Painting creatures from Folklore
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Hello everyone! When tackling a project such as this one I first think about the composition as a whole. What will the goblin look like? And what kind of environment will he be in? For this project I decided to keep away from the typical J.R.R.Tolken goblin and make something that looked original and was closer to the description we are given in folklore. In folklore a goblin or the kobold is the spirit of the mines. He is constantly knocking on the rails and scaring the miners. A lot of characters based on goblins don't seem to reflect this.
With this idea in mind, it's time to start creating our image. We're going to begin painting in black and white because it helps to set out the composition, light and design. It also helps us to imagine what the final piece is going to look like. You can use some textured brushes at this stage, like I am, but don't worry too much about the finer details (Fig.01).
For the next step we're going to use the guide called "golden section". This shows the centre of the image and helps us to identify where the main focus of the viewer will be (Fig.02).
Next it's time to look at color. For this, add an old fashioned fantasy looking lamp and some light and glow on a separate layer. Use layer modes to find which light looks best (Soft light, Overlay, Color). Fig.03 - 04 show a couple of the layer modes that I'm trying out. I think Fig.04 looks the best, so let's go with that one.
After establishing the light, we want to start working on detailing the head of the goblin. I find that working on the head of a character will often set the tone for the rest of the image (Fig.05 - 08).
With the head detailed, it's now time look at the clothing of the goblin. Start by refining the design of his clothing and accessories and then continue to detail the clothing, always remembering the importance of the light. Continue to consider this as we move on to working on the hammer on his shoulder (Fig.09 - 11). For each of these stages it's a good idea to work on a new layer, adding one on top of the other. To start with I'm drawing on a normal layer, then after that I start drawing on a new soft light layer, then normal again, then Overlay again. Scroll through the layer modes to find which works best for your image.
Next comes the lantern. You can see the layers and settings I've chosen in Fig.12. Create the lamp in black-white, then on top of this add two layers - I'm using Overlay and Color. On these layers then add a Create Clipping Mask layer "Lamp" and then paint the lamp.
To create the light from the lamp, paint in two layers of "hard light" under the lamp. Then create a layer mask for a few corrections and alterations (Fig.13).
In the next step we're going to carefully cut the goblin from the background and move it to a new layer so that we can start thinking about the background. I'm going to paint the background and then add some textures from 3DTotal's texture library (http://freetextures.3dtotal.com). You can see where I've added the photographs and the effect this has in Fig.14 - 15.
Let's increase the atmosphere of the image by adding some smoke (Fig.16).
Once happy with the overall picture, it's time to string together all the layers from the top. In the resulting layer, use the filter Sharpen > Smart Sharpen as this will give the completed image a precise look.
To finish, create a new layer and fill it with a gray color (in the table color picker I'm using the parameter B: 50%). Then add Noise > Add Noise (amount: 400%) and use the filter Stylize > Diffuse, with the parameters of the layer set to Soft Light and Opacity: 15%. Finally, on the top, use Curves to correct the color slightly.
And with that it's done!