Partners In Design


Photoshop Shading Run-Through

After reading some comments on this piece earlier, I figured it'd be a good chance to just use the different stages of this specific piece to show everyone how I , personally, go about my photoshop shading techniques. I have the eight major stages of the piece and will have commentaries beneath each stage to better give you an idea of my thought process. This isn't a conceptual piece, so my creative thought process won't be as prevelant, but i'll throw some in where it makes sense. Let me know if you have any other specific questions and I'll let you know.

I usually start off a piece like this with a simple outline of the figure. I tend to be more interested in people as my subjects as opposed to objects, as many have probably noticed by now. I go in and out of using a photo a reference, depending on whether I'd like the piece to be more polished or not. As a starting point, in digital and hand drawing, I start with the facial structure and immediately go to the eyes to establish the focal point.
From the outline, I like to take large and small brushes at a very low opacity (usually around 9%) and start establishing the base shadows of the face. I keep on going over the shadows and building on the darkness until I find that I'm happy with the result. If the brushes overlaping opacities begin to look a bit rough, I like to use Gausian Blurs as much as possible to give it a more organic feel. I can't stress how important the blur tools can be in making the shading seem seamless and polished. Also, as a sidenote, this piece was not done with any layer masks or selections. I just relied on staying in the lines.

After I'm content with the shadows and the darks, I like to add in a little more detail to keep myself interested. Personally, I'm much more fascinated by the little features and details of the human face, so if i start getting bored or discouraged, I like to focus a little on some detailing (in this piece, I added in the iris' and focused on the eye detaling). I also began adding some of the light aspects of her face. I took a solid white brush at a low opacity and went about the shading the same way I did the darks. This gives the face depth and shape. The lights are one of my favorites to do because depending on the lighting of the face, there could be some really beautiful detailing you can add.

At this stage, I began to use my darks again, but with a larger brush. I use the larger brush to grab more area, especially for the perimiter of the face. I've already got a good base for the facial structure but now I need to make it pop. To do so, I darkened below the neck and around the hair. I also used a thiner, more solid brush to add in some of the hair detailing, which further adds to the depth of the face.

The hair is usually another aspect of a figure that I find myself enthralled in usually. I used to consider it tedious, but I find myself progressively using it as a therapy or a way to zone out and relax. Here, I continued using the various brush sizes and opacities to further enhance the hair. I also began adding some of the lights to her hair, to give it a sense of shine. Where i used the the gausian blurs in the face, I strayed away from that in the hair to give it more texture.

Here, to finish my concept, I added some final touches (extra shadowing where I felt I needed it, some new light spots on the neck and shoulder, and the final hair shape.) I also took this opportunity to add some more hair whisps. I personally like the texture and kinetic feel it gives with such a subtle detail.

In my final stage, I blew up the image to fit more of the space. I like to finish a piece and then fiddle with different compositions. This was a wierd stance for the figure, so i opted to keep it central. I also added a light texture to the image. I like to add texture in my work because I've always been fascinated by the feel and message combined. I tend to stray away from things looking too contemporary and polished. I'm obsessed with vintage ads and time periods and love everything I do to contrast by adding a very contemporary/modern image with an old feel. Very much in the vein of old sci-fi/horror B-Movies that have a very modern idea but now look so dated. Here I also added a bit of preliminary colors (I abandoned the idea initially, bur figured I'd show it for the sake of it.) The best way to add color AFTER you have a Black and White base is to add the color but set the color layers to "Multiply".

All in all, Make sure you use as many layers as possible. It helps if you every feel the need to retract or delete something if it seems too much. I do a layer for just about every aspect. The eyes, the facial structure, the hair outline, the strands, the lights, the darks, etc, etc. And afterwards, don't be afraid of upping the levels on a piece to enhance the lights and darks.

I hope this comes in handy. Usually, I dont ever have to explain HOW my pieces are done, so this is new to me. Like i mentioned, If you have ANY questions that aren't addressed, let me know. :)


Alexandra said...

Sexihood. Thanks for the rundown!

Christine said...

This is a great insight into the way that you work in Photoshop. I loved reading this. It gives me a new insight and perspective on how to use the tool differently. Particularly in this case, in an almost painterly way. Thanks Laz.