Digital painting using masks and paths

In this not-so-long post I intend to share my work-flow for digital painting in photoshop using solid and gradient layers, vector clipping, layer masks and layer clipping.
As I am not writing this as a tutorial so there is not much descriptive text – I assume that you have working knowledge in Photoshop. So here is only the summery of the painting procedure.

Step 1 : Concept and sketch


This is the sketch I have made in plain paper and ball-point pen. As I am not going to reuse the lines, so I made it in a loose way – no final tight drawing here.

After that I scanned the image in a reolution of 300 dpi in greyscale and saved the image in jpeg format.

Step 2 : Preparing the workspace


Next I opened the jpeg file in Photoshop to color it digitally.

I renamed the background layer as 'ref' – the reference, and set its opacity to 50%.

I added a gradient layer with these settings:
  • Start color : 260b04
  • End color : 5f250d
  • Style : linear
  • Angle : 90
This is the background layer of our rendering so I renamed it as 'bg'

Next I added another gradient layer with the settings given below:
  • Start color : 542e04
  • End color : a44a07
  • Style : linear
  • Angle : 90
This is the base layer for the character – so I renamed it as 'kanya' which means 'girl' in Sanskrit

Next I added a vector clipping mask to 'kanya' and traced the outline of the girl from the reference image.

I also added a layer mask to 'kanya' layer and draw black to white gradient at the bottom of the image to make it fade out.

Step 3 : Adding shadow


Above the base 'kanya' layer I added another gradient layer with these settings:
  • Start color : 894009
  • End color : 361c00
  • Style : radial
I also shifted the center of the gradient a little above the center of the image, so that there is less shadow on her face.

I renamed this layer as 'shadow' and set the layer blend mode to Multiply.

I had created a vector mask around the character roughly to enclose the effect of the gradient to the girl only. And finally to crop the shadow to the main character – I made clipping mask with the 'kanya' layer.As now the base for our shadow is ready – I added a layer mask to this 'shadow' layer and started casting shadow by just drawing them inside the mask.

Step 4 : Adding highlight


When I was satisfied with the darkness – it was time for adding some highlight to the girl.So I added another gradient layer above the 'shadow' layer with the settings given below:
  • Start color : 7e420c
  • End color : 537813
  • Style : linear
  • Angle : 90
I renamed this layer as 'highlight' and set its blend mode to 'screen'.

To set the limitation of the gradient I copied and pasted the vector mask I had created for the 'shadow' layer to 'highlight' and finally to make the highlight effective only for the character – I made clipping mask with the previous 'shadow' layer.

Next it was time to 'draw' the highlights. So I added a layer mask to this layer and as I had done with the shadow layer – I crafted highlight inside the mask only.

Step 5 : Creating dropshadow


To make the girl stand out from the background– it is best to add some drop shadow behind her.
Under 'kanya' layer I added a gradient layer with the settings as listed below:
  • Start color : ffffff
  • Second color : 808080 location : 50 %
  • End color : d8b6da
  • Style : linear
  • Angle : 90
Next I just made a layer mask by copying the layer boundary of the 'kanya' layer. Then I added a little Gaussian blur to the mask, ereased some portion at the bottom and skewed it to make it look like as it is in perspective.

Final output


Now it is time to say good bye to the 'ref' layer – turning it off reveals the final image.

So how do you like it? If you find this post useful, please share it to the interested people or leave a comment.