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Help me de­sign and por­tray ban­ners flap­ping in the wind

Carol-Lynn Fos­berry, US


Sara replies

Look­ing at flags and war ban­ners, the first thing you’ll no­tice is that they usu­ally have a sim­ple de­sign, in or­der to be recog­nis­able from a dis­tance. Typ­i­cally they’ll fea­ture the coat of arms of a feud­ing fam­ily, geo­met­ric de­signs and bright colours.

I lay down some rough sketches of the ban­ner I want to paint, and then paint my cho­sen de­sign. I add colour to the var­i­ous flag el­e­ments, which are placed on sep­a­rate lay­ers, en­abling me to move and al­ter them with ease. Once I’m happy I save my ba­sic flag de­sign.

Now I open a new file and I sketch the scene that will fea­ture the flag fly­ing in the wind. I im­port the ba­sic flag and cre­ate a mo­tion ef­fect with Pho­to­shop’s Trans­form>Warp tool. I can also use the Liquify tool to fold and warp the flag de­sign and add more folds. To boost the flut­ter­ing ef­fect, I use the Pup­pet Warp tool: this en­ables me to give move­ment to the flag by ro­tat­ing or pulling spe­cific ar­eas around spe­cific points.

Now it’s time to ren­der the flag in the en­vi­ron­ment. I cre­ate a Mul­ti­ply layer and I lay down shad­ows, choos­ing a cool colour and a Soft brush to sim­u­late the soft­ness of the fab­ric. I pay at­ten­tion to where the flag meets the wooden pole: here, there are a lot of folds. Fi­nally, I add some high­lights on a new Color Dodge layer.

To give a more re­al­is­tic sense of a flag blow­ing in the wind I blur part of it with the Mo­tion Blur tool. Sketch­ing out and de­cid­ing on flag de­signs be­fore­hand helps to save time dur­ing the ac­tual paint­ing process.

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