I wasn’t sure of a good topic to kick off the tutorials section of this blog, but one of the things I get asked about a lot is a ‘basics’ tutorial for painting images in Photoshop using the pen tool. There are some really talented guys out there that record their work process and upload them as ‘speed paintings’, but hopefully this basic tutorial will be enough to get your started. For this tutorial I used a WACOM Bamboo tablet, and I thought I would use the ‘Terminator’ as the theme because it’s a cracking poster and it covers quite a few materials such as skin, hair and metal. I did this quite quickly as a test, but it could be much more improved if I spent some more time on it!
Here are the basic steps I took.
Step 1 (Basic sketch)
First I created the basic outline using the pencil tool. I used a 3px brush with pen pressure. I focused mainly on proportion and the basic shapes rather than any specific details at this point. None of the sketch is going to be used in the final piece so it doesn’t matter if it looks a bit naff!
Step 2 (Base colours)
Next I started creating the basic colours with the skin, metal, hair and eyes all on separate layers. I used base colours for each and then started building up the basic shadows and highlights. This is fairly rough at this stage, and the focus should be on the colours and the shapes of the highlighting. To do this I used a large brush with no shape dynamics as I wanted a solid base.
Step 3 (Painting the details)
Using different size brushes, I used ‘other dynamics’ selected which increases / decreases the alpha depending on the pen pressure. This made it easy to shade smaller details and to create soft edges. I continually added to the same layer to build it up like a real painting. This maybe isn’t the best way to do it but it made it easy to make alterations and build up the layers by pressing lightly with the pen. This took time and patience but the image really starts to take shape at this point.
Step 4 (Finishing touches)
I used the blur tool to blend my highlighting and shadows which made it look less chalky! I also added some noise to the skin layer to create some texture. I spent some time with a fine brush to make some finer details, and also the eraser to cut out some of the basic shapes I had created.
Step 5 (Adding the background)
Finally I created simple gradient to the background to create the final image. This image was done very quickly (about 3 hours) so there is lots of room for improvement if I was prepared to spend more time on it. But hopefully this gives you a basic understanding of how to get started. Enjoy and happy painting!