Jun04
2012

By: admin                Categories: AnimationBooksGamesGeneralInspiration

This excerpt from Digital Painting Techniques teaches you how to create a Sandstorm (1 of 5 environments covered in this chapter) in Photoshop.

Excerpt by Carlos Cabrera, 3D Total
Sand Storm

Software used: Photoshop

You can download a custom brush (ABR) file to accompany this tutorial from www.focalpress.com/digitalartmasters, along with the base painting (JPG) that Carlos starts from so you can take greatest advantage of this tutorial.

In today’s world of ever-increased specialization, many artists have adopted roles specific to certain areas of expertise. One of these is an environment artist, and, as well as creating original designs, it often involves adjusting an established scene and creating variations. This chapter looks primarily at how a base image can be manipulated to reflect different weather conditions, and shows how the same scene can be transformed dramatically to convey a diverse range of moods.

In this first of five tutorials, we will learn how to transform a basic given scene into the five different weather conditions. In this first tutorial we’ll be tackling a sandstorm! This tutorial is perfect for anyone who is looking to create a sandstorm effect in any landscape painting (Fig.00 – base image).

First of all, open the image you want the sandstorm to be added to, and then change the Color Balance of the entire image to something similar to the following settings: Shadows -2, +11, +18; Midtones +85, 0, -62; Highlights +23, 0, -4. With these settings you should achieve an orange atmosphere (Fig.01).


Alright, now you’re ready to create a new layer and paint the shape of your sandstorm with a brown color (RGB 196, 147, 81). I decided to paint a triangular shape in order to increase the size of the effect over the other objects in the scene (Fig.02).

Fig. 02

Now go to Filter > Distort > Wave and apply a nice distortion to your shape. Pay close attention to this step; when you finish applying the Wave effect, press Shift + Ctrl + F (Fade), change the Opacity to 50%, and you will see your last Wave effect duplicated with a nice opacity. Repeat this step three or four more times and you will create a perfect cloud shape. These effects have much better results if you change the parameters of the Wave filter before applying the Fade effect (Shift + Ctrl + F) (Fig.03 – 04).

Fig. 03

Fig. 04

Well, we now have a good cloud shape; the color is okay and the shape is perfect, but it needs more detail. You can now either search through your personal collection of textures to find a good photographic image of a mammatus cloud, or you can search the Internet for some good images. We need this photograph to add a realistic touch to our sandstorm shape. Select your chosen mammatus cloud photograph and search for a good shape within it. When you find what you’re looking for, select it with the Lasso tool and paste it into a new layer. Change the layer’s blend mode to Overlay and move your mammatus cloud into your sandstorm shape (Fig. 05).

Fig. 05

As you can see, the pasted photograph looks good but we don’t yet have the quality that we need. Remember that we are using this photograph only as a base from which to paint our own clouds. Now create another layer and change the blend mode of it to Overlay, and set it to 80% Opacity; select a gray color and start painting your own clouds. (Note: Don’t use white in Overlay blend mode for the clouds because the white color will burn the image below, and we don’t want a shiny cloud; we need a matte brown one.) So, paint the highlights using gray on your sandstorm cloud, and then – with black or a dark gray color – start painting in some shadows. Play around with the opacity of your brush to achieve some interesting shapes.

Tip: If you use the numbers on your keyboard whilst painting then you can quickly and easily change the opacity of your brush – try it! This short cut is very helpful.

Let’s now go back to our cloud to smooth the edges. For this you can either use the Smudge tool (R) or paint several strokes using a low opacity brush (I always use the latter technique). When you finish you should have an image such as Fig.06. It looks good but it needs more light and shading work, don’t you think? Check the bottom of the cloud: it doesn’t have a great amount of shadows at the base, and so to fi x this simply create a new layer in Multiply blend mode, and paint using a brown color at the base of your cloud. When done, change the Opacity of the layer to around 40%. Now create another layer in Overlay blend mode, and paint with a big soft brush at the bottom of the cloud.

Fig. 06

(Note: Remember not to  paint using a high opacity brush – always use50% or less when painting clouds or smooth surfaces.)

The shadows are okay now, so let’s start work on the highlights. Repeat the same procedure that we used for the shadows: create a new layer in Overlay mode and paint in the highlights using gray. Try to follow the direction of the clouds to create volume (Fig. 07).

Fig. 07
The cloud is now perfect … but where is the farm? We now need to show the farm again because it’s an important object in this scene. Simply go to the background layer (the one that holds the base painting) and select the farm using the Lasso tool (it doesn’t have to be a perfect selection). Press Ctrl + J to duplicate the selection you just made into a new layer, and move it over the top of the Cloud layer. Change the blend mode of this new farm layer to Luminosity, and move the Opacity slider to about 10% (Fig.08).

Fig. 08

If you want, you can leave the painting at this stage, but if we go on to tweak the colors a little you will see just how much better it can look!  To do this, create a new adjustment layer (from the black and white icon positioned at the bottom of the Layer window) and select Color Balance. Click on the Shadows option (Color Adjustment > Tone Balance) and move the sliders to Cyan -22, Green +12 and Blue +7. Then click on the Highlights button and move just the Yellow slider to -13. If you check your image now, the shadow changes into a greenish-gray (Fig.09). This shadow color stands out the Sandstorm effect. You can then create another new adjustment layer and play with the Curves. I always use these last few steps to tweak my paintings, and it’s also a good way to check if everything is okay or needs to be changed at the end.

Fig. 09

The best way to learn Photoshop is simply to experiment with it. Try every tool, read tutorials and books – anything which will help you to learn this program. And practice; practice all the time!

You can download a custom brush (ABR) file to accompany this tutorial from www.focalpress.com/digitalartmasters, along with the base painting (JPG) that Carlos starts from so you can take greatest advantage of this tutorial.

This is an excerpt from Digital Painting Techniques Digital Painting Techniques can be purchased at Amazon.com, BN.com, and wherever fine books can be found.

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