Metal Armor

Step 1.

This tutorial will show you how to create the metal armor part of the graphic above, both on the hand and the forearm.

Firstly we need to know what we are going to be painting, after opening your Photoshop document to your proffered canvas size, (I personally prefer to work with A3 size, with a resolution of 300 minimum) we can then begin. To create the armor, you’ll need a metal texture. You can find some metal textures here although this particular Metal Image has been used which is from Big Stock. Now that we have opened our document, create a new layer (command/shift/N) and draw your desired idea in outline. As you can see, I chose to demonstrate using a combat theme. My idea is simply having electrically conducted armory. The generator is attached to his forearm, and passes electricity up to his shoulders and down to his hands. The conductor attached to his hands passes electricity back and forth to his knuckle dusters, practically working as a tazer or cattle-prod. This gives him an advantage is combat, electrocuting his enemies with each punch. Electricity also passes around his whole body, so as he cannot electrocute himself in the process.

Lighting is very important when painting, and it always a good idea to work out the direction of your light source beforehand. My primary light source numbered one is acting as the sun, and my secondary light source numbered two represents the reflective light bouncing back.

Step 2.
The brush I would use to create the outline is a small hard round brush… size and opacity set to pen pressure and airbrush and smoothing checked.

Step 3.
First stage of painting the metal is the base colour. So after creating a new layer (command/shift/N). I usually begin with a dark shade of my chosen colour and block in the areas. Using a darker colour, it allows me to build up the highlights more easily. I usually paint over the edges of my stroke and crop it later, but this is all down to personal preference, some may prefer to paint the area more accurately.

Step 4.
After blocking in the color, using the burn and dodge tool and a large soft round brush, I give the area I want shadow a rough guidance… only a soft indication of where I want shadows and highlights to be.

Step 5.
Using the pen tool, I traced over the deep groove so as to add sharper edged shadows. I then named this vector layer “groove”.

Step 6.
After I traced the whole area where I want the groove to be I press command/enter. This replaces the original vectored shape with a selection. I then select the metal layer and using the burn tool, I add the shadows to the groove. You then press command/D for de-selection.

Step 7.
Now I want to add highlights to the metal, using the pen tool again, I create the shape in the area I want to add more light. I then named this layer “Forearm highlights vector”.

Step 8.
Using the same process as before, I use command/enter to select the vectored area. I then held command/alt and clicked on the “vector mask thumbnail” to the right of the “groove” layer in the layers window. This removes the selected area of the groove… allowing you to edit around the shadows. I then select the metal layer and add more light using the dodge tool. You can deselect this by using command/D.

Step 9.
Using the pen tool again, I trace around the edge of my forearm generator. I named this layer “forearm generator vector”. I then did the same for the hand conductor and naming it “Conductor vector”. I repeated this for the knuckle dusters, naming each of the layers consecutively with “knuckle duster 1/2/3”.

Step 10.
Once your vectors have been made around the forearm, hand and knuckle dusters, we practically repeat the previous step of selecting multiple vectors except this time we are adding the selections, not removing. First we hold command and click on the forearm “vector mask thumbnail”. We then hold command/shift and repeat this step with your other layers (hand and knuckle dusters). This will create a selection of all your vectors.

Step 11.
Now we have our selections, we hold command/shift/I and this will invert the selection (select the opposite to our vectors). With the metal layer selected, we press delete, or you may wish to use the eraser manually and this will remove any unwanted areas of paint. You can then press command/D for de-selection.

Step 12.
After selecting the metal Layer I use the burn tool to add shadows beneath and to the edges of the metal.