Well the process of designing Fire Dragon wallpaper is not full of interesting tips and tricks. It was actually 24 hours of drawing with brushes of different sizes and colors. As always, to start, we need background. Set foreground to dark red, background to black. Select Gradient tool, choose Radial type, fill the document dragging the mouse from bottom to top of image.
The mountains in the background are very easy to do - they are simply black shapes made with Pen tool. So, take a Pen tool and make a shape :-)
Create new layer, take soft brush tool, set color to lighter red, and make strokes as shown here, touching the edge of mountain.
Create clipping mask (from Layers menu). The mountain is ready.
The same way, create as many mountains as you'd like.
The dragon itself consists of 2 parts: soft brushes and hard brushes (outlines). Without many comments, let me show you soft brushes, layer by layer. Start with dark red very large soft brush (you can apply Gaussian Blur as well), and with each new layer, make brush smaller, make color lighter and move it from red to yellow.
Finally, here goes real Photoshop trick! The soft brushes are good for background colors, and hard brushes are good for outlines, but neither are good enough to draw fire. I tried using my tablet pressing hard brush gently, but I ended up with dragon made of fur, not fire :-) So I started playing with changing settings of default Photoshop brushes. Finally, I achieved something that satisfied me (I realize it is not perfect but drawing fire takes a lot of skills, I am only starting my way to it). You can download tool preset and try this brush yourself. DOWNLOAD TOOL PRESET.
Using this brush, make some strokes around the edges of dragon... (on this image, I show only this layer on black background, so you can better see how this brush looks)
And then set layer mode to Overlay, and duplicate layer. This is the result, shown with all layers visible.
Next trick is usually used in tutorials like Make your own Aqua OSX wallpaper! But I found I wanted this effect here too. Set color to grey (HEX 808080). With pen tool, create a shape of dragon.
Set layer mode to Overlay. Because layer is grey, it will become invisible - do not worry! :-) Create new layer, and with black and white large soft brushes, put some dots here and there.
Then, Create clipping mask (from layer menu). Magically, the brush is masked by vector layer, and inherited overlay!
You can repeat the same steps to create additional curve inside wings.
And, use the same technique to make dragon head (or, unlike me, you could do it on previous step! That would be wiser :-)
This is how the head looks when I set shape layer mode to Overlay, then add black and white brush dots, and create clipping mask.
Use Pen tool to add white eye, then set its layer mode to Overlay too.
Here goes most fun and time-consuming part: outlines. For next steps below, I made outlines with small hard white brush, then set layer mode to Overlay.
This is how it looks with layer mode = overlay...
next layer... hitting my tablet with pen a lot :-)
setting layer mode to overlay...
setting layer mode to overlay...
Next step - volcano. As with previous mountains, set color to black, and use Pen tool to make a shape of a mountain.
In new layer, use large soft brushes (from dark red to gold) to fill mountain with color. Create clipping mask (from layer menu). Apply gaussian blur if needed.
Add lava in the same way as with dragon wings - with small white hard brush.
You guessed it right! set layer mode to overlay :-)
The final touch is clouds above the volcano (to tell the truth, I added clouds to hide transition between volcano and dragon :-) I was not happy with it). Create new document, with width twice more than height. set foreground to white and background to black. Then apply Clouds filter (Filters menu - Render).
select central part of image, as shown here. Transform (Ctrl-T), holding Alt key, and stretch selection to fill entire document.
Enable Quick Mask (Q key), apply Clouds filter again, disable Quick Mask (Q key again). You should get selection similar to this.
Fill selection with black color (simply hit Ctrl-Backspace for that). Then, set Auto Levels (Ctrl-Shift-L).
Do that again - enable quick mask, apply Clouds filter, disable quick mask, fill selection with black, set auto levels (or, in shortcuts - Q, Ctrl-F, Q, Ctrl-Backspace, Ctrl-Shift-F).
Now we need to remove black from this image. To do so, select all (Ctrl-A), copy (Ctrl-C), enable quick mask (Q), paste (Ctrl-V), disabled quick mask (Q). Note how white parts are selected.
Invert selection (Ctrl-Shift-I) and delete (Del). Then open Hue/Saturation window (Ctrl-U), and set lightness to 100. You should get white clouds on transparent background.
Copy and paste clouds into our artwork.
switch to Eraser tool (E). select very large soft brush, and erase edges of clouds layer, so that clouds start to actually look like clouds.
Open Hue/Saturation window again (Ctrl-U). set lightness to -40 .. -50, saturation to 80..90. Then play with Hue to get vivid red clouds.
Repeat all steps to create another layer with clouds (only, do not make them red this time).
Then add another layer with clouds, and another one :-) That's all! Thanks for reading!