WALKTHROUGH Part I, Too Bright to See
This is Part I of a walkthrough to my piece Too Bright to See, which can be seen here
. This vexel took around 8 hours to complete, over 2 days.
Disclaimer: This is a walkthrough
. This will NOT teach you how to vexel or vector, simply share how I
do so, offering tips along the way. This will be most-helpful to someone familiar with the artform already.
First let's start with our ref! For me, I no longer dive into a vexel head first. To the left, you see the reference image that I used (And was found on The Stock Exchange
. I am, however, unable to pinpoint the source, since this has been in a folder of mine for years.)
The original reference is beautiful, no doubt, otherwise I would not have chosen it, but I felt it needed more. Prior to vexelling, there are three things I usually do.
; Filter > Liquify (or Shift + ctrl + x). I use this to manipulate anatomy. Whether it is to morph the anatomy into something less reality, more stylized reality, or to shift a feature into something I feel more beautiful or strange according to my personal tastes.
; Put that tablet to good use! If you don't have a tablet, use your mouse. Liquify is a good basis for manipulation, but afterwords, I like to change features, colours, shapes, whatever myself manually, because when painting differences, you have total control.
; Image > adjustments > curves (or ctrl + m. I use curves from my layers palette as a mask by creating a new adjustment layer. The menu item that looks like a half black half white circle.) Colour manipulation is not a stranger to my gallery, almost every thing I've created started out one way colour-wise and ended up another. It's always a growing process for me until I end up with the colours I want.
Check out what I've ended up with after manipulating and changing the reference! So much more exciting.
These light-created embelishments were painted on dropping colours from her skin tones, descending from light to dark (but not darker than the area it is located.) This is the same way that I vexelled this part as well. Dropping from the image, trying to keep the colours surrounding it saturated, so that they do appear as though they are glowing.
Once I was happy with the manipulated reference, I moved on to the hair! I enjoy doing hair with a lot of stray pieces and wisps. The way I do this is fairly simple, yeilds a great result, and while in some cases, time-consuming, it is well- worth it in the end.
Details at 100%
About 70% of the wisps are shapes that I made with the pen tool, some of them gradients. The other 30% would be brush strokes
that are also made with the pen tool.
It's really simple, and can really push a piece to the next level.
; Chose your brush size. I usually use 1px, 3px and 5px brushes. 1px creates the small strands of messy hair, 3px and 5px for more substantial wisps.
; Make a path with the pen tool. Bear in mind that we are working in vexel
here. When using the pen tool, I ALWAYS
use the "Paths" option, as opposed to the "Shape Layers" option. (To chose this, with the pen tool selected, check the upper-left corner of photoshop, just underneath "file, edit, image" There are three boxes, the one with a pen inside of it is the one I use.) The Shape Layers option makes vector
and the whole reason I use vexel is because of the things I can do more freely with vexel -- creating hair using the stroke path method being one of them.
; Right click with your path made. Chose "Stroke Path" and make sure you have "Simulate Pressure" checked in the pop-up dialogue. Press OK and viola!
Pro-tip: After making the path, by holding down ctrl and clicking somewhere on your palette, you can.. Well, I'm unsure of the proper term, so I will say you can close the path. When you're done with the paths, you can press enter on your keyboard to make them go away! That way you can do several wisps at a time when working with hair.
In the upper-right-hand corner of Photoshop, you can see a few tabs. Click on the brushes tab. If under the shape dynamics options you increase the minimum diameter a bit, you can lengthen the strokes more. Don't increase it too much though, or else they will be thick and hardly like a hair stroke at all.
Pro-Tip: For more realistic hair, if you make a crazy jumble path around your body of hair with a 1px brush, you can create those messy stray hairs.
Do keep in mind, no matter what size brush you're using, or where you're placing it, that because these are simulating pressure, they are smaller at the ends and wider in the center. If you place them on the edge of the hair they will look like pieces of hair suspended in mid air, so just remember to place the strokes on the body of hair with thought.
At the end of the piece, a finishing touch I added to the hair was to cut some of it up and set it to soft-light over her, because I felt it was too harsh against her skin.
That concludes Part I, Continue to Part II..