When adding details, fight the urge to stay zoomed in too close. Now that we have added a light, it’s a great time to remember to zoom back out and look at our entire image before we add more details, to make sure that it feels correct and that it doesn’t pull too much attention. Since that light is so far the only source, we make a mental note that later we need to add more lights to the top and middle of the tank.
Now that things are in good shape, we spend some time cleaning up the overall look of our tank and its current details. Since we have established the sky and the ground, we want to take a little time to paint out any blemishes and assert the tank as a solid object. As we are halfway done, we want to make sure we have a smooth, un-detailed tank, which reflects both the sky and ground. This ensures that we can focus on details, rather than fixing early mistakes.
Repeated shapes like grates and ladders can be cut and pasted around the vehicle later to add authenticity. Let’s take a moment to create two very simple and easy tools for later. Create a square shape and then create a circular shape on it, by using the Elliptical Marquee tool, filling the selection with black. Copy and move that circle by hitting Cmd/Ctrl+Shft+Opt/Alt and dragging that circle into a new location. Then select those two circles and repeat the step until you have created a row of circles. Then select that row and repeat until you have a grid of circles.
Now that we’ve created our circles in a square formation, it’s time to take it to the next level. With all of the circles selected, select the Move tool and relocate your circles outside of the square. If you’ve accidentally unselected these, simply reselect them by choosing the Magic Wand tool, holding the Shift button and manually selecting all again. We now have both a solid grate and a series of holes, which we will use later, often.
Using the tools we’ve used before, it’s time to go a little crazy adding more inventive details to our tank. The method of doing this is simple. Using your Marquee tool, select the circles you created before, and press Cmd/Ctrl+T to change them to Transform mode. Because our main wire frame was established early on, we can then drag that box around and warp it to fit within the confines of our panels. Simply select the corners of the Transform box and stick it to the panels as in the example here.
Now that we’ve made some good tools, we can combine them with earlier things we’ve learned in order to get a nice convincing image. After applying a little logic, we realised that a tank, which takes heavy gunfire and harsh conditions, should protect its valuable assets like lights and exhaust intakes. The solution is to apply the grate to sensitive elements, as doing so helps the believability of our design. When we do this, we appease the rule of form following function.
Using a nifty brush that has been supplied, we decided to add some gunshots and burns to the front side of the vehicle. First, we create a new panel, which reinforces the thickness of the design and adds a larger front plane with more surface area for us to play with. Using a selection tool, we select a front-facing panel and use the brush to add in some blemishes on its corner.
A key to convincing the viewer of blemishes and scratches is to also make sure those blemishes follow the form of the vehicle. We copy and paste the last step into a new layer here, and use the Transformation tool that we’ve learned in a previous step to tailor the blemishes to the top side of the panel. Since we imagine that the tank moves forward quickly while taking fire, we illustrate this by stretching the blast marks a bit before we lay them along the panel.
Now that we’re fully committed, this step is perhaps the longest, which explained simply, means using everything we’ve learned so far. As we put it all together, we take care to follow the lighting scheme, follow the forms, illuminate the surfaces and add details and scratches. There’s really no substitute here for time, dedication and focus. Experiment, gather more reference, look at guns, lights, missiles and paint them in with care to follow the rules of lighting and sticking to the wire frame. You’re in the final stretch.
Now that the tank is complete and the details are laid in, it’s time to add that last little bit of light. Using a Color Dodge blending mode layer and a soft round brush, we dust the front of the tank with the colour of the sun, using a nice neutral grey. To attract the focus of the viewer, we also darken the edges of the painting by using a Multiply blending mode layer and selecting a bright colour from the sky, so too much black isn’t introduced into the image.