Photoshop Tutorial: Modern Eve

Posted Wednesday, 4 March 2009 by Peter Nowacki in Photoshop, Design, Inspiration
Crestock sent five stock images to Peter Nowacki (aka. Velendil) and challenged him to Photoshop it into something weird or wonderful. Check out the end result, complete with an illustrated tutorial of how it was created.

Source images
Woman with long hair  Snake hanging from a Tree  Green apple  binocular

The rules of our challenge to Peter are essentially the same as in our popular Photoshop contests. We supply five images selected by ourselves, and the artist then creates a design where at least one of the images are a central element.

In this case, Peter chose to incorporate two photos, one of a woman shaking her hair, and a photo of a snake which he managed to work into her hair.

Without any further ado, here's Peter's step by step guide to how he did it.

Inspiration and sketch. First off, I gather all references images and make a fast sketch on paper by hand. Just a general sketch to catch the main idea and composition. I’m trying to find inspiration everywhere, from books, TV, music to my environment.

This image will contain my personal feeling about God and people’s lifestyle nowadays, so it will be desaturated to be in tune with the image’s spirit. For this work I used many textures made by myself, a few of the source photos, a Wacom Intuos3 graphic tablet, a Canon Scanner and Photoshop CS3. A graphic tablet is highly recommended for this type of work. I can’t imagine only using a mouse.

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01. Background. My first step is to begin creating the background. I would like to use light colors and add a few textures with different Blend modes. Then I'll rub out the many elements and try to separate them visually as much as possible.

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02. Now I've added two book pages, removed their backgrounds and added some shadows. After that the main background is ready.

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03. Fast sketch, making a few lines, adding and visualising the main composition. The spiral you see here is really helpful to find the golden section in the composition.

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04. The next step is to gather a few cloud photos, desaturate them and invert their colors. I used a custom brush shape to erase out unwanted portions of the clouds.

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05. Now I want to check if everything is erased properly, so I create a new layer and fill it with a solid color. It’s recommended to do this test with two different colors, one light color and one dark color. It all depends on what blending mode you are using.

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06. After checking for errors, it's time to fill the left part of the image and add a few stars and some stardust.

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07. Main character. I cut off as much as I can from the picture of the woman, with a cutting technique based on channels and the pen tool.

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08. Now it’s time to remove cropped hair and paint some new “replacement hair”, while also adding a few details and sketching out the snakes. It took me a few hours to find suitable reference images for the snakes, and to create images of snakes by hand in my sketch book.

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09. There are still a few errors in her hair, so I fix them as well as laying the finishing touches on her glasses and tattoos.

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10. The snakes. Having first sketched the snakes by hand in my sketch book was really helpful once I started doing them digitally.

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11, 12, 13. In these 3 steps I’m adding skin details and fusing the snakes with the hair in a fairly smooth way.

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14. Having finished the snakes I decide to finish the ropes around the woman’s body using a round brush and burn tools.

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15. It is time to add some personal textures to the background. I have to invert and desaturate the colors of some textures, like I did earlier with the clouds. I experiment with blending and using the Eraser to make them all fit together. To create textures I used coffee and acrylic paints, slopping them in different way on paper and scanning in the end result.

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16. God. To create the triangle, I used stock images of smoke and changed the blending modes to “Screen”. To get the right shape, I have to rub out parts of the smoke textures, paint some details and transform them in different ways using the Warp filter.

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17. After finishing the smoke part, I add a shape using Pen Tool, as well as texturing to the halo around the woman and to the snakes which make them more detailed. To do it properly, I apply a Clipping Mask to the texture layer. You may experiment with clipping masks, applying them to a few layers. I add these masks to Adjustments layers so that in the future I may change for example Brightness without destroying the original layer.

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18. The next steps are to make the triangle shape look more like smoke. For this I again used the Eraser tool with low opacity and softly removed parts of it. I also add color, the eye and few more details.

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19. I decide to make the triangle bigger and lighten the background a little. I then decide to add a few few syringes and a splash under the woman’s head. Next, I use the Burn tool to add a few details on the girl’s skin. I make a printout of this design to inspect it, which is very useful to find mistakes in the composition or other errors. This is almost final, now we are just going to add a finishing touch using a little trick.

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20. High Pass. All you need to do is duplicate and flatten the main image. Then you go to Filters => Other => High Pass and adjust it to what you feel is a suitable level (you will get a feel for this once you see the final effect). After that, copy this layer back to your main document and move it on top of all the other layers. Now experiment with the opacity mode. You will see that the High pass filter is a really good way to enhance and sharpen the details of your image while avoiding the undesireable haloes around the edges that the standard sharpening filters often produce.

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Final touches. Finally, I make adjustments to the Brightness/Contrast layer and Curves to get the right brightness and colors. View Larger.

About the Artist:
I was born in 1988 in Poland and I've got about 3 years of graphic experience by now. My addiction tog raphic design started in a rather fantastic way - from fantasy books. A few years after I got "The Lord of the Rings", I set up my own fantasy forum and made some graphics using Paint Shop Pro. Nowadays, I mostly use Adobe Photoshop and Autodesk Maya or Maxon Cinema4D for 3D effects and modeling as well as drawing and painting at the university where I study. I've had many features at websites like Deviantart or Behance and magazines like ComputerArts.

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By Wcharm on Tuesday, 10 March 2009 11:04 AM
That is great,
Thank you for your great web site.
By Howie on Tuesday, 7 April 2009 7:42 PM
Wow, this is more than cool! Cheers for posting, amazing stuff
By gleewo on Friday, 10 April 2009 9:26 AM
hmmm...great tuts

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