advanced photoshop

How I Made: Light, Shadow And War

Posted in:
General, by Rebecca Greig

The Photoshop secrets behind this inspiring concept painting are revealed

How I Made: Light, Shadow And WarWhen Nat Monney began working on this painting, he wasn’t to know it would end up being used alongside the production of a short movie for Caravel Production. “This digital painting was my final project for a matte painting course at e-tribArt, a French online school,” explains Nat. “When I started sketching, the only thing I had in my mind was painting something cool, with some old Asian buildings.” However, his artwork is now being used in Le Duc Sans Coeur, currently in the pre-production stages.

Nat Monney also helped to form Swiss collective DNA Studios ( He’s part of a dedicated and committed collective that produces works for the movie, videogame and web design industries. He reveals to Advanced Photoshop how his initial ideas for Light, Shadow And War developed: “I wanted to draw an epic view that could be included in a movie as a matte painting,” describes Nat, “but it turned into a kind of scenic illustration, like a concept design which could then be used for a cleaner, photorealistic work.”

How I Made: Light, Shadow And WarBlack and white sketch Focus on shapes to begin with. Doing this in monochrome allows for some good general values while drawing, which is harder to achieve with colours.

Colours This can be a very complicated step, but it’s a good idea to decide on colours pretty early on as it will help to direct the tone of your image. Add colour and experiment, but don’t be afraid to do so quickly.

Composition Orange tones were worked into the composition. Also, drawing a warrior and a lightning strike gives time, weather and human scale information, and brings the overall composition into something more tragic.How I Made: Light, Shadow And War

Details This step took some time, as I tend to lose myself in detailing and refining everything in the picture. The key is to keep a constant level of detail throughout the whole image.

How I Made: Light, Shadow And WarCold shadows I painted more saturated colours and increased the contrast in the background. Creating cold colours on the shadows breaks the monochromatic feel and adds variation.

Brightness and contrast In this step, the background was too bright and had too much contrast, so I reworked the horizon and refined everything. The fog was added into the composition to help add mood.How I Made: Light, Shadow And War

Lighting effects This step is about adding effective lighting effects, such as sunrays and light blurs. I darkened the left side because I wanted to force the attention onto the flag, where the biggest contrast stands.

Generate atmosphere For the final step, I wanted to create a good ambient atmosphere, harmonised colours and a nice polished draw. I added some purples to get great variation and something more dramatic.