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How to Create a Furry, Purple Spirit Day Mascot in Adobe Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

This year, Spirit Day falls on 15 October. 

Millions go purple on Spirit Day in a stand against bullying and to show their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth. 
Observed annually since 2010, individuals, schools, organizations, corporations, and public figures wear purple, which symbolizes 'spirit' on the rainbow flag.

In this tutorial we're going to create a cute purple mascot for Spirit Day. In most of my tutorials you can see me using Blend Modes to create shading. This isn't the most natural way, though, so this time I've prepared something for fans of a more traditional approach. I'll also show you how to shade colorful fur without having to switch colors all the time.

Tutorial Assets

In order to complete this tutorial, you may find it easier to use the following recommended resource:

1. Prepare the Sketch

Step 1

Create a New File. Use your favorite sketching brush (here: Sketch Detail from my set) to draw the general shape of your creature. The smaller it is, the easier it will be for you to keep it simple.

draw a creature first sketch
Feel free to sketch a lot of these shapes and then choose the most promising one

Step 2

Add other general details, keeping the form in mind. When you're done, copy the sketch.

draw a creature define form

Step 3

Create a New File with 1500 x 1500 resolution.

set resolution new file

Step 4

Paste the sketch into the file and resize it (Control-T) to fill the canvas. Lower the Opacity to make the sketch barely visible.

new file past sketch transparent

Step 5

Create a New Layer. Sketch the details of the creature using the layer below as a guide.

draw a creature second sketch

Step 6

Delete the first sketch, then lower the Opacity of the other. Create a New Layer and add all the details. This is supposed to be line art, although it doesn't need to be clean.

draw a creature last sketch line art

2. Plan the Color Scheme

The most important thing about painting with colors (as opposed to painting with Blend Modes) is planning the color scheme. You need to find out which colors your picture will be built of before you even start painting it.

Step 1

Create a New File. Pick the brightest, most saturated version of the main color of your creature (1). Then make three versions of it, each a bit darker and less saturated. These will be the main colors of your creature, created with a neutral lighting.

digital painting create color scheme base colors
You don't need to use exactly the same shades

Step 2

Now make the Hue of your main color warmer (slide it towards warm colors) and less saturated. Then make the shade you've created even less saturated. These will be the colors coming from the main light source.

To create the reflected light color, make the main Hue colder and also less saturated. It should be a bit brighter than the darkest shade in the scheme.

digital painting create color scheme light colors

Step 3

We need to prepare a separate scheme for every bigger color accent in the picture. The scarf will be rainbow-colored, so first we need to prepare all the colors of the rainbow:

digital painting create color scheme rainbow colors

Step 4

Copy the set twice.

digital painting create color scheme rainbow scheme

Step 5

Select two sets.

digital painting create color scheme rainbow shceme darken

Step 6

Press Control-U to change the Lightness of the colors, all at once.

digital painting create color scheme color darkened

Step 7

Now repeat the step for the last set to make it even darker.

digital painting create color scheme rainbow set ready

Step 8

Copy both schemes and put them in the main file. Lock the layer to keep it from being edited.

digital painting create color scheme add to picture

3. Paint the Base Colors

Before we even consider the light source, we should color the creature according to a neutral lighting. This way we'll get a soft, non-dramatic effect.

Step 1

Lower the Opacity of the line art and lock the layer. Create a New Layer. Use a hard brush (like my Ink) to draw the basic outline of the creature. Use the darkest shade of the scheme.

digital painting creature outline

Use the Magic Wand Tool (W) to select the area outside of the creature, and then invert the selection (Control-Shift-I). Create a New Layer and fill it with color. Now you can remove the outline.

digital painting creature base

Step 2

Create a New Layer. Right click it and select Create Clipping Mask. Select the second darkest shade and paint all over the creature, avoiding the edges. Use a brush like my Sketch Detail (hard, but with Transfer on).

digital painting creature first light

Step 3

Switch to a brighter shade and do the same as before, this time avoiding the edges of the previous shade.

digital painting creature second light

Step 4

Create a New Layer. Use the Eyedropper Tool (I) to pick a color and draw the hairs in its area. Use the same brush as before, but keep changing its size to give variety to the fur.

digital painting creature start fur
digital painting creature fur details

Step 5

Draw hairs at the borders of shades to create a furry kind of blending.

digital painting creature fur blending

Don't be afraid to come into bright areas with a slightly darker shade!

digital painting creature fur shadow

When you're done, you should be able to see the fur without the line art.

digital painting creature fur light

Step 6

Create a New Layer. Use a hard brush (like Ink) to draw the scarf, eyes, and nose.

digital painting creature details base

Step 7

Create a New Layer and make it a Clipping Mask. Paint the colors of rainbow on the scarf, using the darkest part of the scheme.

digital painting creature clipping mask
digital painting creature dark details

Step 8

Switch to the middle part of the scheme and paint a texture of the scarf with it.

digital painting creature bright details

4. Set the Lighting

Step 1

Use the base color of the scheme to paint over directly illuminated areas. Feel free to use relatively big patches of color, with single hairs at the borders.

digital painting creature terminator color

Step 2

Switch to the darker of the warm shades and draw big clumps of fur in the illuminated area.

digital painting creature small light

Step 3

To keep the balance, let's go back to the scarf. Use the brightest set to illuminate it.

digital painting creature small light rainbow

Step 4

Return to the brightest shade of the fur scheme and draw very subtle, single hairs in the brightest area.

digital painting creature big light

Step 5

Now use the cold shade to illuminate the area on the opposite side of the light source.

digital painting creature reflected light ambient

5. Paint the Details: Nose and Eyes

Step 1

As we're coming to the end, we need to work on the details to make them fit the rest. Paint the nose, making it shiny with a bluish shade.

digital painting creature nose

Step 2

Use a soft brush (like my Soft) to draw a glow at the lower right side of the eyes.

digital painting creature eyes deep

Step 3

Create a New Layer and paint dark blue smudges on both eyes.

digital painting creature eyes shine sky

Step 4

Add smaller, white smudges in the middle.

digital painting creature eyes shine light

Step 5

Use the Eraser Tool (E) to paint a reflection. Don't make it too detailed!

digital painting creature eyes reflection

Step 6

Create a New Layer and paint a reflection of the fur at the bottom right of the eyes.

digital painting creature eyes reflected light

Step 7

Erase the upper side with a soft brush. You can use a Layer Mask to fully control the process.

digital painting creature eyes smoothen cute

Step 8

You can draw the eyelid's edges around the eyes.

digital painting creature eyes eyelids

Step 9

It's another opportunity for a shine!

digital painting creature eyes sine

6. Enhance the Lighting

Step 1

Create a New Layer below all the others. Fill it with 50% bright gray. Then create another layer and paint a white glow with a soft brush. This kind of background utilizes more shades than a classic white one, so it's easier to get proper shading with it.

digital painting creature proper background

Step 2

Merge (Control-E) all the layers of the creature except the scarf, eyes, and nose. Make sure that these elements can stand on their own.

digital painting creature layers separate

Step 3

Go into Quick Mask Mode (Q). Grab a soft brush and paint the areas of the scarf that seem to be in shadow. Click the scarf layer.

digital painting creature selecting with quick mask

Step 4

Go out of Quick Mask Mode (Q) and invert the selection (Control-Shift-I). Press Control-U and Colorize the shadow, making the selected area of the scarf darker and more purple.

digital painting creature change color hue saturation
digital painting creature change colors done

You can use the same technique to brighten the illuminated part of the scarf.

digital painting creature brightne scarf

Step 5

Go to the merged layer of the creature. Use a Quick Mask to select the areas you'd like to brighten.

digital painting creature brighten fur select

If you want, you can use an Adjustment Layer to make it editable.

digital painting creature brighten fur
digital painting creature fur brightened

Step 6

The creature has uniform color, but what if we wanted to make some parts white? There's no need to paint the colors anew. Just select the areas you want to have white:

digital painting creature white fur select

And lower their saturation, giving them also a warm shade.

digital painting creature fur desaturate
digital painting creature fur desaturated

Step 7

Then just brighten the area, adding another Adjustment Layer. You can use the same selection by Control-clicking the mask next to the previous adjustment layer.

digital painting creature brighten fur
digital painting creature fur white brightened
Lower contrast of white fur is perfectly normal—don't try to make its shadows black!

Step 8

Let's add markings on the fur. Draw them with a Quick Mask.

digital painting creature fur markings select

Then use a chosen Adjustment Layer to give them the proper color.

digital painting creature fur markings color

Use a Layer Mask next to the Adjustment Layer to blend the markings with the fur.

digital painting creature fur markings hair

7. Add the Final Touches

Step 1

Turn off the white glow to see the edges better. Use white to brighten the white fur at the edges and to make it shiny.

digital painting creature final white outline

Step 2

You can use an even brighter version of the brightest shade to stress the edges of the purple fur.

digital painting creature stress front edges

The same applies to the cold shade.

digital painting creature stress back edges

Step 3

Prepare a background that will make the creature look perfect. If you want to create a shadow like this, use Filter > Blur > Motion Blur on a sketchy shadow.

digital painting creature background shadow

Step 4

Now, the last trick. Select the area around the creature.

digital painting creature select around

Step 5

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Use the Radius that looks the best to you.

digital painting creature gauusian blur

We're Done Here!

It was a lot of hard work, but I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. If you paint your own creature with this technique, please share it here—I'd love to see it!

digital painting creature change focus
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