Published on December 17th, 2012 | by Adrien de Broglio0
Create a Dark Soldier Illustration in Photoshop
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Hi designers, in this Tutorial You’ll learn how to create a Dark Soldier Illustration in Photoshop using some stock image, brushes and a few techniques.
Step 1 – The Inevitable New Document
Open Photoshop and create a new document, I picked 1680x1050px to fit my screen resolution, but you can choose any size. Choose a transparent background.
Step 2 – Model
For this step, I used a stock photo made by mjranum-stock on deviantART that a represents a soldier with a gas mask, Download the image Future War m – 19 by mjranum-stock and open it photoshop. Double click on the layer with a little lock next to it and click Ok, this will allow you to modify the image. We’re going to cut out the soldier from the background then drag it into the document we created before. I often use the Pen Tool to cut out something but for this image you can easily do it with the Magic Wand Tool (W), so select the magic wand tool and select all the background around the model, invert the selection, Select – Invert Selection then create a layer mask, Layer – Layer Mask – Reveal Selection.
When you like the result select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and select all the bottom part of the model we won’t need it then delete it. Finally drag the soldier on the document we created in Step 1 and resize it with the Free Transform Tool Ctrl+T.
Starting now the preview images will show the centre of the illustration, so what’s appearing is just the illustration not all the wallpaper.
Step 3 – Background
Select the background layer and fill it with black, Edit – Fill – Black and rename the layer Background, you should rename the model layer Soldier.
Step 4 – Soldier Model
Select the Soldier layer, go on the layer mask and select the Brush Tool (B) with a big soft rounded brush of about 250px. Make sure you’re on the layer mask and your foreground colour is set to black. Paint on the model to hide the parts you don’t want like I did below.
I’ve painted on the edges, the eyes and hidden the part in the middle of the jacket.
Step 5 – Black and White Model
Duplicate the Soldier layer and rename the new one Soldier Black & White, Select the new layer and desaturate it, Ctrl + Shift + U or Image – Adjust – Desaturate. Then apply a the Gaussian Blur filter on it, Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur with 1,5px and click ok, Change the blend mode of the Soldier Black & White to Overlay.
Step 6 – Layer Mask
Go on the layer mask of the Soldier Black & White layer and hide some parts like we did in Step 4, change the opacity of the brush to 50% before painting on the layer mask. You should have something like this.
Step 7 – Cloud Brush
For this step I used a cloud brush, you can find some on deviantART Photoshop Brushes section, If you download a brush, double click on the .abr file you’ve downloaded this will load it in the brush library. Create a new layer, name it Cloud Back and place it between the Soldier and Background layers, select the Brush Tool (B) and pick a cloud brush, then paint a cloud behind the soldier head, I just painted one white cloud but you can had more and use different colours, if you do that it’s better to create a new layer for each clouds.
Step 8 – Circle 1
In this step and the next one we’re going to create some circle shape. Create a new layer and name it Circle 1, then select the Ellipse Marquee Tool and create a Circle selection, hold the shift key while you make the selection. Fill the selection with white, Edit – Fill – White. Duplicate this layer and hide the new one we’ll use it in next step. Next add a Drop Shadow layer style on this layer, Layer – Layer Style – Drop Shadow and enter those parameters.
To add a fading effect on the Circle, select the brush tool with a soft rounded brush of about 100px and on both Soldier and Soldier Black & White layer masks and erase some parts of the soldier under the circle.
To finish the Circle 1, download the texture space 3 by ~SadMonkeyDesign-res, open it in photoshop and drag it into the document, Resize and rotate it with the Free Transform Tool Ctrl+T and place the part you like on top of the Circle 1, place the texture layer between Circle 1 and Soldier layers, rename it Stars and create a clipping mask on it, right click on the Stars layer – create a clipping mask. The clipping mask will allow you to move the texture easily, just select the stars layer and the Move Tool and move it like you want.
Step 9 – Circle 1 Blur
Select the layer we duplicated before, unhide it and place it under the Circle 1 layer, name it Circle 1 Blur and had Gaussian Blur filter on it, Filter – Blur – Gaussian Blur with 25px and click ok. Next add a Gradient Overlay layer style on the layer, Layer – Layer Style – Gradient Overlay and enter those values.
To finish, change the opacity to 30%.
Step 10 – Circle 2
Create a new layer, select the Ellipse Marquee Tool and make a smaller selection than the previous circle. Fill it with white and add a Gradient Overlay layer style to it, Layer – Layer Style – Gradient Overlay, and enter those parameters.
Place the circle next to the first one, rename the layer to Circle 2 and change the opacity to 50%. Place the layer between the Soldier and Stars layers.
Step 11 – Stars Background
For this step we’re going to use an other texture made by SadMonkeyDesign called Star Field 1 by ~SadMonkeyDesign-res, Open the texture in photoshop and drag it into the document. Resize it and place it behind the illustration, change the blend mode to Luminosity, then create a layer mask on it and with the Brush Tool (B) and a big soft rounded brush of about 750px paint on the layer mask with black around to hide the edges and just leave the centre behind the head of the soldier. Place this layer just in front of the Background layer and rename it Stars Background.
That’s it for this Tutorial; you’re now a master of layer mask! Send me your creations I’ll post them under the tutorial.
Don’t forget to download the PSD file, if you need help leave me a comment I’ll try to respond as fast as possible.
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