Making Of 'Lord Fredrickson'

Hello everyone!
This is my first tutorial, so please be gentle. Here I'm going to explain my basic process of painting in Photoshop. This piece was done for the CHOW #13 "Character of the Week" challenges on and this was the brief:

Historical Fiction

"Lord George Henry Fredrickson. Mid to late 1800's. Lord Fredrickson is a Lich hunter & Master of the Occult of some quiet acclaim in certain discerning circles. By nature he is a reserved man, brutally intelligent, quick in thought and often in action, but never reckless.

Cursed more than a century ago by an Egyptian Lich, Lord Fredrickson walks the twilight between the true light of life and the enternal darkness of death. He can not die, though he can not really live either.

"With each Lich Lord Fredrickson dispatches, he desperately searches for a counter curse to his affliction, but none have been found, much to his continued frustration. Over the past few decades, his searches have turned more desperate, as madness is slowly claiming him. In his more lucid moments, he fears for those he cares for, but holds little hope of changing his fortunes. Isabelle, his wife, has been instructed in the art of horcrux destruction, and how to kill a Lich, but as Lord Fredrickson has no known horcrux, it is feared that all efforts will be futile."


I begin with a sketch. At this moment I don't have something clear in my mind, just a vague idea so I start to do some sketches on paper, because I feel more comfortable sketching with my pen. I want to do something creepy, but not too horrific,, something mysterious - I want him to look noble

Right, now I'm not sure which face I like more, so I scan the sketches, open them in Photoshop and begin to add some colours to see how they look. For colour I use my Wacom Volito tablet, not the best out there but it works for me, but I recommend a Wacom Graphire

Well, I decide to go on with this one. I like his expression and also the stripes on his face, probably inspired by Prince of Persia - Warrior Within concepts, I don't know. I think of those glowing stripes as a mark of the curse that is upon him.

Now I need to finish the clothes, for this I'm using some reference, so I open Google and search for some appropriate images; then I select a few and combine the elements I like from each one into one original costume. This is where the magic happens

I always try to do something new and never seen before something that pushes the limits, almost to exaggeration, yet credible.. So here is the final concept, also done in the classic way, with pen on paper

Now, at this stage I'm usually inking my sketches, I like to have a clear (comic book-like) line, but not this time because i`ll paint over the drawing. So now I scan the drawing, then in Photoshop I adjust the Levels and the Threshold to make a thin line and get rid of the unwanted pencil

Now, here is where I start to paint. First I set the layer with the drawing (let's call it L1) to multiply, then I create a new layer (L2) and fill it with a mid grey, then drag the first layer (L1) above the second (L2) like in this picture

Now, I begin painting on the second layer (L2) by blocking down the silhouette and applying the basic values with one of my favourite brushes "Airbrush Pen Opacity Flow". This stage is important, because here you define the values, the depth and part of the mood of the painting, so I try to focus on this one. I found it quite fun to do

If you decide to come up with something new but don't want to do the drawing again, you can add it right here with your tablet, just create a new layer (L3) and place it above all other layers - this way you will paint over the lineart

Next I begin to add some colour to the picture using a large brush. I'm not concerned with the details too much, just trying to pick the right colours to fit the mood I want, and here I want something that looks unreal, dream-like...yet grandiose. This part can be rather long... sometimes I start over to see other variations...but now I'm going to stick to this one because I like the dramatic light from above and the fire-like light coming from behind the character. I'm also being careful with the colour balance

After I set the colours I begin to add details, dabbing with a large soft brush (with different opacity) and refining with a smaller hard brush. Since I have an idea of the exact palette and mood, it's time to start to refine my painting. I start correcting my shapes, cleaning up the values, the colours, and try to retain as much of the block in as I can

Well, I keep doing this until I'm happy with the result. I start with large brushes and use smaller ones at the very end. This is another thing that keeps me loose and makes my work go faster.
In the end I do a small adjusting of the Levels, add some final details, correcting here and there... DONE! Now I can go out and drink some beers, happy with my achievement.
Hope this helped, if you have any questions concerning this tutorial, I'll be happy to answer, just drop me an email. Good luck!

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