Making Of 'Artillery Guard'
Hi, my name is Bartosz Biełuszko and I'm character artist in People Can Fly, Poland. Professionally I'm a 3D character artist, but I decided to I wanted to practice my 2D skills at home and so I created this image. I was in Napoleonic mood, because of some games I was playing, and I wanted to create some mad, elite soldier so I thought that would be nice to connect this Napoleonic style soldier with some dark fantasy.
When I had this in my mind I started by collecting some references of soldiers from that century. And then I made my first quick sketches of this soldier (Fig.01).
I then picked a pose that suited me best and I started further work on this sketch. At that moment I had a random none-pure-white background, and my canvas size was rather small (Fig.02).
I was happy with this where it was going and so I increased my canvas to a bigger size and started cleaning a sketch and adding some characteristic details for this soldier (Fig.03). With the sketching done, I was quite happy with the design of my soldier. It came out the way I wanted him to look. He looks angry and pissed and you definitely don't want to mess with him!
Now I was ready to add in some color. At this point I used standard Photoshop brushes. My sketch layer was locked and set to Multiply. I locked this layer because I didn't want to paint on the sketch anymore. I find locking layers very useful for me, because I often forget what layer I'm working on at a given moment.
So the sketch was locked and set to Multiply, and I was working under this layer. At first I created an overall shape mask; this helped me a lot while working on this image. On a separate layer I filled the shapes with the flat colors of my soldier (Fig.04).
I try to not use too many layers during the whole drawing process. As mentioned above, for this image I had the sketch layer on top of everything, set to Multiply. I then had a silhouette layer that I used to quickly select the guy, a base layer that I had the main image on, and a layer that I painted on. When I was happy with the result I merged it with the base layer and painted again on a new one.
For painting I mainly use a brush that was attached to a magazine (ImagineFX). It has a very nice painterly look that I like very much. Because of that brush, paintings made in Photoshop don't look so digital (Fig.05).
Then I decided where the main light would be and started shading. At first I painted average for the shadow, then average for the light. I picked a warm color for the light and, for a contrast, a cool color for the shaded areas. After spending some time refining this mad soldier I realized that there as something wrong with his mutated hand (Fig.06). The overall shape of a hand looked alright on a sketch, but when I started to add value there was definitely something wrong. So I redesigned the hand as soon as possible and moved on with the values.
I worked on him more and more to give him more 3D look. When refining lit areas and shaded areas, it is good idea to not work without a break. I had a lot of breaks! This gives the eye a fresh look on your work. While I'm working I'm always using Flip Horizontal tool as this gives you a different point of view, and it is easier to spot mistakes.
I created a simple brush for painting fur on his coat and his cap (Fig.07). This brush made it a lot easier and faster.
While I was working with the values, colors and lighting - adding more and more detail - I also decreased the opacity of my sketch layer. After some time the lines from the sketch were no longer needed, because I had enough information about the shapes from the values. I added a shadow that he is casting on the ground, which helped to attach him to the ground I started to add some values to the background, simple stuff, just to merge things together a little bit more (Fig.08).
I added a blue light from the back, to make his shapes more readable, and to add a more dramatic look to the scene.
Working more with the background, I used some free brushes with patterns of trees and grass and adjusted a light in the background. I added chains attached to the anchor at the end, which he is struggling with. I created one string of chains, used the Transformation tool to add more weight and gravity, and then I duplicated it (Fig.09).
I added some more overall detail, especially on the hand. I didn't like the look of the painted fur on his coat and a cap, so I used a texture sample of a fur. I overlayed this texture on top of these parts and set the opacity to a level where it looked good. Then I refined more shapes that were backlit (Fig.10).
The image was basically done. I tweaked some overall color with a Color Balance tool. I made shaded areas even more bluish and colder, to contrast with the warm main light from the front. At the end I added some debris around my character to make the scene more dynamic, including some stones in the front. Finally I cropped the image to get the best composition and decided to add some textures overlayed on top of everything with an opacity set to 5%. I then switched on my sketch layer on a very low opacity. This gave the image the life and energy of the first sketch, and helped it not to look so digital (Fig.11).
Overall I'm quite happy with this image; it has the energy and dark mood that I wanted. I hope you enjoyed this Making Of and find it useful!