A nice person had some questions about my lastest graphic featuring young Regina and a mighty Evil Queen. Although I answered said questions, I decided that a tutorial could help other people as well.
In this will be shown only the second part of the graphic because the techniques are pretty much the same anyway and I personaly prefer the Evil Queen part (dude did you see that outfit?).
As usual, I’m using a pen tablet during the whole process, so you may not get the same exact result as I, but still can get something satisfying. Also, I won’t give you a zip with all my textures because my goal isn’t for you to copy me, but to help you understand my work, so you can apply some of the knowledge or answers I’m giving you in your own graphics. Sans plus tarder, commençons.
At the bottom of the tutorial, there is a picture of all my layers, it can come in handy if you’re lost at some point.
PART ONE: SETTING EVERYTHING UP
Same as usual, we choose a good format for our graphic. Mine is 500x600. I took HD stills from Storybrooke.net (big HD pics are the best; I prefer to minimize a picture rather than keeping it at its original size because the hierarchy in the jpeg is less apparent) and minized/placed them in a good spot (a great composition is kinda… great). The “good spot” is actually the exact opposite of the first part with young Regina:
When it’s done, I proceed to do a series of small adjustment to the non-cut out pictures (don’t be fooled by the picture above, heh) that you can or not do, it’s up to you. What you should do, though, is a small sharpening. Note that the smallest Evil Queen will appear later in the tutorial, but the adjustments are made on her too.
When we’re okay with that, we can start to cut out the background. I don’t really have a tutorial that touches this subject and I use my pen tablet during this operation (which is really easy by the way), so if you don’t know how to do it, you can probably find some tutorials on yeahps. When we’re over with the whole operation, we’re supposed to get a clean cut. Since I suck with cutting out hair, I usually draw them afterward.
The whole thing looks like this:
PART TWO: ADJUSTING THE COLORS AND PUTTING TEXTURES
This part is essential because it gives the general feeling of the graphic. I’m not that great with color, but I use my own gradient instead of a pre-made psd. I suggest that, when doing a graphic, you use your own colors and gradients, not someone else work. The result will be unique because it’s YOUR work. I also suggest that when you’re not sure and that you don’t where you’re going with this, you take small breaks. That way, you can distance yourself and have a new look at your work.
Remember that adjusting the colors isn’t something that you do at the beginning or the end and then you’re over with it. Actually, I strongly recommend that you do a first color adjustment when you start your work and then proceed to ameliorate it throughout the graphic. Certain effects you will do won’t have the same aspect without certain colors and textures.
My first adjustments look like this:
PART THREE: GIVING A SHAPE TO YOUR IDEA
Not gonna lie, I didn’t really have a clear idea of what was happening when I did the graphic with young Regina. I had a somewhat visual of her being surrounded by light, so that’s what I did (which worked out much or less, ah). For the Evil Queen part, I decided that it should be some kind of reverse idea of that (which is a classic in this fandom, not much originality here), so I got stuck with the dark clouds and all. The brushes I used come from this pack.
As you can see, I did some color adjustments afterward. The result, though, is incredibly flat. In order to correct that, we can add textures to create some volume. All the textures I used here were put under the blending mode Screen. Small note: the textures I use are often from paintings and such that I usually find around Tumblr and Pinterest.
The black parts on the layers mask show the sections of the textures I erased. Now, we can add the missing detail: the small Evil Queen. We can place her right above the textures we just added. I erased some parts at the bottom of the dress to better blend it with the background.
As you may see, the shoulder of the big Evil Queen is kinda in the way, so we will draw some more black clouds above it to hide this. You can see the change right here:
Now that this little detail is done, we can add some more textures to it and adjust the colors even more to get a nicer result.
You can see all my adjustment layers right there. It was my kinda final coloring at the moment. The last two layers are some black and white to create more light in the picture. The white part is at the left and the black part at the right (which you can’t really see of the layers picture oops).
Now, looking at this, I don’t find it particulary satisfying. There’s something missing. Her right hand is already in a fist position, why not add fire, then? This is actually quite easy to do. We can look for fire textures on CG Texture or simply Google. If the fire is on a black background, the next step is easier to do.
We take our fire texture and put it right where her fist is. The blending mode Screen or Lighten should do a good work to blend the texture with the background. By using a layer mask, we delete some parts of the fire to make it look good. Don’t forget to draw around the fire a little and on the Evil Queen’s face (to put some shadow and all, though I suck with this so my example might not be the best).
PART FOUR: FINAL TOUCHES
When you think it’s over, it’s usually not. There are always small details that bother us that we may not see after hours in front of the same graphic. Again, a small pause is highly recommended to better see the flaws.
In the first picture, I didn’t like the way her waist was too visible behind all the cloudy stuff. Simple solution: I used a soft brush with a dark color to cover it. The layer with the correction is situated under all the textures and the clouds we drew earlier.
After that, we can almost be satisfied with the work done. ALMOST. The sharpening is lacking in some places. What we can do is create a new layer above everything, apply a new image (image > apply image) and execute the sharpening actions. We get something like this:
We can see that the sharpen is really too strong and the graphic isn’t looking good anymore. Hopefully, by using yet again a layer mask, we can erase some parts and get a good final result. Leaving some parts blurry can get you a great composition because it creates depth. That said, here’s the result:
The sharpening is mainly on the fire. It is also never too late to adjust the colors too. We finally add the text and watermark and voilà.
I know I suck ass at explaining things, so if you have questions, do feel free to ask, I try to answer as fast as I can.