photoshop creative

How I Made: Future Gaming

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How I Made, by Mark White
October 10, 2016

How Maxime Girault blurred the boundaries between photos and illustration, using Photoshop’s brushes, blend modes and colour adjustments


1. Initial concept


Keep this as rough as possible, but still define the main idea. Dynamic lines help to create movement and form. A strong contrast with visible light sources helps to visualise exposure and contour.

2. Shoot, cut and assemble


The sketch is used to direct a photo shoot. Select the best legs, the best face and so on, then assemble these in Photoshop to create the best pose. A soft brush was used to colour the skin, painted to a Color blending mode layer.

3. Skin lighting


Add a Curves adjustment layer, applying a downward curve. Double-click the Curves layer, select Blending Options, hold Opt/Alt and drag the Blend If white sliders to hide highlights. Edit effects further using the attached Layer Mask.

4. Paint hair


Capturing flowing hair in a single shot is hard, so it is often easier to just paint the effect in. To do this, use a small 3-5px brush with Flow set at 60%. Only four colours were required to paint in these elements.

5. Pixel elements


Create pixel art by opening a 100 x 100px document and paint with the Pencil tool at 1px. Paste your mark into the main image, then Scale and Distort it (Cmd/Ctrl+T) with Interpolation set to Nearest Neighbor in the CS6/CC menu.

6. Holographic elements


Apply a dotted pattern texture, then make a selection of the pixel art shape. Use this to apply a Layer Mask to your dots. Correct mask edges by hand, painting to these so there are only full-circle dots and none that are cut in half. Add Gaussian Blur.

7. Gold particles


Create gold particles around the holograms using a custom dust brush. Paint with rich and light yellow tones. Also add a mask to these effect layers and paint with a black brush of the same style to edit the strength of the effect.

8. Ambient lights


With a large brush set at 0% Hardness and 10% Flow, paint glow over the character edges. Also apply effects around holograms and add your brush to create an ambient background light. It’s about linking things and making key elements stand out.