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The Making of "Heavy Heroes"

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When you are reviewing artwork, you will might find that the idea behind the artwork is just as important as the quality or execution of the final product. In this tutorial, we will show you how to create a humorous illustration depicting a team of over-weight (X-Men) superheroes using several techniques in Photoshop. Let's get started!


Speed Art Video


1. Sketch the Illustration

Step 1

Open a New Document, Letter Size at 300 dpi.

New Document

Step 2

Start by drawing the basic shapes using circles, this is only to determine the balance and the general composition.

 Heavy Heroes

Step 3

Then start defining the details of the characters and background. The accuracy of the sketch depends on the artist, in this case use it for the general details.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

2. Add Color

Step 1

Increase the canvas size to 42 cm width by 27.94 cm height, set up a layer group for each character, that way you have more control over the layers.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 2

In a New Layer, paint the basic colors of the background with a soft Round Brush, to give a tone and time to the illustration, in this case it will be at night, so use a dark blue tone with a light violet, starting at the bottom, from light to dark. Also, paint the floor with a gray color.

Tip: To get the line color in white, Double Click on Layer > Select Color Overlay > Select White Color. That way the line won't get lost with the dark background.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 3

Start Painting the base colors of the character, (each color in a different layer) In this case they were based on references from each one of the real characters, to get closer to their true colors.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 4

Apply the main color with the default Hard Round Brush, and over this, apply a layer of paint with the same color but a darker tone, only on the edges, then repeat this in every part of the character, until you have blocked the main colors.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 5

Once this is done, with the Pen Tool, draw up the contour to delimit the shape of the character, then take the Mixer Brush, and start to blur all the areas, to give volume and form (I prefer to blur from dark to light, from edges to the center)

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 6

Once you are done with the blur, select the Pen Tool > Right Click > Make Selection > OK, and remove the excess paint. If you want to smoothen the lines, use the Blur Tool to help improve their appearance.

 Heavy Heroes

Step 7

Now that the shape has been drawn, with the Dodge and Burn Tool, review the areas where you think need to be darker or clearer, this will give even more volume to the shape, but be careful, this tool can produce over saturation and can damage the natural color, so it's better to only add small retouches.

Also It is important to remember that is not necessary to oversaturate the black or the white, but bring a good balance in the tone, in this way we will always give a more natural look to the paint.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 8

For the most geometric parts or curves, like the claws, the marks on the waist and other details, use the Pen Tool to help make selections in order to paint within the lines.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 9

Once Steps 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 are done, repeat the same process on each one of them, until you have all the characters complete with their respective volume and shape (remember that each character is going to be in a different group)

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
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 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

3. Create the Restaurant

Step 1

Taking into account that the background will be unfocused, try not to pay too much attention to the details, so you'll only paint the flat colors and shapes.

Also to save some time paint only one half of the restaurant, and then duplicate it.

 Heavy Heroes

Step 2

With a Default Brush, in a New Layer in Overlay Mode, paint a little bit of a texture and lines on the wall.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 3

Then, in another Layer with any Default Brush, paint some shapes to create an illusion of depth in the windows, nothing very detailed only shapes that give the appearance that there is something behind them, and also paint some other details on the restaurant like the bushes, doors, sign, etc.

 Heavy Heroes

Step 4

Once this is done, in a New Layer, paint the lamps because they will be the light points, so with a Round soft Brush, and a white color with a slight yellow tone, I'll paint the light under the lamps in a New Layer, first a wide light, and after, a strong light less faded, shedding its intensity from beginning to end, and so repeat this in each lamp.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 5

For the texture on the floor, in a New Layer, use a Hard Round Brush, and just alter a bit its characteristics, to give it greater depth, and start painting gray patches of black and white, to create something that is close to the look of real pavement.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 6

Once this is done, use the Clone Stamp Tool to duplicate it several times, to create an area large enough to cover the whole floor shape.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 7

With the Magic Wand select the gray area of the floor, (painted in the beginning of the illustration) and once you have select the shape, select the layer you just created for texture and press CMD/CTRL + C and then CMD/CTRL + V, with this you will have the form of the floor.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 8

For the text, select any font that you like, write the text,"BUFFET" and then select the Layer > Right Click > Rasterize Text, after doing this, double click on the layer to activate the Layer Style Dialogue, and give it a pink glow.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 9

The text "ALL YOU CAN EAT!" below, will serve only as a base, so in a New Layer, cover it with points of color, simulating small areas of light, and later, apply the same layer glow effect with another color, then delete the text below.

 Heavy Heroes

Step 10

Once this is done, in the same layer of the text, "BUFFET", create with the Pen Tool the outline of some sea food figures, then - Stroke Path > Make Selection, and the light of the general layer would be automatically applied.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 11

Now that we have finished the background, select all the layers and then Right Click > Convert to Smart Object, then go to Menu > Filters Effects > Gaussian Blur - 8.4 pixels, and that is it for now.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

4. Add Texture to Characters

Step 1

In a New Layer, create a brush to give some texture to the costumes of the characters, nothing too extravagant, you want to keep the style simple.

Do so with the Circle Marquee Tool, create a circle and fill it with rows of points, you don't have to be exact, it only has to give the result that you're looking for, now that you have this figure, go to Menu >Edit > Define Brush Preset > Name it.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 2

Once this is done, select the color white, put the layer in Overlay Mode and start painting over the costumes of the characters, until you are satisfied with the result.

 Heavy Heroes

For Beast, use a Default Brush and alter its configuration, put the layer in Overlay Mode and follow the same process as before.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

5. Add Shadows

Step 1

Create a New Layer, select a Dark Gray color and put the layer in Multiply Mode, once this is done start painting all the shadows with a soft Round Brush.

To know where to place the shadows, only check where the light hits and then place the shadows on the opposite side, you do not have to be extremely accurate, it only has to work, (Repeat this with all the characters).

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 2

Then select each character group, duplicate it by pressing Alt and hold it while you move the layer up, and then Right Click > Convert to Smart Object > Double Click > Color Overlay: gray color.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 3

Select the layer and put it in Multiply Mode on top of all the character layers, lower the Opacity to 72% and with the soft Edge Eraser Tool, erase the upper parts of the character, as if they have a light above them, this will give even more volume to the illustration.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 4

For the shadows on the floor, make a New Layer, use the Pen Tool to make the shape and paint it with a gray color, then Right Click > Make Selection, put the layer in Multiply Mode, and blur the edges with the Blur Tool.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

6. Add Lights

To create these reflector type lights, use a Round soft Brush set to white and paint a vertical line, blur the top, change the angle, then duplicate them and place them in the opposite position from each other, to create an 'x' along with the entire composition.

 Heavy Heroes

Step 1

For the pink light, which comes from the shiny sign, select the part of the character that you want to put the lights on, then duplicate the layer, make it in this case a pink color, Double Click on the layer and apply a Color Overlay using Layer Styles, then erase a soft Round Eraser Tool to leave only the contour and give the appearance of light, (you can do it too by painting all the contours of the character with a soft Round Brush).

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 2

In a New Layer > Color Dodge mode > Opacity 30%, use the same pink color to give a violet tone on the characters and generate greater integration with the environment. (Only apply in parts closer to the sign)

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 3

For the lights reflected from the restaurant, do the same, only this time in the lower part of the characters, and in the opposite part of sign.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 4

With a white color and a round soft Brush in a New Layer, paint very gently the edge of the bottom of the characters, since they are receiving a very intense light from the back.

 Heavy Heroes

Step 5

And for the light coming from Cyclop's glasses, paint with a soft Round Brush a red thin line, with the center light pink and blurry edges.

 Heavy Heroes

7. Add Final Color

One of the points that are essential in any illustration is the atmosphere that the colors transmit, which you can establish from the beginning of the painting or at the end of it, in this illustration we will do this at the end. Create a New Layer > Hue Mode > Opacity: 32% and fill with a brown color.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

8. Sky

Step 1

In a New Layer with a soft Round Brush paint a horizontal stroke of purple, pink and blue colors, then go to Filters > Blur Motion: Angle 9º - distance 872 px.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 2

Likewise, paint some stars in a New Layer, also with a soft Round Brush in order to give more depth.

 Heavy Heroes

9. Food Illustration

Step 1

For the food, repeat the STEP-that we used in the characters and the restaurant, default Round Brushes, solid base colors, shading, trace and cut, and dodge and burn, until you get the desired result (each one in a different layer).

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
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 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 2

And for the smoke, in a New Layer use a soft Round Brush with white color to paint some soft strokes to the shape of smoke that seems correct to you.

 Heavy Heroes

10. Final Details

Now we will add some food to their faces.

Step 1

Create a New Layer on a white background and create a shape similar to below. You can also find a nice set of splatter brush online. Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset > Name it.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 2

Once you have created the brush, change its properties and put the layer in Overlay mode.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 3

Start painting stains, but only a bit, without exaggeration, just to give them the dirty appearance that we're looking for.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Step 4

And then paint each one of the final details in a New Layer with a Hard Round Brush.

 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes
 Heavy Heroes

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we showed you how to create a humorous X-Men-themed illustration in Photoshop using several techniques. First, we showed how to sketch your artwork and block in your colors. We then showed you how to polish your artwork by making effective use of selections, vector tools, and even layer styles. We hope you learned something from this tutorial and can use these techniques to help improve your own artwork.

 Heavy Heroes