You are on page 1of 57

Chapter 1 - Goblin

Page 04 | By Andrei Pervukhin

Chapter 2 - Fairy

Page 10 | By Nykolai Aleksander

Chapter 3 - Siren
Page 26 | By Min Yum

Chapter 4 - Troll

Page 30 | By Simon Dominic Brewer

Chapter 5 - Huli Jing

Page 40 | By Jason Wei Che Juan

Chapter 6 - Ogre

Page 46 | By Richard Tilbury

You can find the free brushes in the

resources folder that accompanies this

- Free Brushes

chapter one goblin

Chapter 1
Painting Creatures From
Folklore: Chapter 1 - Goblin
Software Used: Photoshop

Hello everyone! When tackling a project such

as this one I first think about the composition
as a whole. What will the goblin look like? And
what kind of environment will he be in? For this
project I decided to keep away from the typical
J.R.R.Tolken goblin and make something that
looked original and was closer to the description
we are given in folklore. In folklore a goblin
or the kobold is the spirit of the mines. He is
constantly knocking on the rails and scaring the
miners. A lot of characters based on goblins
dont seem to reflect this.
With this idea in mind, its time to start creating

stage, like I am, but dont worry too much about

Next its time to look at color. For this, add an

the finer details (Fig.01).

old fashioned fantasy looking lamp and some

light and glow on a separate layer. Use layer

our image. Were going to begin painting in

black and white because it helps to set out the

For the next step were going to use the guide

modes to find which light looks best (Soft light,

composition, light and design. It also helps us

called golden section. This shows the centre

Overlay, Color). Fig.03 04 show a couple of

to imagine what the final piece is going to look

of the image and helps us to identify where the

the layer modes that Im trying out. I think Fig.04

like. You can use some textured brushes at this

main focus of the viewer will be (Fig.02).

looks the best, so lets go with that one.

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Chapter 1

Chapter 1
After establishing the light, we want to start
working on detailing the head of the goblin. I
find that working on the head of a character
will often set the tone for the rest of the image
(Fig.05 08).
With the head detailed, its now time look at
the clothing of the goblin. Start by refining the
design of his clothing and accessories and
then continue to detail the clothing, always
remembering the importance of the light.
Continue to consider this as we move on to
working on the hammer on his shoulder (Fig.09
11). For each of these stages its a good idea
to work on a new layer, adding one on top of
the other. To start with Im drawing on a normal
layer, then after that I start drawing on a new
soft light layer, then normal again, then Overlay
again. Scroll through the layer modes to find
which works best for your image.
Next comes the lantern. You can see the layers
and settings Ive chosen in Fig.12. Create the

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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

lamp in black-white, then on top of this add two

To create the light from the lamp, paint in two

In the next step were going to carefully cut the

layers - Im using Overlay and Color. On these

layers of hard light under the lamp. Then

goblin from the background and move it to a

layers then add a Create Clipping Mask layer

create a layer mask for a few corrections and

new layer so that we can start thinking about the

Lamp and then paint the lamp.

alterations (Fig.13).

background. Im going to paint the background

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Chapter 1

Chapter 1
and then add some textures from 3DTotals
texture library (
You can see where Ive added the photographs
and the effect this has in Fig.14 15.
Lets increase the atmosphere of the image by
adding some smoke (Fig.16).
Once happy with the overall picture, its time to
string together all the layers from the top. In the
resulting layer, use the filter Sharpen > Smart
Sharpen as this will give the completed image a
precise look.
To finish, create a new layer and fill it with a
gray color (in the table color picker Im using
the parameter B: 50%). Then add Noise > Add

Noise (amount: 400%) and use the filter Stylize

> Diffuse, with the parameters of the layer set to
Soft Light and Opacity: 15%. Finally, on the top,
use Curves to correct the color slightly.
And with that its done!

Andrei Pervukhin
For more from this artist visit:
Or contact them at:

page 8

Chapter 1

- Free Brushes

chapter two fairy

Chapter 2

Painting Creatures From

Folklore: Chapter 2 - Fairy

that fell victim to the spell of Faerie art, such as

artists point of view is just great, because it

Henry Fuseli and William Blake - even before

means we can do as we please.

Software used: Photoshop

the Victorian era where the craze really took


Some of you who know my work will wonder

The moment we set foot into the world of

why I was asked to shed some light on how to

Mythology and Folklore, one of the first

One thing most of these have in common,

paint them, as I myself am a self-proclaimed and

creatures that has a tendency to pop its head

though, is that the Faeries were portrayed as

avid Faerie avoider (if not hater). Someones

out of the often not so metaphorical woodwork

human looking (although Froud is known to

idea of a joke, no doubt, or psychological

are the Faeries - or one of their numerous

have introduced some truly cruel and gruesome

warfare - the jury is still out on that. In any

relatives, from Elves via Pixies to Faes and back

looking Elves into our minds). But what is about

case, youll have to deal with my idea of these

again. The artists who have captured them are

Faeries that seems to fascinate people? Where

creatures, whether you like it or not.

just as numerous, from traditional greats such

does all this come from? Or more to the point,

as the Godfather of Faerie Art, the one and only

where do Faeries come from? (Fig.01).

Brian Froud, to digital Glamour Faerie queens

look at how to paint these elusive things, making

such as Linda Bergkvist. We can go back in

All this sounds rather botched up to me, too

time, too, and look at some of the old masters

many cooks and all that jazz, which from an

So lets find out what that idea is, and have a

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use of Photoshop and our trusty Wacom tablet.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2
Natures Law

1. Faeries are never seen (no but, Period!)

what. To be able to somewhat identify with a

Unlike Murphys Law, this does not mean you

2. We all know that feeling of being watched,

fictitious creature is what makes us like them.

will probably tread on a Faerie if you stop

looking for them. It just means we have to start
seeing the world with different eyes. There

even though we know we are alone

3. We all know how some inanimate objects
seem to have a mind of their own.

will be no gorgeous gowns or glitter - no self-

And now lets take a look at insects, or more

specifically the Praying Mantis (Fig.02). Yes,
thats my fingers in the picture, and thats a fully
grown female Green Mantis.

respecting Faerie would be seen dead wearing

So now, lets take a step back from the tacky

such cumbersome and camouflage-defeating

postcard racks in New Age shops around the

The green Praying Mantis is, however, by far

things. No. We will take a hint from nature and

world, and instead use our imagination for a

the most boring looking one. If you Google the

transfer the concept of its perfection onto its


Ghost Mantis, the Dead Leaf Mantis, or the

supposed guardians (or devils, depending which

Orchid Mantis, you get the idea why I am so

side you come down on). This is simpler than

Lets stick with a humanoid figure for starters.

keen on using this insect in our search for the

you may think. Lets have a look at the list of

Why? Because familiarity is good, no matter

ideal Faerie: They really are quite something

things to consider:

Anyway, this particular Faerie would reside
in or around orchids, nowhere else. I could
give you tree faeries (separated into bark
and leaf faeries, of course), water faeries,
grass faeries, stone faeries or sand faeries,
but I figured the Orchid Faerie would be
more interesting to look at, as well as
marginally dangerous. Certainly not the type
youd want to subject your pet gerbil to.
But designing one and ignoring all the
others would be no good, not for any
tutorial, or to get a point across.
If the Orchid Faerie is the link to something
reminiscent of the past and nature, what
about our modern world? Surely, with the
technological advance of mankind, Faeries
adapted too into the kind that crashes our
hard drives, or stalls our car batteries. You
get the idea. Youd not want to annoy it,
because it will, without a doubt, delete
your address book or leak your number to
telemarketers. The Mobile Phone Faerie
has several cousins, and sometimes I
wonder if they switch residence when
given the chance (and a USB cable).
Lets keep it simple - we want to focus
on the Faeries, everything else is
just extras. We need a phone (my

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2
BlackBerry seemed good for this),
and some orchids, and of course
the Faeries. You can see I added
a book as well; thats just me being
facetious, seeing that I already
have a certain book in mind to
feature in the piece (Fig.03). Of
course, the sketch is on a separate
layer, to make it easier for us to
paint underneath it. Filling the
background with a color rather
than leaving it white helps set the
mood and also aids in getting the
colors right once we start to block
them in.
Were going to stick with the
background for now, as I think

a nice chunky brush and plop some color on the

phone and book on separate layers, which

itll be beneficial to the Faeries. If we start with

background of the canvas (Fig.04).

I didnt do this time round - itll make it a bit

painting them, we will be very limited later in

harder for me later to refine certain parts of the

choice of colors for the background (remember,

Even though this already looks quite neat, it

we want them to sort of blend in). So lets grab

really isnt. I normally paint props such as the

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background, but thats okay. You may, however,

Chapter 2

Chapter 2
want to paint such items on
separate layers.
For the orchids, I do add a
separate layer and lay their
colors down just as I did with
the background. Theres many
different species of orchids, not
just white and pink, so when
painting these beautifully deadly
flowers, have a look around online
for some inspiration. (Fig.05) Fun
complimentary colors make the
image pop.
Before I continue to refine the
background more to set the
scene for our dear creatures, I
want to get some base texture
into it. Now, we can do this in
several ways, like with texture
brushes, or - as I choose to do
here - with a texture image.
You can find royalty free photo
textures in 3DTotal.coms
texture library, or just go and
take your own. I had taken
some pictures of a patch of
grass a while ago, so Ill be
using one of them to work into
the background (Fig.06).
Drag the photo over to your
painting and resize it so it
covers all the bits you want
covered. Then erase the parts
that overlap the props (which
wouldnt be the case if you
had your props on separate
layers). To make it blend a bit
better with the painting, we
can apply a filter such as the
Median Filter (Fig.07).
And to make the grass
texture blend in we simply

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2
set the layer to Soft Light, and reduce its
Opacity a little if needed (Fig.08). There,
looks much better already!
We now turn our attention back to the
Orchids. Using a softer round brush than
before, loosely refine the petals and stems.
To blend the colors somewhat, we use the
Smudge tool with a textured brush tip, with
Angle Jitter set to 50%, Scatter to around
5% and Opacity to Pen Pressure. These
settings stop it from looking smeary, and
give you an even blending of colors.
We also add another texture photo here
beneath them (Fig.09) and do what we
did before with the grass to make it work
Giving nature a break, lets have a look
at the phone. First work it over with
a standard round hard edged brush seriously, no fuzzy here! Its a plastic
and metal object, and they just dont
have fuzzy edges. Once the keys look
as we want them to, we can start to
think about adding the key faces. Using
the Type tool, choose a font that is
similar to the one on the actual phone,
and type out everything we see. The
next part is horrendously tedious, but
worth it: Rasterize the type (Layer >

Rasterize > Type) so we can actually work with

it as we need to. After that, cut out the individual
letters and symbols and place them onto the
keys, not forgetting to adjust their perspective
(Edit > Transform) fun!
When you can finally can say its done, we
can look at making the symbols that were not
available in type, such as the arrows. Luck has
it that these are available as default shapes, so
we can take the Custom Shape tool, then select
the arrows we need from the little menu at the
top. Once again, to properly work with these

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2
Shapes once we have them all we need to
rasterize them (Layer > Rasterize > Shape).
The BlackBerry Logo and the green and
red receiver buttons get painted (Fig.11).
And were almost there with the keys! To
really make the lettering work within the
painting, we need to blur them slightly. So
go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and
adjust the settings to your liking, then hit
OK (Fig.12).
Now lets get the book fixed up. I
personally find it easiest to just use the
default round Paint brush with Size Jitter
and Opacity set to Pen Pressure to paint
the illusion of pages and pull the edges
of the cover into focus. Its a straight
forward thing, really. To blend certain
sections, we use the Smudge tool again
With this out of the way, we can look at
the rest of the picture again, and give it
equal attention - because it needs it.
Im not happy with the high saturation
of the Orchids, so I desaturate them
a little bit. Easiest way to do that is to
go into Image > Adjust > Desaturate,
then Edit > Fade Desaturate. Also,
I am not keen on the positioning of
them, so I move them about a bit
until I think it looks fine. I also move
one of the flowers further out and
extend the stem to give the Faerie
that will sit on it more space. I also
add the shadows that the Orchids
would throw on the stones beneath
them, and heavily refine the stones
themselves, first with a hard round
brush for sharp edges, and then
with a couple of custom brushes to
bring out the texture.
And then I add the text on the
book using the Type tool again,

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2

proceeding as before, rasterizing and adjusting

its position and perspective, as well as blurring
it slightly.
You may also notice Ive changed the Orchid
Faerie sketch slightly - the first one was just
you know, cartoony and bad (Fig.14).
Now that the background is at a nice level
of quality, we can move on to the Orchid
Faerie. As we want the creature to be nicely
camouflaged, were going to use a similar color
palette for it as we used for the immediate
surroundings: the orchids, grass and stone.
Rather than picking colors from the painting with
the Eyedropper tool, lets take a screenshot
of the image and crop it to that portion of the
picture instead (Fig.15).
Now we go into the Filter menu, go to Blur
and choose the Radial Blur. Essentially, were
going to mix ourselves a palette - the fast way
(Fig.16). The result is something very usable

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2
The reason Im taking this
route is because picking
the colors directly from the
painting wont give us enough
color variation - as in, the
Faerie would have the very
same colors as the flowers
she happens to sit on, which
is not too beneficial - for the
Faerie, or us. Camouflage
= good. No chance of
blending in with slightly
differently shaded orchids
from the same family = bad.
You get the idea.
So lets get started by
blocking in the main colors
we want to use. We add a
new Layer for the Faerie of
course and, using the plain

may want to work things like this out in a new

famous yucky stage (where things just look

round brush with Opacity set to Pen Pressure,

sketch before continuing. I have the (bad?) habit

not as great as you would like them to), its also

get to work (Fig.18).

of changing my mind halfway through a painting

the stage where you can play around a lot until

about certain aspects of it, and no doubt this

you get something worth taking further. Many

At this point I realize Im not really happy with

wont be the only time in this tutorial youll see

artists do this with thumbnail sketches, or line

the pose, especially the arms, so I fix that and

me go Uh, nah.

sketches, which is not a bad idea to be honest. I

then continue refining the Faeries overall color

should think about taking that up

before even contemplating going into any kind of

So now that Im kind of happy with what Ive

detail (Fig.19). If youre not that confident about

got, I set about refining the light and shadow,

Next up, lets refine the face a little (Fig.20) to

just changing a pose at a moments notice, you

and add the first details. Aside from being the

get a better idea of what were looking at.

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2

I spoke too soon about being happy with what Ive got, as heres another

down and makes things look very pasty, use a darker shade variation of

pose change. Its the last one, promise! Of course, we continue to refine

the color from the surface the shadow will be on. In this case, I used a

the overall appearance of the Faerie (Fig.21). You may notice a vague

burnt orange on the yellow petal of the orchid at the top for the shadow

texture on its skin, which was done with a chunky rough speckled brush,

under the arms, a slightly lighter orange for the one the leg crosses over,

with Angle Jitter set to 50%, and Opacity and Flow set to Pen Pressure.

and a deep purple red for the shadow that grounds the left foot claw.

This texture wont be very visible by the time were finished with it all, but it
may still shine through here and there and add an extra amount of well,

Once we are satisfied with how the Faerie looks - the pose, expression,

texture and depth.

some hint of details, etc. - we can look at adding more colors.

Heres a little tip for adding the shadows of the Faerie (or in fact anything

The reason why I personally prefer to start off with a more muted palette

else youre painting): rather than using black, which really dulls everything

is its easier to build up to vivid and varied colors than toning them down
again, especially when working with red, orange and purple pinks - these
can get oversaturated very quickly. And right now, I am not sure yet just
how in your face I want this to be.
First of all, lets adjust the contrast slightly. I prefer doing this by using
Levels, rather than Contrast (Image > Adjust > Levels), but whatever you
use is really up to you (Fig.22).
Now, to get some inspiration for patterns, we can again look at various
insects, such as caterpillars or beetles, as well as amphibians (especially
some of the tropical frogs which are stunning). But really, anything goes its a Faerie!
A good way of adding patterns and texture is with a custom brush, be
it by stamping the texture/pattern on, or using the brush like a normal
paintbrush - it all depends on what you want to see in the end. Always do
this on a separate Layer, so you can adjust it or delete it if you dont like it

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2
I add a more contrasting pattern in bright

Im pretty happy with the Faerie now, but

orange/red on the lower legs with a different

theres still something missing: Wings.

custom brush, and accentuate it with yellow

No Faerie is complete without them (or

around the edges to make it stand out a bit

so weve been made to believe). Actually,

more (Fig.24). This whole process is a trial and

Im adding them in because the wings

error thing - sometimes it works out straight

are what draws many people to these

away, sometimes it doesnt, so just play around

creatures in paintings, and also what many

and see what you think looks good, and what

people seem to really have a problem with

you like.

painting. I have stumbled across decent

enough Faerie paintings where the wings were

just so cumbersome and weighty, that I could
have used them to successfully swat the Faeries,
a lot of times.
So lets take a look at what goes, and what
doesnt, in relation to the Faerie in this painting.
Its obviously a small creature, and one would
imagine quite fast, too. The fact that its based
primarily on insects rules out feathered wings
(really, those are reserved for birds and Angels).
We can also rule out the stereotypical butterfly
wings, as these too are too heavy and dense
looking. Besides, the word tacky springs to
mind again. What we want here is something
light and transparent. Think Dragonfly, or well,
Mantis. If you check the latter up online again,
you will find some stunning examples of their
wings, and what they use them for, namely not
just flying, exactly what we want here really.
Sketching the wings on a new Layer works
best, with a small round brush with Size
and Opacity set to Pen Pressure (Fig.25).
Remember not forget the wing(s) that will be
somewhat obscured behind the Faerie, or else
it will fly in perpetual circles.
The first thing I do after that is attack the
sketch lines with the Smudge Tool (same
settings as previously described) (Fig.26).

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Chapter 2

Chapter 2
Using the round Paint brush with no Size Jitter, and Opacity and Flow set to Pen
Pressure, as well as manually reduced to something around about 40%, I fill the
wings in and erase the bits sticking out over the lines with a soft edged eraser.
Use a new Layer which you can merge with the line sketch Layer once done that way you can change the Opacity if you wish (Fig.27).
Now that we have a basic transparent set of colored wings, we can work out the
details. When doing this kind of work, I personally like to use separate Layers
for the details I add to have more control over adjustments, which can come in
very handy when painting transparent things that you wish to keep looking as
transparent as possible. Duplicating Layers and playing with Layer Modes can
have some great results (Fig.28)!
You may have noticed that I removed the obscured set of wings while working
on the ones in full view. Thats because there is no need to paint the other set,
as we can just duplicate the one weve got once we finish it, and then adjust the
perspective to work with the slightly different angle (Fig.29). If you have lots of
Layers for your wings that cannot be merged (some Layer Modes do not like
merging unless you have a solid colored layer to merge them with), put all the
wing Layers into a Layer Set and duplicate that, rather than all the separate
With the wings done, we move on to the second Faerie. First of all, I want to
change this one, as its way too Romeo and Juliette for me. Turning the whole
corrupting files over in my head, I figured why not use that here. Can you guess
what the Phone Faerie just did (Fig.30)?
Before going any further with the arm, lets see about making the screen come to
life with a fuzzy brush in an almost white color. I employ the Noise Filter to make
it a bit more convincing, then duplicate the Layer and set it to Overlay (Fig.31).
Happy with that, I go back to the arm and refine it, using various shades of
electric blue and turquoise (Fig.32).

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Now we just need to make it work where it

and now all evidence has to be deleted.

pops out of the screen. Also, it would be nice

to make that Faerie a little bit more sci-fi.

To add the delete confirmation info on the

Lets take down the opacity of it to make it

screen (Fig.36), I just used the Shape tool and

more transparent, like a hologram (Fig.33),

selected the Rounded Rectangle, rasterized

then duplicate the layer and set it to Overlay

the shape (Layer > Rasterize > Shape), then

(Fig.34), and to make it a little brighter, we

added the white border by using the Layer

can adjust the Levels of the original arm

Styles (Layer > Layer Styles > Stroke) and the

Layer until we have something we like

shadow, also with Layer Styles. I did the same


for the blue OK button then added the text.

After merging the layers, I adjusted the position

Of course, we will have to add some

of the info box to match the perspective of the

reflective glow on the phone and

screen, and gently erased parts of it to blend

surroundings, but we will do that in a little

in better. Some slight blurring and then adding

while. First I would like to continue with

Noise helps!

what the little guy actually did in the phone.

Well, let some photos disappear, of course.


Most likely our Orchid Faerie accidentally

got caught on camera as the reader of the

Now that we have all the major elements done,

book took some pictures of the Orchids,

lets concentrate on the loose ends that need

tying up. First, I reduce the
Opacity of the books title, as
it seems a bit too much. I also
notice that there is a distinct
gap right in the middle of the
picture, an invisible line drawn
between Orchid and Phone. To
close that gap a little and make
the image work better, I grab
the Orchids with the Faerie

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Chapter 2
there, and using the Median Filter and also the Blur tool make them
blend in with the already existing texture. I also add another photo
texture behind the Orchids, and layer it with a brush texture (Fig.39).
Great! I think thats pretty much it on the active painting side of things,
and its time to look at the very last overall adjustments.
Ive started the habit of making a copy of my work (Image > Duplicate),
so if I dont like what I do in the end, I can re-open the original file and
start over.
The first thing I tend to do is individual Levels adjustment to either even
out the contrast, or to pop out certain parts of the image. After that, I
flatten the image (Layer > Flatten) to once more adjust the Levels, and
also to play with the Variations (Image > Adjustments > Variations).
These are all very subtle adjustments, but often have a great impact
Now its time for the reflective blue glow I mentioned earlier around
the Phone Faeries arm. For this, I add a new Layer and set it to
Linear Glow, then take a fuzzy round brush, pick a bright blue,
and carefully paint the light. Duplicating the Layer and setting it to
Overlay, and then adjusting the Opacity of both Layers will give you
some nice results. - I dont want the glow too strong, just a hint. If
you want it stronger, remember to add some actual highlights to the
items closest to the glow. I put a little on the Orchid Faeries face
and hands (rather, claws) for subtle effect, as that lifts its face off the
book in the background (Fig.41).
I add another Layer set to Overlay and, picking a warm yellow/
orange color, I carefully light the Orchid Faerie and everything that

and nudge them further to the left (Fig.37). Linking all the affected
Layers before doing that is advisable here, as it saves you having to
shift them individually. Then I crop the canvas, using the Cropping
tool, and also resize the Orchids and Faerie a little, making them
bigger (Fig.38).
Next up, add some more details to the background. Where the
Phone Faeries arm is, I blur the bits behind it, as whatever is behind
it would probably not be as clear but rather like looking through a
frosted or smudgy glass.
I also want to add a little more detail to the grass. Using a custom
brush that looks and acts a bit like a palette knife, with Size and
Opacity set to Pen Pressure, I randomly paint grass stalks here and

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Chapter 2

is not within reach of the blue glow. The result

should be visible, but not over the top, just
enough to really pop the Orchids and Faerie as
the main attraction in the painting (Fig.42).
We flatten the image again, and adjust the
Levels one last time if needs be.
Were pretty much done now, but to really finish
off the painting, we may want to consider adding
some focal blurring. Its easiest at this stage to
do this by hand with the Blur tool. But carefully,
as its quickly overdone, and we want to avoid
that. We want everything still clearly visible.
Just soften the edges of some of the things that
would be slightly out of focus.
And there we have it!

Happily Ever After

So, it is possible to paint these creatures without
glitter or the token butterfly wings and even
if youre a fan of the classical Fae, there were
hopefully still some things that you found useful.
Now go and get your pins and glass jars ready,
and catch yourselves some Faeries. Happy

Nykolai Aleksander
For more from this artist visit:
Or contact them at:

- Free Brushes

chapter three siren

Chapter 3
Painting Creatures From
Folklore: Chapter 3 - Siren
Software used: Photoshop

I sometimes start a picture without a strong idea
in mind, especially with subjects I havent dealt
with before, and it quickly leads to a research
session for a small collection of reference
images. Because of this my process usually
begins with research. I think its important to
prepare right at the start rather than late in the
day as it can save so much time and trouble
later on. Good research can also lead to ideas
and inspiration as well as help you get all the
facts right about your subject matter. It turns
out that my initial ideas about sirens were
slightly incorrect when I began my research.
Ive always pictured them more like monsters,
ready for battle but they were usually described
as a beautiful seductive bird-like women or like
mermaids luring men to the sea.
In this workshop I am going to share my process
of creating a painting from sketch to the finished
piece, as well as share some of the tips and
methods I frequently use in Photoshop.


for me. I cleaned up the sketch a little here with

I started by roughly sketching out some ideas

some minor anatomy details and took a mental

as small thumbnails. When doing thumbnails

note of how the background would be painted

I usually try to arrange the elements whilst


focussing on composition. I also avoid focusing

on details at this stage; I just roughly put down

Blocking in

the ideas and see if they work visually (Fig.01).

Using some big textured brushes, I blocked in

Refining sketch

some background colors. Theres something

about using strong contrasting colors that adds

I decided to go for the mermaid look for my

to a piece of art and this is no exception. I

Siren. I like to try something new with every

went for orange and blue. I was feeling a bit

piece of artwork I do, and since Ive never drawn

adventurous and went with a very bold orange,

a mermaid creature this was an obvious choice

hoping I could offset this with cool lighting on the

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Chapter 3

Chapter 3
character against the warm orange background

Defining the figure

I next established the lighting. I tried to keep it
subtle by using a slight spotlight from top left.
I also adjusted her skin tone to help her stand
out from the background. At this stage I also
roughed out the overall form of the figure and
the rock (Fig.04).

With all the elements in the right places, the
rendering begins. This process is probably
the most time consuming part. I usually start
with the focal point, in this case the figure. My
workspace in Photoshop usually consists of two
document windows. One zoomed out at around
25% and the other with a close up view so that I
can work on the details and check how it works
overall in the other window. Digital painting has
the advantage of being able to zoom in, but
also at the same time it can lead to overworking
an area which may lead to inconsistency
throughout the image. Opening up another
window can be done by going to Windows >
Arrange > New Window for xxxx.psd (Fig.05).

Adding details
I started adding the details and worked on the
features like her face. I tend to avoid using
textured brushes at this stage as they dont give
you finer controls. Blending with a low Opacity
brush can often lead to muted colors as you are
painting over semi transparent colors over and
over again. Its good to select the original color

shadow starts, shown here with a red arrow

again once in a while to bring back the original

(Fig.07). This area is darkest because of the

colors. Another method I use is Overlay brush

reflected/diffuse lighting in the shadow region.

blending modes to put back some of those

One thing I do tend to do is accentuate this area

vibrant colors that were lost during the blending

with more saturated colors, usually from the


warm colors in the surrounding environment.

Rendering Form

This works really well with rounded forms but

also with edge of the shadows. A soft edged

If youve tried rendering a simple sphere or

brush with Overlay Blending mode does the job

cylinder, you may have heard of the term core

well (Fig.07).

shadow. This refers to the region where the

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Tidying up

periodically flip the canvas when Im working

After many hours working on the image the

to see if anything looks odd. One of the things

painting was almost done. I added more detail

I focused on was the fact that I wanted to keep

and a warm orange outline around the figure

the background simple and not conflicting with

to help differentiate her from the background. I

the main focal point of the image (Fig.08).

looked out for any inconsistent brush strokes

which can happen when working on a detailed


image. I also got rid of unnecessary details

There were couple of things in the image that

especially in the background texture. Flipping

didnt seem quite right. The head of the figure

the canvas horizontally is a simple and easy

seemed a little too small and the tail felt a bit

method to check for any obvious mistakes; I

unnatural. A quick adjustment of the head fixed

the proportion issue, but the tail needed a bit

more work, particularly with the way it rested
on the rock. Also it needed more highlights to
suggest a shiny texture (Fig.09).

Finishing up
After adding the final touches and a couple
of colour adjustment layers, the painting is
wrapped up. I am satisfied with the overall
feel of the image and the fact that I havent
completely lost all of the bold colours I begun
with (Fig.10).

Min Yum
For more from this artist visit:
Or contact them at:

page 29

Chapter 3

chapter four troll

Chapter 4
Painting Creatures From
Folklore: Chapter 4 - Troll
Software used: ArtRage Studio Pro & Painter
One of the most recognizable characters in
folklore is the troll, yet ironically they come
in all shapes and sizes. Whilst some trolls
are depicted as huge and hulking, others are
described as being similar to normal folk,
distinguishable from humans only by their
clothing and habits. Troll tales originate primarily
from Scandinavia, although England and
Scotland also have a small troll tradition.
For this painting Ive decided to paint a portrait
rather than an action scene, and to set it a forest
environment. A portrait approach will result in a
more formal character depiction, but will allow
for full focus on the character. My troll will be
an important personage in the troll community
and hence will be dressed more elaborately
than his peers. That doesnt mean his clothing
will be pristine however, as the forest can be a
messy place and trolls arent renowned for their
cleanliness. In terms of weapons Im going to

The process is very quick as these characters

point way off canvas to the left. My troll will be

give my troll a huge, oaken staff that doubles as

are not intended for display, rather as a decision

large, maybe eight feet tall, and therefore I want

a club. Trolls tend to make use of the resources

aid and a catalyst for the creative process. I use

to give the impression that he is looming over

around them so I think a basic, natural weapon

the default Pencil and canvas in ArtRage. I find

the viewer. Rendering the troll against these

like a club is more fitting to a forest setting

the rough feel closely mimics using a real pencil.

perspective lines will help in this respect.

than a sword or a magical item. To complete

Using these concepts as a guide I choose the

this image Ill be using ArtRage Studio Pro and

third character as the one I want to develop.

I make the outline sketch onto a new layer.

Painter 11. Ill do the concepts and sketching

With this in mind I move on to the actual image.

This stage is designed to give a basic, clean

in ArtRage and move on to Painter for the

indication of all the main elements of my

coloring and final detail. Either package would

Line Work

be sufficient to complete the entire project,

My final image needs to be 2480x3425 pixels at

tag combination of layered clothing, which will

but ArtRages strengths are in sketching, and

300dpi. However, because I wont be painting

have different textures in the final image. The

Painters strengths in detailing.

fine detail until later on theres no point working

Quick Concepts

character. His clothing is composed of a rag-

with such a large canvas initially. Therefore

still in ArtRage, I create a small canvas with

Its often a good idea to knock out some initial

the same aspect ratio as the spec for my final

sketches before beginning the main work. I

image. I load my concept sketch as a reference

actually did this step before I made the decision

so I have a constant on-screen guide as to what

to create the forest troll portrait as I described.

I want to achieve (Fig.02).

For this piece I create half a dozen sketches,

Next I create a new layer and draw a few rough

each depicting a different type of troll (Fig.01).

perspective lines to an imaginary vanishing

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Chapter 4

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skulls around his waist reinforce the idea that
hes a big fella as well as an unpleasant one.
When Ive finished the line drawing I hold Alt
+ H (Option + H on a Mac) to view the image
mirrored. This helps to identify any anatomical
or perspective problems.

Sketch Detail
I increase the size of my canvas to about half
the intended final dimensions. This will allow for
more detail to be laid down. To compensate for
this I also increase my pencil Nib Size to around
200%. I reduce the Opacity of my line work layer
to 30% and create a third layer on top. Using
the low opacity line work as a guide, I create a
detailed sketch of my character (Fig.03).

Clean Up
The first two layers the perspective lines
and the line work sketch have served their

purpose, so I delete them. This leaves me with

the detailed sketch on a single layer (Fig.04). I
save this as a PSD file because the next time I
work on it Ill be using Painter.

Build a Color Palette

When painting, I find it very helpful to work from
a pre-created color palette a Color Set. This
doesnt mean Ill be choosing every single color

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Chapter 4
from this palette, but it will act as the primary
selection tool.
To create the Color Set I first open a blank
canvas in Painter. As in the actual painting
stage its a good idea not to use pure white as
the background as it can be overwhelming and
make it difficult to distinguish darker colors. I
use my Artists Oils brush to make a sequence
of splodges representing the main elements that
will be in my image bright yellows for the sky;
deep browns, oranges and grays for clothing
material; mid-saturation, mid-valued pinks for
the skin tone and white for the hair. When Im
happy that those colors will take care of most
of my requirements, I click the Create Color Set
From Mixer Palette option. This generates a
256-color Color Set palette, which I save as a

Load the PSD into Painter

I choose a simple background, which acts as

PCS file (Fig.05).

Because ArtRage processes paint in a different

an anchor for the character whilst providing a

manner to Painter, PSDs that have been

hint of his natural environment. I will be painting

exported from ArtRage usually have a number

the background in low-contrast hues so that the

of extra layers. I load the PSD into Painter and

main figure stands out (Fig.07).

see that there are two blank layers and a paper

layer in addition to the canvas and sketch layer

Upsize the Image

(Fig.06). In this instance I remove both blank

Im ready to begin the final painting process so

layers and the paper layer, although if you prefer

I upsize my image to its working dimensions

the paper layer color to the canvas color you

using Canvas > Resize (make sure Constrain

may want to simply remove the two blank layers

File Size is not ticked). I actually size it

and drop the paper layer to the canvas.

to dimensions greater than the specified


2480x3425 pixels, so that I have more scope for

adding fine detail where needed. Because I am

On the canvas I use my Underpainting Artists

careful to maintain the aspect ratio Ill be able

Oils brush to lay down a very quick, very rough

to resize to the exact specification when the

approximation of the colors Ill be using. This is

painting is complete (Fig.08).

simply to act as a guide to the proper painting.

Beginning Painting
Before I start painting I drop the sketch layer
to the canvas so that the image is completely
flat (in terms of layers). I select the Artists Oils
brush and begin adding rough detail to the troll,
starting with the head and face. Because the
expression of the troll is important, I work using
a relatively small brush, about 10 pixels, with the
zoom set at 100% (Fig.09).

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Use the Largest Brush possible

When painting larger areas, especially at this
stage, its a good rule of thumb to use the
biggest brush possible. So instead of using
the 10-pixel width brush on the ogres exposed
arms, or flowing cloak, I increase the size to
15 or 20 pixels (Fig.10). Of course, as detail
increases, the size of the brush will decrease.

Using Lighting and Texture

Understanding the ways different materials react
to light is key to creating a believable image.
Here I combine a number of different materials
to form the trolls garb, ranging from dull drapery
to the thick, calloused, fur-lined leather covering
his shoulders. I depict the leather as having
more surface variation of Hue, Saturation and

slightly more Specularity (Fig.11). Even more

Rough Background Detail

Value than the thin material of his robe, and also

Specularity is present on his skin, on the skulls

To finish off the rough detail work I move on

around his waist, and also on the monstrous

to the background. I increase my brush size

staff hes leaning on, as a result of the wood

to around 30 pixels for this stage. In order to

being worn smooth over time.

depict bark on the tree I cross horizontal and

vertical bark textures so that the trees bulk is
evident in three dimensions and it doesnt look
flat. By easing up on the pen pressure I can
blend certain areas so that the texture doesnt
overpower the main character. I also darken the
area under the trolls feet. This is to anchor the
character with the background. If I didnt do this
the character would look pasted and it would
flatten the image (Fig.12).

Painting Leaves
Selecting low saturation colors from my palette,
I dab at the ground plane, creating flecks that,

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4
from a distance, resemble leaves. Ill be refining
these shapes later on. At the moment its
sufficient that these leafy shapes remind me of
leaves and are roughly the right color (Fig.13).

Using Colour Variability

Im about to begin the fine detail stage and this
involves using the Round brush. One neat trick
to improve the painterly appearance of detail is
to use the Color Variability settings. I select In
HSV from the pull-down (this stands for Hue,
Saturation, Value). I then set the sliders to H:
4%, S: 1%, V: 1%. This means that every time
I make a mark with the brush, the color hue
that Ive chosen will change randomly within a
4% tolerance of my original color choice. In the
same way, the Saturation and Value will change
randomly within a 1% tolerance. Its a good
idea to play around with these settings to see
which suits you best (Fig.14). A word of warning
here. Painter 11 has a bug whereby these
settings can spontaneously reset to 0. For this
reason I keep the Color Variability panel on my
workspace and check it every so often.

Detailed Texturing
With my small, Round brush set to between 5
and 12 pixels, I move over the character and
boost the detail level. Because our troll is a
forest dweller, and likely a bit of a thug too, I add
a few areas of scuffing, staining and dirt on his
clothes (Fig.15).

The Hands
The trolls hands, resting on top of his staff, are
an integral part of this piece, and they need to
look just right to make the piece believable. That

means particular attention needs to be paid to

is wrapped around the head of the staff. The

the light and shadow, which, broadly speaking,

shadows are therefore placed to be consistent

define the form (Fig.16). Here we can see the

with our light source. Where the fingers of

trolls left hand is covering his right, which in turn

the right hand grip the wood I use a slightly

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4
desaturated highlight to simulate reflected light
from the environment. This helps to give solidity
to the hand. A light pressure on the pen will
blend paint on the canvas. I use this feature to
help stop the texture becoming too scratchy.

Resize the Skulls

I notice that the skulls on the left appear smaller
than they should, even taking in account the
slight perspective we have going on. I select
them roughly using the Polygonal Selection tool,
then hit CTRL / cmd C to copy the contents.
I remove the selection area using CTRL /
cmd - D and paste the skulls into a new layer
using CTRL / cmd - V. Using the Edit > Free

graduated yet textured blends between light

for the shadow. Lastly, I add a bit of dark paint

Transform menu option I enlarge the selection

and shadow. To obtain a high degree of control

to his knee to represent dirt and scuff marks.

object whilst holding down SHIFT to maintain

over your pen sensitivity you should experiment

the aspect ratio (Fig.17). Lastly I choose Edit >

with different settings in both your tablet settings

Wood Texture

Transform > Commit Transformation and drop

application and via your Edit > Preferences >

If youre not careful the wood texture can easily

the selection to the canvas. I also neaten the

Brush Tracking menu option in Painter.

end up looking like skin or cloth. To avoid this I

edges a little so it blends with the image.

Robe Material

Scarred Skin

use darker, more saturated colors for the wood

base color (Fig.20). I add desaturated specular

Its safe to assume this troll has had a hard

highlights sparingly to the staff to simulate old,

To paint the orange robe material I enlarge

life, so the skin around his knees and shins

worn wood. Placing some of the bright highlights

the Round brush to between 10 and 20 pixels.

will be scarred and pockmarked (Fig.19). With

directly onto the dark areas make it appear as

Varying the pen pressure is key in this painting

light brushstrokes I make a few dark lines and

if the wood itself is dark, rather than in shadow.

process. In the dark shadows I press quite

dots on the skin. To make them appear etched

This is a useful method of distinguishing dark

hard so the dark paint is applied thickly whilst

into the skin I make very faint highlights on the

coloration from shadowed areas, especially on

elsewhere Ill ease up on the pressure so that

edges, especially the lower edges being that our

shiny or slimy items.

the paint is more opaque and bleeds more

light source is above. As a general rule, if the

readily with existing colors (Fig.18).

highlight is on the side of the blemish furthest

Autumn Leaves

from the light source it appears like a groove;

I use the Artists Oils brush to further define the

When applying almost no pressure the brush

if its on the side nearest the light source it

leaves on the ground. At this stage I concentrate

behaves more like a blender and helps to create

appears like a bump, and of course vice-versa

on getting the colors right and I leave the

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

shapes quite rough. I use a selection of lighter,

leaves at the periphery of the piece, to create

main character. Keeping it loose, and still

desaturated colors for the leaves themselves

exaggerated focus on the main character. I dont

using the Artists Oils brush, I dab in darker

and dab deep purples and black at their

use overlays or layers to achieve this effect,

lines which run vertically up the tree trunk. At

periphery, to suggest the shadow and dark earth

rather choose the appropriate color for each leaf

irregular intervals I sketch small, rough arcs

beneath (Fig.21).

and take advantage of the blending function of

perpendicular to these lines to give the subtle

the brush (Blend increases as Pen Pressure

appearance of bulk. This helps gives the trunk a

decreases). I also want the troll to appear like

3D appearance and avoids the stage set look

When painting the leaves its easy to get

hes standing on the ground, not floating in front


caught up painting one leaf after another and

of it. For this I darken the area below him and

forget the overall image. If youre not careful

to his right, to simulate shadow. Again, I try and

Final Detail Leaves

this can flatten the image due to each leaf

pick the correct color from the palette or color

Im almost finished now so I move around the

being basically the same value and saturation.

wheel rather than using layers. Youll see here

painting adding some final detail with the Round

Zooming out from time to time helps you see

that Ive also flipped the image, which I do from

brush. I dont want to refine the leaves too

how your leaves are becoming part of the

time to time to check composition and anatomy.

much so I just spend a few minutes tweaking


scene. Here, I want the leaves in the immediate

the brush strokes into more leafy shapes. I

foreground to be larger, brighter and more

Tree Bark

colorful than those at the side of the troll,

For the tree and the rest of the background

important to suggest the impression of leaves

or behind him (Fig.22). I also fade out the

Im careful to use only low saturation colors

rather than to painstakingly render each one

of mid- to high-value. This is to give a sense

(Fig.24). I also extend the length of the trolls

of depth and so they dont compete with the

cloak a little, for aesthetic value if not modesty.

dont obsess over each leaf because its more

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Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Final Detail Tree

shadowed areas and use the Artists Oils brush

And that completes the picture. During this

Using the Round brush I refine some of the tree

to dab in a low value ochre color (Fig.27).

tutorial Painter has been creating backups of the

detail the fungus and area of discolored bark

file every time Ive saved (Edit > Preferences >

especially. The level of detail remains much

Resize and Save

less than that of the main character, so that

If you recall from Fig.08, the image dimensions

I do regularly. I also backed up my files onto a

the background does not compete for attention

Ive been working with are larger than the

separate disk at the end of every day I worked


specified print size. To obtain the print-spec

on the project, using free backup software. For

image I save a copy of the main image and

the sake of a minute or two per day this can

using Canvas > Resize, set the dimensions

save a lot of hassle!

A Bit of Texture

General tick Create Backup on Save), which

As a final touch I choose the Artists Canvas

accordingly. Because the large image is the

Paper from the Paper palette (Window > Library

same aspect ratio as the intended smaller one it

I hope you found this tutorial useful and thanks

Palette > Papers) and using the Round brush

isnt distorted.

for reading.

at a large size, dab in a few textures in the

corners of the image, just to make it a bit more
interesting (Fig.26). As far as I can tell the
image is pretty much finished. However, I set
it aside for a few days so I can come back to
it with a fresh perspective before I do the final
submission. Time allowing, its always a good
idea to take a break before formally declaring a
piece complete, otherwise theres a danger of
getting too close to it and allowing familiarity to
mask its flaws.

Final Tweaks
When I look at it next I see that the rear hanging
edge of the trolls cloak appears too dark,
drawing the eye into an unintentional and
somewhat undesirable focus. I zoom into the

page 38

Chapter 4

Simon Dominic
For more information please visit:
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chapter five huli jing

Chapter 5
Painting Creatures From
Folklore: Chapter 5 - Huli Jing
Software used: ArtRage Studio Pro & Painter
China has a lot of its own folklore which includes
songs and tales that tell stories of history,
human nature, or love. Here is the story about
Daji and King Zhou of Shang in 1047 BC.
Daji was a favorite concubine of King Zhou of
Shang. She is a classic example of how beauty
can cause the downfall of an empire or dynasty
in Chinese culture. She is portrayed as an evil
fox spirit in the Chinese novel Fengshen Yanyi
which is translated as The Investiture of the
Gods or The Creation of the Gods, also known
as Fengshen Bang. I am always building my
own small library of books and keep them by
my side. Wikipedia or online search engines like
Google or Bing are very good resource, but be
aware that there are still tons of resource which
you cannot find online.
Strong initial sketches make the whole
processes much easier, so establishing a good
sketch from the beginning is way more efficient
than fixing problems later. Some people thought
one of the biggest benefits of digital paintings is
the Undo button, but I feel that is not true. Do it
right from the beginning, why do you want to do

it wrong, undo it, and do it again and again? It

In the story, King Zhou (in his later years) drinks,

is the same as traditional painting. It is always

has sex, lacks morals, and ignores all the affairs

good to start heading in the right direction, so

of the people. After thinking about these words,

you can just keep developing the image until is

some faces start to appear in my mind, so I


focused on the faces and tried to capture the

expression on them and play with values for the

The first stage is to define the characters. In


this case it is based on existing characters so

research is very important, but dont let the

Strong contrast and value are two major things

story restrict the illustration and imagination, it

I use to design everything. I also found some

is always good to add a little personal flavor to

Western Zhou Dynasty 1046771 BC pictures

it. In this illustration I could have illustrated an

for design reference. Human anatomy is always

event, but I wanted to focus on the characters

a big topic when people talk about art, and that

themselves, so the key to the whole process is

is why people spend years and years learning

character design (Fig.01 02).

it. There is no short-cut, the only way is to

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5
study it and do more life drawing sessions. Skin
rendering is another big topic, and Fig.03 shows
a crop image of the skin in different stages. The
trick is simple, more color. I rarely put in one
solid color in a painting. Skin has more color
than any other surface or materials because it
is so complex. One thing I do find is usually the
dark value has higher saturation. Another thing
is changing the hue and saturation will change
the value also. I usually try to keep the value the
same which should mean as long as we keep
the value the same, potentially we can fill in
almost any color.
When it comes to backgrounds there are two
things that define 3D space. One is perspective,
and one is value. Again the quick way to design

and separate those into different layers which

National Park in Washington State. I spent

it is using rough brush strokes with value and

can help my process later.

about 8 hours painting water. I find painting

water is very similar to drapes and fabric

flow. I also introduce fox spirits into the paintings

at this point (Fig.04). At this point I try to define

Next it is all about the water. I looked at some

because the surface is smooth (Fig.05). I

the elements in the background and foreground,

photos of the ocean which I took in Olympic

also think that the perspective of the waves is

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

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Chapter 5

Chapter 5

important for this scene, once we nail down the

empty space (Fig.06). This is extremely time

When painting a complex scene with more

waves the water will looks good. The further

consuming and the more you understand

than one character in it the foreground and

away the waves are the smaller and flatter they

lighting and the forms of objects the better you

background can be very difficult. The difficulty


can do it. Painting still life and human figures

is not the single subject or single character. It

will improve your rendering skills. At this point

is the balance of everything. It is like a balance

A quick lighting test on the characters will give

I decided the background and the moon were

game, when we do too much on one side, we

me an idea of what the moon light looks like.

over emphasized and I decided to take the

need to decide to take it out or add more to the

The collapsed building is a good way to show

moon out (Fig.07). Also at this point I start

other side. I changed the skin tones so that

the empire falling and represent war. Color

to tackle the contrast and value of the water.

Daji would be the first to be seen, and I also

started to kick in to the painting, and since this

Adding a couple more interesting structures in

changed each individual element slightly to lead

is not a happy story and it is not a happy ending

the far background will also help the painting

the viewers eye a bit more (Fig.08). Detail is

for them, a cool color tone will suit the painting. I

have more depth. Using the Overlay and Soft

another thing that needs to be addressed. When

simply use soft light layer in Photoshop for the

Light layer again and again is like glazing in

painting on a computer we zoom in and out

initial color.

traditional media. The more layers you apply to

often and sometimes this will make us lose the

the painting, the richer color it will look. Again,

sense of detail, and makes us over detail certain

This stage is all about rendering and adding

as long as we keep the value the same, we can

areas. You can balance this out with careful use

more details to the smaller areas to fill the

put in almost any color we want.

of the smudge tool.

Even in a complex scene made up of small
objects, the keys are design, composition,
balance, value, and perspective. Each part
should be addressed, and to master it you must
study and practice it. I hope you enjoyed this
tutorial (Fig.09).

Jason Wei Che Juan

For more information please visit:
Or contact them at:

page 44

Chapter 5

chapter six ogre

Chapter 6
Painting Creatures From
Folklore: Chapter 6 - Ogre
Software used: Photoshop

An ogre is described in literature as a humanoid
monster that is large, hideous and preys
on human beings. They often have a large
head and strong body, appear hairy, and are
disgusting, brutal and closely related to trolls.
The word ogre has its origin in French but they
have featured in mythology, folklore and fiction

Fig.01 shows a series of grayscale portraits

contrast, versions 5 and 6 looked more realistic,


done using a Standard Hard Round brush.

but had a distinct caveman quality which wasnt

The notion that ogres are meant to feed on

what I was after.

When you research the topic you discover a

humans was a trait that struck me as their most

broad range of depictions from various cultures

fearsome aspect and so I drew some faces with

Although sketch 1 was not really along the

and time periods, all of which look very different.

their mouths open. A gaping mouth showing

right lines I actually liked the mouth partly

I knew that my version should look hideous and

a set of gnarled teeth seemed appropriate to

open and so did a couple of variations on this.

although I imagined him to be a creature to fear,

emphasize their cruel intent. As mentioned

I liked the small eyes in version 4 but his face

I also felt he should be somewhat unintelligent

earlier, ogres have also been described as

looked somehow kinder than some of the

more brawn than brains, so to speak.

being hairy and so I added a beard to several

other versions. His features looked softer by


comparison and almost evoked the quality of a

Thumbnail Sketches

gentle giant. I decided to make the face overtly

I had a vision in my mind of a monster that

Having reviewed each of them I decided that

asymmetrical and with more distorted features

should certainly look frightening and have giant

version 1 reminded me of Rasputin and so was

(7). This sketch certainly seemed to encapsulate

proportions, but I could not picture his face

not suitable. I liked his eyes and furrowed brow

a quality I was after and was the version I

which was the crucial aspect in portraying his

but, ultimately, he looked too human. Numbers

decided to settle on.

character. As a result I decided to create some

2 and 3 had less human proportions but seemed

thumbnail sketches to explore his appearance.

too stylized, almost leaning towards cartoons. In

Blocking In
With the decision made on which face to use I
started to block in a rough composition. At this
stage I was unsure about what I was going to
paint, but I imagined the ogre emerging from the
shadows towards an unsuspecting foreground
character. To have him creeping up on a
potential victim was a way of injecting a sense
of tension into the image and helping the viewer
feel a sense of danger.
Fig.02 shows the initial stages in which the
ogre is set within a dark backdrop. I considered
having him inside a building or house but then
felt he should be much larger. I thought about
predatory animals such as tigers and lions and
how they stalk humans who have ventured from

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Chapter 6

Chapter 6

settlements and villages. This gave me the idea

At this stage the face now looked a little too

Fig.07 shows the newly altered composition with

of a creature that would wait within the cover of

bright compared to the previous version;

the ogre occupying a more balanced position

a forest and snatch anyone straying too near

however I knew I could tone this down later

in the frame. I also decided to make the darker

the tree line. In this way I could keep him partly

and so I deliberately left the ogre on a separate

band in front of the forest into a pond or area of

concealed in shadows.


flood water. It made an interesting feature that

separated the forest from the foreground.

I added in some trees using a couple of custom


brushes, which you can see in Fig.03. I used

The ogre was very central in the composition

The next stage was to re-scale the ogre and

a variation of the same brush to paint both the

and so needed to be addressed as the distance

integrate him into the background. Fig.08 shows

trunks and the foliage.

either side of his head was similar with respect

his new position. I experimented by having him

to the canvas boundary. This doesnt make for a

leaning out behind some cover, watching the

Using the same brush I started to add in some

particularly dynamic composition and so I opted

goat, possibly waiting to rush out and grab it!

definition to the foreground as well as adding

to extend the canvas as opposed to moving

some volume to the trunks (Fig.04).

the character. I added a section down the right

The smaller scale certainly helped the

hand edge as I preferred the idea of more space

composition, but his leaning posture looked a

devoted to the forest.

little awkward. I tried having him stand upright,

Adding Color
I added another layer that would be used as
the initial color scheme. This layer is set to
Overlay blending mode, which means whatever
color is applied maintains the tonal range of the
layer below. Fig.05 shows the color layer set to
Normal mode in the bottom left and the resultant
effect when it is set to Overlay (main image).
I started to paint some detail into the ogres
face as well as also adding a goat into the
foreground, which would become the focus of
his attention and also a focal point in the scene

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Chapter 6

Chapter 6
but with a slight tilt of his head to suggest he is
tracking the movement of the goat (Fig.09). This
seemed like a much more satisfactory solution,
although having referred once again to my
thumbnails I realised his face was losing some
of the qualities I liked in version 7. Using this as
a guide I re-painted the features to make them
match more closely.
At this stage I had only three layers in my PSD
file: the goat, the ogre and the rest of the scene.
I wanted to add warmth to the sunlight that was
falling across the foreground section and so I
first duplicated the scene layer and then went
to Image > Adjustments > Color Balance and
increased the red and yellow values by around
+14 (Fig.10).
I then used the Eraser tool to restrict the warmer
values to the foreground and to the tree trunks,
which can by compared in Fig.08 Fig.09.

Adjustment Layers
Although the ogre is sheltered by the forest
I thought it would add drama to have some

The Curves adjustment layer was used to add

(inset). On the right you can see the Curves

dappled sunlight cast across his body through

a shadow to the left side of the character, which

adjustment and the mask below this (in red),

the tree canopy. To do this I created two new

faces away from the light. In Fig.11 you can see

which restricts the shadow to the left side of his

adjustment layers: Curves and Color Balance.

the ogre before this is applied in the bottom left

torso and arm.

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Chapter 6

Chapter 6
The Curves adjustment is used to darken the
entire character and then, by using black to
paint into the mask (red area), it is possible
to control which parts of the image are left
The Color Balance adjustment layer is used to
create the warm sunlight cast across his body
(Fig.12). Here you can see that the ogre has
been color tinted with more yellow and red and
a slight amount of green (+8). The grayscale
image shows the Layer Mask with the black
areas being used to add to the mask and thus
hide the color adjustment. You will notice that
the area of white on the right side of the face
reveals the mask and creates a highlight (ringed
in red). The final result of both layers can be
seen in the lower left (inset).
The Layer structure now looks like Fig.13 with
the two adjustment layers at the top of the

Final Refinements
I wanted the ogre to look imposing and have
a powerful stature, but I was starting to see
a resemblance to the Hulk and so scaled his
waist and shoulders in a bit. I used Image >
Adjustments > Color Balance to cool down the
color by adding some blue and green to reflect
the forest shade (Fig.14). I then duplicated the
character layer, added some highlights across
his right shoulder (1) and also darkened his
left side (2). I finished by using a Soft Eraser to
bring back some subtle highlights down his left
arm (3).
I wanted the forest to appear denser and so
added some extra leaves along the right hand
side of the image (see image 2 in Fig.15).
This helped make the clearing where the ogre
is situated appear more like a cave entrance.
To help make this area recede further into
the picture plane I painted in a new layer to
represent sunlight streaming across from the
upper right. Image 3 shows the layer set to
Normal Blending mode using a lemon yellow

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Chapter 6

Chapter 6

and then the consequent result when set to

Overlay (image 4).
Once I had added some sunlight catching the
canopy in the upper right, I imagined some
beams of light falling onto the foreground. To
create these I made a rectangular selection
area that stretched from the upper right towards
the goat (see Fig.16). Once done I changed
the foreground color to a pale yellow 6and then
applied a Foreground to Transparent Gradient,
dragging from the upper right down.
I then used a Soft Eraser to create some streaks
and break up the consistency somewhat. Here
is the finished version (Fig.17).

page 51

Chapter 6

Richard Tilbury
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This eBook series will be split over six separate chapters, all sharing the common theme of a fantasy inspired
medieval scene. Each will be undertaken by a different artist and draw upon a wealth of experience and skills
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the tools and brushes they employ and treat us to a valuable look into their artistic process. The six installments
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Futuristic cities and landscapes dominate digital art. They form the backdrop of countless films and videogames
and give artists an opportunity to explore the boundaries of their imagination. This is more than just a design
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This tutorial series is made up of six chapters, each tackled by a different artist, will be exploring the ways to
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This eBook tutorial series will revolve around the use of 3d as a starting point for digital painting. In particular we
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This eBook series will be split over six separate chapters all of which will be dedicated to painting monsters
suited to a range of habitats spanning jungle and aquatic to mountainous and subterranean. Each will be
covered by a different author who will discuss their approach to digital /concept painting, the tools and brushes
they employ and how to create a final image. We shall gain an insight into the thought processes of each of our
industry professionals and the ways in which they develop an idea from concept sketches through to a finished
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This mammoth 161 page eBook is an extremely detailed exploration of the techniques and design approaches
behind creating epic and lavish digital artwork relating to the theme of Space and Science Fiction.The series is
divided into three main categories; Planets & Starfields, Transport and Environments and spans across 12 in
depth chapters in total. The tutorials on offer cover a multitude of techniques and useful tips and tricks to
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