This deluxe tutorial will walk you through the main techniques used to create this digital Final Fantasy art. The featured character for this piece is Yun Fang, a mysterious polearm fighter with a delightful Aussie accent.
Here’s the scanned line art. Anything between 150 and 300 dpi should be good so you can work big. 300 will end up a pretty big file but you’ll be able to get crazy details. I went with 150 for tutorial purposes.
Create a new layer beneath the line art and make a radial gradient from light to dark gray. Place the lineart in a Linear Burn blending mode in the Layers Panel.
Now to fill in some solid colors in a new layer using the lasso tools to separate selections.
Here are the basic flats.
On a layer above that you can start airbrushing darker values. Note the cheeks and the jawline as good places to paint in some darker tones.
This step alone creates some volume for the shapes.
Now add some lighter values to push the volume contrast even further. Barely touch the centers of the shapes such as the mid thigh, center of the cheek, middle of the bicep, and so on. Be sure to pull the Opacity and Flow of the brush you are using so paint can be light applied in multiple strokes.
Now for even more light highlights. I’ve hidden the layers with the values we’ve just painted to show the selections better. Use the Lasso Tool to draw some selections to paint in. Note the ones below the eyes, down the side of the nose and around the cheek and chin.
Here’s what the new highlights look like with the other value layers back on behind them.
At this point we can start having some fun with some textures. I went looking around for some skin textures and found this great one on Deviant Art. It’s a little gross now because it looks like a square patch of human skin laid flat out on a table. But it has some nice moles and imperfections that
real skin contains.
Copy and paste the skin file and Ctrl+T to transform and rotate over an area of skin. You can see what the texture will look like by placing the skin texture blending mode to “Multiply”.
Repeat the process for other patches of skin.
Link the skin layers and Ctrl+E to merge them. For smaller areas you can use the Clone Stamp Tool to fill them in and cut out.
Here’s a hi-rez look at what this skin texture adds to the art. Note how all those little veins and imperfections actually make it look better.
Here I added some details like eyeshadow. A small lasso selection and dark paint makes it pretty straight-forward. Use a soft eraser to take away some edges. Sidenote, a nice little protip I learned is color the whites of eyes a gray color then add white highlights. When you look at people’s eyes they’re never a bright #FFFFFF white.
Here’s a silk texture with some nice fabric details.
Transform this texture the same as the skin pic and position it over what will be the silk areas.
Ctrl+Shift+U to desaturate the silk and it becomes grayscale. Trace along the shape of the material to cut out.
Ctrl+Shift+I will invert the selection for an easy deletion of excess material.
Lightly eraser brush some of the edges to have the texture blend into the colors a bit more. The following screenshot also shows the nice details in the skin that the texture gave it.
We’ll use the “Overlay” blending mode for the silk texture layer.
A nice leather texture for the shoes.
And similar techniques applied that were used for the skin and silk.
Here are some fun things you can do with hair. Use the Smudge tool and paint some color on the actual background. Alternate between a 2px and 3px brush size and smudge some wisps of hair outward to make small ducktail shapes.
On the same layer use some spongy brushes to paint in little dabs of color then switch to the smudge tool to blend them in. The smudge tool on the same layer for blending in different colors for mixed pigment painterly effects.
You don’t even have to obsess with too many details with the smudge tool. Just
a few dabs of white and smudge along a curve, this simple blend gives this block
of gray an almost metallic appearance.
Here is an animated gif showing the creation of Fang’s necklace. I started with the cord, used the Burn Tool to darken it, drew in some beads and added some values by dodging and burning some more as well as just adding in darker and lighter paints.
Pretty much all of the techniques shown thus far can be used to create this result.
Here is a stock photo background that I thought would look cool with this image.
At this point I actually flattened the figure artwork and cut out and pasted onto the background. A glow was added by double clicking the layer to open the Layer Styles window. Painted in a little shadow, added a logo and some type and done!
Click here for a higher resolution. Leave a comment for any thoughts or questions!