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Computer Arts July 2008


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Photoshop CS2 or later

Building a textured visual treat

Digital artist Magnus Kjll conjures up an impossible landscape combining nature photography and vectors
Ive always loved 3D modelling. Or rather, Ive always loved imagining the possibilities it holds. Whenever Ive braced myself enough to nally give it some serious attention, I usually end up frustrated because of the technical challenges. Obviously I dont have the patience to dedicate my spare time to a 3D program, so its best for me to concentrate on what I know. And thats taking something ugly and dull into Photoshop and turning it into something more attractive and, more importantly, something that is my own idea. In this tutorial I will demonstrate some of the techniques Ive come to use over the years, and outline my general working process for creating a digital artwork in Photoshop. The piece Im discussing is a spiritual sequel to an illustration I made for depthCORE back in December. Open main.psd from the CD. Create a new group using Ctrl/Cmd+G and name it rock1. Select and copy one of the Bryce renders and the stone texture into your new group (the texture should be on top of the object). Make an outline selection of the render and add a Layer Mask to the texture layer.



Reduce the opacity of the stone texture to about 40% and change its blending mode to Hard Light. Unlink the Layer Mask from the stone texture and select the layer. Now you can move it around, resize and rotate if you want to include the details from the texture you want to be on your rock.

Magnus Kjll Based in Stockholm, Swedish illustrator Magnus Kjll has been creating digital artwork since 2002 and also works in graphic design, branding and web design. He has been a member of the international collective depthCORE since 2006. To nd out more see http:// depthcore.com.

On the disc The les you need to complete this tutorial can be found in Disc Contents\ Resources\ advanced.

Time needed 1.5-2 hours Skills Blending modes Layer Masks Object transformations

Repeat this procedure with the oor texture, but keep the opacity at 100%. Since this texture has fewer signicant details and more of a direction or ow, Ive transformed it to t with the render. Ive resized, rotated and used the Warp function slightly (Edit>Transform>Warp), and changed the blending mode to Hard Light as well.



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Select your group and Merge it (Ctrl/Cmd+E). Now using a soft brush at around 200px, Burn/Dodge the midtones slightly to give your object a light prole. You want to keep the colours quite neutral, but you can adjust the Color Balance with Preserve Luminosity checked to enhance your Burning and Dodging and to tweak the colours a little.


Repeat Steps 1-4 with the other objects. Remember to experiment with the textures. You can make several different-looking rocks from the same object by using different parts of the texture, Dodging and Burning it differently or just by transforming the object itself.



Duplicate the object a couple of times and transform them with the Warp function to t. You can also use a Distort lter such as Twirl, but the quality will drop heavily if you go too far with the transformation. So try to keep it subtle.

At this stage youre just creating the rough building blocks, so wait until you gure the composition out before starting on the ner details. Here Ive made three rocks that I will use to build the foundation. Lets start from the top.


Use Layer Masks and erase with a smooth brush or a gradient at the edges of the objects to merge them together. You can just erase on the layer, but I prefer to use a Layer Mask. Ive also added a dark brown to transparent gradient on one of the layers that will be in the back.


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Now to add detail. Import stock1.jpg from the disc. Outline the ruin and Paste it into main.psd. Reduce saturation slightly (Ctrl/Cmd+U). Resize it to t, add a Layer Mask and smooth out its edges to merge it with the other objects.



Import stock2.jpg from the CD and create a rough selection around the bottom trees you dont have to be too precise. Copy and Paste into main.psd, resize and make sure the layer is at the front (Ctrl/Cmd+shift+]).

Change its blending mode to Lighten to hide the darker areas of the layer. Thicken the forest with more tree cut-outs, resizing some of them.


Ive added a few more details to the structure here. Theyre basically cut-outs with a few transformations and colour adjustments, but its up to you what you do in your version. Keep everything quite pale and desaturated.



Now to add some 2D shapes to liven things up. Create a document the same size and resolution and name it 2D.psd. With the Line tool (U), draw four vertical stripes in different widths and colours.


Place them in a group, merge the group and copy the new layer (Ctrl/Cmd+J). Now transform the layer, either manually with Warp or with a lter Shear, Twirl and Wave are all suitable for this.


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Make four or ve versions, place together and merge. Make a triangular selection, Copy and Paste a bunch of big and small triangle cut-outs and place in an attractive pattern. Group, merge, name the new layer 2d1 and import to main.psd.



Return to 2D.psd. Create a large circle towards the top of the canvas. With the Type tool (T) click on the bottom of the circles vector path. Select a font with round dots. Type dots all around the path, making sure the font spacing is even.


Copy the text layer, press Ctrl/Cmd+T, rotate 3.5 degrees and increase the size to about 108%. Repeat until you reach the canvas edge. Convert all the text layers to shapes (Layer>Text>ConvertToShape). Each circle of dots is now a shape layer.

Here Ive added more simple 2D shapes. Ive picked a simple colour theme and added a background pattern to frame the structure.



Now to add grunge effects. You need water-based paint, paper and a scanner or good camera. Import the image into Photoshop and use the Pen tool or Magic Wand to outline the paint stain, then dene it as a custom shape. Here I have four ring shapes in a group with a vector mask added to it.

Save your layers

Whenever you merge a group in Photoshop, you might want to save a copy of it with the layers intact you can duplicate the group and hide the copy. But your PSD le will soon become huge if you save a copy of every group you merge. So I recommend saving the copies in a separate Photoshop le while keeping the main le clear of hidden layers that would slow everything down.

Last but not least nalise the colours. There are literally hundreds of ways to experiment with colours in Photoshop, so play around until you nd something you like. For this illustration Ive used layers with different blending modes, Color Balance and Hue/Saturation.


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