Al's Photoshop TutorialNew Course (Versions 7.0 and above)

Step 10-B: A Background of Brushes

In my old tutorial, there were a number of different types of backgrounds I demonstrated: The Solid Color Background, The Photo Background, and The Splotchy Background. These are all still very usable options for quick-fix backgrounds, but the new brushes at our disposal in version 7 beg to be used in creative ways. Let's see if we can't apply some of these fancy tricks towards an appropriate background for our skunk here.

The great thing about these brushes is that, as we saw when we smudged to create fur, they can be great for shortcuts. If you're stuck for ideas on your background, you can also turn to traditional painting lessons for ideas, since a lot of their shortcuts can now apply to us as well. For my picture, I think a beach is the obvious choice for a background. What we need to do is start thinking of the structure of the background, and maybe even make a sketch for it, and then start constructing it from back to front.

A simple gradient fill has made the color I'm going to use as the sky. You can also see the sketch for the background in blue here.
Using a bristled image brush, I've made both sand and clouds. Since I want a "poofy" look instead of a look with strands like we were smudging with, I've turned Angle Jitter on the brush up all the way.
Solid brushing in and filling solid colors made the beach blanket, and a little texture was added from noise and blur.
I made the sea by using solid round brushes that had their color controlled by pen pressure. A solid smudge tool was used to get some continuity to it, and finally some more brushwork with white was done to add foam.
Some green strokes were made in the dune in the background, and a multiply layer was made to give the character a shadow.
I made the crab from solid brushes, locking transparency, and airbrushing tones. The sketch is also turned off in this one.

This was just a quick and easy example of some of the techniques you can use to paint a background. I'm not going into too much detail because I think it's important that you try and be creative and see what sort of different background techniques you can come up with to paint something other than a beach.

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