Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Cupid Chapter Header Process

Everyone just seems to love these show and tell posts, so I figured I would do another one. Here is a look at how I created one of the chapter headers for the Dark Erotic Romance, Cupid. By Jade Eby and Kenya Wright.


1. Usually I sketch in my computer but since my Wacom tablet has been being a jerk I have gone back to sketching with pencil and paper. Once I have a nice sketch I scan it in and load it up into a Photoshop file. For Chapter headers I like to work 800x800 pixels 300 dpi, but the size changes once the finished project is done. I usual crop the picture to fit better. It really all depends on the subject matter and final size desired, but I like to star big.

2. To spot any problems with the anatomy I flip the image. By flipping an image I have been looking at for hours it is easy to spot mistakes by looking at it in a different angle. I also define the bow and arrow more. Add details to the toes, define the muscles a little more, fix the hair, and had a sash around his waist.

3. Once I have the sketch set and fixed up I clean up the out line. Using the pen tool in Photoshop I trace the outline then stroke the path with a brush setting between 2-5 depending on the line thickness I want. Because I wasn't sure where I wanted the arrow, bow, and sash to overlap the lines of the guys body each item is outlined on a different layer. At this point before I go through and erases the lines I don't want and combine the layers I save this file, and then save it again under a new file name. So in the project folder I end up having file names like this: cupid_01, cupid_02, cupid_03. This helps me trace my steps and keep organized. Its just my system.

4. At this point the outline is clean and ready to go. I flip the image back to the correct position and start adding some shadows. I used such an intense red for a reason. First it helps to see what portions I missed when coloring in the shadowed area, and two it's cupid why not red?
Laying in the shadows I make sure to keep true to my light source which is positioned upper left-hand corner, which puts his left side in shadow.

5. Before I get to far into the shadows and details I set up a wing template using a stock-art wing I have. Since the wings were an after thought and I already had my sketch scanned and cleaned up I used a template, instead of sketching my own set. I position the wings and adjust size to make sure they fit cupid.

6. On a new layer I copy the wing template with a red fill and then using the eraser tool set with a blood splatter brush set, I erase parts of the wings to give them a blood like effect. I also switch between the dodge and burn tool to make lighter and darker areas on the wings.

7. To add to the blood splatter effect I brush some more blood splatter in on a new layer under the wings. Makes it look a little messy and bloody. Using the dodge and burn tool again I add lighter and darker areas.

8. Here I have placed the wings on the man and erased the parts that would be behind him, but before I did that you know I saved another file. ;) I have also gone back over the shadows and added a deeper value of red where the shadows would appear deeper/darker. This gives more depth and more interest in the overall piece. I also changed the outline color from black to a darker red so the contrast is not as intense.

9. Now that the picture is complete time to play with some colors. I combine all the layers into one layer and change the picture to black and white. Then to make it a little warmer I adjust the hue&saturation to add a little red into the coloring.

10. In the end we settled for something with a little more red but not as much as during the sketching process, and there you have it. That is generally how my illustration process works, but each project has its own steps and process.

Hit up my website to see all the new artwork added for the month, and the second Cupid chapter header I illustrated.
JN Sheats
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Cupid Cover Process

I haven't done one of these in awhile, but today I am going to show you how I created the cover for the upcoming Dark Erotic Romance by Jade Eby and Kenya Wright.

If you like what you see and would like to hire me just send me an email, or visit my website for more details.

 Cupid Process
1. The very first thing I do is get a new photoshop file all ready to go, I design my ebook covers at 1600x2500 300dpi for those of you that want to know. Then add in all the stock photos I plan on using. For Cupid I only needed on stock image chosen and provided by the authors.


2. Here I have clipped out the image of the guy, enlarged it and adjusted the position. I have also picked a font that looks a little like cuts in skin, and played around with some settings to see how it would look as cuts. Namely the layer blending settings just to get a feel for how the text is going to look like. (I originally presented my client with four different font looks, creating four different types of cuts. This was the winner.)

3. I have enlarged the guy and moved him around some more to get the text/title in the right position. I have also created my own text from that base font I found. Sharpening the ends of the letters, overlapping them, and creating gaps to make it look more natural knife work (don't ask how I know what natural knife work looks like :s). I also wrapped and distorted the text to curve around the muscles of his chest to make it look more believable. Finally, I added a gradient to the bottom with a little blood splatter effects. Using layer masks I also continued the blood splatter into the base of the guy.

4. With the text in place I focus more on making adjustments to the man. Playing with the levels, curves, and adding some color changes. All of which makes the image darker, sharper contrast on the shadows for a more dramatic look, and changed the blue reflective light to a red one that better matches the theme of the cover. If you notice I have left a little blue just to play off the red. I also left the warm color in the shirt to make it feel warmer and more inviting.

5. Now time to focus on the text. I darkened the red color because a wound is shadowed and also darker then people often believe it to be. I also add some darker colors onto the flesh around the text to give the appearance of the flesh being wounded/damaged.

 6. Here I have added more coloring around the wording, a bruise like darker color, and some red to so irritation. To add some depth to the cuts I made the centers lighter color. If you could zoom in close enough you will also see some texture I added inside the cuts using blending layers.

7. In this step I have finished off the cuts with a little highlights around the edges, and also added the lipstick kiss on the side of his neck. For the kiss I took a pair of lips from another stock image of a woman I had on hand and blended it onto his skin.

8. I added some more blood splatter effects to the base of the guy's chest and background to give it a slight messy look. Since the text looks just alright I felt it needed more, so I drew in some blood trailing from the text cuts. This gives it more believability.

 9. Almost done! With the blood drips I darken some areas and add minor highlights to others, because blood is liquid and does catch the light. You might not be able to tell since they are so thin and small, but when you look between this image and last you can see the depth it creates. I also change the background to black at the request of my client. (this is just one of three different colors for the background we were thinking).


10. Finally, I added in the author names and position them just right, and DONE!

If you like these process posts comment below and let me know that you want to see more.