I start off by making 15” x 11” canvas with 300 resolution in photoshop, for a sword painting. I have one layer become a background by filling it with the paint bucket tool, using a light brown umber. This gives the base of the painting a nice oil paint feel. Some people paint all on one layer like tradtional painting, I like a few so I can edit layers. Next, I create two more layers. The one at the very top is where I sketched the sword, the other layer will be where most of the painting takes place. So now we have three layers with a purpose: base color, place to paint and sketch. Note: If the sketch is too distracting, make it transparent by lowering the opacity on the sketch layer. In place of a digital sketch, one can also scan a sketch in.
I start painting on the layer between the base color and sketch. Tones and colors are added using an airbrush tool. Paint is lightly blocked into the areas: the handle using black, brown for the metal guard and white for the blade. These colors serve a starting point and now comes the fun part, refining the painting. I use a soft airbrush, followed with a harder edge brush on top. Rinse and repeat.
In essence, I paint the wrap of handle by following it’s flow. Stroke by stroke, building up the threads of the wrap as if I were weaving it. On some areas of the wrap I paint loosely leaving gaps for the white to come through, this makes for a nice gray texture and shading. At this point, I delete the sketch because I have clear image how the sword will come out. I build up the sword by applying more richer tons of colors as I go. I sample colors off the sword using the eye drop tool, to get nice mid-tones and paint with it. As you might notice the focus point started from the top and slowly painting it’s way to the bottom, but really a focus point can start from anywhere.
The handle looks flat, so I zoom in and give it an oval shape like a sword guard should be. I always try to keep painting 3d and focus on the light source to give it a stronger form. I clean up the sword by lightly erasing the stray strokes along the sides. Since the sword is on it’s own layer I don’t have to worry about removing any of the background color. If I happen work all on one layer I would just apply the same background colors covering any stray strokes.
I zoom back out and see if any corrections needed before I move onto the blade. If I see any mistakes I try to reframe from using an eraser, rather I repaint the area slightly bigger than the mistake. This may seem odd but it’s just like repairing a piece of wood with a small crack. If I just dab glue on top of the crack, it would look like a scar and the bond is weak because the glue is only on the top. Sometimes you need to pry the crack even larger so the glue can really get in, afterwards the area is polish off so it’s not so noticeable.
As for the blade, reflective objects can get tricky. The solution is by painting the blade with colors that would be in it’s surrounding environment, because it mirrors what is nearby. So we apply brown and tints. A very light purple, blue is introduced into the blade, to give it a pearl like shine. Since the blade is hand forge, I make selections using the lasso tool and lightly brush areas in streaks, to get it a metallic sheen. As for an overall polish, I place the brush on color dodge mode and very lightly go over the whole blade.
Time for the finishing touches. To give extra depth to the sword I add a background shadow and texture to make the sword pop out.
Finished : )