Ranko Blažina is a graphic designer and digital artist who works out of Samobor, Croatia. He’s also a director at graphic design studio Snooze. For the last eight years he has been working and developing a broad range of illustrations and graphical products.
The photo stock used in this image was the inspirational linchpin for its theme, representing the spirit at the heart of the forest. “The spirit is this young woman trying to find a beam of light that will save her soul and keep the forest safe,” explains Blažina.
Although it seems the character is trapped in the tree, she’s actually detaching from it, as Blažina reveals: “The image as a whole symbolises how people have become [detached] from their true nature, things that are important like love and consideration. They need some kind of divine light to save them.”
Brushwork became imperative in achieving lighting and other image effects, using an array of styles, applied through several tones, and dodging and burning techniques. “Burn and Dodge tools were essential in applying lighter and darker areas, especially to the girl’s neck and hands,” Blažina tells us.
Brushes also helped Blažina produce the exact mood he imagined for this image, as he explains: “In this case, I wanted to create a gloomy, fantastical forest, accomplished by manually painting light sources and ray layers, dodging image elements that fell beneath this effect layer to create authentic highlights.”
Use a Large brush at 1,000px to paint in soft light rays. Use a small 100px to 300px brush to add smaller rays. Select the Eraser tool (E) and erase parts to alternate height and width. Lower layer Opacity to between 30% and 50%.
Paint vines around the model, defining contour with lighter and darker colours, made easier with a predefined light source. Duplicate this layer, placing it behind your model. Add a Gaussian Blur and set a Multiply blending mode for shadow.