Step-by-step: Give your crea­ture re­al­is­tic wings

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1I cre­ate the wire struc­ture of the wings. I paint it to­tally flat, then use the Trans­form com­mand to achieve a per­spec­tive ef­fect. I paint the wing in the fore­ground black be­cause this is the side of the wing that isn’t fac­ing the light. The rear- most wing is white be­cause it’s the side that’s fac­ing the light.

2Next I add the translu­cent el­e­ment. I paint it us­ing grey on a dif­fer­ent layer (be­low the wire struc­ture) on an Opac­ity of around 40 per cent, and then I add some colour vari­a­tions on a new layer set to Soft Light us­ing pink, pur­ple and green to achieve a pearles­cent ef­fect. This adds vis­ual in­ter­est to the wings.

3I paint the spec­u­lar high­lights on the bright wing, and some high­lights on a layer un­der the wire struc­ture of the dark wing to rep­re­sent the side of the wire struc­ture that’s fac­ing the light (which we can see be­cause the wing is translu­cent). Then I add some shad­ows to the crea­ture’s body, and de­tail the scene ap­pro­pri­ately.

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