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Learn to paint heroes and villains

By Charlie Bowater
Web: Open Site
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Date Added: 22nd May 2015
Software used:
Photoshop

Step 5: Starting the Color

So now that I've roughly mashed together my favorite elements from the different Moonshine iterations, it's time to start working on the color!

Moonshine himself is on a single layer that's separate from the background. I normally like to keep my layers fairly flat, but for this purpose I'm going to keep the figure separate because it will be handy later on if I decide to throw in any textures over the top. For now, I'm adding in the base colors. I'm doing this by blocking in the sections of color on a layer underneath the character (Fig.05).

2085_tid_image05.jpg
(Fig.05)

Step 6: Keeping it Rough for Now

Now that the base colors are done I flatten the two layers together and get started on adding some basic details. I'm keeping everything pretty rough at this point. I want to build up the general form of the character without getting too detailed at the start.

I stick with brushes that have a bit of texture to them; hard-edged, chalky brushes are a winner with me. I think they add a nice bit of texture to a painting; I like to see hints of brushwork. I'm also intentionally keeping things rough as I find that helps with the male form in general. I don't want it to be too smooth (Fig.06).

2085_tid_image06.jpg
(Fig.06)

Step 7: Mixing Different Layers

Now that I'm pretty happy with where the character is going, I spend a bit of time building up the detail on Moonshine's face. I'm still trying to bring out that crazy expression and villainous side. I'm using a mixture of opaque layers and I'm also occasionally adding in an Overlay layer.

I tend to use Overlay layers every now and then as they're a great way of warming up the tones in the face (and body, if need be). I'm adding in a little red to the nose and ears (Fig.07).

2085_tid_image07.jpg
(Fig.07)

Step 8: It's all in the Expression

A character's face is a part of a painting that I normally spend a lot of time working on. It's always important to me that the character has a good expression, be it a somber one or, in Moonshine's case, a bit of a crazy one.

I really want to bring out his personality and I imagine him to be a little bit deranged; he's a villain after all! So I'm giving him a sadistic grin, along with crazy, wide eyes and furrowed caterpillar eyebrows. Expressions can be so much fun, so make sure you play around with them (Fig.08)!

2085_tid_image08.jpg
(Fig.08)

Step 9: Texture, Texture, Texture

I like to add in textures throughout the painting process. I think they work better by layering them up and painting them back into the character, rather than just slapping them on at the end. I've picked a few different grungy textures and I'm putting them over the top of Moonshine. Make sure to right-click that layer and select Create Clipping Mask. This way you don't have to worry about erasing the edges around the character. Then just drop the opacity, erase sections you don't need and play around with the layer modes (Fig.09)!

2085_tid_image09.jpg
(Fig.09)

Step 10: Think About his Character

It seems obvious really, but if you're designing a character, then think about their personality throughout the painting. You'll find yourself having light bulb moments and thinking of elements you can add to really bring out their character.

Moonshine should be a bit of a scruff, so I'm gradually adding some dirt and grunge to his clothes; and I'm making sure they're all pretty worn and frayed. Then I'm just adding in some fun little details: an outdoorsy-type tan line and an auto shop-style name badge. They might suggest what he gets up to outside of his villain duties (Fig.10).

2085_tid_image10.jpg
(Fig.10)

Step 11: Painting the Fabric

I don't have to worry too much about painting Moonshine's t-shirt in much detail; it's pretty form-fitting and a few strokes to suggest some creases will suffice. As for his trousers though, they're pretty baggy and heavy by the looks of them, so they create a lot of folds and require some more detail.

With fabric I always try and keep in mind the weight of it and imagine how it folds over itself. You can stylize and simplify it to a certain degree, but it helps to build up a little visual library of how it should look so references are a great resource (Fig.11).

2085_tid_image11.jpg
(Fig.11)

Step 12: A Little More Texture

Now that I've painted up the folds of Moonshine's trousers they're looking a little too neat and I really want to emphasize his grubby side. So I'm throwing on another texture! I'm putting it on a layer above Moonshine and setting it to Clipping Mask.

Again, you won't have to worry about erasing the parts you don't need. Drop the opacity a little and even add in another layer if you think it needs it and voila, his trousers are messy again (Fig.12). All of my textures are coming from cgtextures.com – a great free library, just make sure you're using textures you're allowed to use.

2085_tid_image12.jpg
(Fig.12)

Step 13: Adding Some Bounce Light

I nearly always like to add in a secondary light source when I paint characters; you can have a lot of fun and build up form with other light sources, and bounce light. I kind of think that Moonshine doesn't need an entire second source though, so I'm adding a couple of smaller bounce lights.

I've made the tank of fluid a really bright color and it looks a little like it's glowing, so I'm just adding a little bounce on his arm and that side of the body where the light would hit (Fig.13).

2085_tid_image13.jpg
(Fig.13)

Step 14: Last Minute Texture

So we're pretty much at the end of the painting and the illustrator in me can't bear to leave poor Moonshine with such a plain background, so I'm throwing in some last minute texture along with a subtle pop of color.

This is where keeping Moonshine on his own layer will come in handy; it means I can tweak the background without disturbing the character. I'm splashing on a bright orange with a nice raggedy textured brush, and then throwing a texture over the top of that on a Clipping Mask layer. A little tweaking of the opacity to tone it down slightly and voila (Fig.14)!

2085_tid_image14.jpg
(Fig.14)

Step 15. The Final Touches

By now I'm pretty happy with the overall character. I'm just adding in a few final touches, which, to be honest, normally take the longest amount of time!

For me this is just a case of slowly working my way around the painting and working up those details, like belt buckles and the fun little extras like the temperature gauge on his tank. And of course, I've given him a little flask of booze; naturally it's moonshine. I love detailing so it's a lot of fun, and that's just about it (Fig.15).

I hope the tutorial was helpful and that you enjoy working on your own villains!

2085_tid_image15.jpg
(Fig.15)

 
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