Skulls and bones Tutorials (moved from TT&T)
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    Skulls and bones Tutorials (moved from TT&T)

    Hey Everyone,

    Has anyone seen a tutorial on how to do bones and skulls properly in photoshop? Paint them to look realistic AND, make something look like bone even if its not realistic (fantasy/sci-fi/monsters/armor type things)? Been scouring the internet for the past couple of days and I haven't seen anything, except for smokey skull's or fiery skulls, but no realistic skulls and bone tutorials.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KilJhard View Post
    Hey Everyone,

    Has anyone seen a tutorial on how to do bones and skulls properly in photoshop? Paint them to look realistic AND, make something look like bone even if its not realistic (fantasy/sci-fi/monsters/armor type things)? Been scouring the internet for the past couple of days and I haven't seen anything, except for smokey skull's or fiery skulls, but no realistic skulls and bone tutorials.
    Bumping and anyone know why I keep getting a malware error page every time I try to come to conceptart.org? Kind of annoying.

    Last edited by KilJhard; January 4th, 2013 at 04:27 PM.
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    Why would you need a specific tutorial? Find pics of bones, or find casts of bones or actual bones and draw them. Bones are often fairly matte, there isn't a trick to doing them right. It's not like painting a disco ball oozing translucent slime in a volcano or anything.

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    Not sure what the issue here is...bone that has been cleaned and stuff is basically just a matte off-white colour. So as long as you know their forms, then you can paint them realistically pretty easily. Just Google some images of skulls and stuff and look at how they are lit. And if you want to make up bones, learn what sorts of things they tend to have in common, so you can include those details. For example, the ends of bones will be designed to interact at a joint usually either as a hinge or ball and socket, so its shape needs to reflect that. And then bones often have other features such as small holes for nerves and blood vessels, small bumps for attachment points of muscles etc. Skulls may have extra holes in them to lighten them (various fenestral holes), or may have sutures in them. Even alien bones are based off of existing ones--you want to include recognizable things so people will say "ah that's bone!". So make sure to have characteristic things such as those I mentioned, or maybe include some ribs as they are very distinctive.

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    You guys are missing the point. The OP wants to know how to do them in Photoshop. Preferrably a step-by-step tutorial. Little numbers would be great too.

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    Sorry, no little numbers for you Jeff



    Alrighty, decided to make a tutorial because...well, I haven't done a step by step in a little while, and I like doing them since it makes me think through my own process more. Also I've been meaning to do a skull study for a little while, so I thought I'd kill a few birds with one stone. So yeah, I'm not a professional or anything, this is just the way I personally do things, and you can take what you want from it.

    Now, this is a basic method of painting in photoshop, and a basic way of doing studies. This example is for a skull/bone because that's what the OP wanted, but in reality this is mean to show how to study any object or material or whatever.

    Start off by choosing the image you want to study. In this case I chose a skull I got through google...I think I searched "art reference skull" or something because just googling "skull" had a ton of shitty cartoon drawings and stuff that wasn't helpful to what I wanted. So here is what we are studying:
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    All we're gonna do is copy the reference. But not just "copy". More like analyze as we paint it. So I'll paint it while taking note of characteristics that are unique.


    I start off by destroying the white of the canvas, in this case the background is essentially a black/dark brown. Easy so far.
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    Now lines are an optional part of this. If you are studying structure using lines is pretty helpful, but for just colour or material I often skip lines altogether. But for this case and to make it a bit easier to follow, I did lines. You can see I don't like using very tight lines in general--I'd rather do most of the work in paint not line. Plus people tend to follow lines a lot, so if they are a bit off it will ruin things later on, whereas working just with paint you are more likely to fix shapes. At least in my experience. Note I'm drawing through the forms and thinking in basic shapes, spheres for cranium and sphere for the mouth/teeth area.
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    The first lines I did were a very "feeling" based process and not very accurate. They helped my understanding but are pretty useless for any guidelines. So I do a bit tighter line drawing over top.
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    Now, I don't want to mindlessly copy the reference because this is a study to learn. So I analyze the lighting situation and try to figure out how things are lit and how this particular material reacts to light. I make a sphere and light it hte same way as the skull is lit--two white light sources, one from above behind and one from above left.
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    Just laying in a bit of value under my lines...I choose a darkish value so I can paint in the light on top of it in the next step.
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    Starting to lay in the light form one side. It's not the right value yet, I wanna creep my way there and not punch things in right away because then I can't judge my values as well if I do. Note how large a brush Im using and how simplified and planar I'm painting.
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    Adding some ambient light in the shadow side...
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    Now I put in some of the brighter values.
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    I felt the colour was lacking a fair bit so far, so I took a soft textured brush and laid in some more saturated colours. Here I noticed how orange/red the bone can appear when light shines through thin parts such as the nose. This is from subsurface scattering, and in this case is a distinctive feature of bone, so take note of this. This is the type of thing you learn from studies like this and can include in other work.
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    Cleaning up the internal shapes a bit and punching in the darks now that the lights are established.
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    Fixing up the outer shapes of the skull...
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    Everything up to this point is reading pretty well, so I decide to do my first rendering pass.
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    In this step I felt again the colour was lacking a bit (colour tends to disappear as you render in photoshop so you need to periodically introduce new colour into it). I took both the sponge tool and dodge tool to fix up a few areas a little. Then I selected the entire skull and stretched it a bit as I felt the shape was off (this is because my initial line drawing was off, and I stuck to it...a big reason I don't use line).
    Name:  Skull_WIP13.jpg
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    I did a final rendering pass on it using a soft brush and introduced a bit more colour variation. Done! Of course if I wanted to I could keep rendering for days, but this was just a very quick study meant to learn about painting skulls. Any further rendering would be an exercise in, well, rendering. I learned what I wanted to from this study, so I stop now.
    Name:  Skull_WIP14.jpg
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    Things I learned: Bone isn't as smooth as you might think, it's all textured slightly--this is especially apparent where planes turn from light to shadow. While bone is a yellowish colour, don't be afraid to add in other colours, there is a lot of orange where subsurface scattering occurs in thin bone, and in shadows there are lots of grey-greens and browns. Little details help sell it such as tine holes, knobby bits, sutures, gaps between teeth, etc.

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    Wow That is beautiful! Great process, thanks for the tutorial sir.

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    Wow! Thanks Andrew, thats fantastic, and exactly what I was looking for! Greatly appreciate it.


    P.S. Sorry for the silence, I don't know what it is, but I continued to get maleware warnings every time I tried to view Conceptart from Chrome and I just got frustrated with having to click 10 different things just to make it back to this page. :/

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    You forgot the brushes, so this tutorial is useless!

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    Glad you guys can appreciate/get something out of this mini tutorial thing!


    Arshes: Hahahahhaa yeah, I forgot to mention that there is a brush I use that makes things look good for me In all seriousness though I tried to use pretty basic brushes for this exactly so people wouldn't ask this sort of question. If it wasn't you (or somebody else on the forums that I know) posting this, I probably would have had my blood boiling at that comment haha. For those genuinely curious though I used Jaime Jones' brush set for this painting...you should be able to find it for download pretty quickly with a google search.

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