Step-by-step: Here be pirate gold!

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Imaginenation Artist Q&a -

1

Start the task by fi­nal­is­ing the de­sign of the coin it­self. Wiki­me­dia Com­mons is a great re­source to study what old coins looked like. The ben­e­fit of designing a coin from the top- down view is that you can eas­ily use Pho­to­shop’s tools to both copy and mir­ror parts, and ro­tate de­tails us­ing the El­lip­ti­cal Mar­quee Tool, with­out hav­ing to take per­spec­tive into con­sid­er­a­tion.

2

Once you’re happy with your coin’s look, du­pli­cate it a few times, ro­tate it around and put it in per­spec­tive us­ing the Dis­tort tool. Of course, your coin will look flat when you do this, so each time you’ve put a coin in per­spec­tive don’t for­get to make it thick by paint­ing the bor­der. Think about the ground shad­ows too, which will help to make your coins feel grounded.

3

Now merge all the coins to­gether (Ctrl+E) and click Im­age> Ad­just­ments >Gra­di­ent Map. Cre­ate a new gra­di­ent and care­fully pick colours so that you grad­u­ally build your val­ues from bright yel­low, to warm sat­u­rated or­anges, to dark browns. Look at your coins while you’re do­ing this, and move the colour slid­ers in the Gra­di­ent edi­tor to keep your val­ues in check.

4

Make your gold coins shine by adding a new layer on top, chang­ing its blend­ing mode to Color Dodge and us­ing a warm or­ange to boost the high­lights in ran­dom spots. It helps to go out­side the bor­ders of your coins layer – that way the shine will re­ally make the coins pop. Not all coins will be fac­ing the light di­rectly, so some coins can be darker than oth­ers.

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