“How to Cheat in Photoshop CS5” by Steve Caplin is a book I bought year ago to improve my Photoshop skills. So far this has been the best print publication on the topic I’ve read. This is the first time when I saw the pen tool in action, the use of masks and quick masks, learning how to use the refine edges tool, transform with warp, cloning via the Source Clone, Content-aware fill, learning perspective and Vanishing points, using the curves, how to retouch an image, change the colours, skin tones and of course most of the Photoshop shortcuts I use today…and many other. Greatly recommend it to anyone.
A while ago a Bulgarian make-up artist friend of mine asked me to retouch a few photos for her as the photo shoot didn’t go very well and the photos weren’t that successful… with which I agreed. Looking now at the picture there are definitely some parts I could improve, first one that comes to my mind is the hair which requires a better coloring and reshaping.
I used colour corrections such as Colour Balance, Saturation, Overlay layer and Curves. For the face a Spot Healing tool was used. The softer parts of the face were achieved with Smart Gaussian Blur. The main emphasize on the makeup was achieved using the Unsharp filter highlighting just the required areas such as mouth lips, eyelashes and the eyes.
neverdying on deviantart is one of the guys which Sci-fi works I like. I think his major power is using the lights properly and composition.
The Shuttle is very good example of an image breaking the Rule of Third without losing any quality in terms of composition. The lack of gravity is very well presented with the flying axe and the blood drops.
In this tutorial Alexander is using similar techniques as the ones I used to create the rocks landscape of my Team 2012 piece: extracting the rocks from the stock image and using the warp to place the mountains. It’s appears to be very useful technique when creating custom landscapes. However as it is obviously “speed art” what I don’t like is the fact he uses a lot of extracted stock images for his composition, for example the smaller rocks. A more thorough process in my opinion would be to create them from scratch forming them with a pen/shape tools, then applying textures and shadows/lights to make them look convincing and 3-dimensional. However his work is useful to explore in terms of style and techniques as I’ll go again with a Sci-fi theme for one of my next pieces.
Another video of Alexander showing lovely Moscow as a post-apocalyptic city.
The meteors were created with duplicating the rock on the ground and drawing a fire with a fire brush. Some were created smaller to expand the far distance effect. The girl was cut with the pen tool, colour replacement brush was used to colour with blue. The lighter stripes were created with Pen tool. The brooch item was put on her shoulder. The jaw ornament was created from a metallic skull stock image.
With the final touches I duplicated a flattened image, sharpened it a bit with the Unsharp tool, saturate it a bit, then created an overlay layer and a screen layer with a blurred effect which creates a fantastic light effect which was later masked on some of its parts so it casts only on certain elements of the picture like the face of the girl and the rock: check the original first image few posts below.
After the main scene was created couple of mountains extracted from another landscape pic were added in the back to give it a bit more realistic look. The rock positioned in front of the scene – otherwise small rock was increased in size so it creates more punching perspective which fits good with the photo of the sci-fi fetish girl. The rock was drawn with pen tool, two textures were added to it to make it look like a rock and then with the Dodge and Burn tool drawing over it was created the realistic feeling. The planet was created from the small rock with the 3D tools of Photoshop (Convert shape into a Sphere). Adding large inner and outer glow to increase the lighting and put focus on the circle shape of the planet. By extracting the terrain cracks from one of the stock items using Select Color and then applying this selection to the Moon I created the cracked look of the almost destroyed planet. Then drawing on a Soft Light layer with a mask with the form of the cracks I created the explosion. Putting a highlight circle to indicate the center of the explosion and overlaying the layer with fire stock image. The bottom of the planet was also highlighted with orange/red colour for a punchier look.
The composition of “Team 2012” is based on a composition from a tutorial article from Advanced Photoshop magazine, issue 89 where the author shows how to compose a spacescape showing a snowy sci-fi environment. The idea was to create a convincing planet look. One of the major characteristics which helps this feeling come to life is the subtle rotation of the terrain which greatly emphasize that the scene takes place on a planet. More after all of the figures and items were rotated accordingly (-10 radius) to fit in the scene. Levels were used to make the scene darker and also another technique which I use almost everywhere is duplicating a layer and putting it to overlay which increases the contrast in a natural way and gives it a HDR look. The clouds were distorted slightly with the Warp transform tool to bring more of a planet feel: