The work in this article is a piece of Fanart. It has been created using screen captures or screen caps, from the television show, Angel and features the characters Spike and Connor. Fanart is artwork created by fans of a show, movie, book or artwork as a tribute to that show, etc. It is created for fun and no profit is sort.
However, creating such pieces is a great learning experience and the skills learned easily translate into the fan's (my) real world and work.
God, I love Photoshop. You start with one image and the sky is the limit, isn't it? This project began with a screen capture of Spike, from Angel Season Five. I was looking for inspiration for a Spike and Willow banner which I had been asked for by a fellow LJ'er. I can't help it. I'm an unashamed Spike-o-phile and everything begins with him, lol. So, I started with this:
First thing, I use the Camera Raw filter to brighten and lighten my image. I love that Photoshop CC has CR as a filter. It's a great place to start with any image to adjust exposure, shadows, highlights, whites, blacks, add a bit of Clarity and contrast, sharpen, de-noise, straighten, etc. All of which of course, can be done in Photoshop but it's a nice quick way to begin, unless one is working with a very low quality image. And I get this:
Now the image is loads lighter and brighter and a little sharper. It's quite noisy because it is only a screen cap and I have also almost doubled it in size (from 950 pixels wide to 1600 pixels), which is naughty if you want a nice clean photo. But I'm painting a picture here and as much as I love Mr Marsters (the actor who portrays the character), I'm totally after vampire Spike. So now I duplicate the image and apply a Highpass filter set to Soft Light. I know, right, more sharpen and more noise! Yuck!
But wait, she says, there is method in my madness. I've got his features nicely sharpened! Look at those lush lips and that penetrating stare! The steely jaw and those cheekbones!!!!! So I make a merged copy of my preceding layers and apply the wonder Noise reducing filter, Median! Median, smooths out your pixels and if you go completly insane with it you can make yourself the beginnings of a cartoon image but if you apply just a little, in this case 2, you get a smoother vampire.
I mask out his eyes, lips and hair from the Median layer to keep the sharp look and the texture. Then, because I wanted baby blues, I add a Hue Saturation Layer set to Colorize in the blue range. I then added a couple of Black and White adjustment layers using Apply Image as a mask on each of them, to get my alabaster white skin. Apply Image, found under the Image menu, uses your base image as a mask on the layer, reducing the effect of the Black & White substantially, leaving you a lighter colour range. Then, add a Photofilter layer set to Cooling Filter 80 to add a blue tinge, and finally a Curves Layer. I masked this layer completly then used a soft brush with flow set to 12% and foreground colour white, to paint in my highlights a little.
Now he is white, his eyes are blue, his features are sharp, he has some highlights but, come on you say, he is still a little on the noisy side. Aha! I add a blank layer, select the Smudge tool, set the tool to 50%, and Sample All Layers and start painting his face! I make my image at least 100% size to work on this. The brush is stroked in the direction of his shadows and contours. Make it tiny to play in areas like the creases of his lips, the corners of his eyes. Decide whether to take the brush from dark areas into light areas or vice versa to keep the shading and tones true. Change the brush mode from Normal to Light or Dark depending on where you are painting. Do his ears, again reducing and enlarging the brush size to fit the area you are working on. You're painting here.
Now he is smoother skinned, a little lighter again because I set my Smudge Tool to Lighten for a lot of it. I reduced the opacity of my Smudge Layer to 55% to let some of the underlying skin tone and features through. He's a vampire but I don't want him to look plastic skinned. I'm pretty happy with him but I want his eyes and lips to stand out a bit more.
This is where my trusty Sharpen Tool comes in handy. Again, I make the image full size when I use the Sharpen Tool and create a New Layer set to Sample All Layers. It's easy to overdo the Sharpen tool and add noise when you don't want it. I know. I did this a lot when I started playing in Photoshop and sometimes I still do, so check your work and use your Eraser Tool if you have got over enthusiastic. If you've really gone overboard and it totally sucks, delete the layer and start again!
Yum! Sparkly eyes and lips, noticeable even in this smaller size image. The tool has picked up the striations in his iris and the lines in his lips. It has also included the effects of all the preceding layers in it. Magic!! But what about the background, you ask? Never fear! Textures to the rescue. What are textures? Images of anything and everything and nothing at all. Colours, spashes of paint, tree bark, overheadpower lines. You can make your own, I've frequently used other screen caps or the background of the one I'm working on, or you can download them from all over the net often for free if you are just using them for fun. The textures I used for this came from WeGraphics and Adobe Paper Texture Pro.
The first texture is a scan of sheet music over painted with water colour paints. I set it to Colour Dodge and, using foreground colour black and a soft brush, mask it from Spike. The texture has added some interesting lines and texture to my background, muted the lights in it and changed the image quite a bit. I can now add my second charachter and begin to build my story.
I do the same sort of work on my other charachters as I have on Spike to get them where I want. The image of Connor was a better quality then that of Spike and did not need quite so much work. From here I add four more different textures as overlays to the whole image. They are set to Overlay, Softlight and Vivid Light. Some of them I will mask out the faces, fade and feather those masks to get the look I want. The text is added and, again, depending on what I want, will be added below, between or above the textures. It's all subjective. There are a couple of Colour Lookup Layers and other fandangles before I'm finished. You know - PLAY!
May the blend be with you.