How To Setup Your Photoshop Scene

By March 10, 2016 Webinars

For my Concept Design and Illustration students.

Hi! My name is Ryan Kingslien. I am the founder of UArtsy and one of the jobs that I do is documenting all the amazing knowledge that my teachers at Concept Art Workshop, at UArtsy, ZBrushWorkshop, share with their students.

Hey there. Recently Dylan Cole, Co-Production Designer of Avatar 2, 3 and 4 finished up his class at Concept Art Workshop. His students loved it and I learned quite a few things!

Over the next few days I’ll share some of the great things I learned and we start with this first lesson here: setting up a scene in Photoshop complete with perspective lines.

A lot of times, we artists, like to just get in and start painting, sculpting or drawing. We brute force the problems. We throw some stuff in and put a brush out, and we start to establish values for a sky… and you know, it’s gonna take a little while to get the value correct…
However, one of the cool things that Dylan Cole does, is he starts almost everything with the lasso which just becomes this incredibly powerful tool.

So, for example, he’ll come in with a lasso and establish some kind of simple ground. And not only that, but when he’s working on a ground he doesn’t really worry about what the color is, what the values are. Instead, he’ll just hit Alt-Delete to fill the selection and then he’ll immediately go Ctrl-M to go into curve mode to instantly adjust that.

But that’s not the end of it. He’ll also lock transparency of the layer. This is a nice way to keep this transparency so he can come in with another lasso and fill these random shapes to create texture.

Then, when he needs to establish the background, we also probably want to establish some sort of perspective grid right at the horizon.
To do that we use the Polygon Tool. We set our sides somewhere between 60 and 99. Click the little gear on the top and make sure that the Iindent Sides setting is on and it is set to 99 percent. Then just click and drag out your radiating perspective lines. Lastly, we can set that layer mode to overlay and we have a nice perspective grid.

Then, we might establish light direction. Light coming in from this side, dark coming in from this side, and vise-versa.

One of the really, really cool thing that I saw Dylan Cole do was to start off with a radial gradient on a layer above everything else. This is something that we may try to paint into the actual scene where we try to get this darkness around the edges but this is just so much easier to do and you can edit it and make global changes to the lighting as you.

After establishing the background and the overal radial gradient then we can work on creating a “light side” and a “dark side” to our scene. Using a white Gradiant that goes from opaque to transperant, we drag it from left to right or right to left. What ever direction your light is going. Set the layer mode to Overlay something along those lines and you have a general light direction.

To establish the dark side we do the same thing but make the gradiant black and drag it across your canvas in the opposite direction.
After doing all of this, we get a lot of atmosphere in our scene. We get our perspective setup. We get some kind of interesting ground going on and our the document is ready for us to start throwing in, say, shadow sides of clouds, and start to establish lights, the light side of clouds is right there, start to establish some of the brushing and all of that different texture that we might add to it.

So, I really just wanted to share this simple setup with you. I hope this helps you in your work! Let me know what you think in the comments down below.

-Ryan