I’m keen to realistically depict repeated elements in a scene. What’s a good technique to use?
Kate Kudrow, Italy Answer Lorena replies
Sometimes, when working on a painting in Photoshop we need to have several copies of the same object in a scene. Yet painting each and every one would take up a lot of time. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to achieve this in a couple of minutes.
The best way to go about this is to draw the item you want to repeat on a new layer. If you have a direct light source affecting it don’t worry about that until later. For now, just paint the item with ambient and reflected light. Then select the Move Tool (V), hold Alt and drag. This way the item will be duplicated on to a new layer. Repeat this process as often as you need to. You can also flatten a couple of layers at some point and use the same trick to repeat the object even faster. While doing this, be mindful of the layer order and use the Transform Tool to change the sizes and direction of your item.
When you’re done with the repeating process, lock the transparent pixels of the layer your objects are on (on your Layer panel click the square icon that comes directly after Lock) and paint in the direct light. If you want more variety in the way the items look, you can now paint in details that will make them look different from one another.
These are my four basic skulls, each of them sitting on a different layer. I can now make copies and transform them to fit the image, before adjusting the lighting on them.