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Spotted Eagle Ray - making of

I was inspired by  a photo of beautiful eagle ray, and I wanted to create an artwork that includes the eagle ray underwater, and the sky above him, with stars shining.
So, the artwork will include the following parts:
- underwater;
- sky with stars;
- eagle ray.

Let's start with the water.
Set foreground color to saturated blue. Select Pen tool (P), and create a shape that fills bottom half of image, with wave on top, similar to shown here.

We need to add some depth to our water, and here is how. Create new layer, switch to Gradient tool (G), set background color to dark blue (almost black). In toolbar on top, switch to Radial gradient. Click-and drag the mouse from top-center of image to bottom-right (or bottom-left, does not matter). The result should look similar to this.

Create another new layer, switch to Linear gradient, and fill this new layer with gradient similar to this.

Now set this layer's opacity to 50%. Now, 2 gradients (radial and linear) are equally visible, and it adds nice depth to the image (not as primitive as only 1 gradient would look). Merge 2 layers with gradients into one (Ctrl-E).

Go to Layer menu - 'Create clipping mask' with previous (wave shape layer). You'll notice that selected layer now has an arrow pointing to the layer below. Now we have shape of water with nice gradient, but we need something more - light reflections. Let's do that!

Create new layer, set foreground color to white and background color to black (or vice versa). with Selection tool (M), select narrow horizontal area in the middle of the image (similar to shown here). Go  to Filter menu - Render - Clouds.

Transform selection (Ctrl-T or Edit menu - Transform), and scale it vertically, holding Alt key (so that it  is scaled up and down). Hit Enter to apply resizing.

I decided I want even more distortion so  I made selection again...

...and resized it again.

Go to Edit menu - Transform - Warp. In toolbar menu, open dropdown menu and select Arc. Next to it, there is Bend setting (50 by default). Change it  to -50 (or adjust to your liking) and hit Enter to apply changes.

Here is how the result should look.

Go to Layer menu - create clipping mask (this way we group 'rays of light' with shapee of water), set layer blend mode to Overlay and opacity to 5-10%. Woo-hoo! Our water looks very good now.

Let's create the sky now (maybe I should have done it first, because the sky is behind the water). Anyway, create new layer, and move it down the layer palette (so that it  is behind all other layers). Set foreground color or lighter blue, and background color to slightly darker blue. Select gradient tool (G), switch to Radial gradient, and fill layer with gradient, clicking-and-dragging your mouse from about middle of artwork to top-left or top-right edge.

Switch to Brush tool (B), select very large soft brush, set foreground to very dark blue, set Brush opacity (on top toolbar) to 10%, and with accurate long movements, fill top of layer with dark areas. You can also set forecolor to completely black and add a little of black to top edges of the image.

Create new layer, set forecolor to white, and back color to black. With Selection tool (M), create selection similar to shown here (narrow vertical area in the middle of image). Go  to Filter menu - Render - Clouds.

Similarly to what we did several steps before, resize layer (Ctrl-T, resize horizontally holding Alt).

Go to Edit menu - Transform - Warp, the dropdown menu will appear on toolbar. Open it, select Arch (not Arc :-) Set Bend to around 8-10, hit Enter to apply changes.

Finally, set layer's blend mode to Overlay, and opacity to 5-10%.

Now, both water and sky are good!

Let's draw the eagle ray now. I used the reference photo that I found in Internet (I removed parts of photo outside the eagle, so that they do not disturb me).
Find the photo for reference (I encourage you to not copy my photo, I already copied it :-) Create new layer on top of layers palette. Paste the reference photo, resize and move as you wish.

set opacity of layer with reference photo to 20%. Create new layer 'under' (below) layer with reference photo (so that reference layer is  on very top).
Set fore color to black, select Pen tool (P).
Looking at the photo of eagle ray, notice how it can be 'divided' into 2 parts: top (black with white spots) and bottom (part of bottom is visible on left wing of the ray). We'll start with top (black) part.
With accurate movements, create a silhouette of the ray. Working with Pen tool is the subject for separate tutorial. In short, you create a shape from 'anchor points', where each point is created by mouse click, and curve of shape around this point is created by dragging-and-releasing mouse after you clicked mouse to create a point. You'll need to practice a lot :-)

The tail of the ray is easier to do. Select Rounded rectangle tool (hit U, then select Rounded rectangle from toolbar on top). Create long and very narrow rectangle (a 'line'). Switch to Path selection tool (A), select the shape you just created, go  to Edit menu - Transform - Warp, then select Arc from dropdown list. Set Bend to 8-10, hit Enter to apply changes.

Transform shape (Ctrl-T) to move and rotate as necessary.

The top part of eagle ray is almost entirely black, except there is  a little highlight going through the middle of ray's body. Here is how to  do it: create new layer, set forecolor to grey, switch to Pen tool, and create a shape similar to shown here (only top part of shape is important, other sides will be clipped).

Go to Layer menu - Create clipping mask.

To to Layer menu - Layer mask - Hide all. You'll notice that 'mask' icon was added to selected layer in layers palette. Switch to Brush tool, select small soft brush, set fore color to white, and with gentle movements, draw where you want grey highlight to appear.

Now let's complete the ray's shape by adding 'bottom' part of its left wing. Create new layer, set fore color to bright blue, switch to Pen tool and create a shape similar to that (you can show and hide reference layer to make sure you match the shape of actual ray).

Create another new layer, switch to Brush (B), add white highlights (smaller brush) and black shadows (larger brush).

Go to Layer menu - create clipping mask, set layer's blend mode to Overlay. Bingo!

Creating spots is very easy but a bit monotonous. Create new layer, switch to very small hard brush, set fore color to light-greyish-blue, and draw spots. Don't forget to turn on reference layer, it will help you.

Here is how it looks with spots.

Now we need to add some little details to the border between water and air (You know, when you look at the photos taken half-underwater, the water border is not a plain line, it always has some twirls and bubbles). I decided to  go quick way :-) and simply add some minimalistic curves. Before starting, switch to Path selection tool (A), select the shape of water that you created in the beginning, and copy it  to clipboard (Ctrl-C).

Create new layer, set forecolor to white, switch to Pen (P), and create a shape similar to shown here (only top curve will remain visible).

Paste path from clipboard into this layer (Ctrl-V). Change this path mode to 'Substract' (second button in the row of 4 buttons in toolbar).

Set layer's blend mode to Overlay, and layer's opacity to 10-30%. What we just did looks almost invisible, but...

make another 'wave' (overlapping with previous), then again and again, until entire water line is filled with little waves on top of it.

The final touch is the stars. They are very easy to do. The main trick is setting of Brush tool.
As always, create new layer. Set fore color to very light blue (almost white), and back color to darker blue. Select Brush tool (B), open Brush settings (Window menu - Brushes).
Click Brush Tip Shape section, select 9px (or 13px) preset. Now, modify the following settings:
- spacing: 1000 (maximum);
- click Shape dynamics;
- set Size Jitter = 100%, minimum diameter = 50%;
- click Color dynamics;
- set Foreground/Background jitter to 100%.

Now, simply click randomly on top of image, and you will see how stars of various size and colors are added!


Once again, here is the final image.

← Design a colorful Northern Lights landscape Lion - making of →

Komentáre {112}

Speedy 14 november 2009
You'r the man! Thanks for sharing!

Dibakar Jana 17 november 2009

soukaina 20 november 2009

Anita 22 november 2009

Lea 29 november 2009
wow.. really like the colors, water and stars! - and that's kind of it all :D Love it :P

爱在下雪时 2 december 2009
it's good !I like it!

the69geeks 3 december 2009
Just awesome!! U make me ur follower... I always wondered how these cool wall papers are created.

tashinorden 5 december 2009
this is a great tutorial.thank you for sharing!

omega palguno 7 december 2009

ااااااااا 13 december 2009

Maheshkannan.S 13 december 2009

Katie 16 december 2009
Wow, that's amazing! As you said, using the Pen tool would need a separate tutorial...I'd like to see that tutorial! I just can't seem to get the hang of it. Could you help?

DazzleArt 26 december 2009
Thanks...wish I could save the tutorial. I am new to zazzle and have not the technical skills, but am trying to fix my store. Your input and designs are not only an inspiration but a great help to those who are less computer savy. Thanks again.

Jayesh Joshi 7 január 2010
Good Vlad, I liked it.

9 január 2010
mola un huevo

Nico 17 január 2010
Wow..That's Cool Man. Cheers.

Wad!e 25 január 2010
Awesome !! Thanks.

\"\"DJ SAMIZzzZZZ...\"\" 31 január 2010

qkr helen 4 február 2010
oh good

Vlad Gerasimov 6 február 2010
Random hero: because I use Photoshop.

naji 10 február 2010
wow. great

Varsh 19 február 2010
Awesome... really thnks

ninja 24 február 2010
OMG wow soo good :D love the effects with the water, light shining through...

Andrew 1 apríl 2010
Descomunal... wow

floriano 14 apríl 2010
this is the wallpaper in my working pc

marg 20 apríl 2010
Fantastico, mil gracias

jessi 22 apríl 2010
that look sooo nice, this is my first time using photoshop,, i will try to make this ,,

26 apríl 2010
I like very much!

abhijeet 4 máj 2010

Thomas Gao 15 máj 2010
Photoshop has never inspired me much until I read your writing!!!

antonio flores 1 jún 2010
que bueno chaval esres una maquina

Daryl Benson 6 jún 2010
Hi Didn't know Transform>Warp had that Custom feature. Been working wiht Photoshop since version 3.0, learned something new today. Thanks! Daryl

Suraj 29 jún 2010
great again... as always

Gail 6 júl 2010
Thanks very much for sharing this. Really helpful.

Kiran Kakadiya 26 august 2010
Realy nice Thanks a lot

Wisdom 4 september 2010
Hi, your tutorials are great, and the banners you made for phpBB are awesome, hope to see more tutorials from you ! Cheers :)

Miele 24 september 2010
Ficou muito bom!!!

Amr Elshamy 3 október 2010
Amazing :)

FOX 8 október 2010
i wish i have the talent in making art in computer. this is an awesome hobby !

19 november 2010
No comments !.... you the best.

kaann 23 november 2010

Shiba 24 november 2010

5 december 2010

فرتو فرت 13 december 2010
کيرم تو کونتون عجب آموزش باحالی بود :D

uncle Ё 4 január 2011
открывай школу для освоения PS

6 február 2011

MARTIN 26 február 2011

Thomas 7 marec 2011
Wow great.

ms 18 marec 2011
niceeeeeeeeeeeeeeee keep up the gr8 work!

sturat 11 máj 2011

awsome 18 máj 2011

Kaustav 13 júl 2011
Simply cool.....I'm really grateful to you, for the knowledge u shared,.....I'm working in Photoshop for years.....yet i didnt know many a facts i found in these tutorials.....thanks sir.

yeşim 9 apríl 2012

aiqinhai 4 september 2012
very beautiful,thanks.

MARCELLINO P RUSCA 5 október 2014
Outstanding !

Mohan 20 december 2014
Thank u, Very Excellent Art work and useful for me.

Demetris 14 november 2009
thx a lot man for sharing this one small but useful tutorial :D

august 18 november 2009

Megan 20 november 2009

Ratnadeep 24 november 2009
You are so Handy..........Lotz of Thanks from India

Lickle 28 november 2009
Awesome very good. :)

30 november 2009
Great work man. Respect.

Urgarth 3 december 2009
hmmm, very interesting =)

JP 4 december 2009

chaitanya varma 6 december 2009
Thanks Vlad...wonderfully explained!!

Kathleen Sullivan 11 december 2009
Am just learning photoshop. Your beautiful art piece, perfectly explained, was a treasure find for me. THANKS

Mark 13 december 2009
Tbis looks really ugly because i don't understand a thing from the final picture, and it sure doesn't look like a Spotted Eagle Ray. You have other great designs but this one...sorry to say but it sucks.

misulkaaaa:D 18 december 2009

Bambi Corro III 28 december 2009
i love the ray of light and sky effect! great tutorial man! thanks!

lili 1 január 2010
SUPER merci

suresh 9 január 2010

11 január 2010
wow.. really like the colors, water and stars! - and that's kind of it all. KEEP UP THE AMAZING WORK! THANKS....

Brasileiro 26 január 2010
oww, you have, sorry you made a good! work! you conquest my respect

awesome 29 január 2010
you're awesome. i want to meet you.

5 február 2010
its cool yaar.......

Random hero 6 február 2010
hi, why you don't use GIMP?

bushidogurl 10 február 2010
Simply wonderful! Luvin' it! *blows kiss to Vlad*

Rana Amjad Ali 16 február 2010
that's cool baby

Manuel Bec 8 marec 2010
You are the best!!!! =O

ak.29 23 marec 2010
thanks for showing this.... it's amazing

nnn 4 apríl 2010

tarun 17 apríl 2010
fantastic man

Fabrizio 21 apríl 2010
...I'm the last one to come here, but wanted to say once more.... THIS IS MINDBLOWING!!!!!!!!!

imorteza 22 apríl 2010

kelvin 30 apríl 2010
i completely luv it!!!!!

santhosh 13 máj 2010
enaku ipavey kanna kattudhey

:) 27 máj 2010

vijay 5 jún 2010
very nice creative

jordan 7 jún 2010
that was awstruck

imazing 16 jún 2010
wow. Thank's so much

kapeng 16 jún 2010
awesome! 5/5 love it

Светльо 31 júl 2010
Доста интересно!

otsen7 4 august 2010
okay I apreciated (sp) you before, but know I really appreciate you. this stuff looks so hard

crazy_99 3 september 2010

강동원 13 september 2010
감사합니다.^^ 잘쓰겠습니다.

millie 30 september 2010
This is beautifull Vlad...Thank you for everything! I do adore your work

lila 4 október 2010
krasan dizajn. thanks from croatia.

Lera 7 november 2010

Yoochi 20 november 2010
Awesome!!! I wanna do this well.

Rei 23 november 2010
Beautiful yet easy! aweeesoooome!

Clear 24 november 2010

Pathan Mastan 6 december 2010
Its awesome... My comment is too late. Just wana say From today I am the biggest follower to you dude.

atom k 7 január 2011
thanks for sharing,peace!!!

kIcKy 15 január 2011
You have a great gift. I RESPECT U AND UR CREATION DUDE

Yuriy 27 február 2011
Следовало бы немного лучше описать создание работы Пятнистый орляк. Так как это урок Photoshop. И с первого раза сложно самому сделать что-то похожее используя этот урок.

Narend 23 marec 2011
Thanks for the awesome explanation :)

veve 3 apríl 2011

loreutopia 12 jún 2011
THanks! your work is incredible!

wwwowww 15 jún 2011

pottigi 22 september 2011

rashmi 11 júl 2012

Tesseca 6 apríl 2013
How wonderfully amazing. I love your work. I thought I was the only one who had a mind that worked this way. :)

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