In this case study Olly Howe will not only show how he created his piece "Gone with the wind" but he will also walk you through the steps saying exactly what was done so you can learn and understand how the piece was made, and what techniques were used.

A couple days ago I came across the work of Olly Howe and I have to say that I was amazed by such style that he has, a very impressive and unusual style that makes his portfolio one of the best I have seen lately. First I would like to thank Olly Howe for taking the time to make such a good case study, "Below is a very broad description of some of the techniques I have used in this illustration, it's by no means everything that I did but hopefully gives a little insight into how I work." For more of Olly visit 4playgraphix.com and behance

Case Study

WORKFLOW 1 : - Photograph by Konrad Bak.

WORKFLOW 2: - Brought in scanned in water colour elements, masked out the model's body on these elements to give the bordered effect. Added sun. - Enhanced the color of the models skin, added more depth by duplicating the photo and applying an OVERLAY filter to the top layer and bringing the saturation down to 0. Also applied a SMART SHARPEN of 0.9 to the bottom photo layer and played with the LEVELS and CURVES until I was happy. - Started to add scratch detail with my Wacom tablet.

WORKFLOW 3: - Added background color and a lot more scratch detail, also started to play around with the composition of the elements by duplicating the masked water color layers and leaving the link between layer content and mask un-checked, this allows the same mask to be applied across all duplicated layers . - Started to bring in colored water color elements.

WORKFLOW 4: - Shuffled the composition and did more work to the top and bottom of the model to blend her out more effectively. To do this I used various brushes and opacity's to mask out areas, I then added scratches to follow the lines of the original photo to give a sketched effect to the masked out areas. - Added a LEVELS adjustment layer to the whole illustration which I could then play with through-out the design process to add or subtract depth. - Added larger water color textures to the background, set the layers to 20% opacity and completely DE-SATURATED them, then applied a LUMINOSITY filter.

WORKFLOW 5: - Changed the composition and decided to add wings, this is the beauty of working completely freely, the design can take an unexpected turn at any point. The wings were way to dark so I used the DODGE tool at different opacity's to lighten them up, I also duplicated the wings layer and set the top layer to SOFT LIGHT, opacity 50% and saturation 0% to give more light depth.

WORKFLOW 6: - Close up of detail, added more water colors and scratch effect, the scratching is done with my Wacom tablet and drawn on using the brush tool set at hardness 6%, diameters between 1 & 7 pixels and various different opacity's.

WORKFLOW 7: - I wanted a lot more going on in the background so begun to add in some more layers and textures. - Added the forest scene to use as a base layer and masked out the top and bottom with the gradient tool. I then added a scratched wall texture above this layer and applied a COLOUR BURN filter and layer opacity of 60% - Brushed in a very light green colour behind and around the model to bring her out of the page more. - Added Mr Wolf and adjusted him to fit the image using levels and applying a yellow COLOUR filter layer.

WORKFLOW 8 - Added a flowing dress element (which I cut from a photo) around the wings and a lot more textures. - Added 3 new color gradient layers one of them was a brown gradient running from the top left corner with a COLOR filter applied to create a more monotone area on the left hand side. - Moved the scratched wall layer above the wings to give them a subtle effect that looks almost painted. - Took the forest layer opacity to 20%. - Knocked back the sun layer to reveal some more color and added lots more detail with the Wacom tablet and also the brush tool with the mouse. - Added the horse, edited horse with DODGE tool and LEVELS to get correct lighting.

WORKFLOW 9: - Liked all the color but decided it was a bit too much for this illustration and so added a gradient from orange to green bottom to top and set to 80% with a HUE filter applied to knock back all the color and create and overall look and feel that complimented the skin tones of the model.

FINISHED PIECE: - Generally added more detail like the tattoo and the strip over her eyes, also added more scratch effects and played around with the overall lighting, colors and the LEVELS adjustment layer until I was happy. The process of changing colors can sometimes go on for quite a while before I'm happy.

Close ups

About the author of this post

My name is Paulo Canabarro, I'm a passionate freelance web designer paulocanabarro.com and enthusiastic blogger here at abduzeedo. Catch me designing Wordpress Themes. Say hello on twitter @paul0v2.