Digital Painting: Warrior Princess

Fantasy-Character-Desktop

You don’t need to be a master painter to create beautiful fantasy characters. A good knowledge of lighting is the most important thing when creating an image. Observe everything that surrounds you. See how a light reacts with a certain object, how shadows fall on an environment and how dark an object will be in a given light. This knowledge will put the idea that you have when painting into shape and turn it into reality.

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You don’t need to be a master painter to create beautiful fantasy characters. A good knowledge of lighting is the most important thing when creating an image. Observe everything that surrounds you. See how a light reacts with a certain object, how shadows fall on an environment and how dark an object will be in a given light. This knowledge will put the idea that you have when painting into shape and turn it into reality.

  1. Start by loosely painting in your character’s silhouette. It is important that we paint the figure and a costume of shapes that are recognisable even at this early stage. Choose a grey at 50% to paint with.
  2. On another layer, outline the figure first, than loosely sketch over a costume design based on the silhouette and reference. Don’t think of details yet, as we should first draw the general shapes of armour parts and how they fit the figure.
  3. Go over your lines with the Smudge Tool and just smooth them out. This just help define out shape a little better before we begin shading.
  4. Create a new layer for you Shape References. Make a circular selection with your Elliptical Marquee Tool and apply the Gradient Fill Tool, set to Radial, and apply different styles of light to it. It shall be created in the same light source with a secondary light that will be added later on.
  5. On your Background layer, we are going to define the light source. Go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects and set the style to Default and the ‘Light type’ to Spotlight. Rotate by grabbing the tip of the lever arm to put the light source at the upper-left corner of the image from a 45-degree angle, so it appears as though it’s coming from behind her. This gives a good light direction reference that will aid us better when blocking out shapes.
  6. Now, set your Dodge and Burn tools to Highlights and Exposure to 12%, using the default Photoshop Chalk brush with Other Dynamics box checked and set to Pen Pressure. Use the Dodge tool to give highlights and the Burn tool for the shadows.
  7. We now have a general idea what our image would look like. Use the Brush tool set to Pen Pressure, with Opacity and Flow at 100%. We will now enhance the shapes and paint it further. It is better to work in greyscale as we don’t have to worry about colour values. This will help us concentrate more in defining and painting the entire character.­­
  8. The face should be the most interesting part of the image. Try and find as much reference as you can , mixing and matching if you have to, to get the desired effect.
  9. Continue your way down the painting, detailing out the rest of the character with more precise brushes and shades. Only use the Smudge Tool to blend brush strokes within a shape, but keep your edges nice and sharp.
  10. To add the designs to the armor, take some vector images, cut them out, transform them and use the Warp Tool to manipulate them into place. Apply some layer styles such as Bevel and Emboss, Gradient Overlay, and Drop Shadow, to get the desired effect.
  11. After refining the painting, go over it with the Dodge and Burn Tools, Accenting the shadows and highlights around the character.
  12. Now for the tricky part, the hair. Create a new layer for your hair. Pick a brush that has a nice stringy feel to it. Set your brush size to be as thick as you would want the thickest clump of hair to be.

    Next, go to the Pen Tool and set it to ‘Path’ mode and draw a path to represent a strand of hair.

    Go to the ‘Paths’ Panel and Right-Click your working path and select ‘Stroke Path’ and set the Tool to ‘Brush’ and check on ‘Simulate Pressure.

    Repeat this step over and over using the Stroke Path button at the bottem of the ‘Paths’ panel, now that we have the settings correct. Change the brightness of the color you are using every now and then, and apply some Dodge and Burn to create a bit more depth.
  13. Create a new layer called color and set the blending mode to Overlay. Begin filling in your character with color and texture.
  14. For the final steps, create a background layer and just go crazy with brushes and effect till you get something you like. Try grabbing a actual photo background and ally a Gaussian Blur to it. Then apply an overlay of leaves or any other texture brush for added effect.
  15. Re-position your character on the stage, having the rule of thirds in mind, then add a Color Fill adjustment layer above everything to give a unified tone. Play around with adding overlaying filter effects and detail around the image until satisfied.