advanced photoshop

How I Made: Pop bird

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Tips & Tutorials, by Rebecca Greig

See how this digital artist characterises pop stars using Photoshop paint and light techniques

How I Made: Pop birdThis illustration is part of a series that was created to advertise Metro Sweden’s sponsorship of the Eurovision Song Contest. Each bird is a playful caricature of a famous Swedish pop star. Digital illustrator Therese Larsson chose to portray a certain young, popular music artist as a sparrow, which she felt represented this person’s boy band status and young, energetic persona perfectly.

The bird itself was painted from scratch, using a few different Photoshop brushes that Larsson collected over the years. “The background was modelled in 3D by Mattias Frodlundh. Light effects were painted on top, merging the two pieces together in a way that looks wholly authentic,” she explains. “I studied a lot of light effects, but also worked light beams into the image using stock photos and blending modes.”

How I Made: Pop bird01 Painting the feathers

Realistic feathers are an important part of this image. I took my time to study photos of real bird wings, trying to get the structure right. There were no shortcuts, just a lot of effort.


02 Adding light beams How I Made: Pop bird

I added stock photography of real light beams as new layers, then set blending modes to Screen. I erased from and added to these layers using brushes and layer masks, working the light into the scene.


How I Made: Pop bird

03 Additional details 

As this is a show bird, I felt that he needed a more dramatic stage light. I also wanted to make the scene feel alive and not overly clean, so I added dust particles to make the environment more realistic.