A Portrait of a Dragon
In this tutorial we are going to colour a dragon portrait. Like I always say, it's impossible to make a good painting without a good sketch, that's why if your drawing is not as strong as you'd like, you should go ahead and buy a sketchbook and pencil before taking up Photoshop and a graphics tablet. (Fig.01)
Here, I create the background with my flame brush, with the drawing on a Multiply layer. First of all I form a dark background and then lighten the parts around the portrait with the same brush - this will help us to see the figure more clearly. (Fig.02)
Using my texture brushes, I apply texture to the background I created, though I am careful not to apply at the same intensity around the figure. The best way is to open a new layer and go crazy with the texture (apply it as much as you want) and then erase the parts that are too much.(Fig.03)
I start filling inside the figure very roughly; first I apply the base colours and then achieve the lighting effects with lighter volumes of those colours.(Fig.04)
After painting the figure completely, I apply texture to it and erase the parts that I don't like by using the borders of the figure's layers, which I select by clicking Load Selection. (Fig.05)
I apply Dodge on the picture, upon which the texturing stage is over, after merging the layers. Dodge is a tool that should be used wisely, and I advise you to work with it by making light touches only. (Fig.06)
Now we can work on the highlights. First I paint the large parts that should get light with a small soft round airbrush.
You don't have to choose a very light colour, and you can always go back and use the Dodge tool to increase the volume of light. (Fig.07)
Now I paint the sharper parts with a thin, hard round brush and a lighter volume. You don't have to apply highlights on the whole figure; the important thing is to illuminate the parts you want to emphasise. (Fig.08)
After the highlighting stage, I apply fog to the front and behind the figure, as this will fix the attention on the face only and will help the viewer to avoid wasting time looking at the lower parts of the painting. (Fig.09)
Lastly, I use the Dodge tool to brighten up the highlights' brightness values. I play with the brightness and contrast, and the colour correction values as well. I lightened up the background a little more with my fire brush, and since the creature's neck seemed too bulky I also finished the illustration by making it more curled.