Since 1987 I have been designing characters and creatures for the Hollywood animation industry, including the Animated Alf show, Extreme Ghostbusters, Godzilla: Heatseekers, Starship Troopers: Roughneck Chronicles and the Igor movie. My Photoshop techniques are pretty basic, partly because I am self-taught, and partly because I started working with Photoshop ten years ago when it was a much simpler and less robust program. Old habits, you know.
The Ice Creature was requested by a producer two days after Xmas 2005; she was rushed and needed to have something to show an investor. So I finished the image in four days and was happy to stop at this point (Fig.01 - left side) and move onto the other creatures. However she then had me modify it for a further 10 days, tweaking such minor details as the ice spines. She wanted the image to look like a photo, so I added textures from elephants for skin and polar bears for fur (right side). Adding photographic textures was a new technique for me back then, and one that I've since improved upon. Because it was speculative work, I wasn't paid and my request to at least put my name on the artwork was refused. I never liked the changed version and so put the experience behind me. More than five years later I rediscovered the file and wanted to show my version to 3DTotal to see if it was a suitable gallery piece. I'm very grateful for the positive response; it has been a nice little vindication.
I began with a pencil sketch (Fig.02) which I scanned into Photoshop. I changed the layer to Multiply and color adjusted it to purple.
On a new layer underneath I used the Pencil tool to create what I call a selection layer (Fig.03 - top left). I had Anti-Alias clicked off on all of my selection tools: Wand, Lasso, Marquee and even the Paint Bucket tool so that there wasn't any bleeding. I started with the big shapes, like separating the creature from the rock with two colors, and then selected the creature's color and blocked in the details. Here is how the two layers looked as I worked on them (top right). On a new layer I started to figure out the highlights. I didn't use any special brushes; in fact, I was still using the Pencil tool at this point (lower left). On a new Multiply layer I roughed in the shadows using the Brush tool, the basic one with hardness at 0%. I probably had the opacity at 70% to build it up (lower right).
By this stage I had the background color already established. I began with a simple two color gradient for the sky and then blocked in the basic colors for the mountains, using the Pencil tool (Fig.04 - left side). To push it back I Gaussian blurred the whole thing and smudged it a little to suggest wind (right side).