Pixel Playground
Illustration by John Hersey

Creating realistic scales for a dragon tattoo


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Pixel Playground

with Bert Monroy

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Video: Creating realistic scales for a dragon tattoo

Today we're going to look at one of my commercial pieces, and see how I created some of the effects. In particular, we're going to look at this girl right here. Now you see that she's covered with tattoos. I created this for the Epson corporation who're makers of fine printers and scanners, which I use all the time. And right now we're going to look at these tattoos. Now we're getting close so we see that there many tattoos but I want to concentrate on the one right there at the base of her spine and we can see that it's this little part of a dragon there with spikes and scales. And that's what we're going to show today.
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Watch the Online Video Course Pixel Playground
15h 22m Intermediate Jun 07, 2013 Updated Jun 26, 2015

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Take a 10-minute recess every week and join Bert Monroy in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, the playgrounds of digital artists. Every Friday Bert walks through a fun, self-contained project that tests your skills and challenges the imagination. These programs aren't just image editors; they are sandboxes for creativity and experimentation. Take a spin through a carousel of tools and get reinspired, each and every week.

Subjects:
Design Photography
Software:
Illustrator Photoshop
Author:
Bert Monroy

Creating realistic scales for a dragon tattoo

Today we're going to look at one of my commercial pieces, and see how I created some of the effects. In particular, we're going to look at this girl right here. Now you see that she's covered with tattoos. I created this for the Epson corporation who're makers of fine printers and scanners, which I use all the time. And right now we're going to look at these tattoos. Now we're getting close so we see that there many tattoos but I want to concentrate on the one right there at the base of her spine and we can see that it's this little part of a dragon there with spikes and scales. And that's what we're going to show today.

So, I'm going to go into the file of the dragon lower back itself. There it is. That is the basic art that was done for the manipulator once it got put onto the skin but this started out as an actual pencil drawing. I had my son Shawn go in there and create this little drawing for me. With the little scales and spikes of how it would be. And then I used that as a basis to create all my paths. So, we go look at the paths and let's turn on this white field here so we'll be able to see the paths. We have the belly area, the belly details.

The scales themselves, you see that they're all individual paths, the top edge, the main body, the spikes, and another highlight. And the bottom ridge there. So let's see how these guys were created. So what happens is, I'm going to go in there and take my scales, and let's just say that I want to create a series of scales out of, the reason they're all individual is that it gave me the ability to go in there and get every one to look different. So that it's slightly off rather than some kind of a pattern, because it really wouldn't be a total pattern; there'd be some nuance here and there.

So I create a layer right on top of this, and I'm going to take that one little scale right there, say, say this one right here. And we're going to turn that into a selection So I go into my paths and say, make that a selection. And then, what happens, is, I'm going to go into my gradient tool. And my gradient tool, right now, is set to black to white. So I'm going to click in that area to bring up the Gradient Editor. And right here is where I'm going to control and create my new gradient. So I'm going to start from the beginning here. And I'm going to click on that. I'm going to say, instead of a black, I want it to be a nice strong yellow.

Really kind of a warmish yellow like that. Click OK, now it's yellow. And then the ending color here, I want that to be a green. A nice deep green, about like that. And there we see the gradient. Now I want to introduce an orange, right about here. So what I do is I just click right there. And it introduces a color field. Which I can now change that color to the orange that I want. So I'll get a nice strong orange like that, click OK, and there we see our gradient. Now I want the transition from the yellow to the orange to be fairly strong.

From the orange to the green I want it to be a little softer. I want more green so I'm going to move this, this area right here, move this over. So now I have a stronger area of, of orange that's a little more concentrated down in this area near the yellow giving me more of a green. I click OK, and I have my new gradient. So, I get my gradient tool, and set to radio gradient. Then I can start right here at the beginning, and I create a little gradient just like that. And there, you can see what we've done. So now, we'll go in, and let's get our layers, and create another layer right on top of that.

And we go to our paths, and we'll take two of the paths that are next to it. So we'll grab this path and this path, right those two. But we're going to handle them individually, so again we're going grab this one and turn that into a selection and in that new layer we're going to throw that same gradient into it. Right in there like that. And then we're going to, in that same layer, we're going to take our path again, scales and select this one, turn that one into a selection. And fill it with our gradient again.

So there we see that we have all our little scales. Now the last thing I'm going to do is, I'm going to give that layer a little layer style of a simple stroke. And there's my stroke. Maybe make it a little bit thicker, like that, and we'll give it a little drop shadow as well. Drop shadow. So we'll give those, those two scales the drop shadow. We'll fade the lights coming from this direction here. And, we'll increase that distance a bit. There we go, so we have a little bit of a shadow and we'll soften it up. Just a little soft shadow, just like that.

Click OK. Now that we've done all that, and remember it is a lot of scales, what we'll do is simply hold down my Option key and drag that effects right there over to the original layer. And, there you can see that it applied all those effects to that one as well. Second part I want to deal with this is this little rib across here. This little rib right across this area here. So, what happened there is I created a brush. So right here we'll look at a brush, and all I did was create four little squares. Each one is different. That'll add the variety there that we want.

So I'm going to select it and turn it into a brush. So I Define Brush Preset, and we can call it scale. Okay, click OK. That's it. Now we go back to our art, here we are, and I have that one layer right there. Here's that layer, here's the top edge, there it is right there. That's where those little scales are going to go. So in a new layer to house all those scales I'm going to get my Paint Brush. Get my Paint Brush right there, and I'm going to select that brush I just created which should appear at the bottom of our brushes.

Right there, there it is, there's our little brush which right now is going to do this. So what I'm going to do is I'm going to go into my brush engine. So I open up my brushes. And I'm going to give it a separation, so that there's individual shapes just like that happening like that. And then I wanted to follow, because right now what they do is they just gave us some space. I'm going to go into my Shape Dynamics here. And I'm going to turn this off. I don't want any size jitter at all. But I am going to play with the angle, and I'm not going to mess with this angle.

I want it to stay straight but I want the action to actually follow direction. And see what has happened. See how they're now following the direction of my stroke. So there's my path. So what I'm going to do is I got the path. I go to my Path tool. I'm in that path and I'm going to say, stroke it but I'm in the brush. With the settings that I had, and I got black, so when I say stroke it, it's going to go ahead and stroke it with that effect right there. And there you see that now we have the little scales going across the top.

And that's, some of the basic steps that went into that. In future episodes I'll cover some of the other parts of this little dragon.

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A: The 3D features in Photoshop CC require a computer with at least 512MB VRAM. If your computer doesn't meet this criterion, the 3D menu features will be greyed out.
 
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