Revealed

A blog about scientific and medical visualization and all that’s involved.

Photoshop Painting

Posted by Janet on April 3, 2008

One of the exercises I’m doing right now for “fun” is to simulate a carbon dust drawing using Photoshop. People always say there are ten different ways to do the same thing in Photoshop. Here’s how I do it.

This Max Brodel drawing is the one I plan to copy. Of course, you can also use your own drawing or simply start from scratch.
brodel.jpg

The image below is a work in progress that shows various steps I took from start to finish.
brodel-copy.jpg

-The first thing I did was place the original drawing in a Photoshop layer and traced an outline on a separate layer. Based on the outline, I made paths that outlined any hard edges in the drawing. The paths are to be used later for isolating sections in the drawing. Then I deleted the layer with the original drawing and placed another copy of the original side by side for reference.

-Then, on a brand new layer, I selected the entire outline based on a path I made earlier, and masked the area (masked area shown in pink) outside of the drawing so that the drawing stays within the outline.

-I filled this entire layer with 50% gray (see area labeled “flat fill 50% gray”) and then multiplied it with the sketch mode. Now I just have one layer with everything on it.

-Next comes the simple but time-consuming part. Keeping the brush tool at 50% gray, I painted on top of the flat fill using the multiply mode to darken, and the screen mode to lighten. By adjusting the opacity, size, and hardness of the brush, you can paint in all the details. Usually I start by using a large brush to get the overall tone, and gradually refining smaller sections. By keeping certain sections selected, you can create soft gradients next to sharp edges without interfering with the adjacent section.

-When all the main parts are done, I will use a blur tool over the entire outline and the parts between selections to avoid any unnatural sharp edges. Then I will refine the edges using the same technique above–painting with a brush in multiply or blend modes. I may also add a little noise to the entire drawing to simulate a paper texture.

I hope that’s not too confusing. By the way, it really speeds things up if you have a tablet. Until nine months ago I did all my digital work with my fingers on a 2″x3″ touch pad. It’s not impossible to paint without a tablet, but tablets make the work flow more efficient.

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