How to create sci-fi inspired imagery using Photoshop and 3D assets and lighting techniques continued…
Doodle a few hieroglyph-like shapes and set the layer to 15% Opacity. Add an Outer Glow layer style with pink (‘#f8c5df’), set to Screen at 75% Opacity. Beneath, create a new Linear Light layer, using the Polygonal Lasso tool (L) to draw a rectangular shape, giving the impression of a projection screen. Use a white soft brush at low opacity to fill the shape with gentle glowing light.
Place the ‘cubes.tif’ on the head, using Edit>Transform>Warp to match the angle and set Opacity to 23%. Create two adjustment layers and set both as clipping masks of the cubes. For Hue/Saturation enter Hue -31, Saturation 36; and for Color Balance set Midtones to +45/-30/+45. Use techniques from previous steps to add light and shadow to the cubes.
Use a Screen blending layer as base, and apply a bright pink soft brush to add basic glow to the pyramid at the top of the helmet. Using techniques from Steps 11 and 12, apply reflected light to the edges. Create more doodles (similar to Step 13) and add new projection symbols at the top of the helmet to create a second projection-like screen.
Create a new Linear Light layer, using a blue (‘#00baff’) soft brush to add glow around the face, particularly emitting from the metal parts. Using the same techniques from Step 12 (but with blue colours), add blue (‘#a4ffff’) light on the edges – on both metal parts and hair for cohesion. Use as many layers as necessary.
To bring the image together, we’ll add some lights on the right-hand side of the face to get the impression of back light. Use a soft white brush at low Opacity (10-15%) and start painting edges of the face – eg the nose and lips – with softer lighting around the chin. Take your time and try to use where natural light falls on the face as a guide.
To add shadow around the subject, we create a new layer and fill it with diagonal Linear gradient – from the bottom-left corner to the right-top corner. We use dark blue (‘#131729’)-to-transparency gradient style, with Opacity at 73%. Add a mask and fade out the effect so that the image only gets darker in the bottom.
Apply a gradient map with the blending mode set to Lighten, Opacity at 8%; use a pink (‘#f62c88’)-to-black Circular gradient style. Next add a Color Balance layer and set Shadows at -9, +6, +15; Midtones at -22, -1, +15; and Highlights at +13, -19, -9. Add a mask to soften the effect in places with pink light, so that they don’t lose any of their glow.
Add more blue to the face by creating a selection around the face and adding a Color Balance layer (Shadows at -12, +0, +1; Midtones at -9, 0, +9; and Highlights at -3, +2, -20). Next, add a Curves adjustment layer with the first point set to Output 43 and Input 51, and second set to Output 176 and Input 161.
Make a flat copy of your image (Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+Shift+E), copy and pasting into a new document. Apply Image>Adjustments>HDR Toning (CS5 only). Set Radius to 109px, Strength to 0.98, Gamma to 0.86, Exposure to -0.77, Detail to +30%, Shadow/Highlight to 0%, Vibrance to 0% and Saturation to +20%. Drag the image on top of your main subject, adding to a mask to apply the effect.
Use ‘particle_brush.psd’ to add pink (‘#f83186’) and blue (‘#a4ffff’) elements around light sources, using Screen blending mode for translucent effects. Add some glow to the particles by making a flat copy of the these, set to Screen blending mode, and applying a Filter>Blur>Motion Blur, at an Angle of 90 degrees and Distance of 214.
Create a new layer (Shift+Cmd/Ctrl+N), setting an Overlay blending mode and activate Fill with Overlay-natural color (50% Gray). Use the Dodge tool (O) set to 10% Opacity to add further highlights to the face and around the glowing parts of the suit to really make the focal points pop.