Step-by-step: Paint­ing a bat­tleaxe that’s seen ac­tion

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Start by loosely sketch­ing out the image as you imag­ine it, with­out get­ting too caught up in any de­tail or per­spec­tive nu­ance. Then, us­ing that rough sketch as a guide, draw out the shape of the axe and any dec­o­ra­tions in a flat, top- down pla­nar view. Use the Pen tool for smooth, pre­cise curved lines.

Fo­cus on draw­ing just the left half, then when it’s fin­ished sim­ply copy the layer, flip it hor­i­zon­tally and line it up. This way you know the two sides match. Now fig­ure out what the sight lines and van­ish­ing points are do­ing in your rough, then use Free Trans­form and Skew to lay the flat de­sign down in the right per­spec­tive.

Paint the axe us­ing the sketch as your guide, and al­ways take into ac­count how the light will be re­flect­ing from the metal. You can use the eraser or the colour of the back­ground to paint some chips into the blade. Show the stains of war and the dirt, along with scratches that catch the light with dark reds and browns.

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