Renaissance Man (Tutorial, Part I)

Started Apr 25, 2006 | Discussions thread
Flat view
Scott Deardorff Senior Member • Posts: 1,100
Renaissance Man (Tutorial, Part I)


Click here if image doesn’t appear:

First of all, let me thank Clarence Alford, who took the original photograph and retains the copyright to that image and all versions of it. Thank you, as well, to all who have expressed their opinions regarding this digital painting. Your feedback means a lot to me. Many have requested a tutorial describing the steps that were taken to get to the finished product. What I’ve done here is to take a series of snapshots that show the different stages along the way and provide a description of how each was accomplished. Since my work on this image involved some experimentation, it was not exactly a straight-line process. Therefore, the snapshots may not necessarily represent clean breaks between individual steps. Sometimes a number of things were done to get from one snapshot to the next, but I’ll do my best to describe each process. I want to make clear that this may not be the best, or fastest way to advance this image from its original state to my final interpretation. In fact, I might proceed differently if I was starting from scratch. This is just meant to give others a glimpse into what I did in this particular situation.

I’ll be using small segments of the image (mostly in the area of the face and helmet) to demonstrate the changes that were made. Also, I’m providing links to the images on PBase, so as not to take up too much space here. This image was processed entirely in Photoshop CS.

As it quite often is, the first step was to make a curves adjustment to improve the overall contrast level. Snapshot 1 shows the result of that.


The next step was to over-sharpen the image (shown in Snapshot 2), which I recommend before starting to smudge. I use nik Sharpener Pro for all my sharpening needs, but USM or another sharpening method will work just as well. The sharpening, as you can see, had the effect of exacerbating the compression artifacts from the original. The next step, application of the stylize> diffuse> anisotropic filter (Snapshot 3), will eliminate most of those artifacts, but will leave behind a trail of its own.


Following the aniso diffusion application, I made another curves adjustment to increase the contrast a bit more (Snapshot 4), and sharpened a bit – not as much as the initial sharpening step (Snapshot 5).


At this point I began the smudging process. I used a rough round bristle brush (from the thick heavy brush set in PSCS) at 15-px/normal/20% to smooth out broader areas like the helmet and feathers. I used the same brush at about 7-px/normal/30% around the face to eliminate areas of over-sharpening, as well as the lines and tracks left behind by the aniso diffusion. To refine the beard and mustache a bit, I used Sarsa’s 15-px. hair brush at about 7-px/normal/80%. This brush can be downloaded from this location:

Snapshots 6 and 7 show a smudging progression.


To get from Snapshot 7 to Snapshot 8, I did a few things. I further refined the beard and mustache using the same brush (Sarsa’s), then I did some dodging to brighten highlight areas of the face and helmet. For the face I used the dodge tool at about 7-px/25% targeting midtones. For the beard and helmet I targeted highlights with a 10-px. dodge tool set at about 10%. Targeting the highlights of the helmet with the dodge tool helped to bring out the various colors (blue/green/gold, etc.). To increase the redness in certain areas of the face, I first made a color-range selection targeting the darker area on the left side of his nose with a fuzziness level of about 40, then went into Hue/Sat and moved the hue slider to about -10.

To achieve the texture on the face and helmet area (Snapshot 9) I applied – to a duplicate layer – the rust flakes texture (from the textures folder in Photoshop) at a setting of 50% 2, added a layer mask (hide all) and painted in – with a white (or gray) brush – areas where I wanted some texture to show.


Arriving at Snapshot 10 involved a small amount of additional smudging of the feathers and another sharpening step to bring out more of the various textures.

I made a color balance adjustment to remove what seemed like a green cast (most noticeable in the jacket) by adding a little more magenta to a duplicate layer and masking out the face. To reduce the redness in the face I made a rough selection of the face, feathered (10 px.), then made a Hue/Sat adjustment (hue+2, sat-10). Snapshot 11 shows the result of these steps.


Flat view
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
(unknown member)
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow