Making the 'Mountain'

Freelance concept artist Arthur Gurin gives us a quick rundown of how he made the Mountain in Photoshop

In this quick making of I will show you how I created the Mountain illustration using photo-bashing. I will try to focus on some tricks that are specific for this method of creating artworks.

A simple sketch

I always like to start any new illustration with a quick sketch; this is useful to get a general idea of the main shapes and composition. There is no need to worry about character design and background details at this point, these can be decided and changed later in the process. This is also where I decide on my color palette; I have gone for a desaturated, almost monochromatic palatte. It doesn't matter how you pick your colors, you can do it yourself or use Photoshop's Color Picker on a photo. What is important is that the colors match and describe the mood of the illustration.

<h5>A quick sketch to get an idea</h5>

A quick sketch to get an idea

Photo references

Once I have my initial sketch down and I am happy with the color scheme I can begin to look for reference images. For this personal project I'm going for a mix of WWII and medieval knights (especially crusaders). Researching doesn't have to be restricted to the main theme; you can find inspiration from anywhere, so it is good to look outside of your subject.

<h5>My reference images all in one place</h5>

My reference images all in one place

Match color

Before we move on to the details and background, I want to share how I work with photos using a simple example. Often different photos will have different light sources and they need to match each other if the final illustration is going to be believable. My initial color sketch will help with that. To match any photo with a background I use the function Match Color (Image>Adjustments>Match Color) and then paint over the object/photo with a texture brush. It is important to remember that photos help to speed up the process but there is still a need to paint lots of things.

<h5>Match Color and over-painting</h5>

Match Color and over-painting


Using the Match color process I make sure all the reference images tie in with the main illustration; adding them to the character and background. I struggled with the composition and ended up changing things around a little bit. I also wasn't happy with the design of the mountain, so I changed that too. Don't forget to hide unnecessary details in shadow.

Building up the details

Building up the details

Final touches

For the final stages I added some extra layers. I use a layer with gray noise that gives a cinematic look to the illustration. I also use the filters Smart Sharpen and Gaussian Blur which help to highlight or hide some of the details. Sometimes I like to add Chromatic Aberration (Filter>Distort>Lens Correction). At the first look, these layers are not important, but they improve general look of an illustration.

The noise also helps to match photo layers with the other layers

The noise also helps to match photo layers with the other layers

<h5>The final image</h5>

The final image

Related links

To see more of Arthur's work head to his website
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