14. We’re onto the final steps now. Add in the three characters, which you’ll be painting in manually. The key here again is to get the tonal range correct. Start by simply blocking in a silhouette, as often the shape of your characters will determine how the viewer reads them, particularly when they’re in shadow, as in this instance.

15. Once you’re satisfied, start filling the characters in with colour, making sure to keep the tonal range narrow and the brightness low. Often a well-placed highlight is enough to suggest form and the brain easily fills in the gap, but bear in mind where the light is coming from. Paste in photos of clothing, hair and so on to blend the characters in more, using the techniques you’ve learned so far.

16. In the final stage, flatten the layers and then make refinements on a new layer. I added some sun glare by using a soft round airbrush and painting a white circular shape next to the right hand tree. Then go to Layer > Layer Style > Outer Glow and apply a pale yellow. Click OK and then set the layer’s blending mode to Hard Light with around 80% opacity.


When working with multiple layers, it’s useful to work without collapsing the layers – this allows you to make changes easily and edit on the fly. However this can yield complicated files that are difficult to keep track of unless you’re meticulous about naming layers. To find a layer quickly, select the Move tool, hold down Cmd/Ctrl and click on the area you wish to modify. The layer will then be highlighted in the window.

Who: After training in Fine Art, Richard Tilbury went on to do an MA in Computer Animation, and now works as a texture and character artist in the games industry. As well as working freelance, he is the resident artist at 3D Total, and works on projects ranging from environment and character design through to concept work and tutorials.
Contact: richardtilburyart.com
Software: Adobe Photoshop
Time to complete: 8-10 hours
On the CD: All files for this tutorial can be found on the cover CD.