Prince of Persia is one of the biggest game franchises in the world and doing the marketing art for the HD remakes of all three parts at the same time was a big honor for me. The great thing was that all the artworks that I had to make were going to be released as three separate themes and an additional animated one, which is what this tutorial is going to be about (Fig.01 - top left).
Fig. 01 - Click to Enlarge
All of the themes are available for free download on the PS3 Network.
The most important thing before you start any new project, commission, illustration, etc., is to have your goals and task perfectly clear. For this project the main goal was to create a theme for the PS3 that represented the Prince of Persia franchise, although without the Prince himself (he is a bit different in all three installments and there are already a lot of wallpapers, cover variations, etc., for the whole franchise), in HD Resolution with enough details and some basic mood animations (which is not very easy to make on the console).
Considering the animations that had to be done and the timeframe we had, the obvious choice for me was to make something with some distinct foreground and background elements, and to put in some casual effects, like smoke, minor particles and other stuff to get more depth into the scene.
The first thing to do was to make some very rough thumbnails to get the ideas in my head cleared (Fig.02). I usually make between 10 and 12 more detailed thumbs, but this time I spent only about an hour on them and almost the rest of the day on doing research on the internet about textures and stuff that could be useful for my goals and for the brushes that I wanted like to create for all the paintings. For example, stuff like rock textures, falling leaves, etc.
Fig. 02 - Click to Enlarge
When you have to create a HD image, especially within tight deadlines, you have to be very careful how are you going to proceed with it, because there is no time for mistakes. I personally think that the best way is to use brushes or images from your personal library (images that you have created or that you know you can use freely). Because this way you will still have full creativity in your image and enough time to polish it at the end.
For an image such as this, with caves and underground caverns, I knew that I was going to need a lot of rock details and a lot of overlayed small details in terms of stone-shaped noise. This is something that would make the image more convincing. In the end I came up with two brushes: the detail brush and the rock brush. They are nothing special or complicated, but they gave me a lot of starting details to paint from.
The Detail Brush
It is fairly easy to create a detail brush - the only thing you need is a high resolution grayscale texture, which tiles perfectly and fits the goals you have. If it does not tile correctly, you can always use the Filter > Other > Offset option and to do it yourself. After you are done, you have to save it as a pattern (Photoshop: Edit > Define Pattern). Then you go to the brushes palette (Hit F5), choose any soft brush you like and check the options shown in Fig.03. Leave all the settings on default and, from the texture palette, choose your newly created pattern and set the mode to Color Burn. Scale it depending on the desired quality. Hit the Save New Brush button to save it as a stand-alone brush and you are done.
From here you can download two example brushes that I have made using the same principle (working with Photoshop CS): NICK Stone Detail Brushes
The Rock Brush
This is a bit trickier, because the shape is very important. First you need to find some textures that will fully fit your purposes. After that you need to create a pattern (as with the detailed brush) and one brush which you will use as a mask (use it instead of the Soft brush). You have to set the mode to Multiply in order to get more fill in the brush. Also, from Brush Tip Shape you can adjust the spacing of the brush as desired (Fig.04). After you are satisfied with the result hit the Save New Brush button to save it as a standalone brush and you are done.