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Step-by-step Photoshop environments

By Ignacio Bazan Lazcano

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Date Added: 9th April 2015
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Try your hand at complex industrial scenes, with this sample chapter from the Step-by-step Photoshop environments eBook for purchase in our shop now!

To address a scene containing a lot of detail and information, you need to have an order to work in and above all, patience. For this tutorial I was commissioned to draw a seaport – an original place, with an invented civilization, showing different situations, crane movements, people, vehicles; many elements together interacting with each other. To deal with something of this magnitude, with so many things to draw in the same composition, you have to plan in advance.

This tutorial will explain how to draw a complex scenario step-by-step. I'll talk about how ideas arise, what the sources of inspiration are, how to work with perspective, composition, digital painting techniques, brush management and final details. Although almost all the issues can be found in art books or manual drawing, I'll show different techniques and ways to address a drawing. The goal is that the tutorial should serve primarily as a guide for those artists who are getting started and need some order in which to address their projects with.

In the first part of this tutorial I'll be looking at coming up with the initial idea, developing the scene and adding light and shadows.

Ideas and Sources of Inspiration

First, we need to know what topic we will draw and what concept we want to express. From there we can find ideas and inspiration. Not all artists proceed in the same way when they start an image. I like to find different pictures, which do not necessarily have to do with what I want to draw. Sometimes I only have an idea of what the sky should look like and thus, I look for different skies: sunset, night, cloudy ones, etc (Fig.01).


Other times I'm just interested in color, and look for photos where the colors awaken a feeling or ideal climate for the topic I'm researching for my drawing. Looking for images on the web for this image, I found a very interesting scene: the sight of a battleship parked in a yard. I found the color of the image was great, as well as the composition and the feeling of vastness (Fig.02).


In this picture I found my idea and I realized what I was looking for. The world that revolved in my head, that I could not yet identify, was great, majestic and something that showed power and distance.

Raising the Scene

Based on the picture I found, I decided to have a huge ship as the central focus and thereafter arrange all the other items relative to it. So, I produced a sketch of my initial idea (Fig.03).


As the image would show the greatest amount of detail and elements, I chose an aerial perspective, because in this view I could increase the size of the ship and provide greater detail on the scale of things. Basically, to make an aerial view we should move the horizon up, so we generate the "airplane” effect (Fig.04).


To begin detailing each object with the lines of perspective, I use boxes and buckets for the initial composition, and I break them down into more interesting shapes afterwards, using the lines as a guide to reach the final design (Fig.05).


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