How to achieve this clas­sic 3D ef­fect

Computer Arts - - CONTENTS -


‘The Bride’ is an orig­i­nal piece that I cre­ated us­ing a ref­er­ence im­age as the base and em­ploy­ing the anaglyph ef­fect. This ef­fect is usu­ally used to cre­ate a sim­ple 3D il­lu­sion when viewed with spe­cial glasses – those blue and red ones they used to use for 3D movies.

I of­ten use this ef­fect in my work to explore themes of du­al­ity, and also to pay homage to B-movies of the ’50s and ’60s. Here I’ll give an over­view of my process and tell you a bit of what I’m think­ing as I work through the piece.


In or­der to achieve the ef­fect, I need to use shades of blue and red. It can work with other colours as well, but these are the most tra­di­tional. Colour has been a chal­lenge for me, es­pe­cially in the dig­i­tal medium, where lit­er­ally any colour you can think of is at your dis­posal.

This colour pal­ette was taken from a vin­tage 3D poster that I found at an an­tiques store. I took a photo of it and sam­pled the colours in Pho­to­shop to cre­ate the pal­ette. I’ve made some tweaks to it since, but I find it works great with the 3D glasses which I al­ways send out with my print or­ders.


Vin­tage ad­ver­tis­ing il­lus­tra­tions and pho­tog­ra­phy give me end­less in­spi­ra­tion. I love the ide­alised, dream-like and hope­ful world in which these im­ages take place.

For me, find­ing the right ref­er­ence im­age is key: I look for over­all com­po­si­tion and fa­cial ex­pres­sion. The ref­er­ence im­age is im­por­tant, but I al­ways do a fair amount of edit­ing in my sketches as I go. Most of the time I start see­ing what will be hap­pen­ing in the un­der-layer as I start to block in the drawing of the up­per layer.


I block out the ref­er­ence im­age to get the ba­sic com­po­si­tion. I find that it is re­ally im­por­tant not to di­rectly trace over the top of the im­age – di­rect traces can some­times feel stilted and emo­tion­less. Work­ing this way al­lows me to give the drawing some move­ment. Once the im­age is blocked in, I move a small copy of the ref­er­ence im­age to the cor­ner of my can­vas where I can see it eas­ily.


Next I dig­i­tally ‘ink’ the drawing. Typ­i­cally, all of my linework is done in one go. Work­ing in black and white helps en­sure that I get the lines I want. I could, at this step, draw in a layer mask or ink in red, but that tends to slow me down.


To colour the linework, I like to cre­ate a solid colour layer (red). Then I make a layer mask where I will paste my linework. At this point I’ll set it to Mul­ti­ply and turn the opac­ity to around 20 per cent, just enough to see the red layer.

“Anaglyphs cre­ate a sim­ple 3D il­lu­sion when viewed with spe­cial glasses”


Cre­at­ing the un­der-layer is my favourite part of my process – this is where the piece re­ally gets in­ter­est­ing. I usu­ally try sev­eral dif­fer­ent ideas and com­po­si­tions. The skele­ton is some­thing I’ve drawn loads of times, so I feel pretty con­fi­dent drawing it free­hand. I will use the faint up­per layer as a guide.

For the crows and snakes, I use ref­er­ence im­ages the same way I did for the up­per layer drawing. I ink them be­fore mov­ing on to the skele­ton. That way I can move things around if the com­po­si­tion isn’t work­ing.


Once I’m happy with the com­po­si­tion, I ink the re­main­ing sketch and paste it into a mask, just as I did be­fore.


Now that I have my red and blue lay­ers where I want them, it’s time to add some shade and tex­ture. I used to cre­ate my own cus­tom brushes and tex­tures for years, painstak­ingly scan­ning ink splat­ters and grainy tex­tures.

Then two years ago, I dis­cov­ered

True Grit Tex­ture Sup­ply (https://www. truegrit­tex­ture­sup­ and haven’t looked back. True Grit has some of the best print­qual­ity, high-res­o­lu­tion Pho­to­shop brushes on the mar­ket.


While shad­ing, I like to fo­cus on one layer at a time. This way I know that each layer is solid on its own. On the red layer I’m us­ing one of True Grit’s half-tone shader brushes with 45-de­gree dots. I love how I can im­me­di­ately achieve a vin­tage half-tone tex­ture. On the blue layer I use a 90-de­gree line half-tone brush, also from True Grit (I prom­ise they aren’t pay­ing me…). All of this takes place on the layer mask.


When the shad­ing val­ues are look­ing great, it’s time to add some grit and tex­ture. My goal is to cre­ate a worn-in and rugged ap­pear­ance that mim­ics weather dam­age.

I want the piece to feel like it has been for­got­ten about or lost to time. How­ever, it’s im­por­tant that I don’t go over­board on this step and that the dis­tress­ing on both lay­ers com­ple­ment each other.

The opac­ity of the lay­ers has been played with a lot at this point, so I want to make sure things look ran­dom and not too planned-out.

“When the shad­ing val­ues are look­ing great, it’s time to add some grit and tex­ture”

03 Next Knight cre­ates a solid colour layer and pastes the linework onto it us­ing Mul­ti­ply. 03

01 The orig­i­nal ad­ver­tis­ing im­age that Knight used as a ref­er­ence. 01

02 Drawing over – but not slav­ishly trac­ing – the orig­i­nal im­age to cre­ate the up­per layer’s ink. xx 02

06 05


09 The fi­nal im­age just needs a few tweaks be­fore it’s com­plete. 09

08 Next, it’s time to add some tex­ture and ‘weath­er­ing’, be­ing care­ful not to make it too ob­vi­ous. 08

07 The blue layer uses a dif­fer­ent half-tone. 07

06 Shad­ing the red layer with a half-tone brush. 06

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