With the texture on its own layer, I filled the inverted selection of the line work with the basic colour scheme. The background was created using another photo, which was of abstract food with a quick Motion Blur applied, a blue-tinted Photo Filter and a custom brush. The brush was created by Mathias Verhasselt and supplied as a free download.
After breaking up the creature with some simple highlights, shadows and basic colours, I duplicated that photo texture silhouette a few times. I set up my hot key as Cmd/Ctrl+Opt/Alt+J for reproducing a selection and creating new layers quickly. To get the most out of the texture, position three duplications above the base colours. The top one is set to Multiply, the next to Overlay and the next to Hard Light.
After flattening the effects layers, I built up the values and colour of the creature to break up the structure and focal points. The image was flipped to check for flaws and the background hit up with a contrasting colour to that of the blue in the sky and creature’s colours. The background, line work and base colours are all on separate layers, while the line work is set to Multiply.
Still in keeping with the line work on Multiply and painting beneath the sketch, I built up the shadows and the highlights of the creature. I also adjusted the levels and saturation of the background and continued to apply more pinks and brighter colours to help in contrast with the creature.
It’s time to flatten the image. Starting from this point on, the base texture and colours of the image are complete. A quick Hue, Saturation and Lightness adjustment is made on a duplicated layer of the creature. On an additional duplicated layer, a Photo Filter colour adjustment is added to help tie in the tones of the creature to that of the background sky. Each of the layers are erased out in various areas so that some of the true colour we started with still shines through.
This is just the tedious polishing and defining what basically already exists. The colours and values are close to what we want so that will serve as a guide to rendering out the finer details. Brighter colours and a stronger contrast in values of light and dark colours will help define key elements in the design.
I selected the lower back of the creature, duplicated the area and then ran a Photo Filter effect over the area to fade subtly into the same colour of the pink sky. In addition, I lowered the contrast of values and saturation on that area to push the depth of field. Taking brighter colours from the background and hitting up the edges of the creature will help make him pop through the use of rim lighting.
I added in some more features, like the spikes of the chest and patterns on the arms, and brightened the saturation of a few extra spots. Other elements, such as the moon/planet and falling feathers, help balance the negative space in the background between the creature. Providing some Motion Blur effects helps in both the action taking place as well as bringing focus to the head of the creature. One of the last things done to help provide movement was the addition of strokes to the clouds using the Smudge tool. A quick check and it’s finished.