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Sample workflow for digital painting
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Eddie Russell


Eddie Russell
In this lesson, we'll examine one workflow that was used to paint an image here inside Photoshop. All right. So at this point, I've got the project file green_guy open on my screen here. And really, when it comes to Photoshop, there are so many possibilities for different workflows when it comes to digital painting that there's probably a different workflow for just about every artist out there. So I want to encourage you to experiment around some and develop your own workflow, one that really works well for you. So at this point, this is, again, an image that I've been kind of playing around with. It's an unfinished image. But I want to show you the workflow that I've been using here. Let me just go ahead and zoom in just a little bit. And obviously what I've started with here is just simply a sketch or some line work. Let me go ahead and hide that here. And actually, we'll just leave him there for right now. After I brought in my line work, I went ahead and painted a background here. Now, I did that using just nothing more than a soft round brush. And you can see here I've just kind of created some nice subtle lighting for the area around our character here. Now, when it comes to the actual color for our character-- let me just go ahead and bring in this base silhouette in metal. So at this point, we can go ahead and hide our line work. So what I've done here is just created a basic silhouette for our character. I've done that just simply by painting in, underneath the line work on a new layer, a silhouette in this tan gray color. So if we want to twirl that arrow down, though, let me come in here and show you that there's much more going on. Now, I want to show you one feature that we haven't talked about yet. And this is called a fill layer. Now, a fill layer can be created right down here through the little half black, half white circle. Let's just say Solid Color right here. Now, I'll just choose something like red for right now. Nah, maybe not that bright. Just choose that and you say OK. And you can see what was created here was a solid-colored layer that fills or floods the entire document with the color I chose. Now, it does come with this mask attached to it here. But let me just go ahead and delete that for right now and show you how I implemented fill layers for this character. So I want to come in and show you a couple of things. Let me just reveal these two fill layers here. And you can see I've started to build in some shadows. And what I've done here is I've taken these fill layers and clipped them to the silhouette layer down here. Remember, we talked about clipping layers by holding down the Alt button, mousing between those, just like so. We can clip them and unclip them. That way, these fill layers are only affecting that base silhouette layer. So let me just go ahead and bring in all these color fill layers here, just so you can see exactly how I built up that metal color for his little series of legs here in his underside. So that is the way his base silhouette was built and the metal pieces. Now, I've built his torso in a very similar fashion. Let me just come in here, twirl that down. And let's take a look at this. You can see here I've built basically a green silhouette here just for his upper torso. And on top of that, I painted in on the mask for each one of these fill layers. So if I start bringing in each one of those colors, you can kind of see how the details really start to pull out with this character. Now, I also created this skin-texture layer here, just to add a little bit of subtle texture to his skin. And you can see I actually have that one set to Overlay. So I want to take a moment to actually jump into these masks. Remember, we can do that by Alt-clicking on them. And that way, you can see exactly how I've painted right inside the mask. And it's nothing more than grayscale values. So if I come in and Alt-click on each one of these, you'll see a different little bit of grayscale information in each one, basically telling Photoshop exactly what to reveal on that fill layer and what not to reveal. So feel free to explore these masks on your own, kind of dissect this file. And let me just twirl this down here. Let's go ahead and bring in the shadow. You can kind of see I've painted a shadow here, using the same method. It's nothing more than a fill layer with a mask on it. And we've got here a smoke layer. And I do have a mask on it, just to mask out some of the smoke that was overlapping his legs there. Now, when it comes to this workflow, using all these fill layers for the most part, what I really like about this process is that it makes for a very, very small file. In fact, I'm going to include the full resolution version of this file for you to play with. And if we jump up here, we can see here under Image Size that this file is about 2,000 by about 1,500 pixels. So it's a fairly large file. But the actual file size is only about 20 megabytes. So that's what I like about these fill layers is that we're using a mask to actually apply this fill color. Now at this point, if you're really interested in learning more about Photoshop the program, now, obviously this program is way bigger than just digital painting. So if you're interested in learning more about Photoshop in general, go ahead and check out our Introduction to Photoshop CS5 course. In that course, we will put our hands on just about every major part of Photoshop and really learn quite a bit about the program. Now, if you're more interested in just focusing on digital painting, go ahead and check out our Getting Started with Digital Painting in Photoshop CS5 course. In that course, we will continue looking at both tools and techniques used in digital painting and build on what we've learned in this course. After that, feel free to go through any one of our digital painting courses in our library, whether it be character or environmental focused. Now, hopefully you've enjoyed this Beginner's Guide to Digital Painting in Photoshop. Thanks for joining us.
In this collection of lessons we will learn basic terms, definitions and workflows for digital painting in Photoshop CS5. We’ll start off by covering how to create and save new documents as well as how we can navigate around inside them. We'll then take a look at two of the most basic tools for digital painting being the brush tool and eraser tool so you begin creating artwork right away. After that, you’ll learn about several other features such as layers, selections and masks that will add a new dimension to your digital painting experience. And to wrap up this project, we'll go over one possible workflow for painting a digital image.