comic-based artists. He explains: “There are tons of wonderful artists out there; I can just visit deviantART and swim there for hours. Craig Mullins (www.goodbrush.com), of course, is another favourite – I just love matte-painted styles.” Myshtsyn uses Photoshop to tailor all his designs: “Photoshop comes into play from the beginning, when I draw sketches and then mix all the elements. I don’t think I do anything that special or unusual. Select, cut, move around, paint over if needed, colour adjustments, etc – all basic stuff. I think it isn’t so important what you use, but how you use it.”

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Advanced lighting techniques T

01

Work on the spacesuit Open the 3D render ‘space_suit.tif’, and create a selection – Cmd/Ctrl-clicking on the alpha thumbnail in the Channels palette. Copy and paste this into the Layers palette. Make several duplicates (Cmd/Ctrl+J), hiding them for now. Rotate and place one behind the model. Make a selection of the helmet layer then apply a Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, setting Saturation to -40.

Set the stage Create a new document (235 x 302mm) with a dark brown (‘#040303’) background. Create a new layer, filling with a lighter brown (‘#3e2c1b’). Add a mask to the new layer and apply a Radial gradient (G) to create spotlights. Now go to Filter> Noise>Add Noise and apply 2% to the gradient to avoid banding. Now paste the model into a new layer.

www.artisnavi.com

Adam is a designer and illustrator, based in London. He loves illustration and sharing knowledge and is co-founder of the design blog ArtisNavi, which features a host of news, inspiration and tutorials.

Tutorial files available

Real-life perception Getting to grips with how to apply light effects in Photoshop isn’t all about understanding the tools and techniques – it also requires some real-life perception. The things around us are all 3D; appreciating this fact can change the way we design and build our illustrations. Have a look around your room and try to see how the light reflects on the edge of your computer screen, or how your table reflects the screen, etc. Understanding the way real-world physics work will help you to see what’s missing in your design. When applying this knowledge in Photoshop also try to think in 3D; for instance, if the hologram is the light source it will cast light over the edges around it, but it will also tint objects with its colours. Playing with blending modes is the key here.

Graphics & type

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Adam Spizak

Digital painting

Prepare the star Open the iStockphoto model image ‘10728287’. Carefully cut out the girl from the background with the Pen tool (P). Create a selection (Cmd/Ctrl+Enter) and hit ‘Add layer mask’ at the bottom of the Layers palette. It’s best to use masks at this stage as this means we can hide/reveal parts of our image when needed.

Herbert’s Dune, for example, or the work of Isaac Asimov and Orson Scott Card. All of these things have inspired this piece to some degree. In this five-page tutorial we’ll pay homage to these science-fiction greats by creating our own Stargatestyle image of an ancient space guardian/Queen of Earth figure. We’ll demonstrate how to combine 3D renders with stock photos to achieve high-quality textures, making our image cohesive and realistic. We’ll also look at lighting techniques and see how small tweaks to the fine details can turn a good piece of Photoshop art into a great one.

Photomanipulation

he best illustrations come from strong foundations – the most important of which is context. A good concept for an image is the key not only to professional-level execution of the final work, but also ensuring a greater visual experience. A solid base for a sci-fi-inspired image can come from a wide range of sources – starting from the classic books and films, through to more contemporary videogames. One of the strongest themes is of the ancient merging with the futuristic; we all like the idea of an alien civilisation building the pyramids, a la cult movies such as Stargate, as well as the notion of powerful galactic empires, explored in Frank

Our expert

Create sci-fi-inspired imagery using Photoshop and 3D assets, generating realism through pro colour and light treatment

A solid base for a sci-fi-inspired image can come from a wide range of sources 103


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Basic lighting Use copies of the render stock and, using Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl+T), rotate it by 177 degrees. Place it along the side of the neck. Make a selection of the layer and create two adjustment layers – Hue/Saturation with Saturation set to -46, and Curves with Output at 105 and Input at 155. Paint the mask so that the object gets darker closer to the face to add depth.

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Make the crown Use the ‘space_suit.tif’ again – this time we’ll keep it in the original position and place it on the head. Add a mask to this layer, painting out the right side of the crown so it sits around the head. Add a Curves layer beneath with Output set to 102 and Input to 166. Add a mask and use a soft brush to paint shadow over the head.

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Metallic shading Create a new layer with Multiply blending to add shadows. Use a soft brush (151px, Hardness 25%) to paint shadows close to the edges of the crown and the chin. Copy part of the crown and paste it near the cheek, setting Opacity to 10%; this creates a metallic effect.

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More adjustments Add a Black & White layer, this time set to High Contrast on the Blue channel at 20% Opacity. Add another Black & White adjustment layer, set to the Red channel, and use a soft round brush, painting a dark mask to bring back colour to the face and parts of the crown.

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Advanced light direction Apply a Black & White adjustment layer, set it to the Blue channel and blend to Luminosity; this will affect only lights. Add a mask and paint around only the right side of the renders; we want to imitate a light direction similar to our stock photo. Repeat the step with a second layer, but change the Opacity to 45%, adding more shading to the render.

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Boost colours Add a gradient map set to Velvet (loc: 0%, ‘#6b119e’), Pink (loc: 37%, ‘#cf2950’), and Yellow (loc: 93%, ‘#ffc15f’). Add a Circular gradient to its mask, set blending to Lighten at 15% Opacity. Add a Color Balance layer and set Shadows to -26, 0, +18 and Midtones to -24, +10, 0. Soften the mask around the edges.

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Quick tip Hunting down inspiration for an illustration can be tricky – but it doesn’t have to be! Some of the best ideas for any artwork come from trying to tell the same story from an alternative perspective, or with a different technique. Eg what if an Egyptian goddess was to become Earth’s protector? Expand on such ideas.

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Add the holograms Open the first hologram (‘earth.tif’), copy and paste to the project file and add an Outer Glow layer style with a light pink (‘#ff5086’); set this to Screen at 58% Opacity. Apply a Hue/Saturation clipping mask (Opt/Alt-click between the layers) with Hue at +147, Saturation at +84 and Lightness at -35. Repeat the process for ‘moon.tif’ and ‘man.tif’ to bump up hologram effects.


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Hologram lights Create a new layer, set it to Light Color blending mode, and use a medium-sized soft brush with a bright pink colour. Add glows on the intersections of the hologram lines. Now open a new layer, set blending to Color Dodge, and paint pink shading across the renders; focus on places with high specular to give the metal a brilliant pink shine.

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Add the insignia Place the ‘cubes.tif’ on the head, using Edit>Transform>Warp to match the angle and set Opacity to 23%. Create two adjustment layers and set both as clipping masks of the cubes. For Hue/Saturation enter Hue -31, Saturation 36; and for Color Balance set Midtones to +45, -30, +45. Use techniques from previous steps to add light and shadow to the cubes.

Pink bounce lights Using a small hard brush at 20% Opacity, colour trace pink edges on the render, giving the impression of light bouncing off the metallic parts. Remember that the pink hologram will cast light on surrounding edges – think in 3D. Use a harder small brush to add subtle light beams that project the hologram image.

Using a hard brush at 20% Opacity, colour trace pink edges on the render, giving the impression of light bouncing off metallic parts

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The crowning glory Use a Screen blending layer as the base and apply a bright pink soft brush to add basic glow to the structure at the top of the crown. Using Steps 11 and 12 as a guide, apply reflected light to the edges. Sketch more doodles (similar to Step 13) and add new projection symbols at the top of the helmet to create a second projection-like screen.

Photomanipulation

Hieroglyphic holograms Doodle a few hieroglyph-like shapes and set the layer to 15% Opacity. Add a pink (‘#f8c5df’) Outer Glow, set to Screen at 75% Opacity. Beneath, create a new Linear Light layer, using the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) to draw a rectangular shape, giving the impression of a projection screen. Use a white soft brush at low opacity to fill the shape with gentle glowing light.

One of the hidden gems of Photoshop masks is the ability to apply a mask to a layer group (Cmd/ Ctrl+G selected layers). But that’s not all – you can group existing groups and add another mask – this way you can have multiple masks on a single layer.

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Photo editing

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Quick tip

Digital painting Graphics & type

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A touch of blue Make a new Linear Light layer, using a blue (‘#00baff’) soft brush to add glow around the face, particularly emitting from the metallic parts. Using the same techniques from Step 12 (but with blue tones), apply blue (‘#a4ffff’) light to the edges – on both metallic elements and the hair for cohesion. Use as many layers as necessary.

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Ambient lighting To bring the image together we’ll add some lights on the righthand side of the face to create the impression of a backlight. Use a soft white brush at low Opacity (10-15%) and start painting edges of the face – eg the nose and lips, with softer lighting around the chin. Take your time and try to use original lighting on the face as a guide.

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Frame the subject To add shadow around the subject we create a new layer and fill it with a diagonal Linear gradient – from the bottom left to the right top. We use a dark blue (‘#131729’)-totransparent gradient style, with Opacity at 73%. Add a mask and fade out the effect so that the image gets darker toward the bottom.

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Get in the mood Apply a gradient map with the blending mode set to Lighten and Opacity at 8%; use a pink (‘#f62c88’)-to-black Circular gradient style. Next add a Color Balance layer and set: Shadows at -9, +6, +15; Midtones at -22, -1, +15; and Highlights at +13, -19, -9. Add a mask to soften the effect in places with pink light, ensuring that they don’t lose any of their glow.

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Add some HDR Make a flat copy of your image (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E), copy and pasting into a new document. Apply Image>Adjustments>HDR Toning (CS5). Set Radius to 109px, Strength to 0.98, Gamma to 0.86, Exposure to -0.77, Detail to +30%, Shadow/Highlight to 0%, Vibrance to 0% and Saturation to +20%. Drag the image on top of your main subject, adding to a mask to apply the effect.

More mood Add more blue to the face by creating a selection around the face and adding a Color Balance layer (Shadows at -12, +0, +1; Midtones at -9, 0, +9; and Highlights at -3, +2, -20). Next, add a Curves adjustment layer with the first point set to Output 43, Input 51, and the second set to Output 176, Input 161.

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Particles Use ‘particle_brush.psd’ to add pink (‘#f83186’) and blue (‘#a4ffff’) elements around light sources, using Screen blending for translucent effects. Add some glow to particles by making a flat copy of these, set to Screen blending, and applying a Filter>Blur>Motion Blur at an Angle of 90 degrees and Distance of 214px.

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Final touches Create a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N), setting an Overlay blending mode and activate Fill with Overlay-neutral color (50% gray). Use the Dodge tool (O) at 10% Opacity to add further highlights to the face and glowing parts of the suit to really make the focal points pop.


Professional’s profile MORTAL WOMB: “Promotional wallp aper for the November series of DesignersCouch . The theme was Mother Nature’s wrath against humanity”

Photo editing

Photomanipulation

Philip Brunner Philip Brunner promises to cater to clients who are looking for something different. His graphic design certainly takes on an almost esoteric quality in its visualisation, with surrealism a dominant theme. One explanation for this might be Brunner’s former role as a counsel and mental health specialist for the military – it seems that this contemplative nature helps him to absorb and communicate a wide variety of feelings in his dream-like images. On inspiration, Brunner says: “I don’t have a favourite digital artist. I find myself appreciating and being inspired by hundreds of design resources from all over the world, at all different skill levels.” Using every trick in the Photoshop book to maximise his aesthetics, it’s plain to see why Brunner has such a strong online presence – contributing to Abduzeedo (http://abduzeedo.com), DesignersCouch (http://designerscouch.org) and the AP gallery site (www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk). Recently he has also been invited and accepted into the new art collective Heartsurge (www.heartsurge.net). He tells us that his style is continually evolving: “I got started in graphic design several years ago when my publisher needed me to help out in the advertising department at the newspaper I wrote for. I learnt design as an apprentice at Berkshire Hathaway, where I was an ad ops specialist while freelancing for Fortune 100 companies, working on rebranding and advertising campaign development. I’ve since been persistently trying to improve my skills and master new ones.” Brunner is currently working on wallpapers for DesignersCouch and a piece for Heartsurge’s next release. “I also have two projects lined up for a local music studio in the next month and a collaboration with one of my friends,” he reveals.

Graphics & type

UNNATURAL SELECTION: “I wanted to demonstrate an advance in science to the point of human extinction; I tried to show this using organic and geometric shapes”

Digital painting

Website: www.philipbrunner.com Clients: GM, Saturn, Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Sabres, Heartsurge Collective

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Advanced selections

Expert Photoshop artist Mike Campau breaks down his popular Snow Jungle artwork to show us how it’s done

Using Calculations When you need to isolate an object from a scene, sometimes you can duplicate a single channel and tweak it to get what you want. But what happens if no single channel is good to use, but parts of two different channels can do the trick? The answer is Calculations. Before using Calculations always click through your channels to see which ones have the greatest contrast around your object; this will come in handy once in the Calculations dialog. Once in Calculations, think of it as applying two channels together, as you would with two image layers: Multiply, Screen, Overlay, etc. You can also combine channels with different layer masks and different layers of your file. We would highly recommend doing an online search for Photoshop Calculations and you will quickly find some very useful video tutorials and documentation on this subject. Here are just a couple to get you started: www.foray.com/training/ calculations.php and www.youtube.com/ watch?v=Vqg4m2q2eek.

and use Curves and Hue/Saturation. What we will be focusing on is how to create a dynamic scene that integrates colour type, multiple stock photos and some hand-painted elements. You will not need any colour knowledge, as the colour type will be provided for you. We will also be covering some basic masking techniques, how to use Calculations to isolate objects, how to incorporate hand-painted textures into your scene and, finally, how to add finishing touches to your piece to help tie the whole composition together.

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Start with your hero To kick off, we need to isolate our hero image. Open the image of the snowboarder (iStockphoto’s ‘Snowboarder In The Air’). Next open the Calculations dialog (Image>Calculations). For Source 1 select the Red channel and click the Invert checkbox. For Source 2 select the Blue channel, and for the blending mode choose Add with these settings: Opacity 100%, Offset -110 and Scale 1, with the Result as New Channel. Calculations are used on a number of occasions in this tutorial to isolate objects, so make sure you have a full understanding of this tool.

Create a dynamic scene that integrates colour type, multiple stock photos and hand-painted elements 108

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Mike Campau

Our expert

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he inspiration and motivation for Snow Jungle came about after finishing another piece called Urban Jungle for a cover competition for a popular digital arts magazine. Over the next five pages, we are going to show you how to recreate the style for yourself, either using the images provided or with your own concept and stock. In this tutorial we will assume you already have basic Photoshop knowledge and we will be bypassing some of the standard functions, such as how to create layer masks

Clean up your channel Use your Brush tool set to Overlay and start to black out desired areas. Some areas may need a couple of passes. Do the same thing for white areas with a white brush. When done, make a selection from your new channel and create a layer mask for your snowboarder.

www.seventhstreetstudio.com Mike is currently the creative director and lead digital artist at SeventhStreet, a small, collaborative design studio that’s located in Birmingham, Michigan.

Tutorial files available

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Tweak the new channel Now go into your Channels window, select the new channel and open up the Levels dialog (Image>Adjustments>Levels). Slide the shadow and highlight points closer together so that you start to get a black-and-white silhouette. Don’t crush the numbers too close, as you might start to lose some of the important edge details. For this image, we will use 129 for the black point and 211 for the white point.


Photo editing

Photomanipulation

Digital painting

Graphics & type

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Snowboarder colour Our snowboarder is a little too bright and has some neon greens that won’t fit into our colour scheme, so use a Curves adjustment layer to bring down the midtones, and Hue/Saturation to slide the greenyellow colour into our orange colour palette. Once you are happy with the colour and tone, merge your layers and apply the layer mask.

Background scene Now we need to build our base background scene. Open up the clouds (‘Showing the way’ from iStockphoto) and two mountain images (we’re using ‘Mountain’ and ‘The Alps Mountains’). Drag all three images onto your new file. Scale the images so they reach edge to edge and give each one a new layer mask. Using a large soft brush start to blend the hard edges out and combine the three elements into one scene. We don’t have to worry about being overly precise with our mask as most of this will be blended or covered with other elements.

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Finish the type Apply a Curves adjustment layer to brighten the type overall and then another to brighten just the top of the text, masking out shadowy areas on the bottom. Since this is a bright snow scene, it really needs to shine so use Hue/ Saturation to desaturate it overall. The final 3D type (‘3dtype_finished.psd’) is provided for reference.

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Quick tip Clipping groups are a great way to work on objects that have been isolated with transparency. Simply hold down the Opt/Alt key while clicking on the line between two layers. This enables the bottom layer to lock in the transparency of the layers above.

Set up your layout Now the snowboarder’s ready, let’s move on to the background. Create a new image, 3,500 x 5,000px with a white background. Create a new layer. Use your Gradient tool set to black-totransparent and create a gradient from the bottom and top ending in the top third of the canvas; set the Opacity to 30%. This boosts the feeling of depth and will help when building the background. Now drag your snowboarder onto this file and set him above the gradient.

3D type With our background roughed in and our hero in place, it’s time to build the type. This could be done straight out of a 3D program, but for our example, we’ll use PS to achieve the same effect. Open the supplied type file (‘SnowJungle_ 3dtype.psd’) and make a selection with your Square Marquee tool just below the typeface. Use the Transform and Warp tools to add drama and Liquify to tweak any areas that don’t quite line up.

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Place your 3D type into the scene Now drag your type image into your scene file. Position it so that it is behind the snowboarder and centre the text over his head. The type is a little dark for our winter scene, so we will add a white-to-transparent gradient layer going from the bottom to the top. This will help us blend it into the scene as we begin to add more elements.

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Type ice texture Now for applying the ice texture. Open the image of ice – iStockphoto’s ‘Semless frost (ice)’ – and drag it onto the type file. Use Free Transform on it to closely match the shape of the type. Now make a clipping group using your type layer and set it to Overlay. You will need to duplicate the layer a couple of times to get the effect we are looking for. Mask out any areas that get too dark or too light.


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Add more elements Our scene is looking a little sparse, so we need to add more elements to help our snowboarder feel at home. Open up the image of the chairlift (iStockphoto’s ‘Ski lift up a mountain’), ski lodge (‘Mountain Home’) and pine trees (the two ‘Winter Scenics’ images). Using Calculations and layer masks (as we did in Step 1) begin to isolate the chairlift, trees and lodge. Once you have them isolated, drag them onto your scene file behind the 3D type layer and position them appropriately.

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Foreground snow We want to add some interest into the bottom of the scene, and right now the snow is too dark and has some distracting lines. So let’s open the stock photo of the snow pile (‘snow on the mountain #1’ from iStockphoto). Drag it into your scene and place it at the base of the composition. Create a layer mask and blend it into the existing snow.

Photo editing

Build the halfpipe Now it’s time to build the halfpipe that the snowboarder is riding. Open the supplied stock (iStockphoto’s ‘Empty Half-pipe’). We want this element to be floating in our scene, so we will have to cut out the curved portion and re-create the edges to give it depth. Start by using your Pen tool to draw a path around the shape of the halfpipe. Once complete, make a selection from your path, then copy and paste it into a new layer.

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Bend the pipe On the new layer you created from the halfpipe shape, use Transform and Warp to make the shape more symmetrical. We are going to be duplicating and flipping the layer to add the right side, so try to keep that in mind when working on the shape. Once transformed, use your Square Marquee tool to select the right-hand side and delete it. Duplicate the layer, horizontally flip it and line up the centre points so that they overlap slightly.

Photomanipulation

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Digital painting

Add shape to the pipe Now that we have our halfpipe taking shape, go in with the Clone Stamp tool and clean up any areas where the two halves clashed. Next open up the ‘snow on the mountain #1’ stock again and use our previous Calculations technique to isolate the snow from the sky. Now drag the snow image onto the halfpipe file and rotate 180 degrees so that the snow bumps are at the bottom of the halfpipe shape. Duplicate this layer and Transform it to fit around the base of the halfpipe.

Quick tip To use an object as your transparency mask when working, simply hold down Opt/ Alt and click between the two layers to constrain the active area of the top layer to the base layer.

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Finish the halfpipe Merge halfpipe layers and, with a layer mask, start to blend the bottom snow mounds for a nice transition. Merge all visible layers. To match up colours, use Hue/Saturation to desaturate the halfpipe, then Curves to add back a cool tone. The final halfpipe file (‘halfpipe.psd’) is provided.

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Add some shadows Drag your final halfpipe into your scene file and position it below the snowboarder, but in front of your 3D type and background elements. To create the illusion that the halfpipe is floating we need to add a Drop Shadow under the halfpipe. Create a new layer, and use your Circular Marquee tool to select an area just below the halfpipe. Now Feather the selection by 100 pixels. Use your Eyedropper tool to select a dark shadow portion from any part of the existing snow and fill your selection with this colour. Now deselect and use Motion Blur set to 0 degrees and 200 pixels to help blend the shadow and give it a more natural feel. To finish the shadow, set the layer to Multiply.

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Add some snow spray The image needs some activity, so we are going to add some snow spray. Open up the spray image (‘Wave crashing against rock’ from iStockphoto). To isolate just the water spray, duplicate the Blue channel and apply Levels with the black point at 60 and white point at 126. Next make a selection from your new channel then copy and paste the spray into your scene file. Set this layer to Screen and start to have fun. Add it to areas to frame focal points.

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Blend painted elements Open up paint stock (‘Watercolored Background’, ‘Painted watercolor mess’ and ‘Painted watercolor background’, plus ‘Paints_ texture.jpg’). We need to isolate these elements, so for each case duplicate the Blue channel and apply Levels to crush the white and black points. In this case we don’t want to make it pure black and white, as we want to retain the brushstrokes. Once you have a nice alpha, make a selection and import brushstrokes into your scene.

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Blend your paint Now we have our brushstrokes in our scene, change their layer properties to Color, Multiply, Color Burn or Overlay. Experiment with which combination of these works best for the various areas of the scene. Typically, Overlay doesn’t work very well with a bright white area, so use Multiply or Color Burn in this case, and use the Overlay and Color in areas that have tone. Start to duplicate the various brushstrokes into different layers and then combine them to create even more unique painted areas.

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Some ice To jazz up the halfpipe, we can add some icicles (iStockphoto’s ‘Icicles Gauss distribution’). Duplicate the Blue channel and use Levels to crush the black and white points. Place icicles into the scene and, just as we did in Step 15, duplicate and Transform the ice to follow the shape of the halfpipe and blend with layer masks.

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Tie elements together It’s always a good idea to apply an overall effect in work composed from multiple photos. In this case, we Copy then merge the entire image into a new layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E) and duplicate that layer. On the first copy merged layer, go into Filter>Other>High Pass and set the pixels to 2.1. Now change the blending mode to Linear Light at 50% Opacity. Do the same thing to the duplicated layer, but this time use 178.5 for the High Pass value and set Opacity to 10%.

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Final corrections The colour seems too vibrant for a winter scene, so using a Hue/Saturation layer on top of everything, desaturate the whole image by -50. Create a new layer, set blending to Soft Light and brush in some blue around the edges. Now use Curves layers with masks to brighten some of the snow and type and darken the snowboarder.


Professional’s profile

Markus Vogt Website: www.markusvogt.eu Clients: Wurdack Publishing, Maschinenmusik, Cyfrografia

Photo editing

Markus Vogt is a German graphic designer who uses a blend of 3D and 2D software programs to create his dark science-fiction pieces. These days, that means a combination of Photoshop, ZBrush, CINEMA 4D and Vue, though when he first started out seven years ago, he began by using vector-oriented programs such as CorelDRAW. He happily admits to not having had a “typical art school education”. Vogt says: “I am completely self taught in the digital medium from the beginning via lots of different books, video tutorials, magazines and, of course, practical experimentation, over and over again.” He believes that even though there are a lot of benefits to be had from going to art school, it’s not essential: “Artists who don’t [go to art school] are also able to produce great artwork if they are willing to learn a few basic rules and adapt these to their own creations. As long as you are convinced about what you are doing and keep a clear aim in mind, then you can achieve almost anything.” Vogt’s workflow varies creatively from piece to piece, but Photoshop is key to his process: “Photoshop comes into play in every single image I make. It is definitely my most important tool. Often I start out with some basic 3D renders with simple mockups to get the perspective right. After that I bring the image into Photoshop where the major work starts. I always apply all atmospheric and lighting effects, as well as texturing and detailing in Photoshop using photos or 3D elements.” You can see more of Vogt’s work on his personal website or on galleries such as http://markusvogt.deviantart.com, http://markusvogt.cgsociety.org/gallery and http://markusvogt.itsartmag.com.

Photomanipulation

DSE DELTA0 4: 3D models, re “A combination of different ndered in CINE M other elemen ts done in Phot A 4D, with all oshop”

Digital painting

APOCALYPTIC SOLDIER (ABOVE): “Complete Photoshop work including photo reference from various stock, with a lot of workover. Background and lights are also done in Photoshop”

Graphics & type

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Black-and-white surrealism Jim Kazanjian explains how he uses varied stock imagery to build – and demolish – his dynamic monochrome scenes

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Idea For the image untitled_Implosion, we want to build a mashed-up structure in the middle of nowhere. The sort of building that will prompt questions as to why it was made in the first place and who made it. The building should operate as a device to generate a narrative tension and, hopefully, stimulate the interest of the viewer.

Jim Kazanjian www.kazanjian.net

Jim Kazanjian has worked professionally as a commercial CGI artist for the past 18 years in television and game production. His clients have included: Nike, adidas, NBC, CBS, HBO, NASA, HP, Intel and others.

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Image research Before we begin building, we must first go through our archive and pick out photos to work with. Since we already have a rough concept, we will screen the source material with this in mind. We are also looking for a start image. This is basically a photograph to use as a foundation to build up from. Many times this can be the most difficult part of the process as the first image will inform all those that follow. This seems to be a good candidate for our starting image (source a, see page 117).

Photomanipulation

The majority of this technique is combining many different photos together, very much like building a puzzle. Spend a lot of time browsing through your images

Photo editing

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The process ends up being far more interesting when we don’t have to follow a meticulously preconceived idea. There is a lot of compromising in that type of workflow because a certain sense of ‘uncovering’ and ‘discovery’ has been lost. In a sense, this type of work evolves in a much more organic manner. Keep adding new material and the work itself begins to suggest a potential direction. It is an iterative and layering process; with each new piece that’s added the direction is further refined.

Our expert

U

sually these works begin with a vague idea – something that is more like an impression than a fully realised plan. This allows for a greater degree of flexibility when building the work. The majority of this technique is combining many different photos together, very much like building a puzzle. Spend a lot of time browsing through your collection of images, searching for material that will fit well or contrast in an interesting way. The reference material available plays a significant part in the creative process.

Digital painting

Blocking out the structure The first thing to do is change the dimensions of the canvas to a square. Copy and paste, then do a Vertical Flip on a strip of sky over the house. We use this new layer of sky to fill in the gap at the top of the composition which was created by the new canvas dimensions. Next, begin to apply some more structural layers on top of the house, sampling elements from more images (b, c and d) to make up our building material. These elements create a tangible sense of implosion, acting as the building’s ‘innards’.

Graphics & type

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Layers Be careful with how many layers you’re using, as it’s very easy to build up dozens of layers in no time. Even with 1GB of RAM we would start paging to disc fairly quickly since we’re working with such a high-resolution composite. This can slow things down just enough to get annoying. Whenever possible, merge your layers to free up memory. We also periodically save out older versions of the work. This offers us the ability to refer to a previous stage of the layer arrangement that may no longer be accessible in the History tab.

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Obscure the foreground Begin to obscure the foreground with rubble from another source image (e) to create a more interesting foundation. At this stage, we’re just blocking out the imaginary structure, focusing more on the visual texture and volume, as opposed to the details. Right now there is a lot of scaling and moving of pieces around the canvas. We really have no idea what the final image will be! This is a very fluid part of the process and can involve a lot of backtracking. It’s mostly trial and error, but at this stage it’s very easy to add or delete elements.

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Finishing the foundation The base of the structure is now reworked in. We decide to add more visual height to the building. Modify the slope in the foreground to make it look flatter and then build a foundation beneath the first story. We cut out sections from sources g, h, i and j to use as elements for this part. Each element has its own layer, so they are easy to move around and resize. After everything is placed, flatten all these layers into one. As a result, only a tiny bit of the rubble from source c (the bricks in the foreground) can be seen in the lower left. There are some occasions when we almost completely cover the work we did at an earlier stage.

Second story At this stage, begin to work on a rough second story. We find an appealing structure in one of our source images (f ), from which we sample a section. At this point, it becomes a little bit trickier to position the new element. We need to make sure that it works with the material created in Step 3. We also position and scale the element so it fits well with the existing perspective.

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Something dynamic Our composition is now looking better, but is not as interesting as we’d like it to be. After many false starts with adding new material, we decide we need something a bit more dynamic. We sample parts of more images (k and l) to make a composite cloud and set its blending mode to Lighten. We then use a layer of grey fill over the background so that the cloud stands out more effectively.

By individually tweaking the levels of these two layers, we can get different areas of the cloud to appear or disappear [for] more visual substance 116

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Reshaping After some time studying the image, we decide the shape of the dust cloud is still not working; it feels too thick. We would like it to be less heavy and more wispy, so we start shaving off some of the excess. We then add back new smoke taken from source l. We use this for a couple of spots in layers set to Lighten and Overlay blending modes. Since this is a fairly amorphous shape, we have a lot of flexibility in how it should look, which makes the task easier.

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Tweaks Next, tweak the dust cloud. First, scale and move it so the cloud fits better compositionally. Copy and paste this into a new Lighten layer and place it behind the building. By individually tweaking the levels of these two layers, we can get different areas of the cloud to appear or disappear, giving the cloud more variation and visual substance. We also add a Gradient Fill over the sky, in a layer set to Darken, which creates a better sense of atmosphere.


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Final pass This stage involves more minor tweaking. We decide to reveal more of the trees in the background. To achieve this, we remove some volume from the central area to the right of the structure along the horizon line. This helps the background contrast more with the crumbling building in the foreground.

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Finished After a few more minor tweaks using the Spot Healing Brush, we realise that there is nothing left to adjust. When we get to this point, we know that the image is complete.

Photo editing

Touch-ups Continue to clean up the image, removing bits of underlying layers that we missed while working on the earlier masks. We use the Spot Healing Brush and Clone tools to touch up small areas that seem out of place. In the foreground in the bottom right, insert a sample from source m to create a crater. This fills an empty spot in the composition, but it also helps visually reinforce the tenuous nature of the imploding structure and its surroundings.

Photomanipulation

Source images Quick tip

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Digital painting

The techniques and tools for this style of work are, on the whole, very basic. We mostly use the Brush tool and masks, Levels, the Spot Healing Brush and a range of blending modes.

A large portion of time that goes into making one of these pieces is spent hunting for the original source material. All of our work is made up from photographs that we find online. Always make sure you check images’ licensing terms.

Graphics & type

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A large portion of time that goes into making one of these pieces is spent hunting for the source material. All of our work is made up from photographs that we find online 117


Workshop

Expert transformations We show you how to re-create these entertaining retouch effects to develop your own real-life manga girl

Our expert

Adam Smith

www.advancedphotoshop.co. uk/user/Adam Adam tries his hand at more new styles, discovering fresh techniques and applying his long-standing Photoshop skills.

Tutorial files available

M

anga styles have long been a favourite with designers and popular culture fans alike. The portrayal of manga girls in particular is rampant among design forums such as deviantART, as well as through popular media formats, including comics, television and cinema. Now even Photoshop’s photo-editing techniques are being exploited to create morphic styles, taking the realism of manga girls to the next level. We couldn’t ignore this recent trend and the entertaining techniques it involves, so we have produced our very own real-life manga character effects workshop. We take you through a host of methods, revealing how to use the intuitive Liquify filter, along with standard selection and layering styles, to create the exaggerated features expected of this genre. The layer mask and blending modes also become essential in achieving top results. Colour adjustment options feature heavily so you too can edit and adjust bold colour schemes – ones that fit in with both the world of manga and your own taste. During the tutorial, we’ll also reveal how to add cool hairstyle effects, again using little more than selection and layer mask tools, and uncover how to build up the illusion of depth, through additional image elements and careful use of blur filters. This plethora of techniques and tools come together to create a professional and appealing manga girl portrait that’s a total transformation from the original model image.

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Adjust head and features Begin by activating your Rectangular Marquee tool and make a selection around your model’s head. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J, duplicating a new layer then use Edit>Transform>Scale to increase head size. Use Transform>Perspective to increase the top of the head, narrow the chin, then apply Transform>Warp, bringing facial features back up to a profile position.

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Liquify face sculpting Apply a layer mask to your new head layer and integrate noticeable edges by erasing them with a soft-edged 70% black brush. With this layer active select Filter>Liquify. Zoom in at around 66% and select the Forward Warp tool. Set Brush Size at 270, Brush Density at 20, Pressure at 100, Rate at 8 and Turbulent Jitter at 50.

Photo editing

Eye selections Apply this brush steadily to the jaw line, straightening it and ending the chin in a point. Activate the Elliptical Marquee tool and make selections around one of your model’s eyes. Press Cmd/Ctrl+J. We’ll work with the eyes first, as they dictate the ratios of the bridge of the nose, which will have a knock-on effect when it comes to other facial feature ratios.

Quick tip As with all retouch projects – be it commercial or personal – don’t go shooting in the dark. Take time to address amendments and mark up your model image with correction notes. This will serve as a constant reminder of what you are trying to achieve, and you won’t miss anything out, which can easily happen to us all.

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Integrate with layer masks Time to integrate edges once more, so apply a layer mask and work away edges with a soft-edged 70% black brush. Brush percentages may need decreasing when working in shadow areas. Try and obtain overlapping eyelashes on hair, as this is a style associated with manga girls. Check the example for guidance.

Graphics & type

Rectify errors You may notice discrepancies when working attentively in Step 5. For example, decreasing eyebrow size may leave noticeable hard edge overlaps. These can be remedied by zooming in and applying Clone tools. Also, thin out eyebrows by applying the Clone Stamp tool at around 65% Opacity.

Eye size adjustments Use the Transform>Scale tool to increase the size of your new eye layer by about 50%, holding Shift. Tweak this further by decreasing horizontally and increasing vertically, creating an authentic mangastyle iris and pupil shape. Your eyebrow may be awkward so reselect this with selection tools and decrease size vertically.

Digital painting

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Photomanipulation

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Apply the Dodge tool Select the Pen Shape tool and draw a white shape that traces around the bottom of the iris. Ctrl/right-click the shape layer and select Rasterize, applying an Overlay blending mode. Add a layer mask and integrate edges. Duplicate the layer shape, decreasing Opacity to 30%.

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Patch tool adjustments Let’s move on to our model’s nose. As with the eyes, make a selection around it and Cmd/Ctrl+J, duplicating a new layer. Before we descale this, activate your model head layer and use the Patch tool, set to New Selection and Destination, draw around clear skin areas and place these over your model’s nose – thus cloning it out and retaining pore textures.

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Proportion and integration Now decrease your nose by around 200% and select Filter>Liquify, using the same settings as before to reshape the nose. Make it look more narrow and pointed. Once satisfied, select Image> Adjustments>Levels, and apply the following values – Input Levels 6, 1.50 and 255, Output Levels 25 and 255. Finally apply a layer mask and integrate edges with it.

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Get lippy! You can adjust the exposure of the nose accordingly, reintroducing shadow value beneath the nostrils, by applying the Burn tool, set to Midtones at 35%. You can now edit the mouth in the same way as the nose (see Step 8). Take time to reposition both layers, getting an appropriate space between the two.

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Apply hair ties Open SXC’s ‘Black Ribbon’ image (see the link provided), and use the Pen Path tool to select. Activate your Path palette, Cmd/Ctrl-click the layer thumbnail, activating your selection, then import to your image. Use the Transform tools to rescale and position the ribbons, before applying a blue Color Overlay, set to 95% Opacity and Multiply.

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Hair lift Manga hairstyles vary and, in our case, the model we’ve used already has stylised hair. However, it does need a bit of a lift as big hair is always better when conforming to this theme. Creating such an effect is surprisingly simple. Begin by using your selection tools to make a cutout, from beneath your ribbons to the top of her head, expanding out to some of the background. Duplicate this selection then increase size and shape with Scale, Warp and Liquify tools. Lastly, simply apply a layer mask and integrate inner edges as in previous steps.

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Edit lip tones Many manga girls have neutralcoloured lips or none at all, however the latter isn’t an option for us. So activate your lips layer, then select Hue/Saturation from the Layers palette. Set the drop option to Red, setting Hue at 12, Saturation at -18, and Brightness at +32. Mask away any overlap outside the lip area.

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Layer effects Once you’ve applied Color Overlay effects to both ribbon layers, Ctrl/right-click these and turn both into Smart Objects. Apply a Drop Shadow effect to one of your ribbon layers, selected from the Layer Style options. When finished, transform it into a Smart Object again. Do the same for your other ribbon layer, then Ctrl/ right-click both, and select Rasterize. Use the Liquify filter to morph ribbon shape.

Once you’ve applied Color Overlay to ribbon layers, Ctrl/rightclick these and turn both into Smart Objects


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Fringe effects See the Hair lift boxout to achieve our hair effects, and use the same techniques to enlarge your model’s fringe (see screenshot). If you are increasing hair layer sizes, minor blurring will occur. To remedy this distortion simply select Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen and apply a Radius of 1.0 pixel and an Amount between 50-60%.

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Lab exposure effects Merge all layers into a new whole layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E) and then copy and paste this into a new document, activating Image>Mode>Lab. Duplicate your new doc layer, setting a Screen blending mode at 35%, and apply a Curves layer from the Create new fill or adjustment layer drop options. Load the ‘Manga lighting.acv’ from the dialog box flyout menu.

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Mixed media effects Copy and paste in the SXC ‘Palette 10’ image. Desaturate this layer, apply an Overlay blending mode at 15%, and rotate and rescale to create what looks like a cloud paint wash (see example). Apply a layer mask and mask away image elements overlapping your model. Now create a new layer named ‘Sky Gradient’.

Digital painting

Selective Color Choose Selective Color from the ‘Create new fill or adjustment layer drop options’ in the Layers palette, placing it at the top of your layer stack. Set Colors to Red, and set Cyan at -60, Magenta at 15. Next, set Colors to Yellow, and set Cyan at -25, Magenta at -15, and Yellow at 60. Decrease layer Opacity to 70% and Fill to 80%.

Photomanipulation

Layering Lab and RGB effects Here you can tweak Lightness, using ‘a’ and ‘b’ drop option Curves to alter effects, but what you already have should work in general. Add a Screen blending mode to your Curves layer, Opacity at 40%, Fill at 60%. Now merge all and copy and paste back into your original image. Set layer blending mode to Color, 60% Opacity.

Creating depth of field effects is easy. Just copy and paste in stock images such as leaves, flowers, birds, etc (we’ve used the ‘lovely cherry blossom branches’ image from SXC). Next, scale using Transform tools to create the illusion of foreground, midground and background, and apply altering strength Gaussian Blurs – stronger for the background and foreground elements.

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Apply skyline Apply a blue-to-green gradient to this layer, setting blending to Overlay at 50%. Again add a layer mask and mask away overlaps. Paste the skyline from SXC’s ‘Road and Oil seed – HDR’ , apply a Screen blending mode and layer mask. Duplicate this layer several times, varying opacity.

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Colour and sharpening edits At this point it’s all about tweaking aesthetic effects, mainly colour adjustments and sharpening. Play with background colour and the colour of your model’s ribbons using live Hue/ Saturation layers. Place these purposefully in your layer stack, selecting appropriate colour drop options to designate tonal changes. To finish, merge all into a new whole layer and apply a final Smart Sharpen filter.

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Professional’s profile

Cliff Vestergaard

Website: www.redbubble.com/people/cliff

Cliff Vestergaard is a popular artist on the RedBubble art community site, where he sells postcards, prints, T-shirts and calendars of his work. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, he now lives in Australia. For as long as he can remember, his greatest life passion has been art: “I’ve always enjoyed painting and drawing. My journey into graphic design, for me, was a natural progression of who I am and what I do. The computer and the mouse are just two more utensils that I can use to express what I think, feel, see or imagine.” Vestergaard’s first commission was through the RedBubble site, which also acts as his public showcase: “My art was noticed by the members of a rock band in Australia. I was contacted and asked if I could ‘do something’ for the band and their album cover. I’m happy to say it was successful! I believe I have been generally successful with all of my clients, which now include a number of bands and artists from all different parts of the world.” He uses Photoshop in a lot of different ways to bring his surreal photomanipulations together: “[My technique] varies depending on the image I’m working on. I usually use a lot of layers and also the Smudge tool in Photoshop to create a painted-out effect. Often I only work with two main colours to balance out my images. There are so many techniques that I use and so many possibilities with Photoshop, I’m not even sure myself how I come up with the end result.”

RETURN TO EDEN: “I wanted to create a feeling of remote distance and a disconnection with civilisation” Credits: Background stock from aphoticbeauty.deviantart.com

CHURCH OF TRANSFIGURATION: “I would like to thank Matthew Murry for letting me use his image (Be Still And Listen). You can see his original background image at www. abandonedamerica.org/houses/transfig/transfigg1.html”

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NIGHT TRAIN: “With Night Train I was aiming for a book cover type image. I was hoping to make it spooky and give it a feeling of movement�

Photo editing

Photomanipulation Digital painting Graphics & type

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Workshop

Working with perspective

Take an ordinary office block and use Photoshop to rebuild it from the ground up

Our expert

Kees Bottenberg www.keesbottenberg.nl

Kees is a 19-year-old surrealistic photomanipulator, who made his work into his hobby. He currently studies in Zwolle, the Netherlands.

Tutorial files available

We are aiming for a realistic style, in contrast to architectural artwork which is perhaps more concept based or ultra-stylised. This tutorial allows you to become your own architect

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Create perspective Make a new layer and ensure this is placed on top of the layer stack. Here we will place a perspective-aiding grid. Go to Filter>Vanishing Point and make two perspective fenceworks. Now go to Menu>Render Grids to Photoshop; this perspective grid will have to be adapted as the tutorial progresses.

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n this workshop we will reveal how, through the use of one photo, you can create a surrealistic photomanipulation in 3D form. Through the use of perspective and a high attention to detail, it’s quite simple to create something that can be used for multiple purposes. Ever flexible, Photoshop has the right tools to make this possible. Before we start, it’s important you prepare yourself for a potentially long and tricky project. This is predominantly because achieving the end result requires a lot of detail from the very beginning. It’s also imperative to assess the personal touches that you would like to

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Change the size Open the image and unlock the background. Take the Crop tool (C) and encircle the entire image, pulling the upper edge upward so it falls outside the image. Double-click inside the selected part and the size of the image will change. Cmd/Ctrl+J the image to make a copy, then apply a layer mask to the upper layer.

incorporate before starting work on your own creation. This will save a lot of unnecessary work and time later on. The inspiration to create this tutorial derived from more utilitarian architectural design work, often used by developers to portray upcoming construction projects to clients and the public. We are aiming for a realistic style, in contrast to architectural artwork which is perhaps more concept based or ultra-stylised. This tutorial allows you to become your own architect and realise your building dreams. Ultimately, you will learn that, with an eye for detail and the basic building blocks, anything is possible.

Use the Vanishing Point filter The use of the perspective grid is essential in this tutorial. Without it, certain alignments might be off as you progress through the manipulation of the image and this would put an end to realistic results. The Vanishing Point filter will also come in useful when checking whether you are on the right path perspective wise. This tool is often left unused to the designer’s detriment, as it can result in crooked lines in the photomanipulation.

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Glass ‘tower’ Go back to the layer containing the building and select the left windows, duplicate your selection and drag the windows upward until the bottom six frames overlap. Go to Edit> Transform>Perspective and align the windows with the Vanishing Point tool. Do this process twice, then repeat with the windows on the right.

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Stacking When raising the building, it is a good opportunity to check the design possibilities. The building contains a white edge that can be used as a point of reference. Select the entire side of the building from the upper three windows and duplicate these. Drag this section upward until the bottom of this section touches the bottom of the second edge.

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Details After correcting the glass tower, it’s time to make more changes to the area between the glass wall and the brick wall. When you take a close look at this area, you will see the perspective does not quite work. Select the original wall and duplicate, then repeat the previous steps to fix the perspective.

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Reflections Repeat Step 6 for the brick and glass walls positioned further back on the building. Once you do this, it will become clear that the reflection in the window is off. Make a selection of the frame in which the original reflection is still present and duplicate this, placing this selection and lastly correcting the perspective.

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Checking After the right side has reached its peak, it becomes clear something is off. Create a new perspective grid as explained in Step 2 and select the top two layers of the windows; drag these upwards and change the perspective in order to make everything add up once more.

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Correction Place layer masks onto the layers and amend any bad joins between the wall and the windows with the Brush tool (B). Next, select the white beam and a part of the wall on both sides and adapt the perspective.

Because the image contains a lot of details, it’s very important to bear in mind what has and hasn’t been modified

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Clone Stamp tool To remove the old reflection, use the Clone Stamp tool (S). Press Opt/Alt while clicking on a similar but correct reflection. Make sure the brush is set to the right size and then carefully work over the faulty reflection. Work with precision and attention to detail.

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Creating smooth transitions Throughout the entire image, there will be certain sections lacking smooth transitions. You will be able to solve these using layer masks. Because the image contains a lot of details, it’s very important to bear in mind what has and hasn’t been modified. Make sure you do this immediately by labelling masks to prevent the risk of double work later on. The layer mask also comes into use when you want to retrieve certain sections for editing; thanks to layer masks you can work completely non-destructively.


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Shadows Adapt the rest of the building as previous. Select the nearest brick wall, where it meets the large glass windows, and create a new layer on top of the modified bricks. Ctrl/right-click and choose Create Clipping Mask. Select the Brush tool, set Opacity to 10%, Foreground Color to Black and use the soft brush for shading.

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Grouping and texture Select all layers of the building and group (Cmd/Ctrl+G). Duplicate this map and merge the map into one layer with Cmd/Ctrl+E. Turn off the map and go to a neutral section of wall. Make a proper perspective selection and duplicate this. Duplicate this layer again, place this on top of the previous layer and modify the perspective.

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Uncouple Expand the texture in such a way so you will have a large area that you can use for any purpose. Duplicate this layer when you need it. Now make a selection of the left side of the building; this will be set apart from the rest of the building. Duplicate the selection and drag it a little towards the left so it’s separate.

Photo editing

Layer mask Because the wall is located towards the edge of the working area, the entire building will have to move. Select all layers above the group and move these over. Apply a layer mask to the building; make a selection of the left side, only this time the bottom pillar will stay in one piece. Remove the left side inside the layer mask as per the screenshot.

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Shaping Duplicate the left side and go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal. Cmd/Ctrl+T for Free Transform and partially flip the new side to place it against the main building. Go to Edit>Transform>Perspective to correct the dimensions. Create two new sides on top of the new side. Right-click the new layers and choose Create Clipping Mask – these will be the shading layers.

Photomanipulation

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A bit more shading Set the bottom layer of the two clipping mask layers to Soft Light blending mode and open the Brush tool. Setting the Foreground Color to Black, Size to 1,000px, Hardness to 0 and Opacity to 10%, brush the side several times until you see a change in colour. Go to the top layer and create the shadow using the same method.

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Placing the texture For use of the texture we will first remove a portion of the right side of the building. Create a selection of the part that will be removed and remove this using the layer mask of the layer. Turn off the original layer of the building and then place the texture. It’s that simple.

The layer mask also comes into use when you want to retrieve certain sections 127


Workshop

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Tidy the texture Go to Edit>Transform>Perspective and modify the texture. A convenient aid for this are the cement lines between the bricks to decide how the perspective should work. Modify the entire building in terms of shading and untidy edges until you reach the glass section. To modify this specifically we will use the glass as a texture.

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Quick tip Each layer has its own layer mask. Since not all parts of the image need to be modified, you can use the layer mask to remove certain sections that are too light or discoloured. This can be done to your own taste. However, remember that the aim in this workshop is to keep the finish realistic.

Rainbow Select all layers that have been made after the grouping and group these via Cmd/Ctrl+G. Create a new layer and select the Gradient tool. Change the gradient to Transparent Rainbow and make a gradient from the top right to the bottom left. Set the layer to Overlay blending mode, with an Opacity of 5%.

Try to fill up the sky without creating repetitive patterns in the image. Use the layer mask to smooth out the rough edges 128

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A touch of glass Select the glass frames and duplicate. Make sure the frames align with the bottom of both sides by using Free Transform (T) and Edit>Transform>Perspective. Place a clipping mask on top of the layer and set the blending mode to Overlay, then use the Brush tool on the window to darken the glass.

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Light and dark Create a new layer and select the Brush tool (Foreground Color White, Size 700px, Hardness 0% and Opacity 15%). Set the layer to Overlay and the Opacity to 80%. Now brush over the front glass tower to light it up. Create a new Gradient Map adjustment layer: Foreground to Background, Overlay blending mode and Opacity 65%.

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Colour and opacity Create a new adjustment layer using Brightness/Contrast, with the settings at: Brightness -23 and Contrast 10. Then add a Photo Filter adjustment layer: Warming Filter (LBA), at 50% Density. Finally add a Curves layer, creating two new points. For the first point, set Output 36, Input 40; for the second point set Output 71, Input 67. Go back to the bottom layer and apply a layer mask to the original building. Duplicate this layer several times and flip/turn the layers.

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Smart Sharpen Try to fill up the sky without creating repetitive patterns in the image. Use the layer mask to smooth out the rough edges. Go to the top layer and use Cmd/Ctrl+A. Then use Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+C and Cmd/Ctrl+V for a new merged layer. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen with settings of Amount 100% and Radius 1.0px. Lastly, set the Opacity to 40%.


Professional’s profile

Doucin Pierre Website: www.soemone.com Clients: Orange, Intel, Sprite, Oasis, JD Sports, Renault, Manchester United Soccer School, Umbro and more

Photo editing

RED: Personal

BELLA: Personal work,

2010, Photoshop

work, 2010, Ph

otoshop

Photomanipulation

Doucin Pierre (aka Soemone) is a French illustrator currently working out of Paris. His work is a blend of photomanipulation, graphics and handmade elements, which give his work a dynamic and striking impression. At just 27 years old, Pierre has worked for a huge number of well-known clients, but his first big job was from London agency FACTORY311, which commissioned him to do work for the Manchester United Soccer School. Pierre is self taught and he started out in Photoshop doing some posters and flyers for music events: “I did a poster contest for a big hip-hop event, which I won and this was the beginning. At the time, I told myself, ‘I want to do this job.’ I worked day after day to become a freelance illustrator and live off my creations. Now I do!” Pierre’s style is varied, with each piece exhibiting a new skill. Pierre himself also finds it hard to pinpoint any particular style for his work: “I don’t really know, what can I say? Something between the surrealist and the abstract, sometimes brighter and sometimes darker. Inspiration comes from the street, some movies – in fact, everywhere all the time.” Pierre has recently signed with the illustrator and artist agent Debut Art (www.debutart.com/artist/doucin-pierre), through which you can see more of his great art.

Digital painting Graphics & type

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Workshop

Expert blending skills Our expert

Create colourful and energetic digital landscapes, using nothing more than Photoshop’s powerful adjustment and blending options Pete Harrison

www.peteharrison.com After uni, Pete quickly became one of the UK’s top up-and-coming designers. He has since worked for London agencies and freelanced for a number of high-profile clients.

Tutorial files available

Quick selections When deleting parts of the layer, a quick way is to use selections, deleting them or masking them out as required. You could also use Layer>Layer Mask>Reveal All too. We used the Magic Wand tool to do the smaller parts of the bridge and the Pen tool to create more accurate selections. Use Shift and option keys to combine or remove selections to speed up the process.

A variety of light effects, sparkle and magic are applied to ensure synergy and to maximise aesthetic appeal, using a range of Outer Glow and Gradient Overlay settings 130

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veryone loves lighting effects and, in this step-by-step, you will discover a variety of cool and contemporary styles, and learn precisely how you can recreate these through relatively simple Photoshop toolsets. We apply these to photoedited landscapes in order to create a scene with energetic depth of field (DOF). This tutorial will reveal how to successfully merge various photostock to form our exciting example, through selection and masking functionality. The focal point to build all elements around will be the car stock, which lends itself to an active composition.

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Let’s start Open Photoshop and create a new canvas in portrait mode. Import your car image (‘iStock_000009272921Small.jpg’). Use the Pen tool to outline the car and close the path. Press ‘F’ to activate full-screen mode. Zoom into the photo so it is actual size – Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+0. Use the Pen tool to trace around the model as best you can, using all the Pen Path options.

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Start the background Import the ‘Road 047’ image (from lexidh-stock at deviantART) into the canvas and place it under the car layer. Use the Pen tool again to outline the background so that the road and bridge are left, either using a vector mask or by cutting the selection out. Resize the car layer so it looks like it could be driving on the road.

A variety of light effects, sparkle and magic are applied to ensure synergy and to maximise aesthetic appeal, using a range of Outer Glow and Gradient Overlay settings. You’ll also discover how to apply blending modes to make the most of super-bright colours, as well as realistically integrate stock – resulting in more lifelike visuals. Selection tools that get the most out of shape and form are also explored, as is how to intuitively apply colour adjustments and light exposures so you can achieve a more striking end result. On top of all this, you’ll find tips on getting the best out of your stock imagery and creating your own custom brush/eraser from scratch.

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Cut out the car Ctrl/right-click and make a selection in the Path palette, set Feather Radius to 0 pixels and hit OK. Copy and paste it into a new layer, deleting the old layer. You can do this or, alternatively, once you have finished, Ctrl/right-click and select Create Vector Mask.


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Add more background Open the ‘mountain scenery’ image (from Flickr) and drag it onto the canvas – but make sure it’s the bottom layer; arrange it into position and scale so it fits the canvas. At the moment all three images look like they don’t belong together – they have different light, contrasts, etc – so the next step is to amend this.

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Start blending Select the road layer and go to Image>Adjustments>Curves. Set the Output level to 80 and Input level to 135 and hit OK. Go to Image>Adjustments>Hue/Saturation, and set the Hue to -20. Select the Burn tool and use a soft brush to darken some of the areas; set the tool’s Exposure to 20%.

Stock images Sometimes the hardest part of creating an illustration is finding the right stock images; this can be a very timeconsuming process, but it’s worth the effort to find the best stock for your artwork. Free stock images are not too hard to find, but sometimes it’s worth purchasing some for specific needs. When using light effects anything with a dark background where you can set the blending mode to Screen or Lighten will work particularly well, eg fireworks.

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Blend the landscape Go to Image>Adjustments> Brightness/Contrast and up the Contrast of the landscape layer to +15, using the Burn tool to apply more intense shading on some of the foreground areas such as the trees. Next we need to blend in the car. Make a new layer under the car layer and use a soft round brush with black to paint in some shadows to make it look as if the car is on the road. Lower the opacity of some of these shadows for variation, depending on the position of your main light source.

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In motion Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Balance (Cmd/Ctrl+B), and tint the car with a little bit more cyan/blue on the Midtones and Shadows levels. Select the front tyre of the car using the Selection tool and go to Filter>Blur>Radial Blur and set the amount to 15. Repeat this for the less visible back wheel if desired.

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Work on the car Select the car layer and go to Image>Adjustments>Curves and make the Output 80 and Input 125. Use the Burn tool once again and make the right-hand side of the car slightly darker. We also burned the windscreen to give it the appearance that it’s tinted, since the stock photo has no driver!

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Additional elements You can add some greenery along the road using some trees from the background image. Use the Gradient tool to gave the sky a light blue gradient just before it hits the mountain range. The artist’s logo was added to the number plate, as well as a few birds in the sky. Next, you can use the Gradient tool again on the road in the corners, coloured to fade into black, and set to Overlay blending mode.


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Light effects 2 Open the ‘Blue Fairy Nebula’ image (from Moonchilde-Stock at deviantART) and SXC’s ‘Diwali Fireworks’ image, and bring them into the canvas. Set both of the stock’s blending modes to Screen. Place Blue Fairy Nebula above the car layer, and slightly to the right, so it looks as if it’s coming off the car. In contrast, place the fireworks stock behind the car, so the effect is coming out of the back. Erase some areas so as to keep the car as the focus.

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Photo editing

Light effects 1 Open the iStockphoto ‘Green lights’ image and place it into the canvas under the car layer. Go to Edit>Transform>Warp and make the lines of the light follow the shape of the road. Repeat this step a few times, maybe placing one of the layers above that of the car, following the form of the vehicle.

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Add light spots Click on the canvas and arrange your dynamic light effect into the scene. Next, duplicate the layer to make some smaller versions, and arrange these around the car for best effect. Repeat this process to fill the scene with concentrated spots of light, some with Outer Glow and some with Color Overlay. Slowly build up the light composition; this is a good time to take a break from the image and come back with fresh eyes.

Digital painting

Energy lines Now you can drag and drop your path to the Trash icon, deleting it. Repeat this process a few times with different sized brushes – maybe applying some Outer Glow or Color Overlay from the Layer Style palette options. Go to your Brushes panel and choose a soft round brush; make the size of the brush about half the size of the canvas.

Photomanipulation

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Lines of light Create a new layer and select a soft round brush, around 10px in size; then enable Shape Dynamics. Select a white tone and, using the Pen tool, draw a path from the car that follows the road into the distance. Ctrl/right-click>Stroke path, have your brush selected and also make sure Simulate Pressure is checked.

Magic dust Set the Scattering of your brush to 440% and start brushing areas on the canvas, alternating the diameter for variation. Give some layers Outer Glows, and also vary the softness of the brush. Create a new document. Using the soft brush with the Spacing set to 14%, hold Shift and drag the brush downwards to create a straight line on this new layer.

Set the Scattering of your brush to 440% and start brushing areas on the canvas, alternating the diameter for variation. Give some layers Outer Glows and also vary the softness

Graphics & type

More light When creating lines of light, set the blending to Screen or Overlay for best results. Transform lines so they seem like streaks and add some to the mountains to unify the scene. Now select a white tone and create a new layer. Open the Brushes window, changing Spacing to 100%; in Shape Dynamics, set the Size Jitter to 80%.

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Add some sparkle Apply a 50-pixel Gaussian Blur and use the Eraser tool to rub away at the ends of the line. Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+T and rotate 45 degrees. Opt/ Alt-click the layer and Flip Horizontal to make a cross shape. Merge the selected layers (Cmd/Ctrl+E) and rescale smaller. Place this shape near to a few light bursts, hold Opt/Alt and drag to transform for some variation.

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Smoke Copy and paste in the ‘Smoke 3’ image from iStockphoto, go to Image>Adjustments> Desaturate (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+U) and set the blending mode to Lighten or Screen. Resize it and place it where you think it works the best – we chose the closest side of the car to the viewer. You can duplicate this layer and add to other areas as well if you wish.

Brush vs Eraser In this artwork, virtually one brush was used for all of the lighting effects; this same brush was also used as an eraser. To make your own bespoke brush, simply make a black circle and go to Filter>Blur> Gaussian Blur to soften the edges. Use the Rectangular Marquee tool and select the whole blurred circle, before clicking on Edit>Define Brush Preset. You can access it using either the Brush or Eraser tools.

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Improve the sky Open the ‘Blauer Bergsommer’ cloud image (from Flickr) in Photoshop, and use your preferred tool to select just the clouds from the photo. Copy and paste as a new layer into your main canvas, then use a soft round eraser to remove the lower parts of the clouds and resize so the stock fits the scene. Set the blending mode to Overlay and the Opacity to 100%.

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Any extras Repeat previous steps but vary colours, Outer Glow effects, brush strokes and whatever else you like; this is the time to experiment and personalise. Add any extra elements, such as more curved lines or new light spots. Play with layer styles, gradients and blending modes too. Remember, Photoshop is only a tool for visualising your unique creativity.

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Add a border Create a new layer at the top of the stack; label it ‘Border’. Use the Fill tool to apply one colour to the entire canvas. In Advanced Blending, set the Fill Opacity to 0%. Go to Stroke, change Position to Inside, then modify the Size and Color. Lastly, lower the opacity of the black stroke.

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Finish up Go to Image>Adjustments>Gradient Map. Click on the default black-white gradient and, in the editor, you can load various gradients or create your own from scratch. We opt for one that adds more contrast and turns the lighter values in the image more yellow. Finally, use a soft round brush on the mask layer to erase areas that you don’t want the gradient to affect.

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Professional’s profile TRUST THE MUTATION: “My second piece for The KDU as a member. Mutation means something new; new is always better”

Dimo Trifonov Website: www.di-t.com Status: The KDU member, founder of Studio Nufabric

Photomanipulation

RABBIT ON DR UGS: “What happens in the rabb when it’s on drug it’s head s?”

Photo editing

Multitasking, both in application and format, is the name of the game for graphic artist Dimo Trifonov. Be it multimedia or graphic design, he’s adept to it all and relishing every project’s creative scope – it’s understandable why he’s a (senior) member at both EvokeONE and The Keystone Design Union (KDU). He admits: “I use a lot of applications to create my work. But no matter what, I will always end up connecting all the elements in Photoshop. I am currently experimenting with a lot of 3D applications. I think Photoshop is the essential part of the process.” He describes his spacious style quite aptly. “Air,” he professes. “There is a lot of air in my work. Some people think I’m minimalist but I don’t really know. I think you don’t need a lot of elements in your work – you just need the right ones. The same goes with detail. You need to be very careful while playing with composition, colours and detail, because sometimes it’s too much for the human eye to take in all at once.” He started nurturing his meditative style at the tender age of 14, as he reveals: “I was 14 years old when I first opened Photoshop 6 and everything started. It was a lot of fun; it still is. I never thought this would become my job. All the positive comments about my work drove me forward at that time.” Now he has the pleasure of working with some of the world’s greatest design talents, as he finally adds, “I love the work of almost every member of The KDU. The Keystone Design Union has a very good selection of digital and not-so digital artists.”

Digital painting Graphics & type

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Interview

MDI Digital We discuss the fortunes of one of the UK’s best CGI studios with director Alex Jefferies

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DI Digital (www.mdi-digital.com), a UK-based CGI studio, is renowned for producing high-quality digital artwork for a host of clients from a wide range of fields – including Coca-Cola, Virgin, Cadbury, Tesco and the Ministry of Sound. The studio’s approach to concepts is anything but two-

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dimensional, quite literally, as one half of its team of directors, Alex Jefferies, explains: “We cover a wide variety of disciplines and techniques, which I suppose would make our style one of diversity. “While we’ve spent years working with CGI and photography, we never like to limit ourselves, and we take an active interest in many creative fields –

including motion graphics, animation, traditional illustration, typography and character design. The boundaries between these various disciplines are extremely giving, often blending into one another and we always try to keep that in mind. This gives us a rich pool of influences to constantly inspire and inform our work.”


Photo editing

MR PEPERAMI (OPPOSITE): “We created five different images for this campaign, all showing the main character interacting with various foodstuffs” © MDI Digital Ltd

darkly humorous series of images showing ingredients desperate to be used in the food served at the restaurant” © MDI Digital Ltd

Graphics & type

The studio owes as much to providence as it does to any other factor when it comes to its commercial success. Jefferies nearly didn’t make the creative scene himself, as he suffered early setbacks in his design education. However, what seemed like failure turned out to be a blessing in disguise. “At the end of my A levels I enrolled on a foundation course at the local art college. Like a lot of people that age, I knew I wanted to do something creative, I just didn’t know what it was,” he reveals. “It was while studying there that I discovered the university next door – Bournemouth – offered a course in Computer Animation. This was stupidly exciting to me – not

RISTORANTE CANTINA CARROTS (ABOVE): “One of a

brilliant but also I recognised them. They were from the boxes of computer games I had at home, from the covers of magazines I read, from posters outside in the street.” It was from that very moment that he solidified a notion in his head; people do this for a living. “For the first time I absolutely knew what I had to do,” he tells us. “It was a defining moment, not only because I would end up working for that studio, but because I would also meet the student whose 3D work had made me jump onto the illustration course in the first place, and that we would end up running our own studio together.”

Digital painting

SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE

only as I was a massive nerd, but because I’d spent the last few years learning a 3D package that had been free on the cover disc of a magazine and I was hooked.” However, his initial enthusiasm was quickly dampened: “Sadly it transpired that I didn’t have the requisite level of maths needed to handle the vast portion of the course that was programming-oriented. I was heartbroken, but chalked it up to experience.” It was by chance that Jefferies happened upon a showcase of the college’s illustration course from that year. “Among the watercolours and gouache, I saw a glowing Apple Mac monitor showing a slideshow of 3D computer-generated imagery – leagues ahead of anything I had ever achieved at home,” he recalls. Based almost entirely on this one student’s work, he enrolled on the course. At that point, coincidentally, an exstudent, due to it being relatively new, was teaching the class. This student had gone on to form his own company. Jefferies continues: “In that first evening class, when he loaded up his studio’s portfolio, I was absolutely gobsmacked. Not only were the images mind-bogglingly

Photomanipulation

RISTORANTE CANTINA ONIONS (ABOVE): “An

image from the Ristorante Cantina campaign. Many onions were harmed in the making of this picture” © MDI Digital Ltd

PIONEERS OF THE TRADE Jefferies, and fellow co-director Matthew Dartford, had a battle on their hands from day one, as back then, CG work was a considerably smaller, more exclusive field of practice. Dedication and many working hours were another key factor to their success, if not their very existence in this related field at this time. Jefferies confirms: “The reality was that just buying the software and hardware capable of running CG capabilities at that time meant a serious investment. Once you’d made that commitment, you discovered there were no training materials or dedicated institutions to teach you – the only way you could learn the tools was to spend every waking minute glued to the manual.” They did just that and, in turn, learnt a

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few more harsh lessons. “One of the first things people discover with CG is that it’s very easy to make something extremely dull,” Jefferies confides. “So much so that it often happens without you realising. When everything is desperate to remain straight, flat, restrained, etc, you end up with an image that – despite the best intentions – is lifeless. However, when something breaks away from that and starts to show a thought process, a sense of design or a sense of character, that’s when CG can really come into its own. This is what excites us and it’s something we always try to inject into our work.” Over the years the evolution of creative technologies has, in turn, expanded the creative market and competitors are now everywhere. But pioneers like MDI Digital have taken full advantage of their head start. “As the emerging technology became more prevalent, with films and television using computer-generated content more and more, companies understandably wanted to take

SONY – WORLD CUP TRADE-IN CAMPAIGN (ABOVE): “Mostly

retouch work; we added CG elements such as the cables and tape ribbon to help sell the energy of the impact” © MDI Digital Ltd. Original photography by Chris Windsor

We ended up being approached by a wide spectrum of clients 138

advantage of it,” Jefferies says. “Outside the large visual effects houses, there were only a handful of people capable of doing 3D, so we ended up being approached by a wide spectrum of clients in many different sectors.” MDI soon found itself having to absorb not only the software, but also a great deal about a lot of industries very quickly. “In the same week we would be creating cross-sections of the human heart for a medical seminar, animating the fuel line of a jet-engine for a training video, visualising a 15-storey block of city flats for a planning proposal and illustrating a giant, chainsawwielding robot smashing through a brick wall for a videogame cover,” explains Jefferies. “There was never a dull moment.” He remembers when they set the benchmark with their first prominent project. This was an album cover for My House is Your House, created for Cream recordings. “The design agency had created the concept of an MP3 player in the shape of the Cream nightclub logo and approached us to help them realise the artwork,” Jefferies tells us. “Our experience working with product designers and more technical fields meant we had the knowledge to create something that would look believable, while our experience with photography and advertising meant we’d make sure it looked good too. A lot of people have responded

GO AUDIO – WOODCHUCK EP COVER (ABOVE): “This was commissioned for a book on ideas

and new thinking on the environment. I wanted to create a shot with a strong atmosphere and a sense of narrative” © MDI Digital Ltd

OASIS – FRUITY DRINKS AND LUNCHTIME DREAMS (OPPOSITE): “A really fun project that promoted a competition to win the ‘Lunchtime of your Dreams’’” © MDI Digital Ltd

positively to the artwork and that project led us on to a number of projects with record labels.” The studio has come a long way, working for a large gamut of clients due to its wide span of disciplines, including a really fun poster campaign for a restaurant in Switzerland that saw the ingredients preparing themselves, as well as


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World Cup promotion for Sony, which involved dozens of old electrical items being destroyed by a football. “When you’re stood outside smashing bullet-proof glass with a hammer, or figuring out what expression a knifewielding carrot should have, you have to step back and fully appreciate just how lucky you are,” he reflects.

TRENDSETTERS However, it’s extremely important for MDI to still keep the learning process rolling, taking something new from every project. “If you aren’t learning, then you aren’t developing your skills and that’s when you find yourself in danger of going backwards,” warns Jefferies. “Working with a multitude of industries gives us something we could not get any other way: experience. By working directly with photographers, product designers, architects and advertising agencies, we encounter a complex variety of problems which, in turn, has given us a deep well of experience to draw upon when solving issues. It also gives us

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CORVETTE STRATOCASTER (ABOVE): “A cover

illustration produced for Guitar Aficionado magazine. It was a challenge to add all of the detail from the engine parts while keeping the distinctive silhouette of the Stratocaster” © MDI Digital Ltd

the ability to propose avenues that others may not have thought of, and the confidence to explore new approaches.” Jefferies recognises that within MDI’s work there is a balance between the technical and the creative side of digital art. “On one hand, you must know the ins and outs of the software to be able to create anything of use,” he says. “But on the other, just knowing every button on a camera doesn’t make you a photographer, and this is very true of what we do. Having a good technical grounding means that we’re capable and efficient, but also constantly aware that we’re making images that need a sense of design, colour and creativity.” This also means that if a problem presents itself in one avenue, MDI can turn to another to solve it. “For example, Carlsberg wanted us to create a football with flames shooting in an arc, forming its trademark ‘C’,” he explains. “To approach this in CG would have been extremely complex and time-consuming. However, our years of experience with photographic retouching allowed us to shoot real flames at our in-house

studio and comp it all together in Photoshop. Conversely, some jobs that a purely photographic studio would struggle with – due to relying on a third party to fabricate props or supply CG elements – we can do all under one roof.” Photoshop’s place in the MDI workflow is unique as it’s the one package the studio is completely dependent upon. Jefferies says: “CG is an incredibly time-consuming process, as each and every asset has to be built before you can start laying out an image. So it’s vital for us that we can explore the composition and colour choices in Photoshop before that process begins.” If the project is CG intensive, MDI will use Photoshop to help create the multiple texture maps needed, either from photography, from scratch or usually a mix of the two. He continues: “As the majority of our artwork is destined for print we work on some extremely large format images, upwards of 10,000 pixels – something that CG doesn’t naturally cater for. We also do a large amount of purely retouching work for the fashion, advertising and music industries – the experience of working with


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Working with a multitude of industries gives us something we couldn’t get any other way: experience

project; we cleaned up and colourised photos of the band members that had been shot separately, and pulled them all together for the album cover” © MDI Digital Ltd. Original photography by Ray Burmiston

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CREAM – MY HOUSE IS YOUR HOUSE ALBUM COVER: “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on this piece since it was commissioned, including a couple of people who wanted to know where they could buy one!” © MDI Digital Ltd

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photography is a massive boost to our pipeline as even a computer-generated image can need a great deal of postproduction work. Knowing the limitations of both mediums allows us to exploit them so that they complement one another.” So what other experiences lay ahead for MDI? Only time will tell, as Jefferies reveals: “We’ve got a lot of exciting projects and collaborations lined up for the new year, unfortunately none of which we can talk about currently.” Whatever the duo does have in store, we’re certain it will be met with the same fervour they give every one of their designs. He finishes with a final nugget of advice: “It’s vital to stay on top of yourself in terms of expectations and quality, but more importantly, you cannot work in a creative industry without passion. [In our case] that passion means we’re always taking an interest in the latest developments in the field; be it in the software we use, the newest technical achievements or simply the work being created by other studios.”

THE SATURDAYS – CHASING LIGHTS ALBUM COVER: “An example of a purely retouch

www.mdi-digital.com

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© Adam Spizak

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Combine different techniques and fuse the digital with the traditional to create unique-looking illustrations

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144 Feature: Film FX

In-depth look at concept art for films

152 Dynamic painting

Paint a professional character

157 Profile: Chris King

Expert digital painting inspiration Re-create a retro-futuristic airship

163 Profile: Dragos Jieanu

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Dark and atmospheric paintings

164 Fantasy lighting

Give portraits a fantastical feel

168 Using paint textures

No painting skills? Use photos instead

172 Profile: Jonas De Ro Incredible digital paintings

174 Pro matte painting

© 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment

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158 Steampunk concept art

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180 Give digital photos a traditional twist

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Create realistic environments

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Get to grips with Photoshop brushes

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185 Profile: Omar Díaz

Soak up these amazing portraits

186 Create a digital

matte painting

Use a blend of 3D and 2D techniques

191 Profile: Christian Nauck More painting inspiration

192 Fantasy painting

Create a mystical character

196 Interview: Radical Publishing The graphic novel giants speak out

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PROFESSIONAL ARTISTS offer advice on how to create commercial-standard design in the fast-paced film industry

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inematics are synonymous with beautiful set pieces and conceptual design has always been the launchpad where these soaring spectacles begin. Once a firmly traditional process, digital media has assumed its position in this creative sector and is shouting out for more action. In this feature, we reveal how some of the film and concept industries’ leading lights bring to life imaginative scenes, characters and special effects by way of our favourite app. Leading our creative lineup are international matte painter and concept artist Dylan Cole, industry veteran and founder of the FZD School of Design, Feng Zhu, digital matte painter and founder of Matte

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Painting UK, Max Dennison, and CEO of Steambot studios, David Levy. Collectively their works have been setting the standard across the concept art, matte-painting and photo-editing arenas for a long time. Now our artists reveal their own personal workflows and style secrets, revealing both the traditional and more unique ways in which they apply effects. We explore the full conceptual process from working with clients, to creating brush types, organising layers and editing effects. A range of personal and professional projects are presented with the intention to inspire and hopefully set alight your own bigscreen ideas and compositions, in what promises to be a highly charged visual feast of cinematic proportions.


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a AVATAR 1: “This was to establish the view from the top of the Hometree. I used many shots I’d taken of rainforests and tropical plants as well as some references of Iguazu Falls” © 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment

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AVATAR 2: “The AMP Suit was a paintover of a 3D render, and the Thanator was a paintover from some ZBrush renders. The jungle came from photos of a trip to Oregon” © 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment

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D Dylan Cole Title Matte painter/ concept artist Website www. dylancolestudio.com Credits Avatar, Clash of the Titans, Transformers 3

ylan Cole, of Dylan Cole Studio (www.dylancolestudio. com), has a client list as long as your arm – that’s if this arm belongs to a ten-foot, blue-skinned humanoid. With a credit list including The Golden Compass, Alice in Wonderland, Avatar and still growing with the upcoming Transformers 3 movie, matte painter and concept artist Cole knows what it takes to deliver first-rate concepts to the biggest names in the cinematic business. Experiencing themes such as sci-fi, fantasy and historical, he knows how each and every project can throw you a curve ball, presenting different obstacles. “Sometimes the director will have a very clear image and you just have to figure out how to extract that from his or her head,” he explains. “Working with James Cameron on Avatar was a clear case of that scenario. Other times a director or production designer will let me explore a bit. This can be a lot of fun because of the freedom. But it can also be frustrating because you can easily go around in circles if the director does not have a clear vision.” Photoshop becomes a necessity in delivering quick amendments. Only ever having used the software in his production, he believes its tools make manipulation and creation highly accessible, turning it into an empowering process. “This is an absolute necessity in the world of cinematic production, where changes are commonplace,” he adds. Another massive benefit in recent times is Photoshop’s advancement in handling 16-bit Color workflow. The reason? Understandably, image quality and depth are big issues in visual

I just use hard and soft rounds for detailing – Dylan Cole

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effects, especially with all of the colour grading and Digital Intermediate (DI) that goes on. Putting it simply, Cole says: “We need to have as much depth as possible.” This science provides concept artists and matte painters with a great degree of control, enabling the import of delineated photo reference and extended colour adjustment option sets. Cole continues: “My reference hard drive is about 750GB and I use the Color Overlay application to add haze to specific image photo layers, still keeping them editable and maintaining a non-destructive workflow.” Artists will normally use this effect, complemented by live layer options to relight imagery. Cole says: “I will often take an overcast shot, then create a highlight pass by taking the original layer and using the Color Overlay effect. I darken it to create shadow. I duplicate the layer and edit contrast, before painting to a layer mask to reveal highlights only where I need them.” Like most artists operating in cinematic circles, Cole’s work has a common photographic nature and, due to this, he’s very particular about the digital brushes he uses in his designs. Disregarding an illustrative look, Cole tells us: “If I want specific shapes or features, I will use a photo, 3D content or paint it. I block in the image using very simple brushes – usually just standard round brushes with pressure sensitivity set to Size and Opacity. I use a lot of photos, so there are many photo-compositing techniques with Curves adjustments and layer masks applied in my work. I will then paint in details and refine on top of the image using these brush settings.”


Ballistic book library

Title Matte Painting Price From £59/$75

b THE INDUSTRIALIST MONKS: “This is a personal painting showing a very large industrial city, where entire buildings are engines. I referenced all sorts of car and plane engines to create the urban scene” © Dylan Cole

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With tutorials from Alp Altiner, Chris Stoski and Dylan Cole, this title serves up some attractive themed projects – including Star Wars’ Coruscant and Jedi Temple concepts. Here you’ll learn how to apply keylighting, photorealistic exposures, manual paint effects and more.

a RESORT CITY AT DUSK: “This was a fun personal painting I did showing a futuristic resort city on an alien planet. I used a lot of photos of cruise ships and yachts for the buildings” © Dylan Cole

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We present the most relevant resources from the d’artiste series, promoting professional-standard concept work

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With tutorials from Yusei Uesugi, Max Dennison and Chris Thunig, this resource focuses more on key disciplines of matte painting, nevertheless at a commercial standard. Here readers will learn how to combine CG elements, create 2.4D matte paintings and master multilayer projection mapping.

d’artiste’s Concept Art presents techniques from industry concept artists Viktor Antonov, George Hull, Andrew Jones and Nicolas Bouvier. This title sets tasks in the form of masterclass tutorials, along with reference work. The book guides readers through processes used to create environments, characters and machinery for film, TV and game industries.

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TOP TIP: Realistic brush styles When applying realistic image elements the last thing you want are disruptive brushes creating illustrative styles. To make sure this doesn’t happen digital painters will often use a standard 60px chalk brush with Size and Rotation set at Jitter, coupled with Scattering and Color Jitters. This creates a random all-purpose brush type, used for painting everything from foliage to rock surfaces.

Digital painting

Title Concept Art Price From £59/$75

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Title Matte Painting 2 Price From £59/$75

AVATAR 3: “In the script where two mountains slowly drift into one another and a piece breaks off, they’re floating, but they still have the mass to do damage” © 20th Century Fox and Lightstorm Entertainment

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U Feng Zhu Title Concept artist/ industry veteran Website www. fengzhudesign.com Credits Transformers, Star Wars: Episode III, TMNT

TOP TIP: Refine authentic details When working with machines, authentic textures are a must to establish a real sense of character. Applying an Overlay blending mode and Dodge tools to imported stock will increase values in darker areas. Additionally, create a new layer applying the default round, hard edge brush to paint over visuals, finishing with several passes of Levels and Color Balance adjustment layers.

A designer must have a strong visual library in their mind – Feng Zhu

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nderstandably, painting and illustration techniques translate from traditional to digital media when conception takes place. However, although the media has changed, the rules haven’t. Artists still find it essential to demonstrate fundamental drawing skills. This is a view shared by Cole’s peer and industry veteran Feng Zhu, head of Singapore-based Feng Zhu Design (www.fengzhudesign.com). With a reputation bigger than a 30-foot sentient robot, Zhu has conceptualised for mammoth projects including Star Wars: Episode III and Transformers. He explains: “In our industry, we generally play two roles – we’re designers first and artists second. Having traditional fundamental skills such as understanding perspective, lighting, composition, etc, is vital.” When asked what it takes to develop and substantiate a conceptual mind, and approach creating Image Property (IP) from scratch on cinematic projects, his answer is quite simple: “A designer must have a strong visual library in their mind. To build IP, they have to understand the real world from a scientific point of view. Question everything and try to find the answers. During the design phase it’s these ideas and visual stimulations that drive new forms and shapes.” Photoshop makes the revision and evolution of such IP highly accessible. Reflecting on its ability for trial and error through its layer and layer mask capabilities, Zhu says: “The layer group options help keep all your ideas organised. By turning layers on and off, I can quickly


a ROBOT INVASION, PROGRESS: “These styled frames show the progression of applying concepts to real-life situations” © Feng Zhu

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Zhu warns: “Photo texture stock is a big time-saver, but do make sure that you own the rights to using them. Instead of painting in every little nut and bolt, just apply some very high-resolution textures. The Overlay blending mode is effective as it preserves the values when set at a lower opacity. Applying photos to paintings is one of the most useful benefits of working digitally. Compared to traditional painting methods, this way of working can reduce production time dramatically.”

ROBOT INVASION, LIGHTING: “In this screenshot, you’ll clearly see how we have flagged up key light areas that need treating” © Feng Zhu

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ROBOT INVASION, PREPRODUCTION: “This image is a standard concept design presented at the preproduction phase” © Feng Zhu

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decide on the general design and painting options. This simply was not possible during the days of traditional art. Photoshop has definitely cut down the number of revisions per image. This is because everything has become one generation.” Forms and shapes are normally applied likewise through Photoshop brush sets, complemented by hardware advancements. Zhu runs his conception work on an Alienware Area-51 Desktop i7 980 powered by two NVIDIA GTX295s in quad SLI, 12GB of DDR3 RAM, Windows 7 64bit Ultimate and six Western Digital Raptor hard-drives (spins at 15,000rpm). “I use a 30-inch Apple Cinema Display as the main screen and a 23-inch Apple Cinema Display for tools,” he adds. “I switch between a 9 x 12" Wacom Intuos 3 and a 9 x 12" Wacom Intuos 4 tablet.” However, he admits to always keeping a sketchbook on him too. “Drawing is a core skill all designers need to have and having this resource readily available promotes this skill.” Specialising in creating machine-based constructs, he also has a great need for photo stock – used as both reference and as integrated image elements. Zhu, like many of his peers, will create machine effects by using stock as incorporated textures, backgrounds and colour palette resources. In most cases concept artists will paint directly on live plates shot by the director or cinematographer, and it’s this way that concept artists can match shapes and colour to real-time locations, corresponding to lighting, etc. As the devil is in the detail,

ROBOT INVASION, ATMOSPHERE: “These show how we have tweaked with PS adjustments” © Feng Zhu

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With the motto, ‘Draw what’s really there, not what you see’, the Singapore-based FZD School of Design (www.fzdschool.com) doesn’t tolerate any ‘eyeballing’ when it comes to concept design. Its programmes, including Entertainment Design (full diploma), Dynamic Sketching, Concept Drawing and Digital Painting (professional courses) prepare students to approach every project from a threedimensional standpoint: constructing drawings according to proper perspectives, measurements and lighting, etc. Founded by industry veteran Feng Zhu, his 12 years of commercial experience – including producing Gnomon workshops – drives the School’s focus on providing an international level of design training, for both professionals looking to further their skills and students who want to break into the field. Get in touch via contact@ fzdschool.com or call 0065 6334 9258 for admission, tuition and enrolment information.

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Max Dennison Title Digital matte painter/illustrator Website www. mattepaintinguk.com Credits X-Men: The Last Stand, The Da Vinci Code, Superman Returns

David Levy Title CEO/concept artist Website www. steambotstudios.com www.vyle-art.com Credits Avatar, TRON: Legacy, PLUG

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ith a client history stretching as far as the mountains of Mordor, including set pieces for Superman Returns and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, head of digital matte painting boutique Matte Painting UK (www.mattepaintinguk. com), Max Dennison knows all about increasing efficiency. Like many dedicated matte painters, Dennison couples hardware with Photoshop to produce large-scale imagery – utilising its reliable layers palette. “A matte painting can contain over 200 layers in the early stages,” Dennison reveals. “It’s a very organic process and changes frequently occur. Being able to move things around and affect multiple

Gnomon School Experience edification from top industry professionals who bring their industry connections right into the classroom

© Michael Kutsche

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Alex Alvarez, visual effects guru, founded Gnomon (www. thegnomonworkshop.com) in 1997, providing hands-on, creative computer graphics education not found anywhere else. Based in Hollywood, Gnomon believes that location shouldn’t be a barrier to learning. Today the School provides practical education from industry experts working at top studios. “We founded the Gnomon Workshop for these very reasons,” explains Alvarez. “We have an impressive 90 per cent placement rate for our graduates. The talented professional instructors at Gnomon help to make this possible, as does our oncampus library of Gnomon Workshop DVDs.” If you’re hungry to learn, Gnomon can help you build a solid foundation. On campus, Gnomon provides a Photoshop for Digital Production class taught by Max Dayan, as well as a large number of Photoshop DVDs.

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Apply Filter>Stylize>Find Edges when you need to produce concept art with photographic precision. This technique lets you stylise photo references, effectively transforming them into sketches. This eases the paintover process, allowing you to construct new compositions, including landscapes, characters and costume designs with Photoshop brushes.

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a including the upcoming TRON: Legacy, he’s still as massive a fan of the editing software as sci-fi buffs are of neon-spandex-wearing Frisbee throwers. But he turns our attention to practicality. “We use Photoshop as a drawing and painting tool like others, but also to communicate modifications by adding notes to a file for the rest of the team.” The Steambot crew are also active users of the Actions and Batch options – especially for file creation, layer additions or subtractions. Steambot often works in a 2.35 format for movie productions, with concept and storyboards following the same rules. “With this in mind,” Levy explains, “we created an action which, in one click, creates a new file with the proper naming convention, colour depth and pixel size.” But in the end, conception is all about substantiating image readability. “This means stepping back,” Levy concludes. “To modify viewer focus areas, it’s common to add an adjustment layer, raise brightness and values and erase, etc. What’s left becomes the centre of interest. That technique was common in film photography. Using the navigation window as a thumbnail also helps visualise areas of focus.”

A matte painting can contain over 200 layers in the early stages – Max Dennison

MAYAN TEMPLE: “This DMP was inspired by the Andes and their once great civilisation. It was largely an exercise in lighting” © Max Dennison

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adjustment layers at any time is a huge benefit.” It’s essential landscape conceptions are dealt with in dedicated stages, with layer sets maintained in labelled groups, much like Zhu described. Early blocking processes, using basic Lasso tool selections to create organic shapes, are a great way to build up strong compositions. “Once done with the overall composition and initial colour grading, start laying textures and grouping them with individual Solid Color shapes. Using an Alpha channel, I can fine-tune the shape of a cliff edge according to the textures I’m applying.” This also allows matte painters to manage depth of field to nail the perfect perspective. The integration of photography occurs again, but this time with a different function. Live-action elements will be added to complement the scope of a landscape conception, as well as break up negative space – be it the principal actor in the foreground or a flock of birds. In some cases, heavily altered photographic reference will be used instead of usual green screen elements, at the concept stage. Dennison tells us: “Digital matte paintings are inherently designed to be photoreal, not to merely complement a shot. The best and most efficient way to achieve this is the judicious use of photographic elements. I’d say the majority of types used are skyline photos.” Photoshop seems to be a production hub for cinematic concept art, which is a view also shared by the CEO of Steambot studios (www. steambotstudios.com) David Levy. Working on a plethora of projects

b VALLEY:” This visual conception was inspired by photos taken within the Grand Canyon and its many colours are demonstrated in this piece” © Max Dennison

C d MARKER HEAD CONCEPTUALISED: “Sketches started in ZBrush. Photoshop allowed us to select specific areas we liked and mount them on a new file, before selecting the final two styles – made up from PS composites” © Alex Cunningham, Steambot studios

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Dynamic painting Our expert

Create characters with impact using just the power of Photoshop Bryan Marvin P Sola

www.bpsola.deviantart.com A Multimedia Arts graduate from Asia Pacific College and is currently working as a concept, texture and 3D artist in one of the Philippines’ biggest game services company, Ladyluck Digital Media.

Top tips Here are our essential tips for following this tutorial. • Multiple canvases allow you to work faster since you don’t need to zoom in and out of your image. Having only one canvas has a tendency to limit the scope of your work. • Starting with a greyscale painting for your elements gives you more accurate shading results. It also saves time when choosing colour tones and intensities – especially for intricate areas.

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n this tutorial, we’re going to learn how to make a digital concept painting from scratch, which – with the help of Photoshop – really packs a punch. We’re going to take advantage of the power of layer styles, filters and blending options to develop sophisticated details and contours. This workflow requires a graphics tablet, as we need to apply Pen Pressure and optimum brush settings for a better quality painting.

Over the course of the tutorial, we’ll utilise lots of techniques in Photoshop such as how to check the balance of your elements, as well as their proportions, light sources and shading. We’ll also consider how to use stock imagery to create textures to produce a more complex and realistic-looking artwork. By the end of this workshop, both your mind and skills should be attuned to a more effective and efficient way of tackling concept art.

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Document setup Let’s start by opening a new file – go to File>New and choose your preferred size. For the Brush Settings, enable the Shape Dynamics, Other Dynamics and Smoothing checkboxes, and then change the Control to Pen Pressure. To have multiple canvases, go to Window> Arrange>New Window. Having multiple canvases allows you to work faster since you can preview your image in different sizes.

Colour management Choose the initial colour scheme that you will use for colouring and painting. This will help you visualise the entire artwork for faster rendering. You can search for stock images to capture more accurate colours if desired.

• Flipping your canvas horizontally or vertically gives you a fresh perspective to see which parts of your work need to be fixed. This is essential for anatomy checks too. • If you’re not satisfied with the details and arrangement of your elements, don’t stop. You can always skip a step, so that when you go back to it, you can more rationally view what needs to be added or changed – if anything at all! • You can use different layer styles/blending modes based on the look you want to achieve. Each blending mode has unique effects. If you can’t get the look you desire, just choose the best layer style and hit the adjustment layers and mask it if necessary. This can make your elements more manageable and consistent. • To make your main subject pop, you need to add more depth to your foregrounds, midgrounds, and backgrounds. You can do so by following this table:

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Initial pose Rename an empty layer ‘Outline’ and start drawing the basic pose of the model. Don’t be too detailed at this stage. You just have to establish the basic proportions and pose of the character. After doing the outline, create a new layer, name it ‘Greyscale’ and drag it under the Outline layer.


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Greyscale painting First, on Brush Tip Shape, turn off Shape Dynamics. Choose one of your greyscale layers and start shading your outline with black and white. If you’re happy with your basic shade, you may now hide or delete your outline and start shading the basic shapes and details.

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Image check When you’re done with the basic greyscales, you can check the proportions and other elements by flipping your canvas horizontally or vertically. Just go to Image>Rotate Canvas>Flip Canvas Horizontal/Vertical. This helps you check the balance of your artwork. Keep in mind that the balance of your image will be affected every time you add/remove something.

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Choosing light directions Before moving on to the detailed process of painting, we must establish where the light is coming from and which elements could possibly produce light/reflections. This will help you limit the painting of highlights and shadows, which will be discussed shortly.

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Basic colouring Now let’s add another layer on top of our greyscale layers, rename it ‘Colour’ and set its layer style to Color. Next, hold Opt/Alt and click between each Colour layer and its greyscale layer. This will limit the painting to your greyscale layers only. You can now start painting and merge it to your greyscale layers afterwards.

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The background Apply the same procedures we did on the earlier steps for the background. But always remember that backgrounds should not be as detailed as foreground and midground elements (see Top tips).

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Further details and shading Go back to the merged greyscale layers and rename the layer ‘Woman’. Apply the same procedure to your other separate layers such as hair, clothing, etc. You can now add more details to your model, particularly for the face and hands, etc.

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Before moving on to the detailed process of painting, we must establish where the light is coming from and which elements could possibly produce light


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Hair painting First select the Brush tool, Ctrl/right-click then choose a hard round brush (or a customised brush if you prefer). Check Shape Dynamics, Other Dynamics and Smoothing, and change the Control to Pen Pressure and minimise the Master Diameter of your brush. Create a new layer on top of your hair layer and start painting individual hair strands.

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Highlights Since we already have decided on our light sources, we can now pull the right gradient and colours for our elements by using the Dodge tool (press ‘O’). Set the Exposure to 20% and make sure that its Range is set to Highlights. You can also apply this technique in Step 10 if you prefer.

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Shading details You can add details and contours with the use of blending modes too. Just add a new layer on top of your Woman layer. Hold Opt/Alt and click between your layers to limit the painting. Change the blending mode to Overlay (though feel free to experiment with other modes) then start painting detail and contours.

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Shadows For the shadows, we can still use the Dodge tool. Just hold Opt/Alt while painting to have the highlight’s opposite effect – ie the Burn tool. For the shadows in the image, set the Range to Midtones or Shadows for higher intensities. You can also apply this technique in Step 10.

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Keep on adding details Our application of details is not limited to just one step. As we progress, we tend to discover more realistic, effective and appealing approaches to make our concept look better and more accurate. Don’t forget to disable Shape Dynamics since this brush setting is commonly used for hair, fur and generally finer detailing.

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Using texture images Open a stock image in Photoshop and place it on top of your clothing layer. Hold Opt/Alt, click between your stock layer and clothing layer to limit paintings and then apply your preferred blending modes to your stock image layer. You may now create a new layer too if you want to incorporate some paintovers for additional detail/tone adjustments.

Quick tip When painting hair in digital character paintings like this, use a small brush size to create very fine strands. This is particularly useful when it comes to adding highlights for that realistic touch.

Don’t forget to disable Shape Dynamics since this brush setting is commonly used for hair, fur and other fine details 155


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Add-ons and effects Add more details to make the image look lively and full. Remember to always use relevant blending modes, especially on metallic materials or those with caustics. Another important thing to remember is to mask all of your layers so you can adjust them at any time.

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Quick tip If you are not a master painter, then use photos to help you get started. You can find models with the right pose and roughly composite them into backgrounds and add extra elements. You can then keep this layer underneath your painting layers to ensure that you are working to the correct perspectives and proportions. You can also use these photos to help form your colour palette by using the Eyedropper tool to select tones.

Light glows To add glows to the fire, choose the Brush tool, Ctrl/right-click on the canvas and choose a soft round Airbrush. Check Other Dynamics and Smoothing, and change the Control to Pen Pressure. Create a new layer and name it ‘Fire Glow’. Set the blending mode to Pin Light and start painting the areas for the glows. This will give you subtle lighting effects.

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Applying foreground elements Create a separate layer for the sparks, smoke and debris, then paint over them. For the sparks, Ctrl/right-click then choose Layer>Blending Options>Outer Glow. Make it yellowish before applying some Motion Blur to it. Apply the same settings to the debris except for the glows. For the smoke, use the Smudge tool, set at 50% Strength.

Remember to always use blending modes, especially on metallic materials or those with caustics. Another important thing to remember is to mask all of your layers so you can nondestructively adjust them at any time

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Tweaks and fix-ups Tweak areas that you want to improve. You can use Filter>Liquify or you can also try the Edit>Transform options, like Scale, Skew, Perspective, Distort, Rotate or Warp. On this one, her foreground arm was repositioned and made thinner to make her look more toned.

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Colour adjustments Finally, it’s time to enhance the overall colour of your painting. Apply some colour adjustments until you are satisfied. In this one, we applied a fresh skin tone and a cinematic style to ramp up the drama.


Professional’s profile

Chris King Website: www.chriskingillustration.com Clients: Tiger Beer, Nick Jr Magazine, Boxfresh clothing, Konami Digital Entertainment

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Chris King has recently taken his magnetic style into the mainstream arena. Presented with the chance to work on the young adult book series The Bad Tuesdays by Benjamin J Myers – which the art director entrusted him to develop – he reveals: “I pretty much have the same style as before but it’s a lot more refined. I feel that I’ve grown as an artist over the last few years – things are more natural now than before, especially using Photoshop.” King uses the Adobe app in a very simple way, but it’s a way that gets him what he wants. “Photoshop is really the creative space I work in; it has all the tools that I need to make my images at a click. If you can find the balance between the traditional methods – such as pen, paint and paper – and Photoshop to create your artwork, it can really gel your process and make it tighter, without losing the sense of applied traditional elements.” All King’s work starts with pen and paper, usually in sections; quite often he will draw the characters and backgrounds completely separately. “They’re then scanned into the computer and coloured in Photoshop, using both standard PS brushes and imported textures that I’ve collected and created over the years.” This process couldn’t be more suited to his high-end comic style, so it’s understandable when we hear of his latest ambition. “The main goal for the oncoming year is to get my comic off the ground,” he tells us. “It’s been gestating for a while under all of the commercial work and is waiting to be unleashed.” Check out his website for developments.

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Digital painting Graphics & type

SSIN: “Another SIONAL ASSA TRANS-DIMEN nal portfolio and another perso rs and acrylics piece from my t the watercolou chance to get ou in Photoshop” up and layer them

BLOOD ALCHEMY: “The cover to The Bad Tuesdays: Blood Alchemy by Benjamin J Myers from Orion Books”

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have no problem in completing the process. This might be digital art, but the thinking is the same as for any form of art. We consider the subject matter itself, how it can be presented to the audience, and how to execute the final artwork to best effect. In this tutorial we’d like to present a slightly offbeat take on a steampunk airship with a more domestic vehicle. Here, we’re using Photoshop CS5 and the Cintiq, but any versions of Photoshop will do as long as you have the Warp tool and a tablet. Let’s get started!

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teampunk art has been a much-loved style for a long time, and its popularity shows no signs of abating. There’s something about old sci-fi mechs mixed with sophisticated, Victorian fashion that just drives everybody crazy! There are so many different ways to describe, interpret and visualise the definition of steampunk and we’ll be showing just one in this workshop. Although having some experience in digital painting will help understand the steps more easily, we believe that even beginners will

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Learn how to create professional-standard concept art with a steampunk influence

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Our expert

Workshop

Andrew Kim

www.andrewkimart.com Andrew Kim has been in the entertainment industry for the last eight years, working in games and films. His notable titles include Uncharted 2, God of War III, BioShock and Mercenaries.

01

Composition Here are four rough, three-tone thumbnails to start. Because this is a vehicle concept, it’s important to start with a solid composition of shapes from the get-go and these limited tone sketches are perfect. Image B feels the most dynamic out of these. We like the angles of the ship and the diagonal lines also help bring a sense of movement to the scene.

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Rough design Let’s start designing the vehicle. Think about what materials this vehicle is made out of, who and what this vehicle is for and, most importantly, what it looks like. Knowing that this is a steampunk style, we expect this vehicle is mostly built out of metal (eg gold and silver) and perhaps uses a complex system of tubes and compressed air for power – as opposed to, say, large balloons. We know it’s very fictional, but that’s the fun of conceptualisation. We lay in big strokes to produce some larger shapes/forms until we have a rough design.

03 Knowing that this is a steampunk style, we expect this vehicle is mostly built out of metal and perhaps uses a complex system of tubes and compressed air

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Exploring colours Now that we have set the overall colour palette we can explore more colour variation. We can also introduce some photo stock to give us some rough textures to bring the vehicle to life. Bring in a picture that contains materials, designs and shapes you like, heavily blur it, then create a layer mask of the vehicle. Set this mask to Soft Light blending mode and decrease the opacity a little; this gives a good mix of colours/ textures. Although the main shade of this vehicle is brown, we bring in blues, purples and pinks early to emulate reflected light from the scenery.

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Introducing the colour We know the vehicle dominates the composition, but colour should make the overall image pop. We introduce some soft colours to get the mood. Here, we’re setting the scene in the late afternoon; it’s not all orange or all blue. Having both colours with light in the back, we’re going to make the vehicle the darkest object in the scene with multiple lights reflecting on it from the surroundings.

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Consider the background To make our vehicle really pop, we’re keeping it fairly dark for now. This blends the vehicle in nicely with the time of day that the scene is taking place (ie dusk). We also start to lay in some basic information for the background. It’s a good idea to keep the backdrop simple so all the focus will be on the airship. We want to give just enough information to establish where the scene is taking place.

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Add in details Now that we know how the vehicle looks, we can start refining it. The front of the airship is the main focal point, although the side is also important. We sharpen out the hood and introduce gold elements. We’ve brought out some highlights to introduce a light direction.


Start your engines! What’s the most important part of any vehicle? It’s the engine, of course! To really get into the spirit of steampunk, we have to show some detailed mechanical parts. Because we’re only revealing a small ‘taster’ of the engine, we don’t have to include every part that’s required for it to function – just enough to fire up the viewer’s imagination and to make the vehicle believable. Here, we’re using some photos to begin the basic look. When bringing in photos, try them in different layer blending modes to see what works the best. Again, lowering the opacity helps, then carefully paint over to blend in.

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Photos for texturing Using photo stock gives us a tremendous advantage when it comes to making things look realistic. Besides the Undo tool and adjustment layers, this is probably the next greatest benefit of digital painting. However, we should be careful not to depend on them all the time. Using Overlay and Soft Light blending modes, we use the photos to establish nice rusty metal texturing on the side panels and the big round vent. Don’t forget to blend with paint and the Brush tool.

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When you paint over the areas where the photo textures are applied, using texture brushes can be very effective for seamless blending. There are basic texture brushes that come with Photoshop or you can easily make a custom one. However, you don’t want to rely too much on these photo textures for two major reasons. First, you’re not going to paste these textures on every pixel of your image, and second, they won’t blend in with your painted areas unless you figure in a lot more painting work on top. Besides texture brushes, try photo stock out in different layer settings and also lowering the Opacity/Fill options to help merge elements with the background.

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Fill out the design As the concept begins to come together, we continue to fill in the space with details. Leather is a very common material to be found in steampunk art and it’s a perfect material for our seats here. We want an aged leather look since the rest of the materials look very old, so make sure there are no strong highlights.

Making adjustments Everything is going pretty well so far, but we don’t like the blue tones in the sky. Something about it clashes with the main shade of brown we have used for our vehicle. Using the Color Balance options, we push the reds until the vehicle looks better suited to the background. We also feel this adjustment lifts the mood of the image as a whole.

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Air tanks Next we start to think about the look for the air tanks that power the ship, and how they fit in with this vehicle’s design. We begin defining the shape and rough look of the wing. At this stage, the tanks aren’t working very well – they could just as easily be missiles! We’ll come back to this step. When things are not working smoothly, it’s always better to move on to other areas. This is part of the problem-solving process that concept artists – pro and amateur alike – face all the time.

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When things are not working smoothly, it’s better to move on to other areas. This is part of the problem-solving process concept artists face

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Putting on a front As we mentioned, the focal point of this image is the front of the vehicle. Using photo texturing, we start establishing the airship’s hood. We want those lights to be very eye-catching and to paint in details so it blends well with the side. The gold touches work very well, but at the same time, we don’t push them so far that they steal all the limelight!

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More details Continue to work on the front of the steampunk ship. We add the gears onto the hood and then start thinking about what to do with the wedge that sticks out like a beak. For the gears, we crop out a part from a photo and apply the Distort tool. Next we correct perspective and finish by painting over the details to make them fit in with the rest of the image.

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Atmosphere The vehicle still isn’t quite fitting into the background as well as it could. A major reason for this is the vehicle’s sharp edges, which make it look a little like a cutout. Another issue is that there are currently not enough reflective lights on the vehicle. Using the Clipping Mask tool, we mask off the vehicle from the background and add yellow/pink lights towards the rear of the ship and the wings. At the same time, we soften the edges in these same areas.

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Solving the problem It’s time to return to the air tanks and wings, which weren’t quite working in Step 11. Back in Step 2, we thought about ‘a complex system of tubes and compressed air for power’ and we’ll use this thinking to get back on track. We make the engine look very scientific and complicated, including gauges and metallic components. The tanks are held in place with leather straps, which indicate that they’re not weapons, but rather a fuel device which can be easily replaced, much like tanks used in diving.

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Adding life We could easily have made this vehicle without a figure or pretend that the pilot is hidden somewhere inside the ship, but sometimes a scene demands a character. A figure can really bring that element of life to your illustration, as well as create a fitting backstory. Depending on who’s driving, the audience can imagine all kind of stories. As we detail the windshield with gold tints, we start thinking about who the owner of the airship could be…

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Final touches Okay, we’re nearly there! We add more gold elements around the engine for emphasis and refine the ships in the background. To give more contrast between our vehicle and the background, we soften the ground and reduce the dark values to eliminate any harsh contrast. And there we have it – a dynamic steampunk concept vehicle with a hint of backstory and a complementary setting.

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Rust it up As this ship looks aged, we decide adding an older character as a driver might work well. Expanding on the concept of this scene, we can imagine this ship has been the love of this man’s life for many years and he still enjoys riding it. We also put an emblem on the front wedge to make the vehicle look more personalised, as well as some holes on the side panels. It’s simple touches like this that really add character to the vehicle and the artwork as a whole.

A figure can really bring that element of life to your illustration, as well as create a fitting backstory


Professional’s profile

PURGATORIUM: “I thought I should do my own version of Dante’s purgatory so here it is. This is my favourite so far. I printed it at one metre in length. The background is a matte painting, the foreground (including the water, the boat, the reaper and the pontoon) is all 3D”

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Website: www.jieanu.com Awards: CGTalk Award, 3DTotal Award, CGHub award, CGChannel Elite Award

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Dragos Jieanu is a talented CG artist, who has been working in the industry for over ten years. He began working at the age of 18, doing broadcast graphics for a major television station in his home country of Romania. Since then, he has gone on to work for VFX studios throughout Europe, Asia and the USA. Jieanu has come a long way since his first commission, which he looks back on fondly: “It seems like ages ago and brings back some nice memories. My first paid project was for product packaging. I had to create a logo and can design. Now, when I look back, my critical (and very objective) eye would probably reach the inevitable conclusion that it was awful to be honest, but the client didn’t mind that. In fact, the client truly liked my work, which did give me more confidence and kept me motivated for future projects.” Jieanu studied architecture – predominantly the CG side of things – and has a keen interest in the architecture of old, ancient cities and civilisations; much of his digital artwork is now based around this ‘civilisation’ concept. He brings his creations to life using a range of software programs: “Photoshop is one of my main tools, although I never stick to just one. I use whatever is needed, based on the particular aims of that project. I usually start a personal work in Photoshop, defining the concept, colour and mood, then switch to 3ds Max, and back to Photoshop for final retouches. Lately I’ve started working more in Photoshop than 3D. I also use Adobe After Effects for compositing or motion graphics.” With such a wealth of experience behind him, Jieanu has plenty of pearls of wisdom for those who want to follow in his footsteps: “I think success is directly related to your ability to prepare, anticipate, learn and practise. “Learning the basics should be the main focus, as the fundamentals never change: photography, composition, animation, colours and so on. Keep aiming higher and always seek to upgrade your skills; simply completing a given task is not enough – that kind of attitude will always prevent you from moving up the performance ladder.”

Digital painting

Dragos Jieanu

THE SHAMAN: “Using mainly 3ds Max, V-Ray and Photoshop, this was something I did for fun. The Sham an looks like a mage Lvl 60 with an epic staff – I couldn’t help it. Too much WOW. Actually this was just a pretext to create a stereoscopi c image”

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Fantasy lighting Mix digital painting with real textures to achieve a lifelike, stylistic fusion

Our expert

Christopher G. Ang www.bigheads-studio.com

Christopher has just ended a twoyear contract with an architectural company in Dubai and now works for a small photography business.

Tutorial files available

01

Set up the document Let’s start by making a new file, go to File>New, rename it, set the Preset to International Paper, Size to A4 and then hit OK. For the brush settings, under Brush Tip Shape, enable Shape Dynamics, Other Dynamics and Smoothing. Change the Control to Pen Pressure.

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Outlining With our rough sketch complete, we are going to give the composition some clean outlines. We’ll do this by adapting the brush settings by unchecking the Other Dynamics option. Once happy with the linework, create another new layer and rename it ‘Outline’.

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nspired by the characters of Final Fantasy, we will create a painting with a realistic environment and a very calm ambience. In this tutorial, we are going to learn how to make a digital portrait from scratch, from the initial sketch through to the final blending mode adjustment. A drawing tablet is required as we can’t apply these particular brush settings using just a mouse. (The customised brushes we’re going to use in this image are provided.)

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Sketching Firstly, make a new layer. To do this, you can either go to Layer>New>Layer, hit Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+N or you can also click the small icon in the bottom right corner. Now that our brush is all set up for sketching, you need to draw a rough sketch of your chosen subject.

We will learn several techniques in Photoshop along the way like how to create contours, depth of field, ambient light and fine hairs, to name just a few. We will also learn how to incorporate some real textures and stock images to make the work more complex and realistic; it will also save you lots of work. Be warned now, this image will take a bit of time to make, so patience is a must. But, rest assured, the results are well worth the effort!

Use the outlines completed in the previous step to flesh out the composition, concentrating on features such as the hair, eyes and clothing

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Drawing details This step will require a bit of patience as it involves adding finer details, which will take some time to draw. Use the outlines completed in the previous step to flesh out the composition, concentrating on features such as the hair, eyes and clothing. We can also use real textures for ultra-detailed elements such as the arm ornament in this design to speed up the process.


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Brush settings for hair Hair is well worth spending time on when it comes to realistic portraits. In this image, we are using three kinds of brush settings to paint the character’s hair (as seen below). The first one (on the left) is the brush setting for making base hair, the second one is for painting the basic details and the third one is for painting finer details and highlights. When painting hair details and highlights use very small sizes between d only.

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Base colours Now that our basic outline has been detailed enough, it’s time to paint the base colours. In this step, we make some new layers below the Outline layer and paint base colours for her skin, sclera, fingernails, etc. Remember, it has to be below the Outline layer so that the colours won’t overlap the line-work.

07 Pay special attention to the lighting of the background image as this will have to match the lighting in the scene in order for them to seamlessly work together

Foreground Use plant imagery supplied, or source some real plant stock of your preference and separate plants from their background using the Lasso tool or Pen tool. Place the plants into the scene and then apply a Gaussian Blur (Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur) to add some depth to the image.

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Background It is now time to find a background image. Browsing through any search engines or community art websites such as www.deviantart. com should provide numerous options. Pay special attention to the lighting of the background image as this will have to match the lighting in the scene in order for them to seamlessly work together.

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Highlights Now that our completed background is in place, it’s time to add highlights. First decide on a direction for the light to enter the scene and make sure you to stick to it. Create a couple of layers at the top of the stack and paint highlights using a low-pixel hard brush with a white colour. Change the blending mode of these layers to Overlay so that the solid white colour blends in naturally into all the layers which sit below it.

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Shading Create a new layer, then use a darker shade of your base skin tone to paint some shadows. Hit Opt/Alt between the base skin layer and the skin shade layer to limit painting to the basic skin only. To most effectively blend the shadows, it’s best to use soft round brushes.

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Grassing up In this step, we’re going to add some real grass images and textures into our scene (see ‘8IMPCYL0.tif’). We are going to make two layers for the grass. One is positioned on the top of the layer stack and the other on the bottom. The top layer is for those grass details which sit in front of the character.


Shadows With highlights done, it’s now time to create shadows. There are several ways to go about this, but for this piece, we are going to create a Curves adjustment layer by pressing the icon at the bottom of the Layers palette and selecting Curves. In the Curves pop-up, adjust the Output to 80 and the Input to 164 and then mask the areas where the shadows are not needed.

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Reflections, details and textures Adding more details will eventually build up the scene and make it generally more interesting. Use new layers to incorporate additional details and remember to rename them as you go along, otherwise you risk getting confused as the layers stack really starts to pile up.

Photomanipulation

Layer Style We’re almost done. It’s time to give the arm decoration some more defined contours. Double-click the design layer and the Layer Style will pop up. Enable the Drop Shadow and then follow the settings that you can see on the screenshot. Next, follow the settings for Bevel and Emboss.

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Use new layers to incorporate additional details and remember to rename them as you go along, otherwise you risk getting confused as the layers stack really starts to pile up

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Ambient light Since we have painted our ‘spotlights’, it’s time to paint in the more general ambient sunlight into our forest environment. We’re going to paint some rays of light cast on the model from above, but broken up, as if there is a canopy of treetops blocking out the sun. The ultimate aim is to create a dappled light effect across her face, which is both atmospheric and believable, given the woodland setting.

Digital painting

Extra drawings and effects To boost the composition, we need to add some final effects. Create a new layer below the ambient lights and spotlights and draw a tattoo that suits your character. We also add a little magic effect like blue electricity on her arm-bands just to add another dimension.

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Finishing touches This series of images illustrates the final adjustments, which make the scene pop. In the second image, we apply Liquify to her nose and mouth, but make sure not to overdo it. The third one adds a soft vignette to frame the model, while the fourth boosts the warmth of the picture using Color Balance. In the final image, we use a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer to increase definition and blend in any elements which stand out using the Liquify filter.

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Using paint textures

Josh Overton breaks down his popular Stoop to Conquer image to show us how to use paint textures effectively

Our expert

Josh Overton

www.overtongraphics.com Josh is a graphic designer based in the UK. He focuses mainly on digital and print illustration and has worked with a number of high-profile clients.

Tutorial files available

01

Set up a print-ready file The first step is to establish the file size we will be working with. Set your document to the International Paper Size A3, at 300dpi. This is ideal because you can print up to A2 posters with this document size at no loss of quality, while saving a few megabytes on your computer.

We need to get back to our passion for design and encourage artists to have the confidence to set trends rather than follow them 168

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igital painting and illustration has come a long way in the last ten years. It is becoming more and more accessible to the public through the use of software such as the Adobe Creative Suite and Photoshop CS5 in particular. It has reached the stage, with so many artists out there, that ideas come easily, but it’s down to us to try and push our imagination to come up with something novel as opposed to re-creating styles that already exist. We are all aware that the majority of designs using paint splatters as the main element tend

to consist of a person jumping in mid-air and either having paint thrown over them or becoming part of them. This can lead to a lot of portfolios comprising very similar work and – if possible – we need to avoid this. We need to fire up our passion for original design and encourage artists to have the confidence to set trends rather than simply follow them. This tutorial takes a look at just what can be achieved if we move away from traditional human subjects and transform the paint splatter textures into something more tangible and integral to the work.

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Textured background Next we find a backdrop. We’re using a textured background (supplied in the main image document: ‘low res Stoop to Conquer. psd’); however any image will do. Remember everything here is only a guide to you creating something special of your own.

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Adjust the wings’ colour Now we have our chosen shape, we merge all the paint splatter layers together and then desaturate the image using Shift+Cmd/ Ctrl+U. Next, we access the Hue/Saturation tool found in Image>Adjustments. Here we tick Colorize and then choose a colour for our linked paint splatters using the sliders. Make sure the blending mode is set to Multiply for all the wings.

Paint splatters Using the supplied paint splatter images, we cut around each one, simply using the Magic Wand tool with a Tolerance of about 5-20. Then we arrange them in a way we like. For this tutorial we have made all the paint splats look like shapes based loosely on wings.


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Rotate and move Having established our basic structure, we duplicate the layer (Cmd/Ctrl+J) and then rotate and reposition it. Using our colour slider again (Cmd/Ctrl+U), we transform the colour completely. The result should be close to what is shown in the image below. Again make sure that the blending mode is set to Multiply.

Photographing paint It’s not that difficult to photograph your own paint textures, which can come in handy for lots of different projects. Get your hands on some paint, and then splash it on white paper (which will make it easier for extraction when you bring the image into Photoshop). Get creative with as many shapes as you can, then grab your camera. Try to shoot in neutral lighting and avoid shadows of yourself or the camera on your paper surface. Set your camera into its Macro focus mode to pick up the detail at a close range and snap away. It might take a few attempts to get the exposure and focus right, but building up your personal stock library can really pay dividends.

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Mash-up First make about three or four copies of the eagle layer that we have cut out. Hide all bar one and set the blending mode of this to Overlay. This should all-but look like the final image now. Now reveal another eagle layer (above the Overlay layer) and cut off the dark body of the eagle, leaving only the head and feet looking natural.

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Rinse and repeat All we do now is repeat the duplications (Cmd/Ctrl+J), the transformations (via Cmd/Ctrl+T) and re-colourisations until we have a nice big wing span as shown in the image. All of a sudden the main structure of our image is really coming together. From here we could go on to create a range of designs, but this time we will focus on making the bald eagle.

Predator For the purposes of this tutorial, we are using a stock image of a bald eagle, but any other bird of your choosing will suffice – and this choice can really affect the overall dynamic. Carefully cut around the stock image using the Magic Wand, Pen and Eraser tools. Work particularly carefully around the head and body, but don’t worry about individual feathers.

Merge and flip At this stage we select all the wing layers by holding down Cmd/Ctrl and clicking on each layer in the Layers tab. Now we duplicate them all, flip them with Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal and rotate them so that they look as if they could be the tail feathers of the bird.

Hey presto The image should look fairly complete, except that the eagle’s body in its natural state doesn’t really fit with the extravagant wings. Now begins the fairly detailed process of getting his body to blend in with his wings. This involves a mash-up of the wings over the black/brown body which we then blend.

Shoot in neutral lighting and [try to] avoid shadows of yourself or the camera on your paper surface


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Eagle drumsticks Feel free to darken the Overlay layer with the Burn tool (use the ‘O’ key). Work around the legs and the neck as in the image for this step so it appears attached to the untouched head and feet. Now all that’s left to do is to add some of the paint splatters from the wings.

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Green body wings Here we duplicate some wing layers and then colour them a faded green and apply a Multiply blending mode. We can then utilise the Eraser tool to get this layer to fit within the eagle’s body shape. Show the eagle layers again to help with this step; we have just hidden the layers temporarily for the sake of the tutorial.

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One last body part Here we repeat the previous step, but this time with a pink wing layer on the body. This time we have aligned it with the legs to add some colour in this fairly bare area. All that’s left to do now is show all the layers and apply the finishing touches.

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Pen tool On a separate layer, using the Pen tool, click at the base of the first wing, then click and hold at the tip of the wing and bend the line to align with the wing shape. In the Paths tab, we right-click the path and click Stroke Path, then select Brush from the dropdown menu and, lastly, enable Simulate Pressure.

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The eagle has landed Make sure the line we have just made is set to Multiply or another blending mode that you think suits the line. Then repeat the process for each wing, matching the colours for best effect. And there we have it – a manipulated image using paint splatters that doesn’t involve someone jumping through paint. Let your imagination soar like an eagle, and see what you can create!

Digital painting

Add some glow To add another dimension we can use the Pen tool and colour match each wing. Use a simple brush to add a nice glow effect to each wing to provide some further depth and texture. First go to the Brushes panel and choose the default round brush sized around 70px.

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To add another dimension, use the Pen tool and colour match each wing. Use a simple brush to add a glow effect

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Professional’s profile

Jonas De Ro

Website: www.jonasdero.be Clients: CGTextures, Perrier, Schweppes, Belgian Opera To say that Jonas De Ro is an artist of many talents would be an understatement. The 24-year-old freelancer is a gifted digital painter, as you can see from the images displayed here. However, digital painting is not his living. In fact, he works on postproduction for music videos and commercials, which utilise his painting skills, as well as having a regular job photographing and editing textures around the world for the stock community. De Ro has been into art and design from a very young age, but around six years ago he discovered deviantART to start sharing his work and now most commissions come through the portfolio site. De Ro’s talents with both photography and painting certainly show through in his self-described ‘eclectic’ style. Asked about his process, he tells us: “I use a combination of integrating photographic elements with hand-painted details. I’ve taken tons of pictures that I end up using in work. Besides that, Photoshop is about the only equation there is. I’ve been using the software for almost ten years and it’s really all I need to do my work.” So far the freelance game has led to some big clients, with much more to come, as De Ro reveals when we enquire about his future work: “Some of [the projects] are quite big, which I am pretty excited about. Unfortunately I am under NDAs [non-disclosure agreements], so I can’t really give any information. It’s been very busy lately and I hope I’ll be able to bring all the projects to a good end.” A tantalising hint of what is to come from this multidisciplinary creative.

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RUBBLETOWN FALLS: “In this work I wanted to create a sense of calm and serenity in a destroyed urban environment. To do this I placed the warm hues of sand against the vibrant blue of the water and sky. I used many photo elements of destroyed houses I photographed in Morocco last summer” the style of piece I wanted to glorify ra. I IROSHI: “When doing this of Tokyo, such as Akihaba ts par ain cert in e hav you architecture you l colour combinations, as sua unu with ent erim exp to make also wanted to ation in Japan I decided situ ent curr the With e. so often see ther s to the disaster” to donate all my print sale this picture as a tribute, and


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URBAN JUNGLE: “When I came across the common term ‘urban jungle’ once I wondered if it had ever been literally portrayed. My intention here was to create a balance between a shanty urban environment and the growth of plants and flowers. I’m also a big fan of having lit windows and doors during a sunny day, though you would usually only see this at night. To create the architecture in the back I used reference photos of towerblocks that I took in China”

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A professional concept artist and matte painter reveals the tricks of the trade

Our expert

Pro matte painting

Jeffrey M.de Guzman, aka Jeff MD www.jeffmdart.com

Jeff is a digital artist from Manila, Philippines. He is an Excellence Award Winner for EXPOSÉ 6 and 8 by Ballistic Publishing. He also has work featured in the Exotique series.

Tutorial files available

C

reating photoreal fantasy environments can be fun, but the process involves many a technique that you’ll need to master. Some digital artists use only photos and then paint over to create their mattes, whereas others use solely 3D software. Both methods have their pros and cons. With a purely 2D approach, using just photos can be tricky; factors to consider when pulling imagery together are perspective, lighting and image resolution. On the other hand, simply using 3D renders makes it more difficult to get photoreal results straight out of the box when rendered. This route entails knowing how to tweak rendering values and how to set up lifelike materials. In this tutorial we’ll show you how to combine photos and 3D renders for the best results. We’ll also be making use of Photoshop’s key filters and default brushes, as well as offering some insight into how to enhance a dull 3D render to give it more life. A basic knowledge of any 3D software will help you to pick up this process quicker, though we have three render passes provided for the 3D uninitiated to play with. We encourage you to develop your own concept and apply the techniques in this Workshop so you end up with an image you can truly call your own. This guide isn’t about magical tricks and one-click solutions. Rather, we’re giving you the foundations so you can make render passes work for you, use photos effectively and push your compositing skills to the next level.

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Photo editing

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01

Concept It’s always best to kick off any project with a rough concept. This will serve as your guide and help you to make artistic decisions faster later on. There’s no need to create an exceptionally well-drawn or painted concept – all you need are good suggestions of shapes, lighting and atmosphere. You can also use photo references, mixing and matching them until you have a solid base to work from.

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Block out in 3D Just like painting or sketching, first block out the general shapes and sizes, and map the layout. This will help to re-create your 2D concept faster. The advantage of blocking things out in 3D is that you can quickly amend your concept to help refine the final composition. For instance, you can experiment with aspects like image views, angles and lighting.

Just like painting or sketching, first block out the general shapes and sizes, and map the layout

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Make textures We only need low-detail textures for now, like those shown in the screenshot – just the basics to help us determine the shape, the feel and the perspective. Later, we will enhance textures with photo stock in our Photoshop composite so don’t dwell too long on this step. Throw in your textures and create your own texture map in Photoshop.

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Set up render passes In Photoshop, open all three render passes. Drag the depth pass over the beauty pass, while holding Cmd/Ctrl+Shift so they will perfectly line up on top of your main image. Repeat with the colour ID pass and drag it over to the beauty pass window. Rename this window to your project file name PSD. Now turn off visibility layers of the depth and colour ID passes for the moment.

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Render passes A beauty pass, colour ID pass (optional) and depth pass are all we need, as we’ll be making the majority of elements within Photoshop. Although having more passes gives us greater control over renders, we’ll keep things simple and use photos to enhance what the renders lack. Make sure all your renders are the same size with alphas.


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Depth map Turn the visibility of the depth layer back on. In the extracted beauty pass layer, press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift, click the layer, Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I to invert selection then delete to remove the background image. Change the blend mode from Normal to Lighten and drop Opacity to 20%. Add a Levels adjustment layer above the depth map. As you play around with the sliders, you will see how the depth and haze of each element is affected.

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Beauty pass In the Channels tab, locate the alpha layer and Cmd/Ctrl-click the layer to create an instant selection. Go back to the Layers palette, hold Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I to invert the selection and press Cmd/Ctrl+J to duplicate or extract the selected area to another layer. Apply a Color Balance adjustment layer on top with a clipping mask, subtly pushing Highlights toward yellow and Shadows toward blue; this will add more colour contrast to the flat renders. Experiment with other adjustment layers and tweak colours as you see fit.

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Colour ID We said this pass was optional, but it removes the burden of making the same selections. Since the renders assigned each piece in different colours as desired, it is easy for us to select a part of the image without tediously following the shape. All we need to do is use the Magic Wand tool to get the area we want.

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Colour grade the sky Duplicate the sky layer and drag it on top of the depth pass layer. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+G to create a clipping mask. Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and apply an 80px value. Change the blending mode to Soft Light, Overlay or Color so that the colouring of the sky will also influence your depth pass.

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Grade the depth pass Now add a Color Balance adjustment layer with a clipping mask to the depth pass layer. Adjust the Shadows values for Blue and Cyan to the colour of the blue sky, but more intense. Change the Highlights values for Yellow and Red to the same values as the bright points of the clouds, but slightly more subtle in intensity. For the Midtones, just add hints of yellow.

It’s a good habit to use adjustment layers to make changes to your images. These give you more control when tweaking the colour values, brightness and levels without actually making changes to the original image. With this approach, you can always go back to any adjustment layer and fine-tune things too.

Digital painting

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Quick tip

Add a sky The sky is one of the most important parts of this image, as it will determine the overall colour value, brightness and general mood. Make sure that you choose a sky that will work with the image’s composition rather than overpower it. Also ensure that you get the correct lighting direction and time of day to match your beauty pass render. Insert the sky below the beauty pass layer.

Building your own image library is a must for every matte painter. Whether it’s a shot of a simple lamppost, foliage, water, or more extreme landscapes, they will all come in handy for some project sooner or later. Try to carry a camera with you at all times so that you can easily take a snapshot of things for current projects as well as future reference. It’s often stressed how important it is to see things from a camera’s perspective. By doing these simple steps, you will learn a lot of things through frequent practice and be able to translate them into your matte paintings.

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Time to reflect For the window reflection, using any part of the sky image, select a portion with the Marquee tool and duplicate. Reduce the layer Opacity to 60-65%. Add a layer mask and fill with black then gradually paint inside the layer mask with a white brush to reveal the image. You may also need to fine-tune the reflection by adjusting its contrast and saturation to get that reflected quality using Hue/Saturation and Curves layers.

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Rock textures Source some rock textures and place over the mountain render pass (you can use the beauty and colour ID passes to help isolate the selection of the mountain with the Magic Wand tool, then use the selection as a mask). Scale down the texture, twist, skew or rotate to match the perspective of the mountain. Lower its black values using Curves or Levels to match the depth/haze already in place.

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Going green Using photos, populate your environment with trees and plants as desired, colour correcting them to match the overall scene. It would be best to have the same lighting in the original photos as much as possible, but if not we can simply relight them.

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Relight the scenery Relighting works well for an image that is flatly lit or has no direct key light. Duplicate the image, press Cmd/Ctrl+B to alter the Color Balance and use Curves (Cmd/Ctrl+M) to adjust the brightness of the tree and rock imagery based on the colour of the sky’s key light. Add a layer mask and fill it with black. Now, with a white standard brush, reveal the lit area gradually.

Photography 101 It’s recommended that you understand the basics of photography when creating this kind of artwork. It can easily be spotted if a matte painting looks more like a photomontage. We must always try to ‘see’ the composition from the camera’s point of view, not just with our eyes. There are a lot of things that photograph differently under different conditions and focal settings. Try to experiment, take a lot of photos and understand the characteristics of an image when shot at various times of day. This may be a bit technical, but it is a key factor in making our final matte painting look like the real deal.

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More textures To quickly give renders a photoreal look, you need to comp photos into your image. Since the renders weren’t edited much, we need to support them with proper texture overlays to give a more realistic feel to every material. Cut and paste photos of closely matched images and then scale to fit the original rendered image, setting the blend mode to Soft Light. Lower Opacity to 20% or until you feel blending is seamless.

Since the renders weren’t edited much, we need to support them with proper texture overlays for a more realistic feel

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Mountain makeover This is where we give the mountain some character. Since ours has no real shape, we need to add some cliff edges, cracks and strata effects. Don’t add loads of images to every part; you just need them here and there to add interesting focal points.


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Light blooms Once a shiny object is hit by light, a subtle glow is captured in a photograph. These bright spots need to be painted in and/or enhanced on existing stock. Add a new layer on top of all the layers we have set to Screen. Get a standard soft-edged brush and set Flow to 20%. Colour pick the brightest highlight colour in the image then lightly begin to work in these blooms.

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Enhance details The tiny details count, even though sometimes we might think they are not necessary. In fact, these are the parts that send a signal to the viewer’s brain and subtle hints to their eyes that they are looking at a real-life image as opposed to a painting. Roof gutters, door jambs, window frames, smoke and reflections are just some of the things you should be paying attention to here. Simply add photos of these elements and blend as in previous steps.

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Chromatic aberration This is a prominent quality you’ll see in most photos. Study a photograph and you will see that the edges have blue and red light fringing. We can emulate this flaw in Photoshop; just go to Filter>Distort>Lens Correction. Set Chromatic Aberration values to Fix Red/ Cyan Fringe +5 and Fix Blue/Yellow Fringe -5.

Film grain To add the final touch, we need a subtle hint of film grain. Add a new layer, use the Marquee tool and roughly make a region an eighth the size of the entire image and fill it with white. Go to Filter> Noise>Add Noise and set Amount to 18%; also check Uniform and Monochromatic. Press Cmd/Ctrl+T to scale up the layer to the entire width of the image. Set the layer to Multiply blending mode then reduce Opacity to 10%.

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Colour overlay Get a photo of an environment or landscape that closely matches your image, ie the lighting, colour and time of day. We need to extract the qualities and mood present in the photo and bring them in to our creation. Next place a new layer at the top of the stack and apply a 70px Gaussian Blur. Set to Soft Light then lower Opacity to 10-15%. You’ll see a big difference when you toggle this blurred image layer on/off.

Digital painting

Well and truly framed Adding framing elements, such as branches or hints of architecture, can really help pull the viewer into the scene. They can also add to the composition, making viewers focus more on the factory in this case. Since these are often foreground elements, it’s best to use a photo at a higher resolution, with accurate lighting and a similar viewing angle. Grab your cameras, go out and start stocking up framing elements for your image library.

Photomanipulation

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Blur edges Once you’re happy with the image, save, flatten it then save as a new copy (just in case you want to go back to previous work and make adjustments). Next select the Blur tool and lower the Flow to 10%. Lightly blur the edges of elements – all those sharp edges of cutout trees, roofs, cliffs, etc. Overly sharp edges are one of the biggest giveaways that images have been comped together when it comes to matte-painted artwork.

Quick tip Practise memorising keyboard shortcuts, as knowing the basic quick commands gives you flexibility and speed when working. Let one hand do the drawing and the other work on the keyboard.

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Workshop

Give digital photos a traditional twist Learn how to turn your model photos into more traditional portraiture

Our expert

Mike Harrison www.destill.net

Mike is a 26-year-old freelance graphic designer and illustrator, currently residing in London. He has seven years’ experience.

Tutorial files available

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Create your canvas The first thing we want to do is create a new Photoshop document, so go to File>New and set the dimensions to 235 x 302mm; this document size will give us enough room to fit the stock image in nicely.

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Threshold overlay To start the sketch look, we need to duplicate the portrait layer we just brought in. Go to Image>Adjustments>Threshold and set the value to 128. Now set this layer’s blending mode to Soft Light at 15% Opacity.

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efore you start this tutorial, have a look around the internet at some traditional media such as paintings and sketches of portraits and the colours and linework that’s used. The inspiration for this Workshop comes from the desire to combine different techniques and fuse the digital with the traditional to create a unique-looking illustration with quite a painterly feel. We can’t all draw photorealistically so using these methods enables us to put a new spin on the traditional piece of art, with some modern digital touches to bring it into the 21st century.

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In this step-by-step guide you will learn how to transform a portrait image into a more traditional-looking yet modern piece of art using various resources such as textures and watercolours, and manipulating that watercolour stock in some creative ways. You will also learn an effective and interesting way of colouring an image using bokeh textures. Photoshop is the natural choice to create this image due to its powerful manipulation tools and the variety of ways in which we can colour the image, as well as the host of final adjustments on offer to pull the work together.

Import the subject Open up the iStockphoto image ‘13759185’ (you will find the small version provided) and bring it into our main document, renaming the layer ‘Stock’. Now hit Cmd/Ctrl+T and scale it up so the whole image fills the height of the canvas, then position so the head and hair are fully visible.

Make the most of custom brushes Watercolour and paint-style brushes can be very useful in more ways than one. For a start, they are a great timesaver, but additionally, you can get some very interesting and diverse results. As is the case with any kind of stock, it’s good practice to create your own if you have the resources to do so; this makes your work more unique and puts your own stamp on it. However, if you have to use someone else’s brushes, don’t just settle for clicking once on the canvas and positioning into place – rather, use the many features of Photoshop, such as the Warp tool and masks, to manipulate and change it to create a brand new paint stroke, and perhaps go on to make your very own brush from that. Custom brushes can be applied to any type of artwork, not just in a painterly style, but also in more subtle ways by the clever use of masking; this will often give more of a rough-and-ready feeling, perfect for grunge effects. You will probably be surprised by how you are able to incorporate this style of paint stroke into most of your work. It will transform it instantly – depending on how far you go with it – into a more creative image and, ultimately, give it a whole new lease of life.


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Gradient map We need to desaturate our stock layer; we will do this using a gradient map as we will get stronger blacks and whites this way. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map, hit OK then use a gradient of black to white. Place this layer above the stock layer.

Curves We need to make the image more dramatic, so go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves and drag the pointer down and to the right to darken the image. Then with the Brush tool set to black, brush onto the mask to remove the darkness from the hair.

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Transform the hair Here comes the interesting part. First load up the brushset provided (destill_highres_ watercolour.abr), set the colour to white, then on a new layer in a new folder, click on the canvas to add a brush. Go to Edit>Transform> Warp and curve the brush. Now scale, rotate and position in line with the hair of the model.

Quick tip If you are looking to get a sketched, pencil look to your linework, open up the brush settings and experiment with the options such as Noise, Shape Dynamics, Scattering and Spacing. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to replicate the traditional pencil without having to scan anything in.

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Lighten up We want to create more focus on the face and hair of our portrait subject. Create a new layer above all layers and, using the Gradient tool set from white to transparent white, drag from near the bottom right upwards to the top left. Brush some very subtle white in the top corners, then set this layer to 70% Opacity.

More watercolour Using the technique from the previous step, continue to add different brushes, warping, scaling, rotating and positioning them on the hair until you have built up some decent-looking painted hair. Also apply some watercolour to the contours of the shoulders and neck.

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Facial linework Let’s bring out the facial features out from the darkness. We’re using a graphics tablet here; if you don’t have one, don’t worry, as the linework doesn’t have to be perfect as we’re going for the sketched look. Select the Brush tool and open the Brushes panel, check Noise and also increase the Size Jitter. Begin to brush over the facial features as demonstrated in the screenshot.

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Hair linework Create a new layer and, using the same brush settings as before with white as the colour, add to the paint strokes by brushing in lines on and around them. This helps to add more detail to the hair and makes it look more sketch-like.

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Facial make-up We’ll now add some subtle white makeup to the eyes and lips. On a new layer use one of the brushes from the brushset to add some strokes to the lips, then repeat for the eyes; set the eye layer to Soft Light blending mode.


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Watercolour details Time to add a bit more detail in the form of some watercolour particles. Using the last brush from the brushset you loaded earlier, set the colour to white and brush onto the canvas on a new layer. Do this about five times and scale, rotate and position each one differently and spread them around.

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Coloured details Finally to start adding some colour to this image! Using a colour scheme of red, orange and yellow, and the same technique as the previous step, add some coloured detail around the canvas. Alternate the colours so you get a good range and amount of detail.

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Photo editing

Add some bokeh We’ll now be adding our bokeh texture to really boost the colour. Open ‘bokeh_1.jpg’ and bring it into our main document, scale it down and set the blending mode to Overlay at 45% Opacity. Grab the Clone tool and Opt/Alt-click on a part with no colour and overlay part of the colour in the top left.

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More bokeh Open up ‘bokeh_2.jpg’, import into the document, rotate 90 degrees, set the blending mode to Screen and reduce the opacity. Now on both bokeh layers, go to Layer>Layer Mask> Reveal All, then grab a watercolour brush from the brushset and erase parts from both to achieve a balanced and clear facial area.

Colour the hair Time to colour the hair. Create a new layer above all other layers then set the blending mode to Overlay. Using a combination of the colour gold and a red-orange colour, select the Brush tool and, with varying sizes, brush colour onto the paint strokes we created earlier.

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Using bokeh textures is a more interesting and useful technique for adding colour to an image than the standard use of brushes with varying hardness and size. Once you’ve added some to your image, apply a mask to hide various parts, then add more bokeh, alter the colours and do the same to build a great colour treatment.

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Photomanipulation

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Custom bokeh There are some parts of the image that could do with more colour so we’ll add our own small amount of bokeh here. Create a new layer with 30% Opacity, select the Brush tool with a Hardness of 70% and brush some circles of various sizes and colours onto the canvas.

There are some parts of the image that could do with more colour so we’ll add our own small amount of bokeh here 183


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Extra colour We now need to add some more colour to make it more balanced throughout the canvas. Using our colour scheme, on a new layer with brush Hardness set to 0%, add some spots of colour where you think it needs to go. Then, with a very large brush, subtly apply some to the bottom part of the body.

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Background noise The background needs to feel more gritty and lighter, which we’ll do by adding some noise. Create a new layer and fill with black, go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise with the Amount set at 30 and Monochromatic. Set the blending mode to Screen, then add a layer mask and erase the noise from all parts of the portrait so it just sits on the background.

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Add some texture In order to get that more traditional look, it’s about time to add some texture. Open up the texture images (links are provided) and bring into our main document above all layers, then scale up slightly to fit. Set the blending mode to Lighter Color and 35% Opacity, then add a layer mask and erase parts on the left so it’s not as intrusive.

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Photo Filter To tie in all the elements and the colour we’ve added, we’ll also add a Photo Filter. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Photo Filter, place this above all layers, select Color then use an orange shade with a 33% Density.

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Adjust colours Here’s a simple yet effective technique to alter the colours quickly and easily. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Hue/Saturation and place this layer at the top of the stack. Now simply drag the Hue slider left to right until you achieve colours that you’re happy with; in our case, we used a value of +10.

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Final touch The last thing we need is one more adjustment layer to bump up the darks of the image. Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer> Brightness/Contrast then drag the Contrast slider up to +10. Now feel free to play around with the other colour settings to suit your style!

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To tie in all the elements and the colour we’ve added, we’ll also add a Photo Filter [adjustment layer]


Professional’s profile

Omar Díaz Website: http://omarportfolio.blogspot.com Featured in: EXPOSÉ 8, EXOTIQUE 6

Photo editing

Photo editing

Omar Díaz is a Spanish freelance digital painter with an eye for female portraits. However, he has studied graphic design, illustration, digital painting and concept art for videogames, and is well versed in Photoshop, Corel Painter and ZBrush, making him multi-talented. Despite his skills, his first professional commission came as a surprise: “I received my first commission when my online galleries were growing and gaining acceptance. After my first commissioned work, the next and others came quickly. The internet is a wonderful showcase where customers tend to approach you.” Art has been part of Díaz’s life for as long as he can remember: “Since I have had the use of reason, I really liked drawing and everything related to the art world. When I was a teenager, I was fascinated by the world of comics, manga and videogame design, creating my own for hours. Temporarily, I had to leave my passion, until new technologies offered me a new opportunity. Digital art and the internet made it possible to turn my hobby into a job.” His work has a tangible feel, which is reflected in the way that he uses his digital software: “I work in a similar way to how I would traditionally in oils, for example, using digital tools, layers, custom brushes and the powerful image-editing and colour tools that Photoshop gives me. I perform my work almost 100 per cent in Photoshop, including preliminary sketches, but also often combined with Corel Painter in the early stages.” When asked what the future holds work-wise, Díaz explains: “I am collaborating in a trilogy of illustrated books called Midnight, which will be released in 2011. I am also starting to work on my own first art book.”

Photomanipulation

Digital painting Graphics & type

BE MY VALENTINE: “This image was originally done for a contest; I wasn’t able to finish in time, but finally it was included in EXPOSÉ 8. I wanted an image with a Valentine theme, but a touch more cartoony than usual, and an image that was easy to read between the different focal points”

missioned for ONLY YOU: “This was com this year. I a book that will be released ge with a wanted to create an ima giving the classical mood, focused on tery” character emotion and mys

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Workshop

Create a digital matte painting Blend multiple photos to create a photorealistic landscape that doesn’t exist in real life – not that anyone would know it…

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Our expert

Alexandru Popescu

www.alexpopescu.net Alex works in the VFX industry, specialising in film and TV work. He concentrates on digital set creation, from concept art, set extensions and 2D matte paintings to full 3D matte-painted environments.

Photo editing

Photo editing

Tutorial files available

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Graphics & type

It’s always useful to create your own photo library. So whenever you’re on holiday or a trip to an interesting place, take the time to shoot some snaps. Bear in mind that good stock photos should have carefully chosen exposure, with a lot of detail both in the light and shadow areas. And the most important thing: create panoramas. Take a couple of pictures of the place and then blend them together using the File>Automate>Photomerge tool in Photoshop. That way you will have ultra high-resolution pictures, with tonnes of detail at your disposal. This panorama was created using around ten images.

Digital painting

Shooting your own photos

Photomanipulation

he aim of this tutorial is to create a digital matte painting consisting of multiple photographic elements. We will learn how to use a large number of different images, blending them together and creating the illusion of a single photo, using only Photoshop. It will require a high attention to detail, bearing in mind that we want a photorealistic result. Although there will be some painting involved, we will be concentrating predominantly on the use of stock photos. The final image will be a breathtaking Mediterranean coastline, based on pictures from the beautiful island of Capri, Italy. Our primary focus will be handling composition, perspective, colour and scale – the key elements of any illustration worth its salt. We will also point out the common pitfalls that come with using stock photos and, of course, how to avoid them or, if working retrospectively, fix them.

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01

Searching for an idea When creating a landscape illustration, unless you already have a detailed brief, it’s always good to browse image libraries to see if a shot really attracts you and fires up your imagination when it comes to taking it to the next level. In this case, browsing through some holiday photos from a trip to Italy conjured up the concept for this aerial coastal view.

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Creating the sketch Because the purpose of the tutorial is mastering the techniques needed to use stock photos, we chose a couple of images and started playing around to find an effective composition. It’s very important not to be limited to just the photographic images you’re using though. Pick up the brush and sketch new elements, get your ideas on the canvas, and strive for a composition that feels right. At this point everything should be very rough and ready. We will worry about the details later.

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Creating the distant background Once we have the sketch, we need to start working on the detailed image. To keep things organised, there must be a natural order to the layer stack, so the background should be at the bottom, middleground elements on top and so on. Because the image is very busy in the lower part, the sky shouldn’t be overly complicated. We are using a panorama of the Gulf of Napoli and a picture of the Capri coast.

Blending the background When creating landscapes by combining photos, a good way to adjust perspective is by aligning the horizon line of the images. Of course, you also need to be careful with scale and colour. So we match the size of the waves in terms of scale and adjust the colour of the sky and far background to the ones in the coastal picture by trying to apply the same values in the water. Always use layer masks and try to avoid using the Eraser to cut out elements.

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Dealing with sharpness Because the panorama has a very crisp resolution compared to the other image, we can see a big difference in sharpness. Using Filter>Blur>Lens Blur can remedy this; a very small value – around 4 – is more than enough. It’s important when dealing with this kind of sharpness issue not to use Gaussian Blur because it creates unrealistic results. We will be repeating this step several times, so take your time with it, as although it may seem basic, it can make all the difference.

When creating landscapes by combining photos, a good way to adjust perspective is by aligning the horizon line of the images. You also need to consider scale and colour 188

Quick tip When Ctrl/rightclicking on the eye to the left of the layer name, a popup menu lets you choose the layer’s colour. A good colour code will help you navigate faster through PSD files with a lot of layers. For example, use cold to warm colours as you go from background to foreground.

Building up the background Next we add another background cliff, this time on the right. Again, it’s placed by aligning the horizon and, of course, keeping in mind the direction of the sun. It is also colour corrected to match the cliffs on the opposite side, which are at the same distance. We roughly extend the water too using the Clone Stamp tool, just to fill some of the empty space.

Begin the middleground The next element to bring into the scene is the right middleground cliff. The lighting is great in this photo and you can clearly see highlights and shadows. Colour correction is again needed to match the existing elements. First we apply a general correction to match the left side, and then we lift the black level and add a bit of blue to the back of the cliff for consistency.


The road to success… The scale issue can be remedied by cutting some of the trees from the left cliff and adding them to the right one. Now that we have some big trees, the eye will be fooled into thinking that the smaller trees are actually bushes. We also add the wall on the left, with those beautiful stone roads leading to our building. Roads are a great compositional tool for leading the viewer’s eye through your scene.

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Foreground cliff 2 The last major element to add is the right foreground cliff. This one adds a big shadow area, for the sake of balance. Other changes include another background cliff, extending the left cliff and work on the shoreline.

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Foreground cliff 1 The large cliff on the left is one of the main elements in the image. It brings a lot to the overall composition, making the image interesting and giving it both perspective and depth. When adding this particular stock image, as it is a focal point, we are very careful to make the blending edge believable. Try to add vegetation on top or paint some grass on the cliff near the trees to give it a more natural feel.

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Build up the cliffs Next we add the left middleground cliff, using the same workflow as in previous steps. The immediate problem that emerges is that the middleground cliffs are at the same distance, but they are different scales. Always be careful of this issue when adding new elements, because it’s a common problem in this kind of project. It’s not very visible on the rocks, but the trees are clearly different sizes.

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Use adjustment layers with the Create Clipping Mask option for colour correcting. Create an adjustment layer by clicking the icon at the bottom of the Layers tab. Then by Ctrl/right-clicking on this layer, choose Create Clipping Mask; now this will affect only the layer underneath. This way you can paint inside the masks of the adjustment layers and work only on relevant parts of the image. Another benefit is that you’re not altering the original file so you can make changes and refer to the original whenever you want.

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Branching out To help create depth in the image, it’s best to use objects with the same size at different distances. For example, a big tree in the foreground, compared to those in the middleground and background will help the viewer’s eye estimate distance in the scene. With this in mind, we have strategically placed some trees in the foreground.

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Adding shadows By now, you should have noticed that something is very wrong in the image. We have added several cliffs, but not once added any shadows. That’s because it’s best to have the main shapes/objects finalised before painting any shaded areas. Notice how much shading improves the image, by making everything sit together more realistically, especially the shadow on the left cliff. This step will take some time, but it is time well spent.

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Creating the arches One very important aspect of our image is giving the landscape visual impact. Inspired by the natural arch that exists in Capri, we add these arches that link the left and right cliffs using the same image as the big arch in the background and a bit of clone painting. Notice that the lighting and shadows give these elements volume and integrate them smoothly into the landscape.

Colour correcting the houses Buildings tend to be made of materials that exist in the local vicinity, so we will colour correct them to match the cliffs. We also need to relight the image. Create a highlight colour correction layer and another for the shadows. First make the layer masks black and then start painting in the new highlights and shadows based on the direction of the sunlight.

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More vegetation To better portray the scale of the arches, we add some trees and other bushes on top of them. When doing so, be careful with the black levels and the sharpness of the elements in order to keep the image consistent. Also take care to keep constant lighting on the trees and to add shadows on the ground according to the direction of the sunlight. Touches like this are easily overlooked, but can rapidly put an end to believability.

To create atmospheric depth, bear in mind that blacks fade to grey the further an object is in the distance. It’s a good idea to add a Black & White adjustment layer on top of your image, just to see if everything flows correctly and, if not, make the necessary adjustments.

Setting the mood The image is looking photoreal, but the lighting is a bit dull. So, when everything is in place, start playing with the contrast, colour balance and colour saturation, etc. You can even try adding a sun flare, though be careful not to overdo it. These adjustments can make the difference between a good image and a great image.

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Adding haze To enhance the sense of depth, you can use haze. In this case, we want to better distinguish the foreground from the background so we add a layer of yellowish haze, as if the sun is shining through water vapour. It’s good to spend some time on these little details to make the image more atmospheric.

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A hint of civilisation It’s always nice to add an element which brings a story to a landscape. This time, we’ve decided on a small group of buildings. Use the perspective of the existing house to place them correctly. Distort the image keeping the perspective lines in mind. If needed, draw a perspective grid based around that house and then match your new buildings to that.

Don’t be afraid to make big changes even at the end; the final result is what matters most

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Final tweaks During the process, you should flip the image from time to time to check everything flows. Don’t do it too often, or you may end up with a very symmetrical scene. In this case, we think the flipped image works better. We also horizontally scale it to remove a section we don’t like. Don’t be afraid to make big changes even at the end; the final result is what matters most.


Professional’s profile

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e I produced for DARKSTALKERS: “This was an imag ” © Darkstalkers UDON’s Darkstalkers Tribute Art Book ed & 2010 Capcom Co. Ltd. All rights reserv

Christian Nauck Website: www.nusillu.com Clients: Marvel, Telekom, Ubisoft Blue Byte, Fisher-Price

Graphics & type

Christian Nauck is a concept artist who is clearly influenced by the comic genre. He admits, however, that his attitude towards style was narrow until he discovered the internet. Then in his twenties, he admits: “I realised how much more the art world had to offer. That’s when I started using different techniques and digital painting. I still love comics though.” Basically self-taught, Nauck finds it hard to describe his own style. He confesses to having so many different tastes that he has a problem finding his own creative voice in between these. “I’m constantly switching, trying out what I like the most. I think I’m slowly drifting to a painterly, less refined look. Independent from this, my comic roots are still shining through.” This is apparent in his latest commercial projects including interiors and cover-works for Marvel and BOOM! Studios, as well as his character designs for Ubisoft’s The Settlers 7. Currently he is supplementing more analogue roots to complement his Photoshop application. He explains: “In recent years I almost always used the software for the entire process – from sketching to the final painted image. For my traditional comic works I use Photoshop to create layouts before I print them and start pencilling.” He draws inspiration from like-minded artists who use the same types of application in their own work. Tommy Lee Edwards, Nic Klein, Greg Tocchini, Alberto Mielgo are a few of his favourites, but he adds: “There are a lot of great concept artists as well. But I think, most of the time, illustrations and comics are more appealing to me and generally more memorable too.”

Digital painting

ROBOJOURNEY: “Another personal work, where I wanted to achieve a sense of adventure”

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Fantasy painting Tips, tricks and a few secrets behind the creation of a whimsical digital work with a painterly finish Our expert

Bente Schlick www.creativesoul.de

Bente is a freelance illustrator who lives in Hamburg, Germany. She loves to paint fantasy-themed images and is always looking for new challenges.

Tutorial files available

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his tutorial will take us through the creation of Poesie. It will reveal how to combine digital and traditional techniques, producing unique effects which help to give the painting a special character, stepping back from the overly polished look often associated with digital art. We will also learn about background and figure painting in general and the possibilities to give a painting a more personal touch with

custom brushes. Moreover, this Workshop illustrates how to combine magical elements in a contemporary environment without letting a single item distract from the overall composition. Inspiration came from studying the landscape paintings of the old Masters and, in general, from the urge to try something ‘different’. To follow this tutorial, we recommend you scan in some unused paper textures prior to starting (see the boxout on page 194 for guidance).

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Sketch ideas It’s always good to start with a sketch from which to develop the colour scheme, as well as everything else. Even with a very rough concept, it’s much easier to proceed. Poesie (the English word is ‘poesy’) will be fantasy themed and will touch on the world of fairies and magic, so we should bear these motifs in mind when painting this image. Early on, we choose a fairylike creature which works well with the scenery.

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Speed paintings A few speed paintings help us to decide how the composition looks best. How should the figure sit? Is it interesting enough? Often it helps if we flip the image or rotate it, even if it might look weird at first. It’s advisable to experiment and see how it affects the overall work. It can help by giving a completely new perspective.

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Final composition In the end we decide to go for a more unusual composition that makes it look as if the figure is about to ‘jump’ into the scene. The saying ‘calm before the storm’ perfectly fits as a theme for this painting; it’s a mixture of strength and delicateness that also mirrors the title.

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Wings We don’t want the figure to be a typical fairy; in fact, we’d like to create a new magical being. Reference of birds and butterflies help a lot. We need to decide on the wings’ position and if we want arms to be visible or not. Before deciding what we want, we try a few different concepts and see what most appeals.

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Lighting The lighting will be subtle and suggest an imminent storm. To support this, the brightest point of the background is around the figure’s head. Further away the scenery becomes darker, especially in the top left of the painting. Little flying spots on the water indicate a breeze, as does the creature’s floating hair.

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Dotted brush A dotted brush is great for many uses. We can use it for delicate strands of hair, grass or little details on the wings. For the hair, it’s not necessary to paint every stroke. This brush creates several in one move and adds nice varied effects.

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Colour scheme We can boost the illusion of ‘jumping into the scene’ with the colour scheme that we employ. Soft transitions in blue and violet tones support the peacefulness of the background while the figure is painted in vibrant orange, red and brown. The wings really brighten up the painting, as do details like the jewellery and little red spots in the foreground.

Scan and add paper The paper needs to be scanned at 300 or 600dpi in greyscale and saved as a TIFF. It should have a visible texture and at least a size of 20 x 30cm. Open it in Photoshop and choose Image>Adjustments>Invert. Now drag it over the painted background and set the blending to Linear Light. Our background appeared too dark, so we set the Opacity to around 20%. If it’s still too dark, go to Image>Adjustments>Levels and adjust. If you want more visible texture, increase the opacity and also tweak the Brightness/Contrast settings.

It’s advisable to play a little with opacity and flow as well as using the Blur filter to go over some areas where the brush was used

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Sprinkle brush Different kinds of sprinkle brushes are perfect for texturing. They make everything look less polished. It’s advisable to play a little with Opacity and Flow as well as using the Blur filter to go over some areas where the brush was used. Leaving a few spots unblurred helps to achieve a more three-dimensional look. Note, you can use these as skin textures too. Remember that skin doesn’t look the same everywhere on your character though, as it’s built up from different layers.


Layer effects Playing with blending modes while using the brushes discussed in Steps 7 and 8 can add interesting and surprising effects, especially if we copy the layers with the brushes and set them to Hard Light, Multiply or Screen; the example shows highlights in the hair.

Details Once the background is set, we can decide if we want to paint more details over the paper layer or under it. Painting over could bring out certain elements and make it appear more three dimensional. We can see when we take a closer look at the surface that although it looks very detailed from afar, it’s the application that helps with the small details – much like the Masters often just painted spots or brushstrokes instead of full objects. The viewer should decide what they want to see. We certainly want to avoid ‘killing’ the magic of the painting by adding too many details; this is meant to be a fantasy scene after all!

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Final step At the end of the process, we merge the layers and check the contrast, colour balance and saturation of our painting. As a general rule we should always try to make at least some minor adjustments. Also don’t forget to flip the image horizontally to see if there are any major mistakes or inconsistencies that have been overlooked.

Quick tip Levels can be accessed using Cmd/Ctrl+L. You can use this tool to correct the tonal range and colour balance of your image. We find that the results are more defined than when simply using the Color Balance adjustment.

In the frame

Graphics & type

Foliage brush Foliage brushes are a nice extra and can really save us a lot of time. However, we should always combine them with hand-painted leaves or branches as a finishing touch, otherwise we risk plants looking too uniform. For the background, we use a couple of different brushes starting with simple texture brushes and finishing with more ‘leafshaped ones. At the end we use a standard brush to add some spots of colour to serve as highlights.

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Clouds For painting clouds, we use brushes which are inspired by the different cloud types in the real world. Since this painting includes stormy clouds as well as fair-weather clouds, we use them economically and experiment with opacity and flow to get the desired effect. There are more soft clouds in the middle of the painting, whereas the clouds above the figure look more menacing and stormy.

Canvas textures For a special effect in this painting, we use scanned paper that we overlay over our background behind the figure. (See how to do this in the ‘Scan and add paper’ boxout.) We can use all sorts of paper for this – it’s up to you – but every paper (whether it’s acrylic or pastel) has a different structure and, with that, a different effect. For this work, we use watercolour paper as it will make the painting look even less polished and digital, as we set out in our aims.

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If you’re not entirely sure about your end result, you can always add another layer with a frame to border the whole painting and play with its size. During the painting process, you can make it visible and invisible as and when you like and see how it affects the composition.

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Radical Publishing We explore the publisher’s five core principles helping to create cinematic comic experiences

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RICHARD AND SALADIN (LEFT):

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n only its third year of existence, comic publishing house Radical has kindled its own success as much as it has ignited readers’ imaginations, making a great first impression on the industry. Awarded the Diamond Comic Distributor ‘Best New Publisher’ Gem award in 2009 and picked for 2010 Best Publisher award by Ain’t It Cool News’ annual comic awards, it all started when publisher Barry Levine and art director Jeremy Berger took advantage of Levine’s film and publishing industry contacts. The pair started out

developing concepts and characters, which – in effect – enabled them to hit the ground running. Investment came knocking only a year later. “Because of my background as a designer and photographer, people used to say that in a lot of my album covers and photographs I painted with light. Since I’ve always been a big fan of artists like William Turner and an equally huge fan of graphic novels, I decided that to give Radical distinction we would need to have a very painted style, whether it was hand, watercolour or Photoshopped,” explains Levine.

Since the genesis of Radical the pair have worked closely, structuring Radical themes and production with the same attentive eyes. Their initial strategy was a modest one, finding that less was definitely more, as Berger reveals: “This enabled our fan base to identify with a very specific genre. We’re now engaged in storytelling of all kinds – we create sci-fi, fantasy, crime, horror, supernatural, dramas and period pieces. We’re not as restricted as we were in the beginning. We’re now also looking into four quadrant projects,” which is the four core demographics of audiences: young, adult, male and female. It wasn’t long before the publishing house was producing recognisable titles. Hercules: The Thracian Wars and Caliber: First Canon of Justice were then benchmark titles. Levine continues: “Caliber’s cover was very cinematic, and the art for both made an instant impression on fans and critics alike.” Berger adds: “ Those projects were really what set the bar for Radical. Coming out of the gates with two great stories where the art had a beautifully painted style, with very abstract and cinematic panel designs really set a precedent. Being a part of these two books allowed me to understand what goes into creating comics and, let me tell you, it isn’t an easy task!” Berger believes that a lot of concept artists come into this industry thinking that they will be able to breeze through four or five pages a week no problem, but he warns: “They get a very quick reality check when revisions are sent back and forth until the quality is 100 per cent. Barry Levine sets a very strict high standard when it comes to art, and we don’t accept anything other than perfection, which I feel is evidenced in Hercules and Caliber.” The majority of the artists Radical hires for its books are either from Levine’s past projects or are found by Berger on the web. “Once I find an artist

Graphics & type

Basically Photoshop revolutionised the way art is created today

Setting the benchmark

Digital painting

“This illustration was art directed by Barry Levine to be the first image created for Assassins: Sword of the Apocalypse. The artist here is Meduzarts Digital Environment Studio and the team set a really high standard” © 2010 Radical Publishing, Inc and Ground:zero Productions Ltd

Photomanipulation

MATA HARI ON STAGE: “This production rendering is for a graphic novel called Mata Hari, created and written by Rich Wilkes. My whole idea behind this image was to capture the true beauty of Mata Hari dancing on stage” © 2010 Radical Publishing, Inc and Rich Wilkes

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that I feel can create the quality of work we are looking for, I present him or her to Barry and he will advise whether he feels they are right for the project or not,” Berger explains. “Most of the artists that we work with don’t ever really get the chance to work on stories like the ones Radical publishes, so we enjoy giving them the opportunity to explore the universe that we’re creating. I think it’s really incredible to see how excited artists get, especially digital painters, when contacted. It’s a definite thrill for me.” Radical’s style of art is very different from most companies in this field. It approaches art using a very realistic and cinematic stylisation while still maintaining a painterly look. Using unique colour palettes that embellish the line art and overall story, the publisher works very closely with the artists on every project to make sure that each has a unique look, which can stand on its own and as part of the rest of the portfolio. “We also use unique camera perspectives and panel designs that help the story to flow in a succinct manner,” says Levine. “Finally, we make sure that, when appropriate, the art has a defined brushstroke texture that helps create depth and a type of realism that doesn’t occur when the art is smooth and slick.”

Creative hard line As a contemporary publishing house, Radical looks to produce innovative styles throughout its portfolio. This is essentially what drives the acceptance of only high-quality work. However, not to make publication seem completely unattainable, Berger explains what it takes to be an artist in the Radical setup. “There are five qualities I look for when making my selections.

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CASINO SHOOTOUT: “This

production rendering was used in the production portfolio that helped sell this project to DreamWorks. Created for EARP: Saints for Sinners, Ryohei Hase did an incredible job bringing the art direction to life” © 2010 Radical Publishing, Inc, Matt Cirulnick and David Manpearl

SIEGE OF ACRE (RIGHT): “Meduzarts

Digital Environment Studio illustrated this image and they really did a superb job. This image is for one of our first hybrid-illustrated novels, Assassins: Sword of the Apocalypse” © 2010 Radical Publishing, Inc and Ground:zero Productions Ltd

First, how does the artist approach each image with regard to camera angle and perspective? Second, does the artist understand how to create depth using the foreground, midground and background? Third, does the artist create and utilise textures that embellish the art and make the main focus of the image pop to the eye? Fourth, does the artist spend as much time on mid- and background character detail as they do on the foreground characters. Finally, which is one of the biggest challenges I find with most artists, are they able to create realistic, detailed, but painterly faces?” These five factors are really what Radical looks at when searching and hiring artists for its comic portfolio, as well as production renderings. However, some art that the company creates doesn’t include characters, but rather environments. “In that case, character detail isn’t required, but the other four elements become even more important,” adds Berger. Photoshop plays a pivotal role in helping produce, present and obtain these standards, as Berger reveals: “Basically Photoshop revolutionised the way art is created today, as it allows artists to work faster as well as make multiple revisions. One of the ways Radical is able to keep the level of quality at an all-time high is the amount of time we spend on each image to reach perfection. This is a precedent that Barry has implemented and I believe it’s the recipe for our success.” Radical is currently using Photoshop for all the paintings produced for its titles. The firm also uses Painter. Berger says: “In addition, we use Photoshop to do all the prep work for our books, ads and design work. Our in-house designer, Nick Cabugos, has completely taught himself Photoshop and all of the Adobe programs, and that has allowed him to become a true master of the trade.”

Berger is keen to justify the belief in these five core values and productivity of our favourite apps, through recent projects being produced by Radical artists. “I would have to say the most exciting project I have been working on is Oblivion. Working closely with Joseph Kosinski, director of TRON: Legacy, and his assistant Emily Cheung has been an incredible experience. Also the artist, Andrée Wallin, is a superstar and really understands what we’re looking for on this project. Being able to work so closely with Kosinski allows me to really understand his approach to each image and the way his eye works when creating art. This is an exciting project because we are doing this book as a hybrid-illustrated novel, meaning that there will be roughly 40 fullypainted landscape images to accompany the prose, which will amount to about 25,000 words. Due to its groundbreaking nature, this format will


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We’re making great stories that can translate into different formats

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SHAMBHALA (RIGHT): “This is a production rendering I worked very closely on with Barry Levine. He wanted to create a city that was similar to Rio de Janeiro slums, and set it at the base of the Himalayas” © 2009-2010 Radical Publishing, Inc also allow Radical to innovate in the digital publishing space, so it’s amazing to be a part of the progression of the interactive reading experiences that are becoming available. Keep an eye out for this book in 2011.”

Lasting impression Another memorable project that has the pair excited is the The Last Days of American Crime comic mini series, created and written by Rick Remender and illustrated by Greg Tocchini. “Rick is a superb writer and with this project he really had the freedom to let his mind run free,” explains

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Berger. “Greg was able to bring Rick’s story to life through his extremely cinematic approach.” When reading this comic in the office, we found each page panel beautifully crafted and, when reading the book, you’re immersed in an almost cinematic experience, as if you’re watching a film by a very stylised director. Berger continues: “Greg understands camera perspective and his quality of art has really set the bar as far as comics go. He also used a unique approach, which creates an almost watercolour style. This is a very tricky technique and I think Greg is a master of his trade. It was also really great working with superstar Alex Maleev on his cover art for the project. Alex, in my opinion, is one of the best artists in the world, as he – just like Greg – understands the cinematic and atmospheric approach to art. Alex is able to create a very textured and realistic look to his work, which perfectly aligns itself with our style.” It seems that cinematic quality is the culmination of Radical’s five creative disciplines, lending itself to previsualisation work. The company’s high concepts are universal and

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LAST FLIGHT HOME: “I won Best

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Digital Art of 2010 for this piece entitled Last Flight Home. I entered the comp because of the high level of prestige and exposure, and because David Carson was one of the judges! It’s sort of nerve-wracking to get in the ring with the best in the world, and strut your stuff. But it was worth it”

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DESCENT INTO ARCHIPELAGO (ABOVE): “This was a fun image to create because I worked with my good friend Tae Young Choi. The image was for After Dark, created by Antoine Fuqua and Wesley Snipes” © 2010 Radical Publishing, Inc, Fuqua Films and Wesley Snipes

unique, lending themselves to a multitude of filmmakers. However, Levine stresses: “We aren’t making books to make films, we’re making great stories that can translate into different formats – films, games, any platform. Once again, the cinematic quality of our art seems to attract all creatives. Media gives the title and art a wider platform and introduces the project – whether it’s a film, TV, or videogame – to a larger audience that wouldn’t necessarily buy a graphic novel. Also, it gives artists the opportunity to see their art as merchandising, including toys and games, etc.”

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A DOOR TO A DREAM (LEFT): “This was an image that was created for a hybrid-illustrated novel we’re publishing called Jake The Dreaming with illustrations by Andrew Jones. Andrew Jones’ stylisation was a perfect fit. This image really gives a feel for the imaginative dream world” © 2010 Radical Publishing, Inc, Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman

With high-profile projects lined up including October’s mini series of Abattoir from Darren Lynn Bousman – director of the Saw franchise films – written by Rob Levin and Troy Peteri and 2011’s scheduled release of graphic novel Mata Hari, by xXx screenwriter Rich Wilkes, Radical isn’t sitting on its laurels. Then Radical Publishing has always seen compromise as immaterial, as Levine finally reveals: “I’ve been critical, especially of myself,

DAMAGED COVER ART: “This is

a cover that I artdirected for a project called Damaged, created by John and Michael Schwarz. The artist is Alex Maleev; he did a great job” © 2010 Radical Publishing, Inc and Full Clip Productions

since the day I became an artist. Since I was a rockand-roll photographer, I probably liked only 20 per cent of my work. Between Jeremy and myself, we’re incredibly critical of our art. Our production renderings must define what the characters and story are all about. You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression in this world.” www.radicalpublishing.com

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By using some fundamental Photoshop tools, you can create stunning and realistic designs

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204 Feature: Editorial illustration Digital painting

How to work to a brief

212 100% Photoshop illustration Use the Pen tool to draw concept cars that look three dimensional

218 Design thematic typography PAGE 238

Design type from a set theme

221 Profile: Sadi Yann

How simple shapes can be dramatic

226 Logo design

Build an effective logo with 3D elements and a bit of Photoshop know-how

Create an abstract poster design using geometric shapes and textures

234 Futuristic typography

Emulate the popular Tron look with this guide

238 Playing with shapes

Circles, squares and triangles combine

242 Create depth in

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230 Digital collage techniques

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Throw traditional and digital into the mix to create striking designs

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How to give your creations a tangible feel

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247 Profile: Rogier de Boevé Graphical inspiration

248 Interview: The KDU We chat to this super agency

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Editorial illustration We explore the best industry routes and working practices with our group of professional editorial artists, as they reveal their commercial styles and top tips

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ou might think editorial illustration is constrained by certain rules and conventions, predetermined by clients and established templates. However the boom of various digital formats is redefining the terms. Common sketch-based art is matched with richer visual devices and a multitude of illustrative styles are employed – cartoon, mixed media, graphic design and super-digital methods are all acceptable. However, there’s still a great respect for the original art forms, with digital styles often replicating traditional application. One tradition that certainly hasn’t changed is the impact such imagery serves. Cover art still needs to entice readers to pick up a book or magazine, with artists needing to present a product or brand’s attitude and persona in one compact visual – no easy feat. All editorial artwork is used to capture the personality and character of the publication, piquing consumers’ interest and whether it’s worthy enough for them to pick up and, ultimately, buy. In this feature we delve into what defines current commercial standards, delivering you in-depth industry advice to give you a head-start in your own editorial design career. When it comes to making it as a commercially viable editorial illustrator, it seems you can do it the easy way, or the hard way. Never to deter self-initiated careers – which can be fruitful when coupling robust aesthetics with an enthusiastic work ethic – following these blindly can result in misunderstanding a variety of practices and conventions. Many of our professional artists present a strong case for education, in order to really appreciate applied techniques and working standards.

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All editorial artwork is used to capture the personality and character of the publication, piquing consumers’ interest and whether it’s worthy enough for them to pick up and, ultimately, buy

Renowned illustrator Andy Potts (www.andy-potts. com) is one such artist. Graduating from Portsmouth University, UK, with a BA in Illustration, he explains: “This Illustration course was ideal as it was tailored to answering editorial briefs and working to commercial demands, while encouraging you to develop a visual language and style. That course has changed [since I attended], but I’m sure there are similar illustration or arts-based courses that would fit the bill.” Caricaturist and member of the Society of Illustrators NY, Jason Seiler (www.jasonseiler.com) did the same in a roundabout way. He self-studied and copied drawings produced by published artists, such as Roberto Parada and C F Payne, which extensively improved his appreciation of industry styles. This was enough for him to get exposure and paid work via smaller publications

such as Cracked magazine. While he openly admits to not having a definitive plan of action when starting out, he knew education was vital. “At the age of 26, I decided to attend the American Academy of Art in Chicago,” Seiler says. “I got a lot out of my life-drawing classes there; it was just the thing that I needed. The classes taught me a lot about values, colour and light.”

Profitable agents

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o is education the only means to this end? Perhaps, as Seiler goes on to reveal: “During my third year of school, I went to New York City to attend the annual show of The Society of Illustrators. When I was there I met many big artists and art directors – all of them asking why I was going to school? They all thought I should be working full time. The ironic thing was that I was turning down jobs so that I could do schoolwork, in order to get a degree in illustration, so that one day I could get work. It didn’t make any sense!” Realistically, for most artists, graduation is just the beginning, as Andrew Archer (www.andrewarcher. com), freelance illustrator from New Zealand, puts into perspective: “I think it’s always been an entry point into illustration, as it’s one of the more common and fastmoving mediums within the industry. With that in mind I also think editorial illustration is one of the most difficult and challenging areas; it proves a great test to see if you have what it takes out of [the] school [environment].” So how do you close this gap and reach out to clients? Our artists were again all in agreement that


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Managing your style

Be aware of your limitations and use these to your advantage – simplifying workflows when completing deadlines

T-PAIN: ”KING magazine asked me to come up with the idea and so I did. I wasn’t very familiar with T-Pain, so I listened to some of his music and felt that painting him in space would be sort of cool” © Jason Seiler/KING magazine

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exposure is the key, even if they go about this in individual ways; for instance, design blogs and societies, personal websites and quarterly newsletters with working updates are all endorsed as good promotional devices. However, one thing they all have in common is agent representation, which can be a massive advantage in the commercial arena. The Association of Illustrators (AOI), début art, the Central Illustration Agency and Anna Goodson Management are just a few examples out there. However, be as careful in choosing your agent, as they are when choosing you. Our artists err on the side of caution as far as agent fees are concerned. These can have a significant impact on your yearly income. Taking upwards of 25 per cent of the commission, this can be considerably detrimental when applied to all projects, especially those with smaller editorial fees. But Archer explains: “The main downside, obviously, is that they take a commission of the entire fee which, depending on people’s opinion, can outweigh its worth. I personally think if you use your agent’s skillset and experience well, they definitely pay off in the long run.” A good agent should know what you’re capable of – what your strengths are, as well as your weaknesses. A good agent works for and with you, to which Potts agrees: “I have two: Good Illustration Agency in the UK and Anna Goodson Management in Canada covering North America. Having an agent brings great benefits in

Familiarisation

When working with new clients, provide them with an example of your process so they understand how your roughs relate to the final image

Be punctual

Handing in your work early can be beneficial. It calms your nerves and you have time if the editor suggests changes

DRAFTING (ABOVE): Illustration about drafting and slipstreaming techniques used within triathlons © Andrew Archer/Art director Marco Crisari, Triathlete’s World

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terms of increased visibility and workload, particularly abroad where it would be difficult to establish yourself without tapping into an agency’s client network.”

An agent’s workload often goes unnoticed, but this can determine how much time you have for creative pursuits; negotiating contracts, image usage and chasing invoices, etc, can take up a sizable portion of your day

An agent’s workload often goes unnoticed, but this can determine how much time you have for creative pursuits; negotiating contracts, image usage and chasing invoices, etc, can all take up a sizable portion of

your day. Professional mixed-media illustrator Darren Hopes (www.darrenhopes.com) says: “Editorial is fast turnaround work. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much, along with the varied subject matter – so with any luck you spend most of your time working. This means less time for advertising yourself so it’s great to have that in the hands of a dynamic group like the Central Illustration Agency; the team there is fantastic at coming up with ideas to promote artists’ work in very imaginative ways, which as an individual I would be hard pushed to afford or have time to execute.”

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stablishing that an affiliation with an agent can open you and your work up to global markets, this also means that your portfolio needs to be diverse and comprehensive. But must this confine you to solely contemporary styles? Some of our artists are very particular about using a combination of the latest trends, but most are dedicated to an entirely individualistic approach. But is one of these approaches more productive than another? “I’m not really sure,” says expert Seiler. “Fads in illustration come and go; I think the artists who stay for the long-haul are the ones who have strong drawing,


Interview: Photo editing

Photo editing

We discuss ways to draw representation with Vicky Hobbs, studio manager at Lemonade Illustration Agency

Photomanipulation Digital painting Graphics & type

Graphics & type

Lemonade is a multidisciplinary illustration agency, serving clients in all sectors and in all media, working in over 17 countries out of two offices. Studio manager Vicky Hobbs explains: “Lemonade gives its artists access to a worldwide client database and the client often will take a risk on a new talent because they’re with the agency.” Editorial commissions generally come from a variety of clients with very tight deadlines to meet the next issue. “We have supplied clients as diverse as The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair, The Guardian and more,” explains Hobbs. Being part of Lemonade is a sign of excellence in itself, as the studio requires a certain quality and attitude from represented artists. Hobbs tells us: “Reliability goes without saying. Illustrators seldom understand that professionalism is just as important as talent. All our illustrators are extremely talented, but what makes a successful editorial illustrator is their ability to have ideas and a conceptual imagination; style is not as important as the content of the images. The type of illustration required varies from publication to publication and our large variety of illustrators are more than equipped to cover this – but we always look for the right attitude to the job as well as the quality of the illustrator’s work.”

2008 HAIR REVIEW (ABOVE): Illustration for a review of the cool men’s cuts and trends of 2008, featuring three of the top haircut trends in one © Andrew Archer/Art director Jill Thompson, Style Clip magazine

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Iconography

Focus on the main theme of an article and try to find the simplest visual way to convey the core message through applied elements

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URBAN UTOPIA: ”Illustration for a cover and feature story looking at how the city is greener than the country. Commissioned by Craig Mackie” © Andy Potts/New Scientist


Interview: We talk to Sam Freeman, art director at Design Week

there does seem to be a technophobia backlash against digital design and a growing fascination with handcrafted, more low-fidelity approaches. That’s not to say that artists aren’t amalgamating the two to get the best of both worlds.

DESIGN WEEK SUPPLEMENT (ABOVE LEFT): ”Cover illustration for Design Week’s Interaction supplement, part of a series of five illustrations. Commissioned by Sam Freeman” © Andy Potts/Design Week

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o our artists aren’t only using digital media to replicate traditional types, but also for cutting production times extensively – keeping on top of the demands of the commercial client. Seiler reinforces this point: “Painting digitally saves a lot of stress and frustration when working on an editorial illustration. To work traditionally means that you have to paint fast enough and finish with enough time for your painting to dry so that you can scan it. If there are changes that need to be made, forget about it; too much to deal with and, in my personal opinion,

FUTURISM (ABOVE RIGHT): “Illustration for an article on the futurist Ray Kurzweil” © Andy Potts/Independent On Sunday Magazine; art direction by Ben Brannan

Graphics & type

Creative intervention

Graphics & type

Many styles emerge in tandem with software innovations, but more recently there does seem to be a technophobia backlash against digital design and a growing fascination with handcrafted, more lowfidelity approaches

A large amount of editorial illustration is now made up of hand-rendered elements, pencil lines or paint textures, adding life and spontaneity to imagery. Many believe that there is no real computer-generated substitute for such, yet digital media is essential in controlling and manipulating different media upon scanning. Hopes puts it into perspective: “I use Photoshop extensively, relying on custom brushes I have created from real media to apply a more natural, painterly feel. I can work very quickly and almost entirely in Photoshop if the deadline is very tight. The beauty is the layer-based nature of Photoshop makes tweaks and colour alterations quick and simple.”

Digital painting

OCD – STAIRS (TOP LEFT): ”Work for The Sunday Telegraph on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I was struck by the story of a girl who was unable to go up stairs” © Darren Hopes/The Sunday Telegraph

situation. It seems that just when computer-generated images are cool, the whole thing flips vice versa and hand-drawn images come back in.” Many styles emerge in tandem with software innovations, but more recently

Photomanipulation

painting and compositional skills, as well as humility and honesty about their own work – a willingness to grow and improve.” Potts agrees: “There are always particular stylistic fads and trends that capture the imagination only to be imitated into a swift and unfashionable grave. I try to avoid stylistic pitfalls by stubbornly ignoring the zeitgeist and concentrating on my own visual approach. Possibly this is to my detriment, but at the moment it’s a case of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. In a bid to avoid any stylistic overlaps I tend to look for inspiration outside the confines of the illustration world generally; films, art, photography and music, etc.” Interestingly, Darren Hopes opens a whole new avenue of discussion. Believing the industry to also be in a state of flux, he infers: “There are specific and noticeable trends – perhaps they create each other through counteraction? In the Nineties there was a surge of digital-looking illustration, due to the rise of the technology and perhaps also reflected politics, looking ahead to the Millennium. Slick and visually complex, this seemed to be then counteracted by a return to very basic mediums, at least in appearance and skills; pencils and drawing were back [if still through digital means].” Archer’s thoughts on this are less abstract: “Styles and trends are forever changing – as are people’s perceptions as to what is good or relevant to the time. I’m not sure why, but I think it’s just the natural evolution of anything visual. The most noticeable style loop that rotates frequently is the whole computer versus hand

Photo editing

Design Week magazine, providing information on graphics, digital media, commercial interiors, product and exhibition design, regularly commissions editorial illustration for its articles. Art director Sam Freeman sources designers both from agencies and extensive web searches. “Illustrators are generally very good at self promotion, so I’m constantly getting samples in the form of printed cards, emailed PDFs and links to websites,” he explains. A usual brief from Freeman will feature basic concepts, a full brief and samples of the artist’s work he particularly likes. “Being a weekly, the turnaround time is often tight. At best, it’s a week and at worst, it’s two days,” he reveals. “If it’s a longer lead time, I’ll request a rough after a couple of days to ensure things are developing the way I envisaged. If there are any changes, I’ll request them at this stage. From that point on, it’s in the hands of the illustrator.” Asked which styles are currently emerging, he says: “A move away from vector to more of a hand-rendered feel is evident. Collage illustration is something I’m seeing more and more of – artists like Ciara Phelan, Chrissie Abbott and James Dawe are all great examples of this.”

BAD BETS OBAMA (TOP RIGHT): ”The concept for this one was basic. The art director for The Weekly Standard will sometimes do a rough sketch to show what he’d like to see and then it’s up to me to bring his idea to life” © Jason Seiler/The Weekly Standard

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magazines and books don’t pay enough for traditional painting. This is why I prefer painting digitally for my editorial work. If changes are needed, it’s never the end of the world. It may take a little while to get it right, but no where near the time if painted traditionally.” New artists should prepare for amendments and intervention, yet the complexity of an editorial brief lies with the art directors themselves. A standard brief

A standard brief consists of the image dimensions and the article that needs illustrating, with a date for the initial rough and the final deadline. Some art directors have a specific idea that they want to explore and others like to see what you can come up with consists of the image dimensions and the article that needs illustrating, with a date for the initial rough and the final deadline. Some art directors have a specific idea that they want to explore and others like to see what you can come up with. “A good art director will

give you guidance and then trust you to deliver your interpretation of the brief,” explains Potts. “Once you have built up a body of work, clients can use your previous illustrations to establish what they’re aiming for, which is useful, as long as they aren’t looking for a carbon copy.” With more blasé directors, you have to learn to be flexible, punctual and able to work with them in a polite and patient manner. “This can be difficult sometimes, especially when it’s about a topic that I have no real interest in,” admits Seiler. “Sometimes the ideas that I come up with are way off what the art director and editor might have in mind for the article, but it will spark ideas and a dialogue.” Such skills let you ride the changes between style and formats that editorial clients demand. Traditionally, editorial illustrators tend to be employed by the newspaper and magazine industries; but these fields are adapting to the digital age, and many publications are now developing an online or app-based presence. “I’ve found that my commissions are increasingly for print and digital use,” explains Potts. “Editorial illustration is a large chunk of what I do, but the same skills and visual style are now transferable to other creative markets such as advertising, design and packaging.” This is all great news for the next generation of editorial illustrators. Art directors will always be attracted to a new aesthetic because it’s what catches the eye and stands out on the shelf. “Diverse in terms of style as well as subject matter, and because of the fast turnaround and sheer amount of commissioned imagery, I think editorial art directors will take a chance,” suggests Hopes. “Many students will get their first commissions from the editorial industry as directors know that students are a great [source] for fresh ideas.”

Project rundown: We run through a real-world editorial commission that appeared in the popular Advanced Photoshop magazine Most magazines rely on using editorial illustrators to bring features to life. At the planning stage of each issue of Advanced Photoshop (www.advancedphotoshop. co.uk), editor Julie Bassett and senior designer Stacey Grove sit down and plan a rough concept. They recently had the task of illustrating a feature on the Adobe Photoshop Exchange. After deciding the editorial would run as a series of mini reviews of the best resources, rather than running text, Grove went to work laying out the basic structure to see what space would be available for the illustration. She picked Radim Malinic (aka Brand Nu, www.brandnu.co.uk) to illustrate this feature, as his online portfolio showed many examples of high-quality work on similar projects. Malinic was sent a full commission, detailing the concept of the illustration, the editorial layout and the type of resources being featured. After a few days’ hard work, the team received the first draft of the artwork, which had a fantastic style, but required tweaks for it to work effectively with the editorial. More progress shots were sent in, until both Grove and Malinic were happy with the final artwork.

First draft

Final artwork

WITNESS (ABOVE LEFT): ”Illustration for Fortean Times for an article on witness statements of supernatural phenomena” © Darren Hopes/Fortean Times

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OPENER FOR MLB (ABOVE RIGHT): ”This past year I was commissioned by Major League Baseball to paint three illustrations for the 2010 World Series Program. Being that I live in Chicago, I thought I should illustrate a player strolling around in Chicago looking like a tourist” © Jason Seiler/MLB

RICKY ON SUBWAY FOR MLB (TOP RIGHT): ”This painting is one of the smaller spot illustrations that I did for Major League Baseball. For this piece I wanted to show how this player enjoys riding the New York subways” © Jason Seiler/MLB


Conceptualise

Photo editing

Photo editing

Come up with as many concepts as you can when reading through the copy – try not to get railroaded into one idea or a narrow way of thinking

Photomanipulation Digital painting Graphics & type

Graphics & type

UTNE READER: ”The title is always across the top, and there is always a block of text on the left side. After learning about the space I had to work with, I could only think of one way to compose the image” © Jason Seiler/Utne Reader

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100% Photoshop illustration Thomas has worked professionally as a designer and illustrator since 2003, founding PiXLMiX, Inc in 2006. He is a published artist and has won recognition for his design work.

Tutorial files available

Concept To begin, it’s important that your concept is clearly defined. Start with a clean canvas with a neutral or grey background. Use a small hard-edged brush set to 60-70% Opacity and start outlining your basic concept. It may help to illustrate a concept from different perspectives, but typically a profile shot is useful to generate an angled layout.

Adding definition Now that you have the fundamental concept, you can eliminate the profile from your canvas and concentrate on defining the main design, clarifying the edges and colour. Then select the Smudge tool set to a mediumsized hard brush (use the standard Chalk setting), with the Opacity set to 60-70% and blend the highlights further.

Basic colour For the main layout, make use of a larger hardedged brush with varying opacity to add in the basic colour value. Use a smaller size brush set to 30-40% Opacity to paint in some basic highlights and shadows. You can play around with the general colour and shading as you go, but it’s useful to get an idea of how these things will look so you have something to work towards.

Photo editing

Achieving those effective highlights Nothing makes your concept vehicle look more realistic, stand out or look plain amazing than effective highlighting. While shaping a vehicle is important, it is adding effective lighting that will provide the realism and overall depth to your concept and make it stunning. When creating highlights on your concept vehicle, there are a couple of things that are necessary to consider: a) Direction: what is the direction of the light you are trying to illustrate? b) Shape: what is the overall contour the light source is playing over? Utilise the Pen tool to draw basic highlight (usually white) shapes in a vector-style format. Take care to bear the contours of the vehicle in mind and how light will play over them. After you have a basic highlight shape, utilise the Eraser tool with a large soft-edged brush (around 30-40% Opacity) to slowly blend the edges that move away from the primary light source. This will serve to blend the highlight, but still keep the basic shape/form clean and crisp. Then, using the Smudge tool set to a small hardedged brush (you’ll find that Photoshop has a standard Chalk-style setting), with the Opacity set to 60-70%, experiment with lightly smudging the edges of the specular to create some more subtle contour highlighting. You will have to play around with the Smudge tool brush size and opacity until you find settings you are comfortable with. This is a trial-and-error process, but once you’ve sussed the settings, you’ll be able to create a variety of effective highlights.

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Finally, we will utilise Photoshop’s layering capacity and work with various filter combinations to achieve some great overall lighting effects. Because a considerable chunk of this Workshop is illustration-based, you will need to rely heavily upon your own intuition, creativity and talent. We recommend that you take some time and experiment with the techniques outlined, as there may be different ways to get similar or even better results. Some of the techniques described in this tutorial will be a little easier if you own a graphics tablet, but all of them should be obtainable with the use of a mouse and your own artistic ingenuity.

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n this tutorial we will show you how to create a stunning concept vehicle design in 2D using only Photoshop. Many current concept vehicle designs rely heavily upon 3D rendering programs. However, by using some fundamental Photoshop tools, we will demonstrate that you can create stunning and realistic concept designs in 2D quite proficiently. In particular, we will be relying on key principles of lighting and form to achieve realism and a high level of detail. We will also make significant use of the Smudge tool, primarily using a single brush to apply a wide variety of high and lowlights to really make our design pop.

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www.pixlmix.com

Photomanipulation

Our expert

Thomas Ciccone

Photo editing

Learn how to create realistic concept vehicles in 2D using solely Photoshop

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Create base shapes With the Pen tool, create basic shapes for your vehicle in a vector-style format. This will serve as the foundation over which you will overlay highlights and detail, so take care to form them relatively close to the original concept. It can be really helpful to merge the basic concept design developed in Step 3 and layer it above or below as a reference.

Add basic seat highlights Duplicate the basic seat layer, then merge the layer effects (ie Rasterize the seat layer, add a layer above and then merge with Cmd/Ctrl+E). Next, apply some basic specular via Filter>Plastic Wrap with a Highlight Strength of 20, Detail of 1 and Smoothness of 15.

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Add basic shading Choosing the different vehicle parts (ie fender, body, wheels, etc), add basic shading and colours of your choice. It’s useful to play with the Layer Style settings, adding an Inner Glow and Gradient Map (black-white) at 20-25% Opacity to add the beginnings of shadow and depth on each particular vehicle part.

Define the highlights Using the original seat layer, place the highlighted seat layer below the original. Then create a new layer set to the Overlay blending mode with the original seat layer at 100% Opacity.

Finish with texture Define a new pattern for the seat texture using the ‘CarbonFiber.psd’ file provided. Create a rectangle over the seat base. Set the Layer Style to Pattern Overlay using the new pattern, scaled to 35%. Create the texture layer by using the Warp tool and set the layer to Soft Light at 100% Opacity. Make an inverse selection of the seat base and remove any excess texture to finish the seat!

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Build the inside seat Reducing the opacity of the main vehicle groups, form the shape for the inner seat using the Pen tool as before. Apply basic colour and shading using an Inner Glow and Gradient Map set to 20-30% Opacity.

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Add detail Create additional detail using the hard-edged brush used previously set at 50% Opacity. Use black and white tones to brush in seat details such as thread, shaded outlines and any other elements that add a bit more realism. Touches such as this will sell the final work.

Stay organised It will really help you in the long run to keep your layers organised. Do this by grouping your vehicle parts in main work groups that you can quickly move and manipulate. This particularly helps when you come to add highlights and textures, so that you can easily work on specific areas, as well as keeping the image consistent and reducing confusion. For each group, build up your layers with highlights, shade, textures and detail.


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Set basic high/lowlights Restore the outer shell to 100% Opacity and begin laying over high and lowlights. Use white and grey tones to create light and dark areas and, with a large soft-edged Eraser, blend in shapes; utilise a medium-sized hard brush to smudge along the vehicle contours, varying the opacity as needed. For further guidance, refer to the ‘Achieving those effective highlights’ boxout which appears on page 213).

Reverse time Duplicate your work groups as you go along in stages. This helps to break up the workflow, but also enables you to go back to previous stages if you end up not liking changes that you’ve made.

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Photo editing

Photo editing

Spot checking During the basic high and lowlight process, you may want to zoom in and out to do some spot checking. Don’t be afraid to experiment with varying blending modes for the basic shapes, as well as colour combinations, changing opacities and tones until you are satisfied with a very solid working base model.

Photomanipulation

Inner rear wheel Add definition to the rear wheel by using the Smudge tool set to a small hard-edged brush (opt for the Chalk setting again), with the Opacity set to 60-70%. Use your artistic talent to define the gradient and highlights of the inner rear wheel (don’t forget to consolidate the universal layer effects first).

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Colour the rear wheel Add colour to the base rear tyre by changing the Layer Style to Color Overlay, set to the shade of your choice. Add in a new layer above the rear wheel layers, and apply some shading around the wheel edge using a small soft-edged brush with black at low opacity (play around with settings to suit your needs).

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Front wheel fix When doing a spot check, we noticed the front wheel well didn’t show off the front tyre enough, so we decided to modify the body a bit. Don’t be afraid to change things up as you go; that’s how work evolves.

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Don’t be afraid to experiment with varying blending modes for the basic shapes, as well as colour combinations

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Front wheel detail Add an inner wheel cover and trim to the front tyre. Use two oval layers, one slightly bigger than the other, and apply a gradient at full opacity to each, using the colour fade that suits you (we chose dark grey and green for the trim). After, apply some highlights to the inner wheel to show off the contours of the inner hub.

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Burn, baby, burn! Duplicate and merge your major body groupings, highlights and all. Then create Color and Linear Burns at varying opacities with these new layers (Layer Style>Color Burn or Linear Burn). You can play with the opacity to get a redefined effect of your base bodywork.

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Add body colour Duplicate each of the body base shape layers (the fenders, body, etc). Rasterize and consolidate all of the effects and then add some colour to each using a gradient at full opacity (again, use the shade of your choice). Trace a selection where you would like to add colour and partially remove portions of each layer.

Build up lighting for the headlight covers by creating shape layers. Then use a soft Eraser at low Opacity (15-20%) to blend them in

Headlights Create the headlights by using the two iStockphoto headlight files (see the links provided). Use the Selection tool to crop out pieces that you think will work and create a conglomerate – use your artistic freedom here! You may have to use the Warp tool on them a bit to match the contours of the body.

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Headlight detail Build up detail for the headlights by using selected pieces and creating a conglomerate. Touch up the result using the Dodge and Burn tools at low opacities (and Desaturate) to increase the highlights and shadows (don’t forget to add small accents where needed).

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Headlight lighting Build up lighting for the headlight covers by creating shape layers. Then use a soft Eraser at low Opacity (15-20%) to blend them in. Contour the highlights using the Smudge tool with a medium-sized hard brush at 60-70% Opacity.

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Tyre detail Create treading for the front tyres by adding shape layers along the bottom edges. You can use any interesting pattern, but for detail, open the Layer Style palette and add a Gradient Map, a dark Inner Glow set to 75% and an Inner Shadow set to 75% at about 150 degrees, to match the main scene lighting.

Tyre texture Add texture to the front tyres using the concrete texture (download for free using the link provided). Use the Warp tool to shape the layer to the general shape of each wheel. Then set the layer to the Overlay blending mode at about 20-25% Opacity. Don’t forget to erase any texture lying outside the tyre.


Vent your creativity You will need to rely on your illustration and painting techniques to create a side vent for the front fender. Using a small brush at 75% Opacity, paint a rough dark outline for the vent. Then build up lighting and shadows by using a slightly smaller brush to paint them in, as well as the Dodge and Burn tools. Finally utilise the Smudge tool with a small hard-edged brush at 50% Opacity to create more refined detail.

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Console Using a similar process as that used to create the vent, paint in a small portion of a console visible behind the front fender and the window. Highlight it using a lighter colour and blend in the specular using the Smudge tool as per previous steps.

It’s all in the details

Photo editing

It’s always important to examine how the image looks at full size close up. Constantly zooming in and out enables you to get a perspective of the whole composition, as well as to correct errors. Ultimately, a successful 2D image that challenges 3D rendering will need a good amount of realism that can only be achieved by paying attention to the micro details. A great way to add authenticity is to incorporate a multitude of minute details that emphasise lighting and contours, as well as shadows and textures. One way of adding some extra interest is to use Photoshop’s ability to mimic light reflections with a Lens Flare.

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Create a background You can use your imagination when it comes to creating a background. In this case we generated a landscape scene using the ‘sand.jpg’ and ‘skyline.jpg’ files provided. We blended them using a selection with a feathered edge at 150px. We used a dark background colour and set the sand layer to include a Gradient Overlay at 100% Opacity. Finally we painted in some touched-up mountains along the skyline.

Cross the finish line To make the vehicle jump off the page, we added two final shadow layers below the entire vehicle using the Pen tool, applying first a Gaussian Blur and then a Motion Blur. We then created a blurred highlight layer set to Overlay at 100% Opacity. Finally we added some interesting text in the sky to give our creation a name.

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Digital painting

Touch up detail Create extra detail by adding another Overlay layer, at 25-30% Opacity, over the entire vehicle image. Brush in highlights using a large, white soft-edged brush at 10-15% Opacity. Finally, add vibrancy to the screen by duplicating the original base shape used and set the layer to Linear Dodge at 100% Opacity. For a fresh perspective, try flipping the whole image horizontally!

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Merge and texture Create a merged vehicle by hiding the background layer, then creating a merged image (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/ Alt+Shift+E). Import the paper texture file (download for free using the link provided) and resize/orientate to fit over the entire image. Create an Overlay layer at 25% Opacity from this texture and warp around the contours of the image. Remove any excess so there is only texture over the car body and wheels.

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Design thematic typography Our expert

Create illustrative type that mirrors the word with our advice Luca Molnar

www.lucamolnar.com From Hungary, Luca has been a professional digital artist since 2005, and has worked for magazines, record labels and design agencies. She’s also represented by Illustration Ltd.

Tutorial files available

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n this tutorial we’re looking at how to make an eye-catching, photorealistic piece of typography. While creating it, we were influenced by winter; it just made it easier to look through the window and see all the snow (which will probably be long gone for most of us by the time you read this!). We were inspired by cold colours, the shapes of ice and by the way it shines. We must confess that we finished working on Freeze a few times, only to realise that we wanted to change some element or another. Overall, we spent around

five days on this illustration. You will need lots of patience for this work; it’s not difficult to make, but it does demand lots of time and adjustments. You will be able to repeat many steps, so this is ideal for beginner Photoshoppers or those who really want to hone their Pen tool skills. Before we get started, download all the stock images that you want to use from your collection or picture libraries, and put them into one folder for convenience. Alternatively, think of your own theme and find images to suit – you could create a word for all the seasons!


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Create the letters First make a new document and fill the background with dark blue. Select the Type tool and enter the word ‘FREEZE’. Now Ctrl/right-click on the text layer and Rasterize Type. Select the first letter and cut it out, then repeat for each letter. Rotate the letters a little for interest.

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Cut out the ice Now you have to get your ice! Open an image of ice and use the Pen tool to select areas, then Ctrl/right-click>Make Selection. Select the Rectangular Marquee tool, then Ctrl/ right click on the selected area and go to Layer via Cut. Drop the layer into the main document.

Putting the pieces together Resize the image as much as needed and rotate it to the first letter ‘F’. Now enhance the colours – go to Image>Adjustments> Brightness/Contrast and play around with the values it until happy. Once you’re done, select the Eraser tool, choose a soft brush and rub away the edges of the ice, blending the ice to the letter ‘F’.

Photo editing

Photo editing

Make the rest of the letters With the ‘F’ complete – or whichever letter you have finished if creating an alternative word – all you have to do now is repeat the same steps to develop the rest of the letters. Try to be patient with this process, even though it will undoubtedly become repetitive; you can spread the work out over several days or you could always pick a shorter word like ‘COLD’! Bear in mind as you go along that the main aim of this process is to make the letters look as realistic as possible.

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Duplicate layers Drop the ice into the main document, adjust the colours and erase the edges. Now Ctrl/right-click on the layer and select Duplicate Layer. Go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal; afterwards, rotate the layer to the letter ‘F’. Repeat these steps several times, until you can no longer see the ends of the letter.

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Finish the first letter Keep cutting out ice elements and dropping them onto the ‘F’, adjusting the colours, rotating them and erasing the edges of the images as required. Do this until your letter starts looking as if it is completely frozen. The more ice you use, the better it will look, but remember all letters will require the same level of detail!

Get more material Open another icicle image and cut out the ice elements. After that open more images and keep cutting. We know this process is fairly laborious, but you need varied material to build an interesting composition. Cut out as many different types of ice as you can.

Digital painting

When creating a photorealistic piece, make sure to use lots of different stock images – in this case of ice – as you can. Take your time to cut elements out very cleanly too. There’s nothing worse than a badly cut image; it can make the whole piece look unprofessional. Try to avoid the Magic Eraser tool; only use this if the background is clean and in high contrast. The Pen tool is a lot more effective in this instance as you have complete control throughout.

Photomanipulation

Clean cutouts

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Play with colours It’s very important to use the right colours to make your piece believable. Change the contrast (Image>Adjustments>Brightness and Contrast), play with Curves (Image>Adjustments>Curves) and alter the Vibrance (Image>Adjustments>Vibrance). Try to make the ice very shiny and cold looking. Our goal is to make people feel as if it is winter when they look at this piece.

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Merge layers Merge all the layers for each letter, so that each character will be just one layer. You will probably have trouble finding the layers for each letter if you haven’t labelled and grouped them as you’ve gone along. To make it easier, select the Move tool, press Cmd/Ctrl and click on the ice, and this will reveal which layer it is on.

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Make it shine! Make a new layer at the top of the stack. Choose any brush you like for creating highlights and set the blending mode to Overlay. Select a white colour and start clicking on the ice – you will see that Overlay makes it look very shiny and more glamorous. Add accents until satisfied and ensure they all conform to one light source.

Quick tip

Shadows Click on the layer of the letter ‘F’, then Ctrl/right-click>Blending Options. Choose Drop Shadow, setting Size to 250pt and Opacity to 77%. This shadow will help us to see the letters more distinctly and creates an illusion of more depth. Make sure that all the layers of the letters are in the right order.

Up the drama Now select the Burn tool and start making the dark areas of the ice even darker. Be careful not to make any part of the letters too dark though – ie black – because that will detract from the image. Basically we are trying to add more contrast to the piece, making the darks darker and the lights brighter.

When you are adding highlights to your piece, opt for the Overlay or Screen blending modes. Using these modes can help you to make the accents look more natural. Play with the opacity as well and use Filter>Blur>Smart Blur if necessary.

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Play with the background We still have a very simple background. Now’s the time to add some lights, shadows or even a few simple geometric shapes with the Pen tool. Give yourself enough time to stylise the background as a good backdrop can really set off your text.

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Final touches We have all but finished our work now. We just have to make a few last tweaks to make it even more beautiful. Merge all the layers and then go to Image>Adjustments> Brightness and Contrast and play with the settings. Before merging all layers, save your layered file separately for future use.

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Professional’s profile

Sadi Yann Website: www.blindsalida.fr Clients: Orange, Samsung, Sony

Photo editing

Photomanipulation Digital painting

MUSIQUE DES FRIANDISES: “In this work, I wanted to give rise to the imagination. By combining unusual objects, eg dominoes, mouths, bowties, etc, I aroused a sense of curiosity”

Graphics & type

Graphics & type

MORE MUSIC: “I particularly like to work from line-work. I’m always looking for new ways to use these. Here I’ve used drawings of phones, flowers, ribbons, strings, etc”

Photo editing

French illustrator Sadi Yann has an explosive style. By exploiting dynamic shapes and colours, he presents clear design solutions. “I simplify my work through a geometric system,” he explains. He is currently working on a second style, re-creating the blindSALIDA brand. Yann’s bold, methodical work lends much to the communication-based companies he works with – delivering their messages through direct and gripping aesthetics. Yann himself studied in the communications education sector, as he tells us: “This gave me an overview of communication media through film lessons, software development and multimedia work.” Since qualifying he has gone on to work for clients including mobile companies Orange and Samsung. Understanding the importance of communication when obtaining commissions, Yann made the positive choice to join an agency to promote his design. “Thanks to Creative Syndicate (www.creative-syndicate.com), my first commission as a freelancer was an Orange advertising campaign about music. I had to create a set of musical objects out of orange squares,” he reveals. “Thanks to the agency Publicis Conseil, I worked several more times for Orange – for example, the last spring campaign in France.” Only becoming a freelancer two years ago, Yann has been expanding his commercial portfolio bit by bit. He continues: “Quick France currently has a menu with four lenses that I drew. Just before this, Orange stores in France were redecorated using lots of my illustrations.” He uses both Illustrator and Photoshop extensively to achieve his styles. In conclusion, he says: “ I resource stock images of objects from the web, which help me to create objects within Illustrator – simplified by using my geometric style. I then move into Photoshop and adjust final cuts, adjusting Color Balance and Levels and applying lighting effects.”

TOURBILLONS: “Here the idea was to create the most psychedelic visual possible, without using the customary techniques defined in the Sixties”

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Mixed-media illustration

We show you how to reproduce this ultra-contemporary style, using photo stock, Photoshop effects and your own illustrated elements

Our expert

Adam Smith

www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk/user/Adam With a BA Hons in Illustration, Adam Smith looks forward to a digital renaissance in style, and sets out to see if he still has some illustrative flair to share…

Tutorial files available

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ndy Potts, Darren Hopes and Paul Holland are just a few of the commercial artists currently producing a very distinct mixed-media illustration style, with photo stock playing an integral role in creating these visions, used as both a guide and as a medium unto itself, alongside art-worked elements. Such an immediate style has no right or wrong outcome, and is ultimately open to both approach and application. However, there are a few techniques that will give you a strong starting point to realise an authentic

interpretation, and this is what we set out to show you here. This step-by-step reveals many solutions, taken from both inside and outside our favourite image-editing app. Traditional textures and scanned sketch images meet PS blending modes for maximum diversity. We also reveal how to apply intuitive blending and layer style options for rich tones to make your image pop, while layer masks help tie visuals together. But the real bonus of this style is that you don’t need to be a pro – you can really fly into this with gusto and adapt the methods to meet your own needs.

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Basics Begin by opening your document (235 x 302mm, 300dpi). Copy and paste a crumpled paper texture into your document, resize if necessary, then decrease the Fill value to around 40%. Duplicate several times, experimenting with Levels on each layer to get the contours and exposure to taste, before opening the model image (we chose a runner).

Model selections Cut out your model by tracing edges using the Pen Path tool, selecting the Paths palette and Cmd/Ctrl-clicking the Path layer. Copy and paste the model layer into your image document. Using the same process, select your model’s shorts and shirt, and import onto separate layers (Cmd/Ctrl+J).

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Coloured silhouette Cmd/Ctrl-click your model layer thumbnail, making an active selection. Select Solid Color from the ‘Create new fill or adjustment’ drop options at the base of the Layers palette. We’ve applied an orange tone. Now duplicate your model layer, place above your orange fill and decrease to 10% Opacity. Mask out any facial detail.

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The real bonus of this style is that you don’t need to be a pro – you can really fly into this with gusto and adapt the methods to meet your own needs


Photomanipulation

Digital painting

Graphics & type

Graphics & type

Photo editing

Photo editing

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Coloured exposure Duplicate your model copy layer, place this at the top of the stack and set a Screen blending mode. Hide all layers bar the Fill and model copy types. Hit Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E to create a new merged layer. Use Levels to boost exposure and get richer colours with Image> Adjustments>Variations>More Red. Apply a Soft Light blending mode to this new merged layer. Delete/hide your second model copy layer.

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Coloured exposure 2 Use the attached layer mask to erase and let through softer orange tones from the model copy/Fill layers beneath, preserving only highlighted areas. Duplicate your new merged layer, delete the layer mask and change tones to purple using Hue/Saturation sliders. Applying a new layer mask, erase highlighted edges and preserve shadowed areas.

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Details This process will wash out a lot of detail. To bring a bit back into our foreground leg, accentuating motion, simply duplicate your original model, place this above your purple model layer, and integrate tones using Hue/ Saturation and Variations options. Apply a layer mask, and softly erase all detail except the knee area and surrounding muscle tension.

Mixed-media distribution

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Details 2 Merge all related model layers as in Step 4. Select the shorts layer, Cmd/Ctrl+I, applying a Red Color Overlay from the Layer Style options; set blending to Multiply. Cmd/Ctrl-click the shirt layer thumbnail, activate your newly merged layer, Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+I and apply a layer mask. Combine your merged model layer and shorts layer together into a new layer. Now hide all others bar this one.

Quick tip With all good illustration, no matter the style, it must have context. Themes and topics of inspiration will dictate and inspire iconography and image visuals applied. This helps create interesting visual cues instead of less relevant elements, perhaps associated with more surreal digital genres.

When applying textures, try to find natural edges that complement form and movement such as clothing 224

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Mixed-media selections Now resize this layer smaller and place to the right. Apply a layer mask. Choose a canvas texture image, selecting painted elements with the Magic Wand tool, then pasting into your image. Place over your model’s lower leg, Cmd/ Ctrl-click the layer thumbnail, then erase from your merged model layer mask with an 80% Opacity black chalk brush.

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Visual values The top cutout looks hollow, so duplicate your model, match the scale of your merged model, and select Image>Adjustments> Hue/Saturation>Colorize, tweaking sliders to give your duplicate model layer an all-over green tone. Set Opacity to 20% and apply a layer mask, erasing from the torso to leave only the T-shirt.

By this stage you will have the basic style established, determining the form and focal points of your image. Now you can apply your mixed-media textures freely – be expressive and don’t be too fussy, just let it flow. Experiment to the max when applying these with Overlay, Screen, Multiply, Linear Light and Color Dodge blending modes – to shade and highlight certain areas. However, when applying textures, try to find natural edges that complement form and movement. We recommend focusing on re-creating existing structure in areas such as clothing, anatomy and hair; essentially this lends an air of seamless flow to your work.


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Mixed-media effect See boxout to better understand how to apply mixed media. We’ve applied an acrylic texture – rescaled and oriented to the shorts with Screen blending, to the hind leg with Multiply, and to the head and shoulders with Vivid Light, Linear Light and Color Dodge. We’ve added a splat texture too, set to Luminosity, to imitate mud splats off our model’s foot.

Go ape Create a stronger shadow by duplicating your previous merged model layer, and resize and position using Transform>Distort. Press Cmd/ Ctrl+U, dropping Saturation and Lightness to -100, and set the blending mode to Vivid Light. Now open an image such as our gorilla photo Use selection tools to copy and paste into your main document, duplicating, rescaling and positioning, as in the example. Also apply Hue/ Saturation>Colorize to enhance blue tones.

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Go ape 2 We’ve created the rest of the ape using the Pen Shape tool, layering one arm above the head layer. We’ve applied mixed-media texture effects for visual interest. We use the same Pen settings to create the ribbons, making it look as if our ape is holding back our runner as he breaks through – symbolic of ‘getting that monkey off your back’.

Photo editing

Photo editing

Sky exposure 2 Create a new layer on top with an orange-to-transparent gradient, from the top-right to the runner’s left shoulder. Set an Overlay blending mode and duplicate. You can create complementary texture effects by applying Screen, Hard Light and Linear Light blending modes. We’ve used our own and SXC’s ‘Untitled’, ‘psychedelic nature 12’ and ‘painted wall 1’ examples.

Graphics & type

Typography can really add to an illustrative image of this style. Experiment with font types to add a unique aesthetic appeal – that complements shape and form or accentuates direction. Numbers and symbols can also be used as a form of iconography, relating to running metaphors or other themes.

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Graphics & type

Quick tip

Digital painting

We’ve created Pen Shape layers, set to Multiply blending, in order to juxtapose textures

Sky exposure Reposition and distort as you like, then merge these two layers into a new separate layer (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E). We’ve integrated the bottom building edge using a mask, applying a Linear Burn blending mode. Create a new layer on top, set the blending mode to Multiply and apply a 60% dark grey-to-transparent gradient from the top-left corner to your model’s right shoulder.

Photomanipulation

Backdrop details Open the a photo of a house, select and erase the sky, then place into your scene. Cmd/Ctrlclick this layer’s thumbnail, making a selection. Create a new layer, place behind your building layer and fill with a grey-blue. Set Soft Light blending to the building layer (30% Opacity), invert, then select and erase white wall elements. For more subtle effects, boost Hue/Saturation>Lightness.

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Final additions We’ve created Pen Shape layers, set to Multiply blending, in order to juxtapose textures. Apply more line layers and sketch textures. The cloud is added as a crude cutout, set to 76% Hard Light and the light falling on our model is a solid shape set to Screen, with masking. Finally, we add in a signpost image to finish off.

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Logo design Tutorial files available

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Setting the logo We’ve now completed the background by duplicating the ‘BGdetailrender’ two more times, and rotating the copies around our composition. We’ve also played with their Fill Opacities, using 69% and 78% – make sure not to go over 80% or under 65%. Both copies are set to Color Dodge blending mode. Now we start the illustration; begin by pasting in the logo you want to illustrate.

Logo development Now that your logo is in place, the illustrating work can begin. We want to start off by making our clipping mask, which will serve as the foundation of this technique. Create a new layer above your logo and fill it with black, then go to Layer>Create Clipping Mask. Typically you always want your logo’s base to be the same colour as your background.

The versatility of clipping masks

By simply rearranging your clipping mask hierarchy and making the most of the Move tool, you can quickly give your illustration a whole new ‘look’

One of the biggest advantages of using this clipping mask technique is the breathing room to experiment. Although we are walking you through the creation of our illustration, keep in mind that this technique enables you to swap the prominence of certain objects and layers. By simply rearranging your clipping mask hierarchy and making the most of the Move tool, you can quickly give your illustration a whole new arrangement and ‘look’. Sometimes clients may also like certain parts of an artwork and dislike others; when you’re on a tight deadline the ability to rapidly change things within your work is invaluable.

Graphics & type

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Digital painting

Developing the background Now we will finish setting our background. Open up ‘BGdetailrender.tif’ and go to Select>Load Selection, copy the render and then paste it into the canvas. This 3D render will serve to add some slight detailing to our composition’s background. We’ve set it to Color Dodge, Fill Opacity 70%. (We’ve also rotated the object to fit the composition, but this is optional.)

Saad is a 16-year-old, self-taught illustrator based in the US. He specialises in illustration and he’s the creative director of slashTHREE.

Photo editing

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Setting up Setup is always critically important. Depending on whether this is a pitch, formal commissioned work or a self-initiated piece, your setup will vary. Since we had freedom with this piece, we chose a dark setup, so we’ve started with a black base and painted in some soft white shades set at 15% Opacity with a tablet.

www.saadart.com

Graphics & type

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Saad Moosajee

Photomanipulation

a high degree, predominantly as a result of its clipping mask functionality. The logo we have illustrated is that of The Keystone Design Union (www.thekdu.com) of which Saad Moosajee is a member. When creating this logo illustration we referenced many different animals for inspiration for the colours and forms. This range of animals included a tiger, zebra, peacock and flamingo.

Photo editing

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n this tutorial we will be learning how to create a graphic logo illustration that is technically simple, but aesthetically intricate and complex. To fully prepare yourself for this workshop make sure that you have all the 3D render files easy to access and, if possible, a tool for digital painting, like a graphics tablet. Photoshop is the only illustration software that can execute this technique to such

Our expert

Use 3D renders and digital painting techniques to build a striking graphic logo

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More logo work Now, in order to make the logo visible against your background and pop out to the viewer, we give it a 3D effect by duplicating the original logo and nudging it around. When you duplicate, the logo copy should automatically go on the layer beneath the initial logo. After some moving/nudging you can achieve an effective 3D effect.

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Illustrating the logo Now open up ‘Illustrationrender.tif’ and paste it into your composition. Move it into the mask, but make sure that it’s above the black fill layer. We’ve put the middle area within the KDU logo. Paste in the render again and, once more, move it into the mask, but this time go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal. If you feel like what you’ve produced so far is too symmetrical, you can break it up by soft-erasing parts of your duplicate.

We create these flares with a hard round brush, painting in solid oval shapes in one colour on black

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Further illustration Open up ‘illustrationrenderp2.tif’ and paste it in. Place it in your mask and make sure it’s above the other renders. We’ve also incorporated another copy of ‘Illustrationrender.tif’ and placed a small area of it in the top-right corner of the logo. We’ve moved ‘illustrationrenderp2.tif’ so that it’s roughly centred with the logo, though this placement is up to you. Placing in these illustrative renders helps define the intricate details within the logo illustration.

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Defining the concept Now come the ‘concept’ 3D renders. These don’t necessarily have to be 3D, but they are the most prominent within the illustration. As mentioned earlier, our concept is loosely based around animals so that’s the look we’re going for. Open up ‘tigerrender.tif’ and paste it in twice. Move both to the top of the mask. We’ve rotated/moved the 3D elements so that the brightest spots are visible on edge areas of the logo, to help define contours. We’ve also slightly erased the second duplicate.

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More renders We’ve now opened up ‘multirender.tif’ and ‘multirender2.tif’. We first paste in ‘multirender. tif’ and move it to the top of the clipping mask. After some experimenting, we give it a diagonal motion towards the middle. We then take ‘multirender2’ and paste it twice, moving both objects to the top. As in Step 8, we place a small portion of the render that is brighter at two of the logo’s edges. We then subtly soft-erase a portion of ‘multirender.tif’ to blend it.

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Quick tip If you want to have a go at creating your own 3D renders, then there are plenty of tutorials online. Try www.3dtutorial.com, for example. If, however, you’d rather use premade renders, you can also get stock 3D renders from http:// browse. deviantart.com/ resources/ 3dmodels/.

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Light flares We end the render masking with one final copy of ‘tigerrender.tif’. We move the render to the very bottom of our logo so only a small piece of it shows, just for final detail. We can now add some bright light flares which will draw the viewer’s attention in to our logo’s detail even more and make the composition as a whole zing. Using a tablet, we create these flares with a hard round brush by painting in solid oval shapes in one colour on a black background. After applying some small details to the shapes we set them to Linear Dodge blending.


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More flares We finish the light flares using the same neon red and neon blue tones and also a few yellows. One option is to rotate, duplicate and merge some of the flares if you don’t want to make new shapes each time. Be sure to place all light flares in or around the logo. If you can strike a good balance between the two, this will strengthen the overall composition.

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Blending Tone blending is very abstract and can be done in a million different ways. What we’re going to do is up the contrast and try to unify some of the tones. We start by placing in a Black/ White gradient map with Soft Light (33% Opacity), a Blue-Orange map with Hue (38% Fill Opacity) and, lastly, another Black/White gradient map at 15% Opacity.

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Begin digital painting Now comes the biggest use for your graphics tablet – to digitally paint in highlights, shadows and fine details. We use a soft round brush set at 38% Hardness and our brush Opacity at 50%. First we lay in the highlights in white using a relatively small brush size.

Photo editing

Photo editing Photomanipulation

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Completion To finish up we select the Round Blunt Medium Stiff brush (only available in CS5). Using our tablet, we brush in lots of bright colours around the logo at 40% Opacity and then set the layer to Luminosity (Opacity 23%). We then do this on a larger scale around the entire piece to illuminate certain areas, this time using Luminosity at 8% Opacity. Once we place the slogan beneath the logo, the illustration is complete!

Graphics & type

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Final colouring of the logo To finish the blending, we lay on a Brown-Yellow gradient map at Hue, with a 60% Opacity. We then create a new layer and paint a range of vivid colours onto the parts of the illustration that we really want to emphasise. We use a fairly small brush for detail (as in Step 13) and paint streaks of colour to serve as highlights. For this illustration, we’ve used pink, cyan, green and red tones, but you can choose whatever colour palette you like. Experiment with different shades and areas until happy.

Graphics & type

To do the connections, we paint at 50% Opacity, while for the level shadowing, we use 30% Opacity

Digital painting

Painting continued Now we add finer details and connections. Using the same brush settings but a bigger brush size, we loosely paint connections and shadows between overlapping renders. To do the connections, we paint at 50% Opacity, while for the level shadowing, we use 30% Opacity. The shadowing will bring down certain parts of the illustration, in contrast to the connections which will raise up certain parts. Step back from the image to see if your highlights and shadows are working and tweak accordingly.

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Workshop

Digital collage techniques Our expert

Learn how composition, colours and attention to detail can take an artwork from good to great

Ee Venn Soh

http://be.net/vennsoh Ee Venn Soh works under the creative identity of EIII. He is currently based in New Zealand, and his main skillset lies in coding and graphics.

Tutorial files available

T

o complete this Workshop to best effect, it will be beneficial if you have at least a rudimentary knowledge of how to work with Photoshop’s Pen tool, layer styles, Transform tools, filters and adjustment layers. The illustration itself is a classic retro piece given a twist with a mixed bag of modern abstract geometry. Colour plays a significant role in creating something reminiscent of the recent past – say, the Seventies. Conversely, the shapes are more abstract in nature, which is a characteristic of more modern art. The whole composition actively encourages experimentation. We injected contemporary elements like abstract shapes into an expressive vintage colour tone and deliberately exaggerated many aspects of the work to be as quirky as possible, so feel free to deviate from these steps. You will learn how to sharpen your composition to create the perfect balanced artwork based on some basic principles, while honing your artistic eye. Colour is key to this and we will start by choosing the right palette. At the very end, we will focus on the finer details, adding finesse to the piece by way of Photoshop filters and a few ‘polishing’ techniques. Photoshop is a great piece of software for this style of art thanks to its advanced layering abilities. You will be amazed by how you can harness some of the most basic tools and end up with an amazing digital collage.

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01

Background and colour Create an A4 canvas and fill it with ‘#c8d2bd’. Next, we will start to define a colour palette for the artwork. Do keep in mind that the colour chosen here will be affected by the overall colour adjustments in the final steps. A good source of inspiration for colour schemes is www.colourlovers. com. Load up the ‘gradients.grd’ file via the Gradient Editor.

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Focal point The focus of this artwork consists of three square shapes. Select the Rectangle tool (U) to create a shape layer. Hold Shift+Opt/Alt while dragging to constrain the proportions of the rectangle while centring it. Create a layer mask by duplicating the same rectangle and scale it down to 80%. Make sure the ‘Maintain aspect ratio’ box is selected.

Photo editing

Photo editing Photomanipulation

The little details If you have time, you could add more details to the 3D abstract shapes. Apply a soft white Inner Shadow layer style to a few shapes to simulate a highlight. If you prefer, you could even add a Drop Shadow to the shapes where they stack on top of each other to create a sense of depth. Details make a good design great, and although they can take up a lot of time, they are usually time well spent. We also added a few gradient spheres around the work for extra interest. These little visual ingredients should work with the focal point, rather than distract the eye; you are looking to create a harmonious whole. Patterned shapes Create a circle, rectangle and triangle using the various shape tools (U) and fill them with ‘#cab98b’. Position them randomly around the edge of the largest rectangle. Add the ‘pattern_polka.psd’ file to the shapes and, finally, apply a Bevel and Emboss layer style using the settings shown in the screenshot below.

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Smarten up Group all the rectangle layers and convert them into a Smart Object. Duplicate this object twice. Scale the first object down to 66% and the second object to 44%. Once again ‘Maintain aspect ratio’ should be activated.

Graphics & type

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Graphics & type

Focal point 2 We’re going to create the specularity aspect of the rectangle now. Select the Pen tool (P) to create a shape layer; we are looking to draw the shadow and highlight areas. Hit Shift while creating a new anchor point to constrain the angle. Fill the shapes using the gradient colours which were loaded in Step 1.

Digital painting

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Transformation effects Select the Rectangle tool and create a white rectangle. Duplicate it and press Cmd/Ctrl+T to transform it. Move and rotate the shape from the original values, then hit Enter. While still on the same layer, Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+T multiple times to transform it again and again. Try to be experimental with the rotation angle and the distance between each duplicated shape.

Try to be experimental with the rotation angle and the distance between each duplicated shape

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Hexagon effects Using the Polygon tool (U), create a hexagonal shape layer and apply a gradient with the provided file. Rasterize it, then using the same transformation method from the previous step, recreate the hexagon multiple times. Merge them all together and duplicate the layer. Flip the duplicated layer horizontally (Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal) and place in the main merged layer.

Quick tip Getting a perfect composition isn’t easy. The basic rule to remember is that true perfection is attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.

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3D abstract shapes This is the most tedious part of the tutorial. Using the Pen tool, create a shape layer and fill with a gradient as before. Create the other faces of the shape with the Pen tool. This time apply a new gradient overlay; experiment with colours until you find one that works for you.

3D abstract shapes 2 Repeat the previous step as many times as you need until you have an overall pleasing composition. Try creating lots of abstract shapes in different sizes, colours and place them randomly around. You can duplicate some shapes and tweak their values to save some time on bulking out the collage.

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3D transformed shapes Select one of the 3D shape groups and merge it. Repeat the transformation effect as demonstrated in earlier steps. However this time you can set a reference point and transform around that point. Repeat this step a few times on various 3D shape groups until you’re satisfied with the composition.

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Strips Once more, use the Pen tool to create a shape layer; instead of a polygon, this time we will create a smooth curved strip. Apply a gradient and an Inner Shadow layer style as before. Duplicate the layer, place it behind the shape and nudge it just off its original position to create the shadow. Remember you can apply layer masks whenever you want to cover up certain areas.

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Get smudging Make a rectangle with four different colours in it. Click on the Smudge tool and change the settings to: Diameter 100px, Hardness 100% and Strength 100%. Then select your Freeform Pen tool (P) and draw a zigzag path. Ensure the tip of the path is in the centre of the rectangle. In the Paths panel, right-click on the path and Stroke Path with the Smudge tool.

Photo editing

Photo editing Photomanipulation

Final filters This last step is a very experimental touchup so go with your own instincts here. Using the Lasso tool again, make some random selections and apply Pixelate>Mosaic, as well as the Distort>Wave and ZigZag filters, setting the values to taste. If you think you have gone overboard with a particular effect, you can just use the Eraser tool (E) to take things back a bit.

Add Noise and Posterize Create a new layer and fill it with black. Apply a 400% Monochromatic Noise filter. Change the blending mode to Overlay and drop the Opacity to 20%. Next, click on Layer>New Adjustment Layer> Posterize and set its Levels value to 25%.

Quick tip Play around with the settings in the Gradient Overlay layer style. While in the Layer Style panel, you can drag around the gradient in the canvas to find its optimum position within the shape.

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Beautiful destruction Select All (Cmd/Ctrl+A) and Copy Merged (Cmd/Ctrl>Shift+C) and Paste it (Cmd/ Ctrl+V). Select the Lasso tool (L) and make some random selections of the artwork and start nudging these up or down and slightly to the right. Repeat this step several times, focusing on one area for maximum effect.

Using the Lasso tool again, make some random selections and apply Pixelate> Mosaic as well as the Distort>Wave and ZigZag filters… to taste

Graphics & type

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Graphics & type

Colour setting Next, we make the overall colour adjustments. First we apply a Hue/Saturation layer followed by a Selective Color layer and then, finally, a Color Balance layer. There is a ‘colour_ adjustments.psd’ file provided with the three colour adjustment settings if you’d like to save some time. In the PSD, drag the layer group and simply drop it into your project file.

Digital painting

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Workshop

Futuristic typography T

his tutorial is aimed at creatives who already know their way around Photoshop. Intermediate to advanced users shouldn’t have a problem completing this tutorial, while for beginners it might prove to be more of a challenge – yet ultimately it’s achievable with a little patience and perseverance. In this Workshop, we present techniques and an in-depth walkthrough on how to create your own 3D letterforms. Once the letters are complete we will focus on the shading and lighting, which will help you achieve styles associated with modern sci-fi epics such as TRON: Legacy and The Matrix – a look that is very popular right now. On top of this

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we’ll show you how to incorporate great-looking lighting effects into any artwork through nothing more than Photoshop options. Although the basic shapes of the letters could easily have been made in 3D software, we wanted to show that it’s just as easy to use Photoshop – and that there are even benefits of doing so. The main advantage is that we can keep our artwork more stylistic, achieving an original look that wouldn’t be possible in 3D, with a combination of special effects that use little more than shape layers, brushes and layer masks – throwing in some Gaussian Blur and blending modes just to make the image pop at the end.

Our expert

Use only Photoshop tools to combine futuristic lighting and 3D type Theo Aartsma

http://cargocollective.com/ theoaartsma Theo is a 28-year-old full-time freelance illustrator and designer from Holland. He is best known for his typographic illustration work.


Concept letterforms We want to create the word ‘virtual’, so we begin with just sketching out individual letterforms. This can be done either traditionally or digitally – whichever method you prefer. While sketching, you can start to develop your concept. The idea behind these letters is that they all consist of the same two rectangles that can be manipulated to fit each character.

Structure letterforms Once we have a nice shape for the individual characters it’s time to structure them so that they look as if they belong together. In the example you can see the most important choices we made to structure the letters using Photoshop’s Pen Shape tool. Make sure to work with a large canvas for this so you can later rescale your letters as you see fit.

To make a fast selection of a layer cutout, hold down Cmd/ Ctrl+H, then go to the image thumbnail in the Layers palette. This is very useful when doing brushwork on masks such as shading. It can leave an ugly edge on your selection, so it helps to expand the selection by 1 pixel (Select> Modify>Expand).

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Compose the word Create a new document with the dimensions 25 x 25cm at 300dpi, and then copy and paste in the individual letter shapes. Once all the letters have been imported, you can start playing around with their positions, trying to create the best possible composition to fit the space available. Keep typographical rules like kerning in mind when doing this.

Photomanipulation

3D transformation Merge your letter layers and duplicate this layer. Reselect the original layer beneath and move it right and up, as seen in the screenshot. By doing this, you create the back side of the letters, using space on the left as a reference for filling in the gaps. Work up the sides by opening a new layer, selecting sides with the Polygonal Lasso tool, and then filling them with a red colour for better distinction.

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3D transformation 2 With all sides complete, delete the back side. Now we can start basic shading. Decide on where the light is coming from; in this image it’s the top-left on the front side. Then give every side a shade, starting with the front side to set a midpoint. Use the Color Overlay layer style and go through all the different layers this way.

Digital painting

Extra blocks We decide that we want to have interlinking blocks connecting the letter shapes to create a better sense of flow within the composition. We repeat the same process that we used in Steps 4 and 5 to create these additional elements. Make sure to create them on a new layer which sits on top of the letter layers as this will come in handy later on in the tutorial.

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We want to create the word ‘virtual’, so we begin with just sketching out letterforms. This can be done either traditionally or digitally – whichever method you prefer

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Lower the opacity of the drop shadow to taste and remove the roughness of the shadow edge with the Eraser tool

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Add drop shadows Here we created a few rectangles on a new background layer so we have a good view of the letterforms and shadows to maintain a more realistic perspective. Next you can add another layer in between the letters and background onto which you can brush the letterforms’ shadows pretty roughly with a standard soft brush.

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Finish the shadows Lower the opacity of the drop shadow to taste and remove the roughness of the shadow edge with the Eraser tool. Also create a little soft black line below the letters, then lower its opacity. This adds that extra touch of realism. Remember that corners are always a little bit darker than the objects themselves because it’s harder for light to reach these places.

Typography 101 The part of this typographic illustration that we aren’t going into deeply is the basic theory needed to grasp a better understanding of the style. This is knowledge that you can’t teach in a single tutorial, because it covers so many different aspects. These things can be learnt over time via experimentation, but it’s probably wise to also do some reading and studying around the subject. Because there is already so much work done in this field a good place to start would be The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst. This book is so well known in the industry that it often goes simply by the name: Bringhurst. You can find copies through various sellers via Amazon, though not usually new.

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Letter shading To add extra shading to the corners, select the layers holding Cmd/Ctrl+H and click the relevant thumbnail in the Layers palette. Then, in a new layer, fill this selection with black and, using the Eraser tool, remove the centre before lowering opacity. We did this for all of the letters’ planes using a new layer whenever necessary.

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Colour changes Until now we have done everything with the lights on, so replace your background with a solid black layer. Make colour changes to the letters with the Color Picker, darkening tones. To give the letters a little more shine select the front side, create a new layer and apply a 25% Opacity transparent-white to fully-transparent Radial gradient starting at the centre of the letters and fading out to the edges.

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Ground reflection For ground reflections make copies of the front of the letters. Then flip both these copies using Cmd/Ctrl+T and Flip Vertical. Position one as the reflection of the front of the letters and one for the back. Use the Polygonal Lasso and Fill tools to add in the side elements. Then use Color Overlay to choose colours for the reflections.

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Ground reflection 2 Merge the back and sides with the front layer and apply a large soft eraser to fade out the reflection. First select the top letters and, at the bottom left of the selection, hold down the eraser and move it to the right. Once done, repeat this process for the letters on the bottom row.


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Lit-up edges Add lines to letter edges so it looks as if light is almost breaking out of the type. Select all the side parts of the letters using Cmd/ Ctrl+Shift+H on the layer images in the Layers palette. Then, on a new layer, fill this selection. Open the Layer Style options, setting Advanced Blending Fill Opacity to 0%. Next set the Stroke size to 10px and position to Inside within the same set of options.

Lit-up edges 2 Add a new layer under the Stroke layer and merge the two. Apply a soft eraser to parts of the lines. Make a selection from the Stroke layer. Create a new layer (delete the merged layer) and apply a hard brush to add different colours. Use the Eyedropper tool to pick tones from the image.

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Reflection accents Next add the bright-coloured accents. Most of these can be duplicated, moved and flipped to save time, though some may need a bit of editing with the Polygonal Lasso tool. To tone down the reflection we use a 40% Opacity eraser to brush away some of the brightness.

Add more elements Here we add a series of 7px lines and sixsided polygon shapes in conforming colours on a new layer on top of the letters. Use a soft eraser to fade parts of the shapes and ends of the lines. Duplicate the layer and use Gaussian Blur again to give the items a nice glow. The same technique is also used to create the little glowing lines in the ground reflections.

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Intense highlights Finally we need to focus on making the light effects really pop. Achieve this by adding a new layer at the top of the layer stack. With a soft white brush – in various sizes – add spots to the brightest places. Use the light spots from Step 17 as a reference. As a last step we set this layer to the Overlay blending mode and play with the opacity to get the best intensity.

Graphics & type

Isometric 3D is the easiest way to produce 3D on a 2D plane. It’s easier because of how the perspective lines work. They’re always parallel to each other and have the same angle on the X and Y axes. Isometric 3D is used a lot in pixel art so this is a good area to look for inspiration. For more examples, check out www. drububu.com/ tutorial.

Graphics & type

Quick tip

Digital painting

Add extra shine to the type by making a selection of the front side of the letters and adding Select>Modify> Contract at 10px. On a new layer, use a soft brush to add light spots…

Spot lights Add extra shine to the type by making a selection of the front side of the letters and adding Select>Modify>Contract at 10px. On a new layer, use a soft brush to add large light spots in the upper-left corner of each letter. After creating light spots lower the opacity to match the scene’s lighting. Also move the layer a little to the left and down to better fit the perspective.

Photomanipulation

Glows Now it’s time to add some glows. This can be achieved by duplicating the lines layer from the previous step and adding a Gaussian Blur. For the second glow we take the standard soft brush and, on a new layer, brush over the bright-coloured blocks. Use the Eyedropper tool for a coherent colour scheme. After brushing, play with the opacity to control the effect’s intensity.

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Playing with shapes Use both geometric and organic forms to create fresh and unique symmetry within your graphical designs

Our expert

Adam Smith

www.advancedphotoshop.co.uk/user/ adam Adam is a creative tour de force at AP. Here, he brings us more of his up-todate styles using our favourite app.

Tutorial files available

01

Set the scene Settings for a graphical piece are more about sensation than visual detail. Open your document and create a solid grey layer. Fill a new layer with black, then load up the Cloud Brushes, applying a 70% Opacity Cloud 3 black brush – bottom up – to create fog effects.

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Skull skyline Copy and paste in iStockphoto’s ‘11242613’ image of a nebula. Place central to the skyline, rotating right by 30 degrees. Tweak tones by applying Image>Adjustments>Hue/ Saturation, with Hue at around -175 and Saturation at -20. You should see some semblance of a skull in the reoriented image (see screengrab). Also apply a Smart Sharpen filter to the Orion nebula image – setting this to 100% Amount with a 1px Radius.

Creating such bespoke [graphic] projects is never easy, but the common factor that does bind them together… is symmetry 238

G

raphic designers are usually defined as producers of form, who combine words, symbols and images to create a visual representation of an idea or message. With the adoption of digital techniques, the solutions have become more instantaneous, reflected in the custom-built compositions and limited adoption of strict geometric styling – layering by eye and sensation is ever-more prevalent. In this tutorial we turn our hand to this contemporary graphic style, using both freestyle and traditional shapes to develop a balanced composition. Also included are several mixed-

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Skull skyline 2 Apply a Vivid Light blending mode to your nebula layer then a layer mask, integrating edges. Duplicate, flip horizontally and reapply a Screen blending mode, tweaking the mask and position. Next import the ‘1036239’ human skull image from SXC, setting a 70% Opacity Soft Light blending mode. Position over converging nebula layers to complete the main skull visual, integrating with another layer mask.

media approaches that add tangibility to what may have once been a static style, as well as showing you how to couple 2D and 3D forms. Creating such bespoke projects is never easy, but the common factor that does bind them together and ground them graphically is symmetry. This can be produced by matching up the forms of well-known shapes, creating recognisable and structured geometry, which is then individualised through the application of more personalised forms. Surprisingly when paired, these can create dynamic and visually stimulating designs, appreciated by many modern-day digital creatives.


Photomanipulation

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Skull skyline 3 Copy and paste in the iStockphoto ‘2684253’ close-up of the Orion nebula image. Rotate 90 degrees to the left, applying a Screen blending mode, then rescale and position to the right of your skull, extending from the right eye socket. Reapply blue and purple tones as before via Hue/Saturation. Lastly, sharpen and integrate with a layer mask once more.

Quick tip Photoshop is adept at creating both 2D and 3D shapes. The fx options Inner Glow and Gradient Overlay, as well as Bevel and Emboss, effects can be used intuitively to create a sense of the third dimension. Just experiment to get the right look.

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Colour wash Copy Step 1’s black layer, placing above all others. Set blending to Screen, then apply a ‘120b91’ blue Color Overlay (15% Opacity) and a 90-degree violet-to-transparent Gradient Overlay. Copy and paste the ‘5260804’ model and scale down, rotating 30 degrees to the right. Apply Image>Adjustments>Black & White, setting Reds at -120 and Yellows at 75.

Sandy spheres Although used sparingly in our own design, the sand sphere elements are highly contemporary within modern graphic examples. You can see how layering affects these shapes from the examples provided. To create one of your own, apply a grey eclipse shape, then apply Inner Glow to illuminate edges, as well as a black-to-transparent gradient to create the 3D form. Paste in a sand section from a desert/beach image and position over your sphere, then add a layer mask. Ctrl/right-click the sphere layer thumbnail and apply to your desert mask, isolating the shape of this layer to the sphere’s edges. Now you can paint in sand contours and sharpen to finish up.

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Head’s up Position your model head layer as in the example. Duplicate this, resetting a 50% Opacity Multiply blending mode. Grunge up the area by applying iStockphoto’s ‘10117876’ and ‘4157951’ watercolour layers, set to Color, Linear Burn and Soft Light blending modes. Tweak opacity and saturation to taste, playing with orientation and editing with layer masks.

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Organic forms Let’s offset the uniform shapes we’ll apply soon with more organic samples. We’ve used contemporary rustic stock. Open the ‘IMG_ 1655.jpg’ mountain image, then use selection tools (eg Lasso) to draw around sections of the mountain, inserting into your image. Repeat several times, rescaling and repositioning as you go. Drop shadows can add perspective so play with these for best effects.

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Add 2D circles To create more personalised graphic effects, try applying the Exclusion blend mode to some of these mountain layers and inverting (Cmd/Ctrl+I) to create unique and interesting colour contrasts. Now start to apply your first pass of regular shape – circles. Copy and paste these in from the ‘2D shapes.psd’ or make them yourself with the Circle Shape tool.

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Add 3D spheres We’ve varied the 2D circle effects by applying Soft Light and Color Burn blending modes, inverting some, as well as alternating opacity levels. 3D spheres have then been placed. Specifically we’ve added in SXC’s ‘1272764’ moon picture, the ‘Sun shape.psd’ and gloss spheres from iStockphoto’s ‘9928486’ image.


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3D realism As the sun layer acts as a light source, we’ve made sure this affects the lighting of the surrounding elements. We’ve painted to the moon layer directly using Dodge and Burn tools. Duplicate your gloss sphere, apply Hue/Saturation>Lightness -100, lower Opacity to 20% and mask away edges where light would fall. Apply a Drop Shadow layer style to the smaller gloss sphere.

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Triangulation Hard-edged triangles offset smooth circles well. We’ve strategically placed an equilateral triangle, set to Linear Burn, showing through textures beneath, and a 58% Opacity violet equilateral triangle, set to Vivid Light; masking its edges to create transparent effects, we’ve also applied a white-to-transparent 90-degree Gradient Overlay. An extra line shape serves to unite circles and triangles.

Photo editing

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Build up symmetry Inside your circle line shape layer, insert the ‘sand sphere.psd’ , setting it to Multiply blending mode. Underneath this layer add a ‘335675’ blue tone circle set to 50% Fill Color Burn, and then on top, a white smaller shape (overlapping the sand shape edges) set to Overlay. A small purple shape is placed centrally on top of all these layers.

Image cuts When referring to image cuts, we mean using selection tools to copy and paste from another image into our own – usually a reference of colour and texture without any clear indication of original picture content. These create diverse visuals and can be colour adjusted, blended and used to create further symmetry/direction when mixed with path and line shapes.

Symmetry can be easily achieved when looking beyond the fitting of geometric shapes and aligning your own freestyle types with organic structures and direction built from accidental overlaps and converging edges. Be spontaneous to guarantee individuality.

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Get a move on Though acceptable with graphic design, our image is quite static, so let’s work it up with subtle movement. We’ve done so by applying the SXC ‘815479’ watercolour image, set to Screen blending mode, over our central shapes, masking edges. We’ve also thrown down some smaller scattered shapes.

Extra artefacts With all you’ve learnt, feel free to finish the piece or add extra elements. We’ve included another image cut with a Lens Flare effect and the ‘sand sphere2.psd’ at adjacent ends of our line shapes to create balance. We’ve also added a flyout circle with a numeral – balancing the piece and creating a cryptic visual cue (for an explanation, Google ‘Lifepath number’).

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Symmetrical shapes Adjust symmetry and tones of elements, by using the provided or your own resources and blending. Apply diagonal and horizontal lines to make a triangle, then a circle line using the Pen Path tool and Ellipse shape option. Select Stroke Path within the Paths palette with a 2px white hard brush applied to a new layer.

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Create depth in your illustrations Design a surreal composition with an emphasis on 3D elements with an old-school twist

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Our expert

Gordon Reid (Middle Boop)

etro-based illustrations are all the rage at the moment, seemingly infiltrating every aspect of the design industry with bright shapes and strong, bold colours. Combining these fantastic ideas with more modern approaches and techniques can make for some really exciting, engaging artwork. In this tutorial we will explore how to create a surreal, detailed illustration that includes 3D elements, which have been given a retro look. We will be going through a number of simple techniques and

www.middleboop.com Middle Boop is the moniker of designer and writer Gordon Reid. Clients include Malibu, Maxim and work in the music industry. He also edits the Middle Boop design site.

Tutorial files available

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Background Open up a new document at 300dpi and CMYK. It’s good to start out a design with a background image or colour already in place so that you know what other colours you can work with – in this case we will be using ‘#f1e4c4’. Keep this layer on the top of all the other layers included in the illustration and apply the Multiply blending mode.

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Depth One of the first steps is to make sure that there is a good focus on perspective so now is the time to experiment with placing a ‘floor’ for the piece. With a yellow-tinged background, a great colour to contrast that is gold. Use the guides and Line tool (U) to create perspective and then, using the Pen tool (P), set to Shape Layers to create a floor.

Another way of tackling a retro-based design would be to go through old picture books and comics that you might find at car boot sales and charity shops 242

filters that will add depth, giving the whole image an accurate perspective as well as using a few simple keyboard shortcuts to make life even easier. The inspiration for this piece came from my recent experimentation with trying to make my illustrations more three-dimensional and wanting to put those findings into context. The only way to perform all of the techniques we will be utilising is by using Photoshop; the app is the basis of pretty much all of my work and this retro illustration could not be done to such an effective level with any other program.

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Finding images We need to find a variety of stock images that will work harmoniously to build up this composition. Choose an image of a person to be drawn in as the scene’s main focal point as well as more surreal elements for the background. With an idea of the final image you are aiming towards in mind, look for images that you feel will work well with the colourful vector shapes and layers.


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Cut out Next, cut your chosen images out. There are many ways of cutting objects from their backgrounds and while some may save you time, you may lack the quality and precision that the Pen tool offers. Making sure that Paths is selected, use the Pen tool to cut around your images. The more time you spend on this, the more accurate and crisp the final image will be.

Quick tip Don’t forget to group and name all of your layers. It may seem like it goes without saying, but it’s always worth remembering as it will save you tons of time. If you’re working on a complex illustration, keeping all of your layers organised will be a huge benefit in the long run.

One way of getting really interesting shapes together is to customise your own grid, which can help with the design in many ways

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Levels and adjustment layers Once your layers are cut out it’s time to integrate them into the illustration and make sure that they stand out. There are a few ways of doing this, but first hit Cmd/Ctrl+U and reduce the Saturation to -100 for both images. Next use Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L) to take out some greyness.

Experimenting with shapes Now that you have a few ideas of colour variations in mind, it’s time to put them into practice. Firstly using the Pen tool set to Shape Layers, start drawing some surreal shapes, playing about with curves and swirls. Make a few of these with bold, contrasting colours.

Experiment with the colour palettes Before you start to play around with vector shapes, it’s always useful to have a solid idea of the colour palette that you will be using throughout the piece. Go to Swatches and select something like Pantone Solid Coated; this is full of vibrant colours to choose from and offers some interesting variations.

Making patterns Customising a pattern and layering that on top of your shapes can work really well. Experiment with different patterns and colours. Make a large box with a bold-coloured background then, using the guides, line up some geometric shapes in the box. To make this process less painless, after you have lined up two, hold the Opt/Alt key and drag the pair. Repeat this process until you have filled the box.

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Cutting shapes out While highlighting the outline of the shape you have just made, hover over the patterned box, then press Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+I and delete the surrounding area to apply the pattern to the shape. There is no right or wrong way when it comes to patterns or shapes; some will work and some won’t – it’s just a matter of trial and error.

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Customised grid One way of getting really interesting shapes together is to customise your own grid, which can help with the design in many ways. Use the default grid (Cmd/Ctrl+’), work out a few ideas and then use the Line tool (U) to draw up some diagonal and straight lines. With a few lines complete, hold down the Opt/Alt key and repeat until you have covered the page.

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Adding basic shading effects We need to play about with the shapes just formed to give them more of a 3D effect. One effective way of achieving this is through the blending options. Open the blending modes menu and select Inner Shadow. For the bigger, bolder shapes, move the Distance to 46px, Choke to around 32% and Size to 65px.

Continue shading Once you have added this effect to your custom shapes, it’s time to delve a little deeper into shading by adding some manual shading. Using a small, dark, soft-edged brush with the Hardness at 0, find some areas that you feel could benefit from additional shading. You could also use the Pen tool and then a small, soft-edged Eraser (E) to blend it in.

Photomanipulation

Adding basic lighting effects Some of the layers, such as the balloons, will also benefit from additional lighting effects to emphasise the 3D effects. Open up the blending options and this time select Inner Glow. Use a colour similar to the layer, but just a little lighter – so in this case we shall use a pink tone. Move the colour to the centre and play about with the Choke and Size options, so as to keep the lighting subtle.

Use a Radial gradient (G) with the main colour the same as the background and the other as a darker yellow. Make sure that there is more concentration on the lighter colour

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Texture time Take a picture of a crumpled piece of paper, scan it at 300dpi and edit using the Levels (Cmd/Ctrl+L). Pull the white and black arrows more into the middle, reduce the Opacity and Fill options and, using a soft-edged Eraser, erase the edges so that it lies over the illustration.

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Color Halftone This effect is used quite a lot in retro-based designs. Select the arm layers (one at a time), then go to Filter>Pixelate>Color Halftone. Change the Max Radius to 4 and Channels 2 and 3 both down to 90. Play about with the various channels for more interesting effects.

Graphics & type

16 Gradients Use a Radial gradient (G) with the main colour the same as the background and the other as a darker yellow. Make sure that there is more concentration on the lighter colour. Now click Transform on the top layer (Cmd/Ctrl+T) and, with the cross that appears in the middle, line up the two guidelines; use these guides to experiment with the gradient effect until happy.

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Experiment with geometric shapes As with a lot of retro design, we shall include some bold-coloured geometric shapes. Using the custom-made grid from earlier, select the Ellipse tool (U), create circles and triangles, squares, etc, then merge two or three together. Use the lighting and shading techniques we went through earlier to give them a greater 3D effect.

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Tracing organic shapes Find images of things like hoses and plant pots, trace around these and experiment with different colour combinations. Use similar shading and lighting techniques, but play about with the various elements until you are happy as every shape requires different amounts of shading and lighting.

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More background detail After adding a number of layers it’s now time to add more subtle colour behind the elements to bring out some of the layers further. Take a large, soft-edged brush set around 390px and, using colours such as pinks and blues, add subtle strokes into the background behind the floor and main illustration.

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Manual lighting effects Take your shapes even further by adding manual lighting. With the Pen tool set to Shape Layers, and using a white colour, make some small marks close to some of the edges of your shapes, ie the parts you feel need highlights. Once satisfied with highlight positioning, use a large, soft-edged Eraser and rub away so that the marks blend in subtly.

Shading and lighting

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Adding background texture We want to make the illustration look more grainy and aged. Either use a stock image or take a close-up photo of some card or textured brown paper. Lay this just below the gradient and yellow layers, which should be at the top of the stack, set it to Multiply blending mode, and change the Opacity to 22% and Fill to 75%.

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Adding a ‘cartoon’ effect It’s now time to use the shading effects from earlier in a slightly different way. Create some more abstract shapes, layering one of the patterns from earlier over the top. Give these shapes an Inner Shadow, but this time turn the Size right down to 9px and the Choke and Distance to somewhere around 34% and 33px, respectively.

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Finishing touches At this stage you can add some more detail to the background. First, using the brushes provided, subtly blend them into the background behind some of the more detailed illustrations. Finally use some of the geometric patterns made earlier, reduce the Opacity and Fill options and place around the illustration to bring the composition together.

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There are so many possibilities when using the Inner Shadow and Inner Glow effects, but it’s very easy to overdo it. Make sure while you are playing with the blending options and effects such as Choke, Size and Distance that you use them sparingly so as not to take too much away from the bold colours of the shapes that you have created. If you want more of a bright, cartoony finish, make sure the Choke effect is considerably higher than the Size effect. This technique, used well, can really emphasise the bold colours and bring out the shadows and shapes. On the other hand, if you want more of a subtle, hazy shadow effect then reverse the process, making sure that the Size value is higher than the Choke’s. You can also apply an Outer Glow and Outer Shadow to these shapes, which can add depth to the illustration, but once again, can look cheesy if over-used.


Professional’s profile

TRIANGLES IN SPACE: “I m ade this to prom created with so ote a blog that me of my frien ds. The theme I critique and ap is a kind of preciation at th e same time fo like the use of r recent trends triangle compo sitions”

Photo editing

Photo editing Photomanipulation Digital painting

FUTURISK: “Part of Evoke Exhibition XXII. This is one of my most personal works because it’s an abstract self-portrait. It is a mix of digital elements and fragments of landscape pictures”

Rogier de Boevé

Graphics & type

Up-and-coming talent Rogier de Boevé delivers graphic design that amalgamates several expressive styles and themes. Coupling cubism and surrealism, he juxtaposes futuristic shapes and themes with organic textures – creating unique, absorbing artwork. He puts it in more specific terms: “My work has a certain retro-futuristic feel to it. I try to create new things with respect and admiration for old elements. It’s not only the tension between the old and new, but also between nature and digital elements that I try to portray in my work.” Becoming addicted to Photoshop through extensive work in producing digital signatures, de Boevé’s work is a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator. He explains: “I use Illustrator for clean shapes and basic composition work. Colour schemes, texture, details and lighting effects are all done with Photoshop. I also sometimes make small 3D objects as a finishing touch.” Inspired by the work of Mark Weaver, who he admires for his rather simple collages but awesome compositions, he adds: “I’m also a big fan of Matei Apostolescu, Keaton Henson, Alex Trochut and the Ars Thanea studio. These are all very different from each other, so I can’t really say who delivers my favourite style.” Currently de Boevé is launching his first attack on the freelance arena, after receiving glowing accolades in the online communities. He explains: “I’m collaborating with a graphic design studio on a series of future projects. I’m also working on a tutorial and some personal work, which are big updates in my portfolio. When I’m not working, I still try to learn as much as I can, such as motion

Graphics & type

Website: www.rogierdeboeve.com Featured on: www.konvulse.com, www.behance.net

EXPERIENCED: “Part of Evoke Exhibition XXII. The theme of the exhibition was ‘Age’ so I tried to give the figure a bashed finish. This look is a reference to being experienced”

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Interview

The Keystone Design Union T

he Keystone Design Union (The KDU; www.thekdu.com) isn’t an agency for everyone. Established in 2003, by KDU president David Gensler, it thrives upon working with progressive brands run by innovative and passionate managers. This means that The KDU sets extremely high standards and strict criteria for work to meet its internationally recognised standing. Gensler is very honest and frank about this, as he explains: “The final say (for inclusion) ultimately rests on my partners and me. We have to be tough to keep the quality high. We’re not Behance. This is not an open-door portfolio to showcase your work. We aren’t a social network or a bait-and-switch marketplace – our mission is acutely focused on building brands for large international clients. To accomplish this, we’re forced to maintain the highest standards.” Gensler’s principles are reflective of his own initial motives when formulating The KDU initiative. Prior to The KDU, he was CMO at ROC brands, which included Roc-A-Fella Records and Rocawear. At the time hip-hop was the centre of youth culture – this was before blogs and the street culture mania. He wanted to build something fresh, something independent. He already had great authority on the subject, as creator of the firm Human Brand, which he founded at 25 years old. “I have always focused on the convergence of business with design and art,” he reveals. “I always rejected traditional systems, which seemed slow and predictable. I wanted to create The KDU to be the better mousetrap.” The KDU revolves around trust and personal relationships, rather than technology. Gensler explains in more detail what this means: “We now have 1,250 people [across] roughly 100 countries.” Word of mouth is key and The KDU’s reputation is crucial to its success. Gensler goes on, “We’re lucky that 90 per cent of new business comes from word of mouth. Our existing clients are strong advocates and help us to spread the word. Typically a client comes to us wanting a new product or help promoting an existing product.” The KDU tends to focus on niche markets, including new urban and influencer markets as well as celebrity interaction. The core team behind the organisation manages all creative direction

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and strategy development. “When we need to expand the team to develop something specific, we tap into our global network,” Gensler says. “Unlike other models that might seem similar, our network is built one member at a time and is the antithesis of crowdsourcing.”

Ultimate agenda The KDU agenda is simple: to develop a more efficient and effective way to build brands. But

We discuss the agency’s mission to deliver highend commercial solutions and to bring more creative members into The KDU fold


Photo editing

Photo editing Photomanipulation Digital painting

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Graphics & type

KDU ICON TRUST: “Created by 17-year-old German prodigy and core member of The KDU, Magomed Dovjenko. This is a poster of our main company logo” © The Keystone Design Union SIETE TRIANGULO POSTER DESIGN FOR IDN ANNIVERSARY BOOK (TOP LEFT): “This poster

was produced for the IdN’s 15th-anniversary book and was designed by KDU creative director Aerosyn-Lex” © The Keystone Design Union

ECKO EMBLEM (LEFT): “This piece was part of a large collection of designs produced for Ecko Unlimited, designed by Magomed Dovjenko” © The Keystone Design Union

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Interview

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how does it set itself apart from competitors? The answer is simple – by accomplishing a real working model, as opposed to just theory. The KDU finds the best emerging and established artists around the world and brings them together to test and deploy them in highly focused teams to tackle a range of projects. The results are developed by only the most professional and progressive talent, regardless of age or location. “If we make a connection between a brand and talent, we don’t take a commission,” Gensler admits, which might come as a surprise to many. “Members do projects called ‘flags’. These flags help build relevance, test skills and generate momentum for both the agency and the talent. Things have to be a win-win or it’ll never work. The young talent need help understanding business, the industry and also exposing themselves in a unique and creditable way to potential clients. We [by way of The KDU] provide the platform.” He continues: “As an agency, we work to deliver 36 true solutions – to walk this walk we need to offer a long list of services. You can’t just park 400 people in a room waiting to serve the client, even if you could afford to. It’s not an ideal environment for creativity. We put together a team of the right people, usually from all over the world, and work begins.” Operating like this, the client clearly gets a much better deal than they would with a traditional agency, which is forced to utilise mostly in-house talent assets to feed its economic model. “We have several key advantages,” Gensler explains. “One is depth of talent at our fingertips. These individuals are not just names on a list – they’re family. We understand them inside and out and, because of this, when we collaborate we move fast and accurately. Many minds and hands working in unison to solve problems is quite different [to] the chaos created by the recent trend of crowdsourcing.” With such a large database of creative talent, organisation of the collective is absolutely paramount. So too is a comprehensive but clean presentation of members’ portfolios. With this in mind, it’s easy to see why The KDU adopts a minimalist and chic approach when it comes to its website design. “We have a lot of work to show,” says Gensler. “The network produces an overwhelming amount of new design each week, both professionally and personally. We just want to showcase this work in a simple format. I wish the site was even simpler. I think the work itself BROOKLYN MACHINE WORKS (TOP LEFT):

“Developed by Magomed Dovjenko for legendary [brand] Brooklyn Machine Works. We created this as part of a series of icons for BMW’s 15-year anniversary” © The Keystone Design Union

TRUST THE FUTURE (LEFT): “KDU member HelloVon illustrated this piece for Solstice magazine, as well as a series of lectures and talks I did in 2007” © The Keystone Design Union

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Photo editing

should be all that is absorbed and nothing else. We build brands – we’re not self-serving hype machines, unless we’re seeking buzz for our clients. This means our company site needs to be as simple as possible. However,” he adds, “it’s a work in progress.” Although The KDU website’s cool black gloss, white and gold tones give a sense of regal authority – as an extension of the community’s utmost professionalism and quality – essentially the site acts as a means to showcase the many new pieces of artwork constantly being produced by KDU members – all with a straightforward click-and-browse operation. “Most agencies have the reverse problem, trying to spread out a few projects to create the perception of depth,” explains Gensler. “We’re constantly trying to figure out where to put everything.”

Digital painting Graphics & type

URB X KID SISTER (ABOVE): “We worked with the first KDU member – Chuck Anderson – on this one. Chuck reworked the image in his classic glow style to heighten the feeling of summer” © The Keystone Design Union

Graphics & type

The KDU brand itself doesn’t seek to determine its portfolio – there are no ‘house’ or ‘signature’ styles, per se. On the topic of style, Gensler says: “I think I’m too close to it to see any one particular style. We just revamped our own personal company identity, out of wanting to try something new. But, overall, not having one [single] style is probably one of our biggest advantages. We focus on what the client needs and never just try to sell them on our own personal aesthetic.” The KDU is littered with design trends, methods, styles and tools, all being used daily throughout the network. Here is a place that encourages and nurtures informed experimentation, as Gensler elaborates: “What is exciting is when an artist remixes various styles and tools in a unique way. We live in a very postmodern world – the modern artist is really someone that has diversity and can remix freely. I’m excited to see the new young generation of designers focusing on a balance of traditional craft and digital. I think my partner Lex Mestrovic (www.aerosynlex.com) is a good example of this balance. His design focuses mostly on ink and calligraphy colliding with computer-generated aesthetics. Magomed Dovjenko (www.iammago. com/blog) is another great example, along with Daren Newman (www.meandmypen.com) and Josh Vanover (www.spaceknuckle.com).” It’s quickly apparent that each and every KDU member is integral in pushing forward the agency brand and developing those of clients, but this huge creative family is also responsible for reproducing creative talent over and again, expanding The KDU clan. “I personally rely on existing members to suggest new ones,” explains Gensler. “As the scale increases, it’s impossible for me to personally find each new member. I trust the network family and, more often than not, they suggest amazing talent. If someone writes to me respectfully and presents themselves professionally, I will always invest the time to review their work.”

Photomanipulation

Expanding the family

PUERTA A LA VIDA (LEFT): “This was produced for a luxury spa resort in Costa Rica as part of a total branding initiative, designed by Aerosyn-Lex” © The Keystone Design Union

SERUM VERSUS VENOM VAPORS (LEFT):

“Serum Versus Venom piece that was illustrated by KDU creative member HelloVon. The brand has always been deeply rooted in the ideological basis for creating high and sustainable value in the modern, oversaturated consumer landscape” © The Keystone Design Union

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Not having one single style is probably one of our biggest advantages 252


Photo editing

Photo editing Photomanipulation

TRUST (ABOVE): “This image was created in collaboration with Brazilian KDU member, Nelson Balaban. It was made for an issue of our Solstice magazine and focused on our ‘inside trust’ mantra” © The Keystone Design Union HENNESSY LIMITED FLASK (LEFT): “This is a project we did for Hennessy, creating both the 3D object, a limited flask cover, as well as the communication campaign” © The Keystone Design Union

Digital painting

REEBOK, AMERICAN FOOTBALL (OPPOSITE PAGE): “StudioKxx from Poland worked with us to hand

create this piece as part of a series for Reebok, expanding the aesthetics of American football, hockey and basketball” © The Keystone Design Union

Graphics & type

But it’s not just the family expanding; it’s also the family home – or The KDU’s base of operation. Working from a compound in Williamsburg, NY, provides the core KDU members’ room to expand and experiment. “We aren’t trapped in a tiny space in the city with a trendy address,” Gensler explains. “We have photo studios, a library and cut-and-sew studios, outdoor space, gardens and ample open space to let our imagination play. We now have about 10,000 square feet inside and out.” Part of the office is like a hunting lodge, warm and comfortable, while other parts are more geared towards technical work and can change function on a daily basis. “I don’t like to sit in the same place for too long – so things change a lot,” he quips.

The main design room is the nerve centre of The KDU’s headquarters – pulling together all the projects and creative directors into one space. All core members working in Brooklyn are creative directors – no juniors are present here – to maintain this level of creative energy, so the space has to be highly adaptable. But why Brooklyn? “It’s where I find daily inspiration,” Gensler says by way of explanation. “There’s an energy here that doesn’t exist in other parts of the city – it’s something that’s balanced with calmness. I need both to function. I think Brooklyn is a bit more timeless than other areas too. It has a real sense of itself. It forces you to fit into it and does not tolerate much bullshit. For me, it keeps me on my toes and keeps things real. I leave the glitz and hype in

Graphics & type

All about location

the city and come back to Brooklyn to get the real work done.” With such a commanding work ethic, The KDU is an agency that will continue to grow – in both membership and reputation – ensured by its singlemindedness on offering nothing less than excellence. Personal achievement is all the artists need to keep them lean and hungry, rather than fat on false accolade. Gensler explains: “We don’t engage in award shows since the time required to participate detracts from our clients and [our] own personal projects. I had a boss named Steven Grasse at the Gyro [Worldwide] agency in Philadelphia, who instilled this ethic in me – and it stuck. Focus on the work, not the awards.” The KDU strives to continuously better itself through presenting professional and modish creative solutions. “As we continue to grow, it’s exciting that we have obtained a level of success [that enables] us to say no and [means we’re] not required to take on every project,” Gensler confides. “We now understand that wasting our own time with brands and managers not willing or able to focus on true innovation will pull us back into a traditional agency model – something I would rather die than allow to happen.” Somehow, we think he means it. www.thekdu.com

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The professional photoshop book volume 2011  
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