There’s something so fascinating about dragons. They are beautiful, mystic and legendary creatures whose existence lives in books, films and our imagination. In this tutorial, we are going oriental with this Chinese fire dragon visual, something advanced for a change to challenge the designer in you! Try it out=D
Program: Photoshop CS6, Windows 10
Time: 2 hour
What We Will Be Learning:
In this tutorial, we will be learning how to create a fiery dragon image!
This tutorial assumes you have knowledge of basic Photoshop functions such as adjustment layers, layer masks, and layer effects.
Note: At the end of each step there is an image of what my layers look like at the point of that step in case you get lost!
Step One: Creating the Background
1. Open a new document with a width of 2000 and a height of 2631 pixels.
2. Create a color fill layer and fill it with a dark red (#1f0000).
3. Create a new layer and set it to “Overlay”.
4. Using a large, round, soft brush paint black around the edges of your canvas. Bring the layer opacity down to “70%”.
5. Create a new layer and set it to “Overlay”.
6. Using the same brush, but set to white, paint the middle of your canvas.
7. Create ANOTHER Overlay layer, and paint a white blob towards the bottom of your image.
8. Create one last Overlay layer and paint a white blob at the bottom of your image.
As you can see, we have created a very bright light coming from the bottom of the canvas. Group all the layers you have just created together and name the group “Background”
Step Two: Adding the Dragon
Next, we are going to add our dragon. Feel free to create/draw your own, however, I will be using an available dragon image: #22138379
1. Create/place your dragon in the middle of your canvas.
2. Add a “Bevel & Emboss” layer effect. Settings:
3. Add a “Gradient Overlay” layer effect. Settings:
4. Lastly, add an “Outer Glow” layer style. Settings:
Now, we are going to add all the dragon’s glow effects.
1. Duplicate your dragon layer and using a color overlay layer effect color it red (#ff0000). Set the layer to “screen”.
2. Using the Transform Warp tool, pull and warp the red dragon.
3. Duplicate the warped red dragon layer then add a Gaussian Blur by going to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. The settings will depend on the size of your image. Also, erase any glow you don’t want. Here is what mine looks like:
4. Duplicate the blurred red dragon layer. Add a VERY strong Gaussian blur to it.
5. Duplicate the layer you just created so you double the glow effect.
6. Duplicate your original, non-blurred, dragon and bring the layer above all your blurred red dragon layers.
7. Turn the dragon white by going to Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation and set the Lightness to +100.
8. Set the layer to “Overlay”.
Group all the layers you just created together in a group named “Dragon”.
Step Three: Creating a Shadow
Now, we are going to create a dramatic shadow.
1. Duplicate your dragon layer and color it black. Bring it below your original dragon layer. Set the layer to “Normal”.
2. Using the Transform Warp tool, pull and warp the red dragon so that it is taller and larger words the top, and smaller towards the bottom.
3. Add a slight Gaussian blur.
4. Duplicate that layer 2-3 times to increase the intensity of the shadow.
Group all the shadow layers together in a group named “Shadow”, This group should be BELOW your “Dragon” group.
Next, we are going to add a vessel, or object, that the dragon is coming out of. I choose to use a Chinese New Year treat bag (image #17624920)
1. Extract and place your bag below your dragon.
2. Create and clip a Brightness/Contrast into your bag. Settings: Brightness -75 and Contrast 57.
3. Create and clip a Color Balance layer into your bag. Settings: Red 17 and Blue -19.
4. Create and clip a new layer into your bag. Set it to “Overlay”.
5. Using a medium/small, round, soft brush set to a low brush flow (10-15%) paint white on the highlights and black on the shadows.
6. Create a clip a new layer into your bag. Set it to “Screen”.
7. Using the same brush as you did above paint red (#ff0000) on the top part, and upper sides of your bag.
8. Do the same thing again, only this time with the color orange (#ff601a). Paint some hard lines on any hard edges like the folds of the bag.
Now, we are going to add our bag’s shadow.
1. Create a new layer above your bag layers. Set it to “Multiply”.
2. With a medium, soft, round brush paint black on the middle and bottom of the bag. Including the area below the bag.
3. Create a new layer and bring it below your bag and it’s layers. Set it to “Overlay”.
4. Using a small/medium brush paint black below your bag, make it more like a “blurry line”.
Finally, to connect the dragon to the bag:
1. Duplicate your original dragon layer, and bring the layer below your bag layers. Right, click on the layer > Rasterize Layer Style.
2. Set the layer to “screen”, and move it down your canvas so that the tail looks like it coming from inside the bag.
3. Add a layer mask and using a large soft brush mask out the top and middle part of the dragon. Leaving mainly the tail.
1. Create a new layer set to “Screen”. Add a blob of orange coming from the top of the bag.
Step Five: Eyes and Glow
Now, we are going to add some glowing effects. Mainly focusing on the eyes.
1. Create a new layer above your Dragon group.
2. Take a hard white paint brush and paint int the eye areas solid white.
3. Create a new layer, set it to “Screen” and select ANY smoke brush you may have. Or you can use a simple soft brush.
4. Paint smoke coming from both of the dragon’s eyes.
5. Duplicate the layer to further increase the smoke effect and it’s opacity.
6. Create a new layer below your “Bag” group and set it to “Screen”.
7. Using any kind of light/sunburst brush, place a burst behind the bag and the dragon’s eyes/head. You can also hand paint the burst as well.
Step Six: Smoke and Sparks
Next, we are going to add out smoke effects.
1. Find a smoke image (image #2451170). Place it in the left side of your canvas and set it to “Screen”, below your Light Burst and bag layers.
2. Create, clip, and apply these two adjustment layers:
Color Balance: Red +100 and Blue -74
Brightness/Contrast: Brightness -25 and Contrast 100
3. Find a smoke or fog texture (http://fav.me/d88gz3g) and set it to “screen”.
4. Create and clip these three adjustment layers into your smoke texture:
Color Balance: Red 100, and Blue -74
Brightness Contrast: Contrast 100
5. Add a layer mask, and mask out any edges using a soft round brush.
1. Place more smoke in the bottom right-hand corner. Warp and stretch the smoke if needed.
7. Create a new layer below your dragon/bag groups.
8. Using any spark, debris, or dirt brush (http://fav.me/d4l7vww) paint sparks behind your dragon to add more detail.
Step Seven: Color Correction
Finally, we are going to add a total of 6 adjustment layers to give our image an overall color and atmosphere.
Going from top to bottom:
1. Color Lookup layer: Horror Blue, Opacity 50%
2. Brightness/Contrast layer: Brightness -16 and Contrast 25
3. Color Lookup layer: Crisp Warm, Opacity 21%
4. Color Lookup layer: (Device Link) Smokey, 50%
5. Color Lookup layer: (Abstract) Gold-Crimson, 35%
6. Color Lookup layer: Horror Blue, Opacity 62%
And you are done. It’s a little advanced but if you’ve got it, good job! There’s so many more tutorials to try your hands on, keep challenging yourself!
Other Fire Tutorials To Burn Off Some Steam: