Making Of 'Alien Priest'
Firstly, I open a new .psd file in Photoshop. It will be vertical, and the resolution will be 150-200 ppi. I generally start with a lower resolution and ramp it up later when I'm detailing the illustration, enabling me to work faster and smoother. I create a textured background before starting to draw, so I get rid of the white background. I open a new layer and start to sketch with some thin brushes, as though drawing with a sharpened pencil. I don't need to put a lot of detail into this stage, just define the general silhouette and lines (Fig.01).
Then I select the "Multiply" from the options menu of the "sketch" layer. I open a new layer under the sketch layer and start to paint roughly. At this stage, I'm paying attention to get the right colours and tones. Be aware of putting too much detail in at this stage. Try to see the whole image without zooming in much and losing yourself in details. For example, I generally work at %25 - %50 zoom level. I'll use a main light source, and two secondary light sources, making decisions on my colours and applying the temperature passes, shadows etc (Fig.02).
I continue to paint on to the layer under the sketch layer, trying to get the colours as good possible. I decide on where the highlights are to be placed in accordance with the position of the light source. As you can see, I have covered all of the canvas as I don't want to see any white areas in my image. If you leave any white spaces, you can't focus on your image and can't see it as a whole. Therefore, it's better to paint all of the canvas with at least one colour (Fig.03).
I start to paint over the sketch layer in this step. I open a new layer at the top and start to paint over the lines and add details. You can also zoom in at this stage. Also, it's totally up to you that how much time you are going to spend on your image. You can paint it to the final detail or finish it just in 3-4 hours like me. It's a matter of choice and style in the end. I use several different brushes, but generally textured brushes in Photoshop as I can put more detail and richness into my image in a very short time this way (Fig.04).
I'm almost done. I save the file and open it in Painter (yes, I use both software packages and go back and forth). I'll paint some of the soft passes on the image in Painter, such as the drapery and the details on the face. I'm more accustomed to creating these in Painter - it somehow feels softer than PS - but ultimately you can paint in either. I use several brushes, like acrylic and oil, and I also use the "Glow tool" to brighten the halo at the top of the alien's head (Fig.05).
Now I save the .psd file again and open it in PS. It's time to "polish" the painting. I'll make some adjustments on the image, such as the colour balance, brightness, contrast and saturation. I open some "Adjustment Layers" and apply these steps; changing some colours, decreasing the saturation and darkening the image a little. As a final step, I open a new layer and apply some textures on top of the image to provide more richness. I set the layer properties to 'Multiply' or 'Overlay', and absorb them. You can observe the 3 light sources in this phase; the main light source and the secondary light source (Fig.06).
If you want to create eye-catching images, you need to pay attention to the harmony of light and shadow and understanding colour theory is key to your painting. I hope this is a useful tutorial for you.