Keep up-to-date with Free tutorials!!


Sign up to our twice-monthly newsletter today for the latest tutorials, interviews and product information.

Sign me up to receive third-party emails from 3dtotal's partners, too!

- Latest news
- Exclusive Shop Offers
- Preview early content
- Plus much more


Not Ready to take that step? OK, Why not just Subscribe to the RSS Feed

submit tutorial
1 | 2
Making of 'Lava Swimmer'

| Your Rating:
rating star fullrating star fullrating star halfrating star nonerating star none
(Score 2.5 out of 5 after 2 Votes)
| Comments 0
Date Added: 22nd June 2009
Software used:


This Making Of has been created to show my work process and thoughts whilst I was working, and I hope this will be of some help to others. Here are the brushes and textures that I used for this piece (Fig.01 - Fig.03). I don't really use many custom brushes, when compared to other artists, but rather mainly use the first and second brush (Fig.01) to paint most of my images, whilst using third, fourth and fifth (Fig.01), or other brushes, to make more interesting.

Fig. 01

Fig. 02
Fig. 03

Rough Sketch 1

(Fig.04) The topic for this piece was Lava Swimmer, and it's probably going to be quite hard to describe my thought process for this subject. It's basically a random doodle which I created in Photoshop (I recently got lazy scanning things in and tweaking, and so I've started directly sketching in Photoshop). I knew that lava was going to be thick and hot, and so the creature would most likely be slow moving and somewhat armoured.  At the sketching stage, I tried to keep the silhouette in mind, and also made sure the position and angle of the creature could provide a sense of depth as I later coloured it. 

Rough Sketch 2

(Fig.05) I was planning to leave the head as a simple, featureless head, but I love drawing heads too much and so I just had to change it. Some more details here and there were also added at this stage.

Fig. 04
Fig. 05

Cleaning Up

I made a new layer on top, and started drawing more details and cleaner lines. I sometimes skip this step depending on the drawing, as it can have either a positive or negative effect. Sometimes, if I don't draw in the details, I forget to paint them in during the colour phase, or sometimes it just looks too rough. Other times when I clean it up, the final image would lose the painterly feel which I tried to achieve. I left the rough grey line at the bottom. A lot of the time, leaving in rough lines and so on will give the final image some texture and random colour variation.

Fig. 06


(Fig.07) Before I started colouring, I used the crop tool and re-sized the image to better fit the monster (for those that don't know, the crop tool can be used to enlarge the canvas size, too). You can also see that I lightly roughed in some background lines as well, here. I wasn't planning on a detailed background, and so I simply doodled in some rough ideas. I later set the line layer to Multiply and lowered the opacity, and created a layer underneath for underlying colours. No matter what method I intend to use for colouring, I fill it with some sort of colour first. My colour choices vary depending on the image and subject. Here I used a bright orange, for lava. Some tutorials recommend using a cool colour as a fill if you're painting a warm picture, and vice versa. Here I didn't think that I wanted any cool colours so I simply chose to work with orange. I then used a variety of custom brushes to randomly paint some colour variations to the background. I tried to give it some variation and not just use darker or lighter tones of the original background colour.

Fig. 07

Adding Textures

(Fig.08) Texturing is something that I'm still not very good at, and I don't really use them to their full potential. I went and found an interesting texture of a rocky pavement, threw it underneath the line layer, and then played around with the layer settings. Most of the time I used the Overlay layer setting at around 30%. I have a few textures that I tend to use more often than others, but it's really something that you have to experiment with yourself and see what fits with your picture and style, and so on. I continued using different textured brushes both over and underneath the texture layer to create more colour variation. You can see that I painted part of the shadow on the ground, from the monster. The brighter yellow on the right was used because I wanted to make it appear like hot lava coming out straight of some underground volcano.

Fig. 08

continued on next page >

1 | 2
Related Tutorials

Making Of 'The Blue Dragon'

by Andrew Hou
published on 2009-12-09

Keywords: character, dragon, man, scene, water,

rating star nonerating star nonerating star nonerating star nonerating star none (0)
Comments 0 Views 25426

Making Of 'Oolox'

by Pierre Bourgeot
published on 2009-12-09

Keywords: character, creature, monster, oolox,

rating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star full (1)
Comments 0 Views 52960

A 3D workflow

by Zhiji Zhang
published on 2015-11-20

Keywords: Zhiji Zhang, ZBrush, character, making of

rating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star fullrating star full (15)
Comments 1 Views 23797

Making A Toon Character Called 'Geoff' & his Rig

by Tom Greenway
published on 2009-06-22

Keywords: character, creature, modeling, rigging, max,

rating star nonerating star nonerating star nonerating star nonerating star none (0)
Comments 0 Views 53618
Readers Comments (Newest on Top)
no comments!
No comments yet. Be the first to comment!
Add Your Comment..