Creating a Science Fiction Combat Scene Photoshop Tutorial

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Creating awesome science fiction art may seem like an incredible challenge, with all the intricate elements and gadgets, neon lighting, buildings, advanced weapons and other aspects, but luckily, it’s not as hard as you might think.  While there are people who can digitally paint any scene that comes into their mind, most of us aren’t at that artistic level, so it’s easier to photomanipulate things.

In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to create a science fiction photomanipulation in Photoshop.  First, we’ll start by creating a futuristic style city, followed by adding in our main character, and then lastly, we’ll add some combat elements to it.

If you want more of the best photomanipulation tutorials on the web, check out these posts:

Enjoy!

Tools Used:

  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Stock Images
  • A Tablet

Final Image Preview:

Step one: Collecting and isolating stocks

Ok so to start off with we will need a night time cityscape something with a lot of vibrant lights. You can get these all over the net so just go searching around and you will find one fairly easy enough. I got mine from shutter stock and it looks like the below screenshot. Once you have your stock image just drop it into your canvas and crop it as you see fit.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Next we will need our main stock image, the model/figure. I got mine from the great MJ-Ranum on deviantart but you can use whatever you like. If you want to use the same one I did it is located at: http://mjranum-stock.deviantart.com/gallery/1854632#/d2mzgyx

Once you have your model just isolate it out and plop it into your canvas.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Now its time to grab up a wall stock or something similar. Again I will be using one from shutterstock but you can find these all over the net. My stock was taken from the below screenshot, clone stamped and then dropped into the scene.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Step 2: Basic Background Building

Now its time to make the background pop a little bit more and look more like a window rather than some strange stock montage. So to start off grab your background city stock and apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of about 7 or 8 depending upon how ‘blurred’ you want the buildings to look. Once you have done that duplicate the blurred layer and set it to Multiply, this will darken everything but the lights giving it more of a night time feel, don’t bother duplicating the city if you feel that yours is dark enough. Finnally we can then create a new layer and fill it with Cyan, this layer should be set to overlay at about 50%.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Remember you don’t have to duplicate the city, this is just by choice!

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Now lets add some texture, because as we know, windows really aren’t always 100% clean and smudge free!  So to start off head over to CG textures and grab this stock http://cgtextures.com/texview.php?id=58685&PHPSESSID=1434932907f6c8b121a97617234e8e27

Just clone stamp the black bar out of the middle and set it to overlay at about 15-10% we don’t want anything to obstruct the view of our blurred city, rather just to enhance/give the window like effect.

Next we will do the same thing with this stock http://cgtextures.com/texview.php?id=39570&PHPSESSID=1434932907f6c8b121a97617234e8e27

I also duplicated the original city and blurred it again with a radius of 255px and set it to overlay at 25% opacity but you don’t have to do this, I thought it helped to meld everything thus far but its not required.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial
Remember you really don’t have to blur the city a final time unless you think it looks better. Also keep in mind that the blurred city can and should be placed above your figure if you like it.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

After doing the above you can see that there is some (however faint) texture in the cityscape now.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Step 3: Cracks and bullet holes

So now its time to add some cracks/bullet holes, rather than displaying a huge list of the bullet holes I used  I will just to give you the link to the CG textures page so you can grab the ones you want! The bullet holes can be found here : http://cgtextures.com/textures.php?t=browse&q=33638

So when you look at the bullet holes you will notice that they are almost entirely black and white. Why is that important? Well since all we want is the white (broken looking sections) we can simply apply these as screen and ta-da!

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

So grab a few and lets get started. You will want to grab a handful of smaller holes and place them all around the figure, then start dropping one or two large ones in. Place the larger ones as if they are coming in from the corners/behind the figure.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Now grab a few of the longer splinters and place them from one bullet hole to another. This will give a more realistic effect, if you shot a glass window enough the splinters would join together and eventually the plate of glass would shatter. This in my opinion is the most important part of the glass. You can place as many as you like whilst doing this as well.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

For a better example of what I mean by connecting take a look at the two below screenshots. Also if your having issues with your splinters ending in a hard manner just feather them with a large soft edged brush, something like a 300px 0% hard eraser should do the trick!

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Step 4: Coloring, Over painting and doodles!

Ok so now we have our glass done for the most part but I figure still seems very out of place. To correct this create a new layer above the figure and grab a soft edged brush. Once you have done that choose the same cyan that you used for the background and simply stroke all the way around your figure, basically just drawing an outline all around your figure. Depending on how rough you do this you may want to apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of about 3px. Once that is done drop the opacity down to about 45%.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Now let’s head up to the helmet, this is my favorite part of the piece, its where we will add some finer details and some doodles. To start off with lets add some tech stuff to our visor, to do this I used a brush from the wonderful Z-Design on deviantart, but you can just draw this out as well. The brush pack can be found here:

http://z-design.deviantart.com/gallery/?catpath=/resources/#/d1pre4n

Just choose one you like and drop it in, I used a purple color for this to counteract all the blue going on but you can keep it white if you like. Once you brush has been placed you should feather the end that is fading into the darker parts of her visor as I have done in the below screenshot.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Next just start drawing all over your helmet with the previously used soft edged brush. You can do whatever you like, words, faces, symbols or just whatever comes to mind. I also painted over the helmet a tad during this process just to darken up spots, I also removed the big red star by just painting over it in black. But you can do whatever you like here. Just have fun with it!

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

You can also take this opportunity to paint obscure things on other parts, for example the gun belt and gun.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

My scene now looks like the below screen shot.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Step five: Laser sights and smoke

Ok so now lets add in some laser sights! This is actually very simple to do but adds a very cool effect to the overall image. First grab your line tool and set it up as I have (with red as the line color) and then draw a straight line.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Now using your perspective tool just add some perspective so it appears as if its coming from outside the scene and pointing at your figure. Once you have done that apply a Gaussian blur with a radius of about 3px to kind of fluff the laser up some.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Once we have done that we want to apply a layer mask and paint some darker sections in to give the appearance that the laser is reflecting more in certain areas, as if theres some smoke in the room or dust etc… to do this we can grab out cloud brush from one of our previous tutorials (http://design.creativefan.com/create-story-coming-alive-fantasy-photomanipulation/ ) and just use the brush on the  layer mask.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Next just draw a circular dot on your canvas and your laser sight is done!

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Now just add in a few more as you see fit! After adding in the new laser sights I went ahead and created a white to black gradient and set it to softlight at 45% over everything but this is not required, I just thought it helped with the mood.

Finally to finish the piece off we can grab a smoke stock off of Cg textures and drop it in to our scene, again this can just be set to screen! I placed the smoke coming off the tip of the barrel and then duplicated it, placed it behind the gun and flipped it horizontally to give it a better smoking gun like effect.

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

Science Fiction Combat Photoshop Tutorial

And now we are done! I finished the piece off by painting over a good bit more of the scene and then just sharpened it up, my final image looks like the below screenshot.

I hope you enjoyed reading this tutorial and it has helped you understand a few concepts or at least showed you some techniques you did not know. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Or if you have any tut suggestions please drop a comment, we are always looking for new concepts!

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