More and more digital artists are broadening their creativity into 3D software outside of Photoshop. This, more often than not, forms much of the foundation of the artwork before post-production begins. This cross-media method has proven to work well for Heiko Klug, who works as a freelance artist with a focus on digital illustrations, as well as 2D and 3D art.
His image Hold On Hope forms part of a series that has been based around certain theological values such as faith, love and hope. Klug explains, “I like the idea behind it that these are the most basic things in life you need.” He adds, “To give it more expression, I added a frame to get an emblem-like look. I did most of the work in 3D and used Photoshop for post-editing and texture creation.”
Here, Klug takes us through the process step-by-step to show us how he created his typographic masterpiece.
Texture creation After modelling I started to create the textures. I used images found on stock websites and duplicated the base layer, then added some colour variance and blended it with dirt layers to the original wood texture to get a used look.
Import the render elements I used a lot of render passes on the 3D model to get more flexibility in the post-production stage. I used the Photoshop script ‘load files into stack’, and with this you have to make sure that everything is aligned and you keep the original file names as layer names.
Organise everything I used the ObjectID renders to organise everything into different layers. The benefit of the OBJ-IDs is that you can quickly select your objects with the help of the colour channels.
Prepare the background I grabbed a concrete texture, made it tileable and multiplied it to the blue base layer. For some variation, I added a light source in the top-left corner and painted a drop shadow.
Colour and lighting correction I added a Photo Filter and a Selective Color correction for a warmer look. I used a light pass and a Curves adjustment, with a layer mask made of a normal map, to boost the edge lighting.
The flying leaves On the other elements I used the same techniques as in the previous steps. I also added some flying leaves with a Lens Blur filter based on a rendered Z-depth map.
The landscape I used a stock photo for the base and replaced the sky and the water. The colour and lighting were corrected for the entire scene. To paint some hard light, I used a Photo Filter layer and set its blending mode to Linear Dodge.
Final touches Some variation to the background was added and I applied an ambient occlusion map to boost the shadows, a coloured vignette, the sun’s glare, and some minor colour and light corrections.
Normal maps as layer masks
A great way to relight your models in Photoshop is to make a layer mask out of a normal map. The benefit of this is that you can quickly change the lighting in your scene using this layer mask on an adjustment layer like Curves. To boost this effect, change the blending mode to Linear Dodge.