Completion time: 2-3 hours
Tools: Photoshop CS3
– street from MontvalentStock
– mountain by gundolf
– moon from wyldraven
– clouds from grace-stock
– leather texture from tutorialfreakz.com
– concrete texture from designtnt.com
– rust texture from designtnt.com
– feather brush from dollieflesh-stock
– castle from Alfi007
– flowers from Designious.com
Final Image Preview
Before we randomly start throwing stuff on the canvas and see what sticks, let’s get some planning done. Trust me on this one, it will save you a lot of time, effort and stress.
Let’s start with the overall image and composition. Ignore the small details for now. My idea is to place the main element (Puss) in front and use his cape as a separating element for two contrasting colors: red and blue. Also I want Puss to stand out more and literally come out of the design, I want it to pop off the screen. At the bottom, there will be a small dark area where we can place the title.
Create a new document (File > New…) of 3000 x 4700 px in RGB color mode. Open the sketch (File > Open…), select the entire canvas (Select > All), copy it (CTRL+C), go back to our document (CTRL+Tab) and paste it (CTRL+V).
Hit CTRL+T to enter Free Transform mode, resize it like below and hit Enter. Name this layer to “sketch”. Set the layer’s Blending mode to “Multiply”. Make sure it stays above all the other layers.
Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer or CTRL+SHIFT+N) and name it “palette”. Now grab the Brush Tool (B) and paint in the colors shown below. If you’re not experienced enough to build your color palette “by feel”, use the color palette from the source file.
Create a new layer and hit CTRL+G to place it in a group. Name this group to “body” and create another layer inside it.
Go to the Brushes palette (F5), double-click a brush and use the settings below. Then, click the small arrow in the top right corner and select “New Brush Preset”. Do the same for the other two brushes.
In the same menu, select “Preset Manager…”. Now select all the other brushes except the last three and hit the “Delete” button. Hit OK.
Let’s start shaping up the main element! Select the bottom-most layer from the group, grab the 25 px brush, hold the ALT key, select the color shown below and fill the body contour. Increase the brush size for the areas where you don’t need precision using the “[“ and “]“ keys.
The fur doesn’t have a uniform color, we need to give it some variety. Grab a lighter color and paint the belly and the inner area of the arms. Grab the lightest color and paint a chaotic white area on the center of the belly.
Select the soft brush and a darker color from the palette. Using the pressure sensitivity of the tablet, draw the stripes on the body. Don’t draw details yet, just set in the tones.
Select the second brush, pick the color lighter than the base color, select the layer above your current and draw short hair strands, just enough to show the direction. Make sure you vary the length and direction a bit.
Create a new layer (CTRL+SHIFT+N), pick a darker color from the color palette and draw really small and rare strokes. Do the same for a light color, but make the lines a bit wavy, else the fur will look stiff.
Create a new layer above it and set its Blending mode to “Soft Light”. Grab the soft brush, hit “2” to set its Opacity setting to 20%. Now paint in just a few feint colors to add just a wee bit of variety.
Grab the darkest color from the palette and draw the lines for the mouth and nose. For the nose fill, use a desaturated orange color.
Create a new layer, name it “clothing base” and hit CTRL+G to place it in a layer group. Name this group to “clothing”.
Go back to the “clothing base” layer and fill in the base shapes for the boots, cape and hat. Now create two more layers, one with Blending mode to “Multiply” and one to “Color Dodge”. ALT+click between the layers to create a clipping mask.
Grab the Brush Tool (B), grab a light, desaturated orange color and paint the highlights on the edges of the boots, like below (I chose the light source to be in the background).
Select the other layer and paint the shadows, but in the center area of the boots.
Repeat STEPS 16-17 for the hat and the cape.
Create a new layer above all the other layers and name it “sword base”. Hit CTRL+G to place it in a group and rename the group to “sword”.
Select the “sword base” layer and paint the base shape for the sword. Use darker tones for the blade and lighter tones for the blade and hilt. Now create a new document of 1000 x 1000 px in RGB color mode and open the “flowers” vector document.
Copy and paste in several flowers and place them to fill the entire canvas, but make them non-intersecting. Also avoid cluttering themes. Turn off the visibility of the “Background” layer if it exists and hit CTRL+SHIFT+E to merge the other layers.
Go to Filter > Distort > Spherize. Use the settings below and hit OK.
Select the entire canvas (CTRL+A), copy it, go back to our document (CTRL+Tab) and paste it. Hit CTRL+T to enter Free Transform mode and resize it like below. In the Blending properties, use the settings below.
Create a new layer (CTRL+SHIFT+N), name it “sword shadows”, set its Blending mode to “Multiply” and paint in the the shadows using the Brush Tool (B). Use the soft round brush tip.
Repeat STEP 24 to draw the lights, but set the layer’s Blending mode to “Overlay”.
Now that we have a character, let’s build a nice background for him. Create a new layer and hit CTRL+SHIFT+[ to send it to back. Name this layer to “background” and fill it with #131313 (dark gray) using the Paint Bucket Tool (G).
Open the “street” picture. Select all (CTRL+A), copy it (CTRL+C), go back to our document (CTRL+Tab) and paste it in (CTRL+V). Place it like below and go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. Paint over the area going beyond the cape, but make sure the layer mask is selected, not the layer itself.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (CTRL+SHIFT+U). Create a new layer above it and set its Blending mode to “Color Dodge” and 65% Opacity. Grab the Brush Tool (B), pick the base orange color we used for the fur and fill the entire visible area of the picture. Create another layer, set its Blending mode to Overlay and paint with a lighter color only the distant area in the picture.
Select the layer below your current (the picture), hit Q to enter Quick Mask mode, grab the Brush Tool (B) with a soft round tip, hold “]” to make the brush larger and paint over the distant area in the picture, then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Use a 4 px setting and hit OK. Hit Q again to exit Quick mask mode. Select these two layers and hit CTRL+G. Name the group to “street”.
Open the “mountains” picture. Copy it, paste it into our document and place it like below.
The sky is too bland, let’s remove it and replace it with something more interesting. Grab the Path Tool (P), set it on Paths and trace it. Close the path, then right-click > Make Selection. Double-click the lock near the layer thumb, hit OK and hit Delete. Go to Select > Deselect (CTRL+D).
Open the “moon” and “clouds” pictures, copy them and paste them in. Use a soft large brush to erase the rough edges. Create a new layer above the “mountains layer, set its Blending mode to “Soft Light” and paint it with a saturated midtone blue (#4586a9).
Open the “castle” picture grab the Quick Selection T(Y), select the sky, hit CTLR+SHIFT+I and paste it in and place it below the “mountains” layer. Hit CTRL+L to open the Levels window and increase the contrast a bit using the settings below. Use the Hue/Saturation to make it light blue.
We want to create a night-day contrast in the background, and the mountains picture is shot during the day. Let’s turn day into night! Create a new layer above the “mountains” layer and paint strong shadows on the edges, as shown below. Use a soft round brush tip.
Select a small hard brush and check the “Scattering” and “Shape Dynamics” boxes. Hit D, then X, create a new layer and draw some small white dots. Select these layers and hit CTRL+G. Name the group to “mountain”.
In the Layers palette, hit the “Add Vector Mask” button and paint any area that goes beyond the cat’s cape. Select the “street” layer group. In the Brushes palette, click the small arrow and select “Reset brushes”. Click “Append” in the pop-up window.
Select the “Dry Brush Tip Light Flow” brush and mask the bottom area of the street.
Grab the Horizontal Type Tool (T), draw a type box and type in your desired text. Use the “Briolin” font at 16 px size. In the Blending properties window, use the settings below. To create the leather pattern, switch to the “leather” document, select the entire canvas and go to Edit > Define Pattern.
REPEAT step 37 for the smaller text, but reduce the Stroke size.
Let’s add some texture to our design! For clothing, use the “leather texture” and for the sword, use the “rust texture”. Simply paste them in, set Blending mode to “Soft Light” and erase the extra areas.
Select the top-most layer and go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Gradient Map. Use the settings below, then set the layer’s Blending mode to “Soft Light”. Also, add some hair over the boots edges and belt to blend them in.
Let’s make the poster somehow interact with the site! We are limited by the picture width, so we’ll just have to find a workaround – make the cat pop out of the screen. Create a new layer, set Blending mode to “Multiply” and paint the shadow of the sword, as below:
Select the Bottom-most layer, hit CTRL+T and click-drag the middle transform point from the left. Make sure the tip of the tail goes a bit over the background’s edge. Hit Enter.
CTRL+click the layer thumb, go to Select > Inverse (CTRL+SHIFT+I) and select each layer group (or layer) that goes over the background and paint it with black. Make sure you maintain the selection. Save it as a .png file or add another layer below the background and fill it with the color from your website.
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