Chopper Tank - Candy Apple Paint - Photoshop tutorial

This tutorial is really a composite study of how effects can be built on the traditional knowledge of real life painting methods... how the old world masters built up under painting and glazing to achieve remarkable visual realism. By investigating the paint handling techniques and procedures of the traditional illustrators or fine artists you can apply the same logic to organizing the build in Photoshop or similar paint programs and achieve unusually effective illusions. The creative use of layers, transparencies, opacity, line, color transitions and blends, etc. are all part of the traditional and digital artist's arsenal. George Ladas

This project provides plenty of room for experimenting with layer opacity, blending modes and color techniques. You can achieve many cool results just by playing around with minor adjustments.

What you will use in this tutorial.
1. Organizing and naming layers.
2. Besier curves.
3. Layer blending effects.
4. Saving techniques that will record all steps in a very small file signature.

This is what your finished file will look like in the layers pallet.

1. Set up a 6" wide by 3.5" @ 133 ppi file with a white background. The resolution of your original set up has an effect on certain Photoshop tool effects such as the number of pixels per area in the dissolve mode as well as textures etc. A higher resolution will give a finer distribution of grain or texture should you need to reduce the final image for the web..I set up another background in black to illustrate some of layers that use white.

2. Create a new layer and with the pen tool pull a teardrop tank shape to your liking - you can trace a shape that you either draw on paper or from a photo that you scan in.. good practice for the Besier curve issue (confusing and to befuddling to some but absolutely necessary for your deft handling of most all graphic programs).

3. Click in the Paths view - Load path as a selection - save this selection and name it teardrop.

4. Fill the selection pure red ( Red @ 255 G 0, B 0) Change your color pallet menu to HSB slider.. More about this later..keep the selection active. Name this layer base coat.

5.Create a new layer and with the selection still active fill it using the Edit pull down menu with a 50% gray @ 70% dissolve. Name it metalflake. Set this layer to multiply with fill about 60%. Why fill instead of Opacity? ( Fill only affects the layer content, but not layer effects whereas changing the Opacity affects the entire layer including layer effects) . This is not really pertinent to this layer but it is a question that pops up and it is something you should know.

6. Duplicate the base layer and apply your airbrush (B) - Size your brush by cycling up and down with the "[" or"]" keys until you find a comfortable shape (about 90). Set it at Opacity 25% and Flow 15% with solid black and slowly build this up to a heavy dark area as shown. This will take a number of repeated passes just as if you were using a real airbrush but it has a great deal of control this way. Name this layer base copy w/dark n.50% fill. This layer is used as a control over the effects of the metal flake layers which will be set up below.

Note: I find it helpful to label every layer with as much info as you can re: the settings etc.ex: n. would stand for normal and so on.. this will be of great help when you accidentally mess up and forget how you got there..Another hint: When you have a humongous experimental file and are boiling it down every so often by combining layers and merging etc., save your file first, then save it again with SAVE AS with the suffix sml.  Ex: Candyapple_sml.psd. Then change the file size to something like 144 pixels wide (about 2 inches) @ 72 ppi. Save it, close it and reopen your original file at your original ppi. This way you have a record with a layer thumbnail of all your messing around and effects but with a very small footprint. There will come a day where you ask "how did I do that?" There are several alternative ways to do the same thing but whatever you do .. Save.. .Save... Save...!

Be sure that you have saved your original file first and renamed the current file before you change anything. You now can save this file and it will have all the settings and a thumbnail of each layer as a reference so you can recreate the effects etc. in the future for another project. Close this file and open the original and continue working at full size. This small file will be available at a fraction of the storage cost so you can always go back and check out how you did something.

7. Set up a new layer named metalflakes.hilite.overlay. Use the 200 pixel (0 hardness) with pure white with brush set in dissolve mode at 100% Opacity and 1% Flow.. Spritz the tank a few times in the center bulge and set the layer to Overlay mode. You need to activate the view of the black background and the teardrop selection so that you can see what you are doing.

8. Set up a new layer and name it dark shadow low.multiply.50% Select an abstract shape with your lasso tool and fill it with black. ( set the layer to multiply at 50% fill )

9. New layer: cold lite n. 45%. Make sure that you have the teardrop tank shape selected and airbrush a white film around the top and bottom. Erase through the film a bit in spots and give it a little blur in spots with the blur tool. Set the layer at Normal mode and 45% fill.

white reflect.n.50%

10. New layer: white reflect.n.50% Create a splotch of white reflection with some sharp edges. Softened some of the edges with the smudge tool. Set layer to Normal mode and 50% fill.

****When you are playing around with experimental effects, always keep them on a separate layer until you are absolutely satisfied with the result****

new layer

11. Add a new layer and punch in a other hot light and smudge it into a star pattern. Add a few little lights at the bottom and set the later to Normal and 75%.. Label it accordingly.

Basically that's it... you can add a foxy background and halo edge light along with a decorative design such as flames which I will show you in Part 2.. You can add another layer with a different base coat color and play with the blending modes of each layer ...a great way to learn for future projects.

Tip.. You can cycle rapidly through the blend modes of your selected layer by highlighting the mode window and using the scroll wheel...try it...!

Go to Part 2