Designing Warriors of Virtue Cover Art Part 14 and 15

by Apr 6, 2016Art Projects, How to...

(A.K.A. Schoolism Pictorial Composition Week 05)

Video 14: If you cannot see the embedded video:

You can find out more about the Warriors of Virtue fantasy series by clicking on the link.

Video 14

I have never added light using Nathan Fowkes’ technique demonstrated in the Schoolism Pictorial Composition Lesson #5. I was very excited! With the help of a Facebook friend and by taking careful notes, I was able to copy the technique.

I soon discovered that I did not really like this technique for painting light onto my characters. The issue I had was that it coloured my characters with the same coloured light, and the light I wished to paint was cool pure white light that had no colour of its own. I scrapped the light folder and painted light and highlights by manually lightening the colour I picked using the picker tool.

Since the Water Warrior is the lead character in the story, I decided to give her most of the light. I also cheated. I added highlights in a way to help the eye bounce to the character’s face, rather than worrying about realism. As I painted light I considered different textures of the materials. Light bounces differently from different surfaces. Metal has stronger definitions of highlight and shadow, than does fabric. The same goes for the warriors’ leather gloves. I thought about giving them silk shirts, but then I decided that would be too shiny. I think the warriors’ shirts are made of linen, or really soft cotton.

Accidentally I managed to change the opacity on my light layer, and for some minutes I was baffled why my brush refused to paint at full opacity. When I realized this error, I had to scrap the layer and begin the process again!

I carefully added light, and then to finish the form off I added some highlights. I was conscious of the reflected light, but did not bother painting it in. Maybe I will do so in the future, but not at this time.

Below is the final result:

WofV Cover with added light.

Video 15: If you cannot see the embedded video:

Video 15

The next day, the time has come for me to paint magic and glowing light. For this Nathan Fowkes’ technique is perfect, since each magic has a different colour of light. After painting the magic as I did the rest of the painting, I moved on to this special lighting technique. Feel free to pause the video or to contact me if you have any questions.

Nathan Fowkes’ Light Painting Technique As Interpreted By Mili Fay

To add the blue light to the Water Warrior’s magic, I first selected the layer (or group of layers) with the magic. Then I proceeded to create the light layer.

Layers Panel

Layers Panel: Light Folder

Step 1. I have to create a special layer. To create a special layer: in the Layers Pallet click on the half white/half black circle (circled in the image above) then choose Solid Colour. Pick the colour you wish your light to be and click OK. This will create a solid colour layer you can see in the image above (Color Fill 2). Change the Opacity of this layer to about 18%.

Step 2. Fowkes suggests modifying this colour layer to make it look more like light by manipulating it with the Adjustments Panel. Instead of manipulating the layer, I believe the Adjustments Panel allows you to create additional layers, therefore if you make a mistake, you can always delete the adjusted layer. You can find the Adjustments Panel by choosing Window > Adjustments from the top menu bar.

Adjustments Panel

Adjustments Panel

As you can see in the Layers Pallet, Fowkes adjusted the colour layer by choosing the following adjustments:

Colour Balance–allows you to adjust colour by sliding the arrow between Cyan & Red, Magenta & Green, and Yellow & Blue.

Levels–allows you to brighten the colour and make it feel more like light by moving the light arrow closer to the gray.

Hue/Saturation helps you adjust the colour’s basic hue (instead of green, what if you decided you wanted blue light?), and up the intensity of the colour.

Then Fowkes suggests adding another Colour Balance adjustment to bring back more colour to your adjusted layer.

Step 3. Once you are happy with all the adjustments, group them together with the colour layer into a folder. You can do this by selecting all the different layers and dragging them to the folder icon in the Layers Panel.

Step 4. Create a mask for this entire group. With the Group selected, click on the mask icon (one on the left of the special layer creation icon in the Layer Panel) that looks like a gray rectangle with a white circle.

Step 5. Click Ctrl + I (Windows, I think the Mac equivalent is Command + I) to invert the mask. As you do this your light group will disappear from view.

Step 6. Choose your brush tool. For painting light you want a soft brush at low opacity (about 35-40%), since you want to paint your light in softly and gradually. Make sure you colour is pure white, then paint in your light. If you make a mistake, you can just paint over it with the pure black colour. Also, be sure that the mask is selected.

Step 7. Create another folder of light for highlights, reflected light, etc. by repeating Steps 1 to 6 until you have painted in all the light.


As you can see in Video 15, the above technique is perfect for painting coloured light.

WofV Cover Magic and Glow

The state of the cover by the end of Video 15.

If you have any questions, you can ask them in the comments, or if you wish to keep your inquiry private, feel free to contact me.

By turning a Warrior of Virtue’s cloak to the reverse side they become invisibility cloaks. That side is iridescent, so in the next video, I will attempt to paint iridescence onto the cloaks. That should be fun!



P. S. Since writing the above, I’ve learned a quick and simple way of adding shadows and light in Photoshop. Light: Add a Layer and change the Blending Mode to Screen — use whatever colour you want to add light with. Shadow: Add a Layer and change the Blending Mode to Multiply, than paint with your shadow colour. Adjust the Opacity as you wish.