Now it’s time to make the armour feel more real. I have a lot of standard texture brushes and free brushes you can download with a lot of textures, shape variations, and so on. Finding a brush that suits your demands is pretty fun too! The detailing is 90 per cent completed, and we can now work with effects, which is my favourite part of the job!
Apply motion blur
Now I create a flattened copy of all the layers at the top of the layer stack (Cmd+Alt+ Shift+E or Ctrl+Alt+ Shift+E) and add a Motion Blur effect to the new layer. Using a layer mask, I hide the effect in areas that I don’t want to be blurred: the face, hair, armour and other focal points. Here it helps to create a stronger feel of heat from the fire, especially on the edges of the body.
Next I use the Unsharp Mask filter (Filter> Sharpen> Unsharp Mask) and Noise filter (Filter>Noise>Add Noise) to emphasise the graininess and create the feeling of photo taken in a fire. At this stage you could say the illustration is complete, but I love to add one little, tiny step: chromatic aberration, which helps to create even more of a film feel – see the Pro Secret (opposite).
Light my fire!
Using separate Color Dodge layers filled with black, I add more light to highlights and to the fire at the bottom of the piece. I also add some sparks, which helps to create a feeling of motion and the impression of a strong wind. I also add an Outer Glow effect to the sparks and fire layers. Now the illustration is starting to look more like I imagined it would!
Make use of a photo texture
I have a lot of photos of random textures I’ve taken out on the streets, so here I decided to use a photo of the texture of a Japanese concrete lamp post to add a more grainy and random feel to the illustration. I set the Opacity of the photo layer to 35 per cent and change its blending mode to Soft Light. I also adjust the Hue of the photo using Hue/Saturation.
Finally, I check for mistakes by flipping the image (Image >Image Rotation>Flip Canvas Horizontally). If everything is okay, I flip it back and save! This process is different from what I use for private illustrations – it’s a little bit slower – but with this you can go back to every last step by just turning off the layers, so it’s easy to make changes and at practically no risk, too.
(Mac) Ctrl+Alt+U (PC
) Quickly adjust
your layers’ colour and darkness
with this useful tool!