How to il­lus­trate feath­ers ac­cu­rately

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1 To de­pict an in­ter­est­ing feather boa, I need to work on its sil­hou­ette. I use the Free Lasso tool to cre­ate an in­ter­est­ing shape to work the de­tails in later. Af­ter the sil­hou­ette is cre­ated I use my oval Soft brushes to cre­ate a noise layer of val­ues that I’ll use to make the feath­ers. Feather boas are a sort of con­trolled chaos. 2 It’s time to re­fine my feather boa. I start by build­ing feather forms out of the ran­dom value shapes that I cre­ated ear­lier. The brush has the same set­tings as be­fore, only smaller. This means the edges will be more re­fined. Af­ter some of the forms are brought out I add cast shad­ows from each feather, which gives them a sense of depth. 3 I want to bring the feath­ers’ shape out some more by us­ing high­lights and even smaller brushes. Bright high­lights around the edges of the feath­ers make them look crisper. So while the feath­ers in the light are sharper, the feath­ers in the shaded parts tend to be a lit­tle less de­fined, which brings depth to the com­po­si­tion.

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