How to illustrate feathers accurately
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.