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The Making of "Everything Dies"

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Read Time: 13 min

Everything dies. It's the one thing that we all know for certain about life. We may not know how or when, but eventually it will happen to all of us. This tutorial from author Liran Szeiman is an interpretation of the song "Everything Dies" by Type O Negative and will explain how to create a dark and emotional digital painting in Photoshop. Let's get started!

Tutorial Assets

The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.

Step 1

Create a New File by going to File > New (Command/Ctrl/Ctrl + N). In Preset select International Paper and in Size, A4.

Step 2

With the Paint Bucket (G) fill the Background layer with black. Create a new layer (Shift + Command/Ctrl + N) and begin to sketch. At this point, always take your time until you find an interesting composition that tells the story that you want to tell.

When you're satisfied with the composition, lower the opacity and in a new layer, clean the lines of the drawing, correcting the proportions of the characters and add some details, like the clothes and hair in the wind. I am using here a normal brush with Pen Pressure activated.

To draw the raft, add a new layer, choose a hard, small brush, in this case of 5px, and disables the Pen Pressure. Click on a corner of the raft, press Shift + Click on another corner to make a straight line. Continue adding lines until you finish drawing the raft. Finally, choose the Eraser Tool (E) to delete the parts that will not be visible.

Step 3

Merge all the drawing layers by selecting them and pressing Command/Ctrl + E, then press Command/Ctrl + I to invert colors, add a new layer below and fill it with grey with the Paint Bucket (G)

Step 4

Now, add a new layer below the sketch, choose a darker and a lighter tone than the background, select the Gradient Tool (G), (Linear mode) and make a gradient across the canvas. Lower the opacity of the sketch layer, approximately 30% and add a new layer in between this and the gradient one. Paint roughly the lighter and darker areas establishing the direction of the light from top left to bottom. If you need it, paint each part in a different layer, in this case I have painted the characters and the raft separately. I used a normal round soft Brush with Shape dynamics > Pen Pressure and Transfer mode activated.

In the same layer, keep detailing the shapes and volumes, adding a bit of contrast and painting some highlights and shadows. In order to create the illusion of depth, make the strokes following the shape of the object and placing reflected lights. Also put some shadows to establish the characters in the ground and the boat on the water. Extend it down with small lines to create the illusion of water.

Quick note: All across the work, you will need to change the Brush setting several times, using Pen Pressure for details and without it to fill larger areas and blending. Personally, I prefer to use Transfer mode with Pen Pressure mode when working roughly, but this is optional, as you will discover what you feel more comfortable with as you work. I change Brush Opacity a great number of times, normally in a range of 20% to 50% to blend tones. Also, I have set the Wacom's Stylus button with the letter X to switch from Background Color to Front Color faster. For this work, I will use black and white most of the time, playing around with the opacity of the brush and the layer to achieve different values.

Step 5

Turn off the sketch layer and keep defining using black and white and changing the opacity of the brush to achieve different values. Now I will move the raft a bit to put it in place. To do this, select the layer or layers which is painted, press Command/Ctrl + T and move it to place it where appropriate.

Step 6

Let's work on the girl. Create a new folder and name it "Girl". Add a new layer to start blending values to define the volumes. Use black and white, with low opacity brushes (from 2% to 40%) without Pen pressure.

To paint the details use a brush with Pen Pressure activated and more opacity (between 30% and 80%) to define the pattern of the shapes.

Step 7

To paint the hair, draw the strands and start making the shadows of each. Darken the areas without light. Continue adding contrast to define the hair.

Step 8

Now it's time for dye the clothes. Use a soft brush with low opacity to darken the fabric with black. With a small brush and grey define the light of the edges.

Continue working with the rest of the girl

Step 9

Now it is time to detail a bit more, as the eyelashes, eyebrows, mouth, etc.. Paint the hair ends, giving them a bit of movement. Also add details to clothing and shoes.

Step 10

To paint the stripes on the stockings, select the layer (or layers) of the girl. Fix the selection using the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L).

Add a layer above in overlay mode so you do not lose the lighting. Paint the black stripes. Use the Eraser Tool (E) to correct when it comes out of the leg. Remember to follow the volume of the leg.

Deselect (Command/Ctrl + D) and delete the parts that go to outside or are blurry.

Step 11

Finally, add a layer and choose a soft brush without Pen Pressure with very low opacity to smooth zones that have not become well. With the Eyedropper Tool (I) select a tone intermediate between two areas of color and paint to achieve smoother gradients.

Step 12

Create a new group and name it "Boy". Follow the same process used to paint the girl. In this case, I have painted the grip of the "bird" and the tunic around the boy with black to set the contrast with the boy

Step 13

For the bird I have followed the same process as the previous two. Start painting the tunic with black, and define some folds and the shape of the head with a soft brush with low opacity.

Step 14

To paint the heart, add a new layer, use a very light grey and give it some volume at the edges, with the same grey begins to make wrinkles that are produced around.

Use black with a very soft, low opacity brush to smooth out. Add a new layer in Lighten mode, 59% Fill, on top of the heart. Choose a round, soft brush, 100% Opacity without Pen Pressure. Click on the middle of the heart to paint the light that comes out.

Step 15

Construct the volume of the head and the beak, if needed, use references for it. Like in the steps before use a soft, round brush without Pen Pressure with low Opacity to blend values. Also begin to paint the folds of the clothes, defining it with a harder lighting.

Step 16

For the hair, add a new layer, select a small (around 1-3 pixels), hard brush with Pen Pressure and 50% Opacity. Paint each hair loosely, following the shapes. Add another layer and do the same using white. Merge both layers and with the same brush fix areas as needed.

Step 17

Add a new layer and work a litte bit more on the clothes, adding more ligth to create the volumes. As you can see I jump from one part to another drawing, so that everything goes always to the same level of detail.

In another layer, using black, clean the gradients, and with Pen pressure mode on, draw the shadows on the folds.

Step 18

Create a new group under the characters to make the raft. Select the Pen Tool (P) and draw the top with light grey.

Using a darker grey, draw the sides below the previous layer.

Click the Vector Mask Thumbnail and with the Direct Selection Tool (A) selects the nodes to make them coincide in the right place.

Step 19

Add a new layer on top of the raft. Press Alt-click in the middle of the new layer and the one above to create a Clipping Mask. Redraw or copypaste the lines of the wood. Draw vertical lines in the sides. If you need to, add a layer and paint with black where transparent.

Step 20

Using a darker grey and a lighter grey with a brush as shown in the image, paint loose lines on all the wood.

With light grey, add light to the edges of the wooden slats.

Paint some cracks and holes with black, to give a grungier look. Paint the light at the edges of them too.

Finally, paint the shadows of the characters on the raft with black and a soft brush in a new layer. Use the Eraser Tool (E) at low opacity to smooth gradients.

Step 21

Erase the sketch of the water, add a layer below the raft, and paint the shadow of the raft on the water. Use the Eraser Toll (E) to soften and the Smudge Tool with Pen Pressure enabled to create small vertical stripes as reflecting.

Step 22

In a new layer paint stripes for the waves, first make ones that are faded and dark and then others more clear and defined. Do not worry if you do not look good at first because we are going to diffuse them. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and set: Angle: -15, Distance: 166.

Duplicate the layer and place it under the waves (Alt + Drag). Go to Hue / Saturation (Command/Ctrl + U) and set Lightness: -100. Move the layer slightly down and to the left to give the sensation of the shadow of the waves.

Step 23

As the bird looks a bit static, we will add a few strips of cloth moving in the wind. Add a new layer and with a hard brush, paint them.

Add a layer above the previous one and create a Clipping Mask (Alt + click in the middle of Both layers). With the Eyedropper Tool (I) selects the gray area that dominates the back and use it to shape the strips.

Step 24

Add a layer above the water and put to 60% opacity. With a soft brush with pen pressure and Transfer activated and white paint the areas where the clouds will go without much detail.

Now in a new layer, give shape to the clouds with circular movements. Remember that in the bottom there is less light, so use the Eraser Tool to smooth these areas.

Add a new layer with 53% Opacity and using black, paint the shadows to finish the volume of the clouds. Erases a bit to smooth the transition from grey to white.

Step 25

Create a new group and new layer for the leaves. Make a quick sketch to find out how to place them in the composition to add a bit of movement and rhythm to the image. In the same layer begins to paint with plain grey, giving some variety of shades in between.

Add a Clipping Mask layer with 57% opacity with a soft brush and paint each one.

Now duplicate (Alt + drag) layer where you painted the leaves and put it in Multiply mode to add more contrast and strength.

Step 26

Select the three layers of leaves, duplicate and merge them (Command/Ctrl + E). Duplicate the resulting layer and turn off the three originals layers. Select one of the merged layer and go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur and set: Angle: -23, Distance: 79 Pixels.

In the layer with the Motion Blur applied, delete the leaves that are not in the foreground and floating in the water. In the other layer, delete the leaves in the foreground.

Select the Motion Blur layer and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and set: Radius 2.3 pixels.

In the other layer, blurs slightly the leaves that are indicated in the image, using the Blur Tool with a soft brush.
Finally paint the shadow under the leaf that is on them water.

Step 27

Now I do not like the nose so I will move the site as it is very low. For this I create a new layer and with the Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) select the area of the nose. Press Shift + Command + Shift + C and then Command + V to paste what you see in the selection. Now move it upward and the use Eraser Tool with low opacity on the sides to integrate it and with a soft brush retouch the joints.

Step 28

Before starting with the color, add a layer. Use black and a low opacity brush to add or enhance shadows. Do the same with light.

Step 29

Create a new group called "Color". Add an Adjustment Layer > Photo filter and set: Filter: Sepia Density: 70%.

To color (especially if you do not know yet the palette that you will use) the best is to paint everything in a separate layer in order to easily modify it if necessary. Most of the layers are in Color Mode, but sometimes it is better in Overlay Mode or Multiply. In this case, for example, the hair and the bird are in Multiply mode and girl's clothing in Overlay. Paint the leaves with different shades of brown and orange.

In this case I don't like the background color. To change easily select the layer and press Command/Ctrl + U and change the values of Hue and Saturation until you find the right color.

Step 30

On top, add a new Adjustment Layer > Photo Filter and set: Filter: Sepia, Density: 77%.

Step 31

Add a new layer in Overlay mode and with a soft brush, without Pen Pressure and 50% Opacity use white to highlight the light and black for the shadows.

Step 32

Create a new group and name it "Details". In a layer in Multiply mode uses blue and purple for the shadows of the characters and around the eyes of children. Also a bit of red to the cheeks and nose.

To create the light of heart, with white paint on the heart a way faded and set the layer to Screen Mode, Opacity 36%. In another layer paint the red halo and set the layer in Screen Mode Opacity at 20%.

Step 33

Place the paper's texture and make it bigger until you don't see the black border. Set it in Multiply Mode and Opacity to 8%.

Place the texture of Scratches, Right-Click and press Rasterize Layer. Press Command/Ctrl + U and adjust Saturation: -100 Lightness: + 2. Then set the layer mode to Multiply, Opacity at 7%.

Step 35

Add an Adjustment Layer > Brightness / Contrast and set: Brightness: 18, Contrast: 10.

Step 36

Select all layers and folders and duplicate them. Then merge them (Command/Ctrl + E) and leave it above the others.

Finally, go to Filter > Sharpen > Sharpen to remove the blur overall the picture. And now the work it's over. I hope you've enjoyed the process. Well done!

Final Image

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