Airbrushing Pencilled Images in Photoshop by Ed Hopkins -

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Airbrushing Pencilled Images in Photoshop by Ed Hopkins

By Adam Thur     August 20, 2003

My favorite way to manip pencil art is to make an airbrush-style painting out of it. I used this method on these pics: Brandy from Liberty Meadows and She-Hulk.

Today we'll go through the process with a Spider-man by Solid Snake (thanks again, Jorge).

Start by deciding which body parts overlap other parts. These need to be separate pieces with their own layers. Create a blank layer for each distinct part. It is helpful to label each layer to remind you what's going to go in it.

Use the Polygonal Lasso Tool to trace everything that goes in the bottom layer. Don't worry that it's not smooth. Choose Select > Modify > Smooth > Sample Radius: 5 pixels &endash; this will round the sharp corners of the lasso tool.

Choose Add Layer Mask and fill the layer with the main color of the layer (red in this case). Repeat this for every layer.

Now paint in any color changes that are needed. Don't worry about staying inside the lines and don't add any shading. Here's the "arms" layer with the mask turned off ...

... and again with the mask turned on.

To shade the layers you'll need to have a sense of how the light is falling on your subject. (I imagine Spidey being lit from above and behind.)

Add a new layer over the bottom layer and fill it with gray at 75% brightness. Set the layer opacities so you can see your colors and the original image.

On the gray layer, add shadows with the Burn Tool and a soft brush. Add highlights with the Dodge Tool. Remember you're only shading the parts on that layer, so use broad strokes and don't worry about going past the edges.

When you finish, select Image > Adjustments > Auto Contrast, followed by Image > Adjustments > Invert. Auto Contrast will make your shadows deeper and your highlights brighter, and Invert will reverse them. (You'll see why we're doing this later.)

Then Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur > Radius: 2 pixels and finally Image > Adjustments > Curves > lower the 255 Input to 127 Output. This will smooth your work and make your white areas (shadows) exactly 50% brightness.

Now to combine your colors and shading. First lower the saturation of your colors to &endash;25 and raise the brightness to +25 using Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation .

Then set the blending mode on the shading layer to Difference. Choose Layer > Merge Down > Preserve Layer Mask. (This is why the shading had to be inverted.)

Repeat this with every layer. It goes faster if you learn the keyboard shortcuts.

Notice that the overlapping layers add a nice 3D effect that looks great everywhere but at the shoulders.

The arms should attach smoothly at the shoulders. Use the Blur Tool on the Mask Layer to make a seamless transition.

The rest is all details. Some (like the costume) you may want to scavenge from the actual pencils. (Here I've used Filter > Stylize > Emboss on the costume to get the raised look from the movie, then set the Blending Mode to Overlay.)

Some details you will create yourself. (I made Spidey's webs using Filter > Distort > Ripple and other tools.)

Some details can be photographs (like the background and eyepieces).

Here it is all put together. This is a long process but the results are usually worth it. If you just want a simple coloring job try my basic tutorial.


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