João Fiuza aka Inkognit explains the creation of his Halloween-inspired Pumpkin Monster, using Photoshop and various layers to make the creature really pop...
Halloween screams for monsters, hellish beasts that roam around in the night, so in this short tutorial I'll share with you one of the processes I use to take a creature to the final stage. I use a mix of photo and mixer brush, and a set of layers to help the character/creature pop.
First of all it really helps to have a strong base; one where you can already visualize the form and that works as guideline through the early stages of painting preparation.
A pumpkin monster sounds fitting
I find this stage to be where I often have the most fun. By using an existing image you avoid the curse of the white canvas. Searching for images while having the orange color in mind I found this picture of a Salmon dish with some crispy colors. Once I linked the image to a mask I did prior, I began to paint with the mixer brush to organize the colors. After that I did a second pass where I toned down the values to use it as a color base.
Mixer brush and colorful images are a great and fast way to come up with interesting color palettes
Shadow, Ambient Occlusion and aura
Having the color palette, now it's time to take a step back and create the layers that will help me, one by one. First comes the shadow which I paint using a layer with the blending mode set to Multiply. After that comes the Ambient Occlusion, also using Multiply but only painting the zones where no light will be able to reach.
In the last stage I use a layer in Overlay which works as a dark aura that surrounds the character and enhances the 3D form, while also painting the bottom area of the character to make the viewer focus more on the face.
Dividing the render into separate steps makes it easier to come up with something presentable
Then comes the light
After doing the dark tones it's time for some lighter values. I make a new layer in Soft Light for the primary source where I'll paint the highlight, and after that I use another layer in Color Dodge for the rim light.
Rim light is a must to make something pop
Going back to the base color I did a few tests. After turning on all the layers and viewing the final result, I tried to explore some color modes. Sometimes you get really cool accidents. In this particular case, by using the Subtract mode layer of the base color I got a reddish pumpkin which turned out great when I place them over the whole image in exclusion layer mode. A few more tests revealed that if used in exclusion, the base color layer would give me a blue pumpkin, which looks great when used with a mask giving some more intricate color to the overall orange pumpkin.
Explore and try new things. Keep it fun!
Now mix everything
Mix everything, and you get some sweet pumpkin soup, I mean monster. And this is a great base, you passed through the struggle of a white canvas and by dividing the render into steps the process becomes a whole lot easier.
It can't end here, so let's push it a bit more
And the final
Now that all the steps are done I worked a bit more on it to make it look just slightly better. A bit more detail, some color variation in the mouth and eye areas. But that's it, hope it was helpful and if you get to try this, send me your versions; I would love to see what you come up with. You can find my contact on my website. Happy Halloween!
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Check out the tutorial for the Halloween-themed Windmill