Category Archives: Illustrator

“Piece of the Artic” Pie Chart Photo Manipulation

I saw some beautiful 3D illustration of Madagascar that inspired me to create this illustration. In this tutorial, I’ll share my experience in recreating this illustration. This tutorial will utilize Photoshop 3D features, layer masking, and a lot of selections.

Preview of Final Results


Piece of the Artic Pie Chart Photoshop Tutorial


Step 1

Create a new layer (Ctrl+N) with 1600x1200px wide and resolution is set to 150dpi. Create a new layer, fill it with solid 50% gray color.


Step 2

Create a 3D shape by accessing menu 3D > New Shape From Layer > Cylinder. Use one of the 3D Object tool to reduce the cylinder’s height as seen below.


Step 3

Increase the cylinder size by dragging up the middle square in the 3D Axis, see image below.


Step 4

Still using the 3D Object Rotation tool, adjust the perspective like shown below. Show the 3D panel by going to Window > 3D menu. Inside the 3d panel, click scene button to see option about material and render settings. Click the Edit button to show the 3D Render Settings dialog, we need to see some wire frames for guidelines, so check the second option (wire frame box icon), then adjust Crease Threshold value to 0. Click OK to apply changes.


Step 5

Convert 3d object layer into a raster layer, then create a new layer above it. Using solid round brush, draw a guideline to mark the area we’re going to cut.


Step 6

Create a light blue (RGB: #6dcff6) ellipse using ellipse tool, make sure you create it below the guideline layer. Using Edit > Free Transform Path command to adjust ellipse’s width and height. Don’t forget to hit Enter when you’re done transforming.


Step 7

Create a new ellipse shape below the first one, notice that I rename the layers for easier recognition. Use free transform command to adjust ellipse’s width & height, following the 3d model as guidance. This process will be easier if we can look the 3d model, so reducing the layer’s opacity surely will help us. As for the bottom edge part, use warp command to bend it. Hit Enter when you’re done.


Step 8

Still in the layer bottom, select Pen tool from tool bar. Activate subtract from shape area option, then follow the guidelines to create a triangle-like shape. Because we’re using subtract from selection mode, the triangle will ‘cut’ the ellipse as seen below.


Step 9

Click layer top thumbnail, then repeat the same step as before to cut the ellipse using Pen tool.


Step 10

We don’t need the 3d model layer anymore, so you can hide or delete it now. Still using Pen tool, create the left, inside & right shape (I assume you already know how to use Pen tool). For easier recognition, I suggest using different blue color tone for each shape. Make sure the layers order from top to bottom are like this: layer top, right, inside, left, bottom (see image below for more details).


Step 11

Now you’ve done creating the 3D pie, hide or delete the guideline layer since we no longer need it. The next step is adding texture, but first you have to decide where to put the light source. You don’t have to draw a polygonal shape to do this step, just visualize in your mind that the light source is from the top right corner (as seen below). Knowing the light source will make your work easier, because you know where to draw shadows and highlights globally.


Step 12

Open the water image (File > Open). Press Ctrl+A to select all parts of the image, then press Ctrl+C to copy it to clipboard. Get back to 3D pie image and press Ctrl+V to paste the water image. Make sure you place it above the TOP layer and name it wave.


Step 13

Still on the wave’s layer, reduce its size by pressing Ctrl+T (hold the Shift key while dragging the corner control point, this will keep the aspect ratio of the image so it didn’t look squeezed or stretched). Hit Enter when you’re done transforming. And since we’re agreed the light source is come from the upper right corner, we need to flip the wave by using Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal menu. That’s look better!


Step 14

We need the wave image as a texture for the top shape layer. In order to do that, simply press Ctrl+Alt+G and voila, you’ve got the clipping mask layer.


Step 15

Duplicate the wave layer, then drag it down between left and bottom layer. Create a rectangle-like selection using the Rectangular Marquee tool.


Step 16

Invert the selection by pressing Ctrl+Shift+I then press Delete, this step will erase the selected areas. Now deselect by pressing Ctrl+D. To make sure there is no part of the wave image outside canvas, press Ctrl+A to select all part of the canvas, then go to Image > Crop.


Step 17

Still in the same layer, go to Edit > Transform > Warp then warp the image following the 3D model side curve. See image below for more details.


Step 18

Duplicate the wave copy layer, then place each image on top of left and right layer. After that, make each one of them ( wave copy layer ) as a layer clipping mask. Result of this steps can be seen in the image below.


Step 19

Select the wave copy 2 layer (the one on top of right shape layer) then change the blend mode to Multiply. Make it blur by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur menu, adjust Radius value to 5px then click OK.


Step 20

Repeat previous step for the other wave image placed on top of left shape layer. To apply the same Gaussian Blur filter, simply press Ctrl+F. When you’re done, select the left shape layer’s and reduce the opacity to 70%. This will make the left shape become transparent.


Step 21

Go back to right shape layer’s, we need to tweak this layer so it look transparent as the left shape. Reducing the layer opacity will simply work, but I didn’t want the entire right shape became transparent. So I decide to add a layer mask, then use a black-soft round-Brush tool with low opacity (around 10-20%) to mask some areas so the transparency is applied only on certain parts (i assume you already knew how to do masking with brush tool).


Step 22

Copy-paste the water texture image once again, don’t forget to decrease its size. Make sure you place this new water texture layer on top of inside’s shape layer, then create a selection using Rectangular marquee tool. Now Inverse (press Shift+Ctrl+I) the selection, delete the selected area then deselect ( press Ctrl+D ).

Still in the same layer, make it as clipping mask (press Ctrl+Alt+G) and then go to Edit > Transform > Distort. Distort the water texture until it the perspective’s feel right. Press Enter when you’re done.


Step 23

Same as previous step, change layer blend mode to Multiply then apply Gaussian Blur filter. Later on, reduce the “inside” shape layer opacity to 70%.


Step 24

Open and copy-paste the sand texture image into our working document. Place it on top of ‘bottom’ shape layer then decrease its size using the free transform command.


Step 25

Transform the sand texture using Edit > Transform > Distort command, making the perspective view like shown below. Don’t forget to press Enter when you’re done transforming.


Step 26

Next, make this layer as a clipping mask layer by pressing Alt+Ctrl+G then change the blend mode to Linear Light. This step also finish the ‘adding texture-part’ of this tutorial.


Step 27

Create a new clipping mask layer between sand texture and ‘bottom’ layer, change the blend mode to Overlay then draw shadows using soft round Brush with low opacity. When using Brush tool, remember the light source we mention at the beginning as your reference where to put shadows.


Step 28

Repeat creating shadows for each shape layers. But don’t change the blending mode, leave it normal instead. See image below if you need guidance.


Step 29

Get back to sand texture layer, we need to sharpen it a bit by using Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask menu. Inside the Unsharp Mask dialog, adjust Amount and Radius value as seen below. Click OK to apply the filter.


Step 30

I think we need to sharpen the top most wave layer to make it more convincing as real sea wave. Select the wave layer and repeat the Unsharp Mask filter, by simply pressing Ctrl+F. We need to tweak the wave color balance since I think more darker blue is better. To do that, we’re using Hue/Saturation ( press Ctrl+U ) and Levels ( press Ctrl+L ) command.


Step 31

Select layer shape ‘bottom’, add a layer mask in this layer. Then using soft round Brush tool with low opacity, mask the shape’s edge ( the upper-right parts ). As you can see, the result does imitate ‘depth of field’ when you look something underwater.


Step 32

To keep organize, put related layers inside a group/folder. This will bring out four different group which is named ‘top’, ‘inside’, ‘left’ and ‘bottom’. If you using Photoshop CS3 or the later version, you can do this step easily by Ctrl+Clicking related layers then press Ctrl+G.


Step 33

Open the cruise image. Grab Pen tool from tool bar, then start creating selection path to isolate the cruise.


Step 34

Go to Window > Paths or simply click the Paths tab to show the Paths panel. Now click the Load Path as Selection button to convert those paths into a selection marquee. Copy-paste the selected cruise into our working document.


Step 35

Using free transform command, reduce the cruise’s size. Make sure you place this cruise layer on top of layer group ‘top’.


Step 36

Go to Image > Adjustment > Color Balance or simply hit Ctrl+B to bring the Color Balance dialog. Adjust Color Levels value until the cruise color become more bluish, this will imitate the ambient color from the water texture, making the cruise color blend with the environment. Click OK to apply color balance command.

Water reflect things, right? so we’ll need to create one for the ship, adding realism. First, you need to duplicate the cruise layer (Ctrl+J). Then drag down the cruise copy layer below the original one.


Step 37

Go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical to flip the ‘cruise copy’ image. Do some distortion here by using the Edit > Transform > Distort menu, hit Enter when your done. Now add a layer mask in this layer because we’ll going to hide half of the ‘cruise copy’ image using layer mask.


Step 38

Grab the Gradient tool, and draw linear gradient vertically from white to black (make sure the layer mask is active when you did this). There you go, looks like a reflection isn’t? but we’re not finished yet, some shadows is needed for adding realism and depth.


Step 39

Still in the same layer, add Color Overlay layer style. Choose a dark blue color, and reduce the opacity to get the semi-transparent color effect.


Step 40

We need some minor tweak for the ship’s reflection. Click back the layer mask of ‘cruise copy’ layer. Use soft round Brush tool to mask shadow’s front and back edge (marked with red circle in the image below). That’s better!


Step 41

Open the first iceberg stock image. Since the color between iceberg and ocean are contrast enough, you can easily create a selection using Magnetic Lasso tool. Copy-paste the selected iceberg into our working document.


Step 42

Decrease iceberg size using free transform command. Make sure you put iceberg layer on top of cruise layer group (I’ve been grouping those layer before doing this step), name it ‘iceberg01’ since we’re gonna add second iceberg later.


Step 43

This iceberg need reflection, so first thing is to duplicate iceberg01 layer then drag down the iceberg01 copy layer below it. Then go to Edit > Transform > Flip Vertical to flip the ‘iceberg01 copy’ vertically. Use Move tool to drag down iceberg01 copy image, you’ll see it’s rather difficult to create reflection if the image has this kind of perspective.


Step 44

Lets begin with the left part of iceberg reflection, create a simple selection using Lasso tool. Press Ctrl+J to copy selected areas into a new layer, then use free transform command to rotate it clockwise. Try matching the upper edge part with the original iceberg above it, press Enter when done.


Step 45

Go back to ‘iceberg01 copy’ layer and rotate it counter clockwise, it will not perfect but try to align the upper edge with the original iceberg above it. And yes, you probably want to stretch it a bit like I did ( shown in the image below )


Step 46

Erase the excessive iceberg reflection using Eraser tool, see image below for guidance when erasing.


Step 47

To make the reflection color becomes darker, add Color Overlay layer style for each iceberg copy. Pick a dark blue color with low opacity.


Step 48

A reflection usually faded, right? so, add layer mask for each ‘iceberg copy’ layer and then mask it using linear Gradient tool until you get this result ( see image below ).


Step 49

Notice the excessive part from the ‘iceberg copy’ layer, we didn’t want that annoying part. Click the thumbnail of layer ‘iceberg copy’, and then erase the annoying part using Eraser tool. See image below for guidance when erasing.


Step 50

Create a new layer between iceberg01 layer and its reflection layer. Then load a selection by Ctrl+Clicking the thumbnail of iceberg01 layer. Press Shift+F5 to bring the Fill dialog box, select black and reduce Opacity to40%. Click OK to fill the selection with low opacity black.


Step 51

Press Ctrl+D to deselect. Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur menu, adjust Radius value: 5px. Click OK to apply Gaussian Blur filter, now you got shadows surrounding the iceberg. We didn’t need shadows on the upper part of the iceberg, so just delete it using Eraser tool.


Step 52

Create another new layer on top the previous layer, change the blend mode to Soft Light. Ctrl+Click on the iceberg01 layer thumbnail to load selection, then Fill it with 100% black. Using move tool, drag the new iceberg shadow to left like shown in the image below.


Step 53

Still in the same layer, add a layer mask into it. Mask certain parts using Brush tool to hide unwanted shadow areas. See image below for guidance.


Step 54

Open whale image, create selection of the whale using any selection tool you like ( I’m using Magnetic Lasso tool ). As usual, copy-paste the selected whale into our working document. Place it between layer group ‘cruise’ and ‘iceberg01’, lets call this layer ‘whale’.


Step 55

Adjust whale size using free transform command, and then go to Edit > Transform > Flip Horizontal to flip it.Create a new layer, name it ‘splash’ because we’re gonna draw some water splash in this layer. Grab Brush tool from the toolbar, pick a spatter brush and lower the opacity to 50%. Choose white as brush color then click several times ( don’t click and drag, the result will be different ) in certain areas where water splash should appear, use your imagination.


Step 56

Open the second whale image. Select the whale silhouette (I’m using magic wand tool to select it), then copy-paste selected image into our working document.


Step 57

Place whale silhouette layer below whale layer, rename its layer to ‘shadows’. Flip whale silhouette horizontally then resize until it fits the whale body. Erase unwanted shadows parts using hard round Eraser tool, see below image for guidance.


Step 58

Now we need to fake the ‘deep underwater’ blurry effect, using Blur tool with 50% strength (see below image for guidance). Add layer mask, then using the soft round Brush tool with 25% opacity, mask whale’s shadow to create the semi-transparent look.


Step 59

Add a new layer between whale and shadow layer, we’re gonna add more shadows in this layer. Ctrl+Click on the layer whale thumbnail to load a selection, then go to Edit > Fill menu. Inside the Fill dialog, choose 100% Black and then click OK to fill the selection. You won’t see the result since it covered by the whale layer.


Step 60

Rotate whale’s shadow to left, erase unwanted parts using hard round Eraser tool with 100% Opacity.


Step 61

Change the blend mode to Soft Light and reduce the Opacity to 75%. As usual, keep organize by grouping the whale-related layers into one folder.


Step 62

Open shark image, create selection for the shark ( I’m using Pen tool to do it ). As usual, copy-paste the selected shark into our working document.


Step 63

Place shark layer between ‘inside’ and ‘left’ group. Change the blend mode to Luminosity and adjust shark size and position like shown in the below image.


Step 64

Go to Image > Adjustment > Shadows/Hightlights menu, adjust shadows amount to 50% then click OK to apply. Shark image will be much brighter then before.


Step 65

Create a new layer below shark layer, we call it ‘shadows’ because shark’s shadow will be drawn here. Load shark selection by Ctrl+Clicking the shark layer thumbnail. Press Shift+F5 to bring up the Fill dialog and choose50% gray to fill the selection.


Step 66

Change blend mode to Multiply and reduce Opacity to 75%. Use Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur with radius: 5pxto blur the shadows. After that, use Edit > Transform > Distort command to adjust shadow size and distortion.


Step 67

Go back to shark layer, blur certain parts of the shark using Blur tool with 50% strength, faking the depth of field effect.


Step 68

Still in the same layer, press Ctrl+Shift+U to desaturate shark’s color. We also need to fake the lens distortion effect, first thing to do is create a selection in the tail area using Rectangular Marquee tool. Second, activate the Move tool and then nudge the selected area by pressing the Up Arrow several times. Deselect by pressing Ctrl+D.


Step 69

Open the second iceberg stock. As usual, create a selection around the iceberg (Magnetic Lasso tool is quite good enough). Copy-paste the selected iceberg into our working document.


Step 70

Place the second iceberg layer below iceberg01 folder. Using free transform command, adjust its size like shown in the below image. Press Enter when you’re done.


Step 71

Press Ctrl+J to duplicate the current layer. Get back to iceberg2 layer to change its blend mode to Luminosity.


Step 72

Hide layer ‘iceberg2 copy’, then add layer mask for iceberg2 layer. Hide the upper part of iceberg2 using black soft round Brush tool with 100% opacity, the result can be seen in the below image.


Step 73

Show the ‘iceberg2 copy’ layer again then add a layer mask in that layer.This time, use black soft round Brush tool to mask (hide) the lower part of iceberg2 image. As you can see now, the iceberg2 lower part seems submerged under water.


Step 74

Click on the iceberg2 layer thumbnail (this is to make sure you’re the one we’re editing now is the layer’s content, not the layer mask). Use soft round Blur tool with 50% Strength to blur some parts of the iceberg2, see image below for guidance.


Step 75

Create a new layer, name it ‘splash’ because we’re gonna add water splash there. Use white spatter brush with50% opacity to draw some water splash. Click several times until you satisfied with the result (don’t click and drag, because the result will be different). If you unhappy with the water splash result, delete unwanted parts or just transform it like I did.


Step 76

Create a new layer below iceberg2 layer, we call this layer ‘shadows’. Draw a selection using Lasso tool (just a simple silhouette of the iceberg2, no need to imitate the iceberg2 shape precisely). Fill the selection with 100% Black.


Step 77

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian blur menu to blur the shadows around 25px radius. Click OK to apply blur filter.


Step 78

Add layer mask for the current shadows layer. Mask the shadows using soft round Brush tool with 15% opacity, see image below for guidance. This also ends the ‘adding iceberg’ part in this tutorial.


Step 79

With the same technique when you submerge half of iceberg2, add another submerge object. For example, I’m sinking the cruise (you can use anything, be creative!). Don’t forget to group related layers, keep organized!


Step 80

On the top most of layer groups, add Vibrance layer adjustment (just go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Vibrance). Click OK, then increase the value until we get more vibrance blue/teal color for the entire image ( in my experiment, the value for vibrance is +49 while saturation value is +17 ).


Step 81

Add another layer adjustment, which is Color Balance (found in Layer > New Layer Adjustment > Color Balance). Adjust Color balance value until the illustration become a bit greenish (in my experiment, the value for midtones color balance is: -8, +15, +1)


Step 82

Hide background layer and all other layer group except the top, inside, left, bottom and two adjustment layer on top (see below image to be certain). Select the top most layer (color balance layer) and then press Shift+Ctrl+Alt+E to merge all visible image into a new layer.


Step 83

Unhide layers we’ve been hide in the previous step, then drag layer 11 ( the merged layer ) below layer group ‘bottom’. Load a selection by Ctrl+Clicking this layer thumbnail, and then save the selection via Select > Save selection menu. You can give any name for the selection (in this example, I name it alpha-1), click OK to save it.


Step 84

Still in the same layer, go to Edit > Transform > Distort and try to align the merged layer so it look like a reflection. Use the Layer > Layer Mask > Hide All, which is will add layer mask filled with black, completely hiding layer 11 content’s.


Step 85

Now grab the soft round Brush tool with low opacity ( 25% ), make sure you choose white for brush color. Slowly using brush tool in the below part to create reflections. See image below for guidance.


Step 86

Make sure we’re still in the layer mask, then go to Select > Load Selection menu. Inside the load selection dialog, choose alpha-1 channel and then click OK to load the selection. Fill this selection with 100% black.Don’t deselect, yet!.


Step 87

Add a new layer on top of current layer, name it ‘shadows’ since here we gonna add shadows for the ocean-pie piece. Fill the selection with 100% black, then deselect it by pressing Ctrl+D.


Step 88

We need to see a bit of the shadows, so nudge it down using the Move tool as seen in the below image. Use Gaussian Blur filter with 10px radius to blur the shadows.


Step 89

We just need shadows for the downside part, so we’ll need to erase unwanted shadows using Eraser tool like shown in the below image. And that’s it, we are done!


Final Results


Download the PSD

Piece of | 14 MB

Jayan Saputra – deviantart page


Create A Scanner Darkly effect

Artist Aaron Sacco worked as an animator on the movie A Scanner Darkly. Here he shows you how to recreate the film’s signature ‘interpolated rotoscoping’ effect in Illustrator.

Recreating A Scanner Darkly

You can turn any photo into a dynamic illustration in the style of Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly using just a Wacom tablet and Adobe Illustrator.

After working as an animator on the film, I developed the process outlined here for recreating this bold effect, using shapes of solid colour to represent a realistic image.

A Scanner Darkly, which stars Keanu Reeves and Winona Ryder, used an animation technique called interpolated rotoscoping. Similar to rotoscoping, where each frame of film is painstakingly handpainted, interpolated rotoscoping uses vector keyframes and interpolates between keyframes automatically.

Each minute of animation in the movie required over 500 hours of work. For this tutorial, we’re not going to animate a sequence, but concentrate on one image, representing one frame.

The focus of the tutorial is to recreate the incredible, unique style of the movie through the use of colour and vectors. For an image of this complexity, you should expect to spend five to six hours illustrating it.

If you limit your colours and detail, you can spend less – but it’s worth putting in the extra effort. If you’re learning and experimenting, you can expect to spend much more. Be bold and have fun!

Step 1
Choose a high-resolution image for photo reference. The larger the image, the more detail you will have to play with. Go to File>Place to insert it into your Illustrator file.

In the Layers palette, double-click the layer with the image; I name this layer ‘Reference’. Once you have locked that layer, you will be able to draw over the top without disturbing it. Click the Add New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. I call this new layer ‘Inks’ and it should remain on top throughout the process.

Step 2
Press N or click the Pencil tool from the Tools palette and check that the Fill colour is Black and the Stroke colour is None. Adjust the Pencil tool’s settings by double-clicking the Pencil tool and change the Fidelity to 4 pixels, Smoothness to 35 per cent, and check both ‘Fill New Pencil Strokes’ and ‘Keep Selected’ boxes.

If you experience difficulty drawing a smooth shape, increase the Fidelity and Smoothness. If you’re losing detail or control, decrease those settings.

Step 3
To recreate the look of A Scanner Darkly, you must think of lines as long, thin, irregular shapes filled with black. Using the Pencil tool, you can manually produce a calligraphic line by automatically filling in the region between two arcs.

Draw smooth decisive arcs to indicate where you imagine the points should be set. Too much wobbliness yields an uncontrolled shape with rough edges.

To edit an ugly shape, use the pen tool to delete extra points and simplify the form. It will take practice to learn how to manipulate the pencil tool accurately, but be patient and you will develop an intuitive understanding of how to manipulate the shapes quickly. Deselect after each shape by pressing Command-Shift-A (Windows: Control-Shift-A).

Step 4
Check that you are on the ‘Inks’ layer and ‘ink’ the image, just like a graphic novel. Draw thin black shapes around the major forms. Also fill in the darkest regions with larger black shapes. If you need more control for areas such as the eyes or nose, you can switch to the Pen tool to draw exact curves and straight lines. This step requires the most nuance. Remember to always lock each layer when you’re finished or not working on it to avoid confusing errors later on.

Step 5
Toggle the Eye icon on your Layers palette to hide the Reference layer and check your progress as you go. If you accidentally release the line before you outline the shape you’re tracing, you can draw another shape that completes the shape in the same colour. I prefer to press Command-Z (Control- Z on Windows) to undo the last action, because I find it best to make the largest possible continuous shape to increase the smoothness and overall flow of the shape.

Step 6
I call my next layer ‘Shawn’. Each new subsequent layer will be placed behind the last visually or below on the layers palette. You want to always fill in behind what you’ve previously finished. Within each layer, create sub-layers categorized by features, such as eyes and mouth, to better manage all the shapes that you’re creating. I will usually break that down further into four or five shades of colour, each on its own sub-layer.

Step 7
Select which colours to use by sampling right out of the picture. Double-click the Eyedropper tool and change the Raster Sample Size at the bottom to 5 points to get a broad metering of colour. If you want a brighter colour for the foreground figures or a more specific colour selection, switch the Raster Sample Size back to 1 point.

Step 8
Now you’re ready to begin painting in the colour. Beginning with the ‘Hair’ on a new sub-layer, define the larger chunks or shapes of solid colour, starting with darkest shadows. Focus on making shapes that are descriptive and in tone with the others.

Limit the palette to a few shades and place each new successive colour behind the other. You can move a shape behind another on the same layer or sub-layer by pressing Apple-Shift-[ or by going to Object>Arrange>SendToBack.

Step 9
Use a new sub-layer for each facial feature. Zoom in while you’re drawing detailed areas such as the eyes and nose, and add more detail with smaller shapes to emphasize those areas. On the sub-layer called Face, begin to describe as accurately as possible the general planes of the face.

Step 10
Continue to define the planes of the neck and shirt on a new sub-layer. Avoid using too many little shapes or it will draw attention away from the figure’s face.

Step 11
Repeat steps 7 through 10 on a new layer I call ‘Renee’. In some images, you may want to balance the colours by reusing the same tones in different figures. Since I liked the contrasting warm and cool tones, I did not worry about colour balancing on this image.

Step 12
Create a new layer – call it ‘Background’. Look at the larger shapes of colour behind the foreground figures and define their outlines loosely. Too much detail in the background will be a distraction from the figures. You simply want a patchwork of colour to suggest an environment.

Step 13
Once the whole image is filled in, create a new ‘Correction Below’ layer at the very bottom to quickly fill in any gaps in the image. Use colours from the upper layers and draw with large blobs. Don’t worry about being too artistic here – you’re just filling space.

Step 14
Clean up your illustration by creating a new ‘Correction Above’ layer on top of everything but the ‘Inks’ layer. Unlock the Reference layer and drag the image out to the side to compare it side-by-side.

Simplify your colour schemes and shapes. Zoom in to the image and cover over any unwanted ugly spurs in the shapes. Manipulate the shapes in all the layers with the direct-selection tool until you’re satisfied with the results.

Aaron Sacco –

Create mile-high type art

Fantasy images don’t need to include cheesy damsels, dragons and generously proportioned elves. What they do need, however, is carefully considered, painterly colours, moody lighting and detailed texturing.

In this tutorial, Fabio Sasso shows you how to achieve that glossy, detailed fantasy look through careful compositing, and control of layers and blending modes. You’ll extrude type in Illustrator and then composite on textures and other details in Photoshop.

Finally, you’ll add the stranded princess figure and a couple of details so that she fits seamlessly into the image.

Step 1
Open a new document in Illustrator and type ‘DA’. Helvetica Black is a good font to use. Go to Effect > 3D > Extrude & Bevel. Set the axis to 23º, 25º, and -45º respectively, set the perspective to 145º and the extrusion to 865 points.

Play with the lights until the sides of the extrusion have good clear light and dark areas.

Step 2
Copy the 3D text from Illustrator and paste it into a new Photoshop document. Position it so that the DA is in the middle of the document. Next, import a brick texture; this one is from Shutterstock (, but you can download free versions from and You’ll need to duplicate it to make it tileable and fit the height of the 3D.

Step 3
Go to Edit > Transform > Distort, and move the points to fit the perspective of the 3D object. Change the opacity of the texture so you can see the 3D object and use it as reference for the perspective. Use the same process on all the straight sides – we’ll tackle the curved edges in step 4.

Step 4
Sorting out the curved sides is very simple: first match the perspective with the Distort transformation (Edit > Transform > Distort), then go to Edit > Transform > Warp. You can make the curved sides by moving the mesh. Add textures to all the sides that are visible.

Step 5
Duplicate the 3D object with the textures and go to Layer > Merge Layers. Next, select Filter > Other > High Pass. Set the radius to five pixels. Change the blending mode to Hard Light, and change the colour of the DA to white.

Step 6
Duplicate just the 3D object and place it at the top of the layer stack. Now change the blending mode to Multiply. Select the brick texture layer and go to Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation.

Reduce the Saturation to -40 and the Lightness to -2. We want to increase the contrast between the light areas and the shadows.

Step 7
Select all the layers used to create the 3D with bricks and go to Layer > Merge Layers. Now create a new layer on top of the merged layer and go to Layer > Create Clipping Mask. Next go to Filter > Render > Clouds, making sure that your background and foreground colours are set to black and white respectively. Finally, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, setting the radius to 10 pixels. Change the blending mode to Multiply.

Step 8
Select the DA and duplicate the layer. Fill it with a radial gradient, from dark grey to light grey in the middle. Duplicate the layer again and fill it with a Pattern Overlay by using the Paint Bucket (G) with the source set to Pattern. Use an asphalt or concrete texture with the blending mode set to Multiply. I used one from Shutterstock (; free ones are at and

Duplicate the DA again and go to Layer > Layer Styles > Stroke. Set the size to five pixels, and fill type to Gradient, selecting black and white for colours. Set the angle to -85º. Also select Pattern Overlay and use an asphalt pattern. This layer will be beneath the other DA layers.

Step 9
Now add an image of a sky with clouds. (This one is included on the cover CD and in the Zip file attached, named Clouds.jpg.) Once you’ve placed the picture, go to Image > Adjustments > Hue and Saturation. Change the values to -8 for the hue, -50 for the saturation, and 10 for the lightness. Then go to Image > Adjustments > Photo Filter. Set the colour to orange and the density to 50%.

Step 10
Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Gradient Fill, setting the colours to dark grey and black, and setting the style to Radial. Change the blending mode to Color Dodge, then double-click on the thumbnail of the Gradient Fill layer so you can edit again. We need to move the centre of the gradient to create a sunset effect.

Step 11
Go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map. Set the colour to black and white, and tick the Dither box. Now change the blending mode to Soft Light.

Step 12
To create more clouds we need to modify a brush. Go to Window > Brushes and choose a regular brush. Apply the following presets: in Shape Dynamics, set pen pressure to 100%; minimum diameter to 21%, roundness jitter to 30%, and minimum roundness to 34%. Tick Flip X Jitter and Flip Y Jitter.

In Scattering, tick Both Axes, set the scatter to 67%, and count jitter to 20%.

In Texture, tick Invert, set the scale to 677%, tick Texture Each Tip, set the mode to Multiply, and depth and minimum depth to 100%.

In Other Dynamics, turn opacity jitter and flow jitter to 100%, with control set to Off.

Now you can start painting the clouds, using white, with some grey at the bottom of the clouds to add depth.

Step 13
Now it’s time to place a photo of a waiting girl. This one is from Shutterstock (, but you can get a free one from Extract the background of the photo, and place the girl in your image. Add another layer beneath the girl image, grab a black brush (B), and start painting on this new layer to create a shadow beneath the girl.

Step 14
Now add details, such as the birds, and select all layers and duplicate them (Cmd/Ctrl + Alt/Opt + Shift + E). With the duplicated layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, setting the radius to 20 pixels. Change the blending mode to Screen and reduce the opacity to 80%. This will give the image a nice glow, and make the effect more realistic.

Fabio Sasso –

How screen-printing works

Gerv Harvill and Rik Cooper of Mission Print explain he process of creating this screen printing poster.

The artwork shown here was supplied as full-colour art. Rik Cooper explains how he prepared the original image for screen-printing.

“Firstly I had to pick the Black using Photoshop’s Color Range,” says Cooper. “I then used a greyscale image, imported it into Illustrator and used the Live Paint Bucket to create a vector version of the main black artwork. I then redrew the other colours, placing the photo in the background.”

He continues: “With the print process going from light colours to dark as I layered up the artwork, using a 0.25mm trap where needed. Finally, I used overprint preview to check my layers properly before sending to print.”

1. Artwork Separation

After receiving the raw artwork, Mission Print separates it into spot colours. They discuss options with the client for paper, print size and borders, watermark postion and ink finish. The separated file is then sent to the client for sign-off.

2. Film Output

Gerv Harvill says: “Once the file has been processed and approved by our print manager it’s ready to run to film. Our designer checks the film before taking it to the screen room.”

3. Preparing the stencil

“Our screenmaker tapes the film positive into position on the reverse of the screen,” explains Harvill. “The screen is exposed to light in one of our exposure units, the film is then removed and the screen washed in warm water.”

The areas of screen emulsion exposed to light through the clear areas of the film remain intact, while the areas where the black areas of the film prevented light reaching the emulsion are washed away.

“The screen is then dried and any imperfections in the stencil are corrected.”

4. Mixing the inks

Meanwhile the printer mixes the inks. They will choose between water-based, solvent or UV inks depending on the piece.

“Colours will be matched to Pantone references chosen by the client,” adds Harvill. “Colours can vary through different screen meshes and onto different substrates and also on drying. The printer will sometimes spend longer matching a colour than printing the edition.”

5. Printing the job

The printer sticks the film onto the paper in the right position. The paper is then laid on the print table and the screen aligned to print where the film is on the paper. The printer references two edges of the paper with lay stops to maintain consistent registration throughout the edition.

“During the edition the printer will overprint previous test sheets to ensure there’s no movement and that the print position is consistent,” says Harvill. “Additional colours are printed in sequence – usually from light to dark – until the edition is complete. In most cases we prefer to produce a sample for approval after which adjustments can be easily made before printing.”

6. Drying and packing

Solvent and water-based inks are left to dry for a couple of hours; UV inks are cured under UV light.

“Once dry the edition will be trimmed to size, checked for quality and then carefully packed for shipping or collection,” says Gerv Harvill.

Alice Ross –

Create realistic glass surfaces

Create a wine glass from scratch in Illustrator using transparency and translucency settings, with tips from Rare Design’s James Arnott.

Illustrator allows you to create art of all varieties, from the highly stylized to the photorealistic. Here, digital design expert James Arnott shows how to make an impressively realistic and convincing wine glass using the software.

The tutorial gives you the tools to master transparency and translucency in Illustrator, including a step-by-step guide on using the transparency palette, blending modes and black-and-white gradients.

Pair this with some smart use of the Gaussian blur and you’ve got the tools to add some touches of realism to any image.

Step 1
Create a new document measuring 500-x-800 pixels. Create a box that covers 75% of the artboard from top down. Apply a circular background gradient to this box with three colours in it, ensuring the centre of the radial gradient starts at the base of the box and ends at the top of the box. The colours should be the following: at position 35%, C = 0, M = 0, Y = 0, K = 0; at position 80%, C = 15, M = 10, Y = 23, K = 0; and at position 100%, C = 25, M = 20, Y = 40, K = 0.

Step 2
We need to create a glass shape. I would recommend drawing half the glass using the Pen tool, then copy-and-pasting and flipping this to create the other half. This way it’s guaranteed to be symmetrical. Put the two sides together and join using the Pathfinder palette button ‘Add to Shape Area’, which unifies the objects.

Step 3
Next, we’ll colour the glass with a vertical four-colour gradient. Set the colours to the following: at position 35%, C = 18, M = 10, Y = 22, K = 0; at position 47%, C = 0, M = 0, Y = 0, K = 0; at position 80%, C = 13, M = 14, Y = 22, K = 0; at position 97%, C = 6, M = 3, Y = 7, K = 0. This gives us the basis of the glass colour. Add an inner glow to give the effect of a curved surface: select Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow, set the Mode to Screen, Opacity to 100%, Blur to 68 pixels and ensure that Center is ticked. I used the colour C = 5, M = 2, Y = 10, K = 0, experiment to get the best soft shape to the glass.

Step 4
Now we’ll get started on the transparency. The Transparency palette has a great dropdown that controls the blending mode of all shapes in a similar way to in Photoshop. The options we will be concentrating on are Screen Multiply and Overlay, which when used with black-and-white gradients and a little blur can create some excellent effects.

Step 5
Let’s create the glass’ top. Create an oval at the top of the glass. Fill it with a horizontal white-to-black linear gradient. Keep it selected and change the blending mode from Normal to Screen – this will get rid of the black. Set the transparency to 45% and put a Gaussian blur of three pixels on it to soften the effect.

Step 6
Create an ellipse over the top of the glass so it sits just inside the bowl. Use the Pen tool to remove the point at the top of the ellipse then use the Direct Selection tool (the white arrow) to pull the top two Beziers towards their nodes. We should now have a shape that looks like half a glass of liquid. Create a radial gradient from bottom of the shape to the top, use these three colours: at position 0%, C = 0, M = 0, Y = 0, K = 0; at position 13%, C = 55, M = 90, Y = 60, K = 70; at position 100%, C = 20, M = 100, Y = 75, K = 18.

Step 7
Next, add an inner glow to the wine to give it a translucent edge. Select Effect > Stylize > Inner Glow, setting the Mode to Screen, the Opacity to 100%, the Blur to around ten pixels and making sure that Edge is selected. Again using the Transparency palette, make sure your wine shape is selected and change the blending mode to Multiply. This will make anything white transparent, and in this instance the wine’s edges will become transparent.

Step 8
The glass needs some reflections to make it more realistic. Create a shape on the left side of the glass about five pixels in from the edge of the glass. Fill with a linear gradient that goes from a 100% black to a 40% black (light grey) then back to 100% black again. Using the blending mode dropdown again, set the mode to Screen and reduce the transparency slightly to around 80% so the reflection isn’t too overpowering. Try adding a little Gaussian blur to the reflection of around three pixels to soften it a little. Repeat this process again for another two softer reflections.

Step 9
Repeat the process from Step 08 to create two highlights around the rim of the glass. Add two small areas of light to the top rim highlight by blurring two small white circles, as shown here.

Step 10
Now we’re going to add in a light source. Create a layer below the wine layer but above the wineglass layer. Draw two white rectangles side by side with a small gap in between. Select both shapes, using the Free Transform tool, skew it to the right, then skew the right side up a little. Add Gaussian blur to both the shapes of around seven pixels and set the opacity to 30%. Position them over to the right, then duplicate them, reduce the size and place the duplicates over to the left. These shapes represent light from a window to the left falling on a wall in the background. Now we have a recognizable source of light, we can improvise how it will react on the glass and how the wine in the glass will affect the glass itself.

Step 11
Add some more reflections to the left-hand side of the glass to simulate the light source, using the same process as before: create a shape, add a gradient, change the blending mode to Screen, reduce the opacity, and add a small Gaussian blur to soften the effect.

Step 12
Now we’ve introduced light reflections, we should add shadows and wine reflections. At the base of the wine create the shape in shown here. Add a five colour gradient to it, then add an inner glow and some Gaussian blur. Finally change the blending mode to Multiply and set the opacity to 75%. Try adding some more shadows to the stem of the glass.

Step 13
Finally let’s add more depth to the translucent wine. Add a new layer below the glass highlights. Create a black round-edged shape near the top of the wine. Add some inner glow to it. Then change the opacity to 20% and change the blending mode to Multiply. Add some highlights to the wine using white shapes with the blending mode set to Overlay. Don’t forget to add some Gaussian blur to soften the effect.

Step 14
In the final image you can see how I’ve used these techniques to add further reflections, light glows and shadows to the image to add more realism. If you get stuck working out where to add more life to your illustration I find a search through the images the search engines have to offer is great for getting inspired.

James Arnott –

Creating surreal landscapes


If you ever had a poster of Salvador Dalí’s melting clocks or spindle-legged camels on your student bedroom wall, you’ll recognise this picture’s influences immediately.

The blank, open landscape, the juxtaposition of semi-random elements, and even the colour palette can be traced to surrealism. Another thing that the image has inherited from Dalí is close attention to detail and a high level of polish: while the images are random, the craftsmanship is meticulous.

In this tutorial, Justin Maller guides you step-by-step through the often painstaking process of compositing a convincing surreal landscape. While some of the images, such as the girl and the abstract ribbons, are provided on the disc, there are also tips for sourcing good background and texture images yourself.



01. The first task for a composite scene is selecting a workable background. Surfing stock sites is an inevitability when it comes to this kind of work; patience is everything. The key ingredients are width of shot and depth of focus – you want an image that offers a large plane to work within. I have selected a beach scene, but you can use anything that suits your style. Try and find something attractive, but uncluttered. Alternatively, open similair.jpg from the cover CD.



02. Remember that you never have to ‘make do’ when it comes to a piece’s environment. This particular shot lacks a memorable sky, so I’ve searched for one I find more attractive and pasted it in. Free Transform (Cmd/Ctrl + T) the ‘Sky’ layer so that it covers the area neatly, and add a layer mask. Drag out a black to white gradient that begins at the horizon, and use a soft, large brush (100 pixels, 100% Opacity, 25% Flow) to neaten the edges.

Mad Scientist

The classic depiction of the mad scientist is of a crazed individual working on some kind of high-tech gadgetry in his lab, sparks and electricity flying all around. A good example is Mad Scientist by Roberto Campus, part of a series of fourteen images made by the artist for a trading-card game. Campus decided to go for a cyborg as the subject of the scientist’s experiment, since it put a modern twist on an image reminiscent of 1940s and 1950s pulp magazine covers, as well as adding a touch of gore to the picture. Here the artist talks through how he did it.

artist: Roberto Campus
software used: Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter

Step 1: I made sure to include all the elements planned for the final image during the initial sketching process. I then redrew them on the computer by tracing over the lines using Painter and a Wacom tablet. The CG sketch was a low-resolution 72dpi image created using the Pencil tool with a small brush, and a 100 per cent Opacity setting over a sepia background.

Step 2: I continued using Painter for the main blocking phase. I resized the image to 300dpi, then switched to the Airbrush tool with a medium-sized brush and medium Opacity setting. I picked a few base colours, put them in a corner of the image for later reference, then started filling up all the various areas, right over the original traced sketch (on a single-layer flat image). I don’t add fine details in the blocking process and usually force myself to use the same brush size at all times. Then, by using the colour wheel to pick a lighter or darker colour than the base, I painted highlights and shadows. Throughout this stage, I used the Alt key to pick colours while I moved from area to area.

Step 3: Next up was the main painting stage, when I refined shapes and added details to the foreground elements. Here I concentrated on reshaping all the forms to their final position and dimensions. I switched to the Painter Brushes tool and a medium Opacity setting, then I used varying brush sizes, but with regular, small and more carefully positioned strokes.

Step 4: I soon realized that in order to achieve a higher level of realism for the face and hands of the main character, I had to rely on some reference material. Using a cheap digital camera (an invaluable tool for the digital artist), I snapped a few pictures of my face and hands illuminated by a light source coming from below. I imported the low-res photos into Painter, desaturated them and kept them handy (to the left of the actual illustration) while I was finalizing the face and head elements. Using a photo reference makes it easier and less time-consuming to achieve a higher level of realism.

Step 5: The rest of the elements were created completely from scratch. As they mostly consisted of simple shapes, it wasn’t too difficult to imagine how the light sources would play on them. The background and some of the foreground (the cables coming out of the scientist’s helmet, for example) were to be refined later in Photoshop.

Step 6: I imported the image into Photoshop, copied the canvas layer and cut the foreground elements from the background, using the Eraser tool. Now I had the foreground elements (scientist and gadgets) separated on a layer called FG. I turned off this layer and proceeded to paint over the background on the canvas layer (which I then renamed BG). Using a large, simple, round brush set on Normal mode, I fixed up the background colours, then refined the shape of the Tesla coils.

Step 7: I added a new layer on top of the BG layer and called it Sparks. Here, I painted the electric sparks using a brush with a pink/ bluish colour and 100 per cent Hardness. To add a glow to the sparks, I added an Outer Glow effect in the Blending Options. I then merged the BG and Sparks layers. I turned the FG layer back on and added a new layer on top. I painted the cables coming out of the helmet, then added a soft Outer Glow effect to them.

Step 8: I added sparks coming out of the tools held by the scientist, using the same technique as before – but this time I used a light yellow colour. I flattened the whole image into a new layer. It was at this point that I noticed that the painted highlights were not bright enough.

Step 9: Using the Dodge tool set on Highlights, I went over all the spots that I felt needed to be brightened up and brought to prominence. I flattened the image to a single layer called Art, then duplicated that layer and called the new one Glow. I then applied a Gaussian Blur with a large radius effect to the Glow layer, obtaining a very blurred image. I set the Blending Options on Glow to Lighten and lowered its Opacity to 10 per cent. Now, with the original layer showing through, the image highlights looked softer and more natural. Finally, after flattening the whole image, I applied a few adjustments to its contrast and colour balancing by using the Curves and Color Balance tools.

Roberto Campus