I am huge fan of pixel art, I even dabbled with the form in 2004, however after my studio got robbed, I lost my backup disks including my pixel work and I've never tried it again. As of late, I've been following the work of Alex Griendling and some of his amazing pixel arts. Inspired by that I decided to give it a try though I streamlined the process a little bit just to make my life a bit easier in Illustrator. So in this tutorial I will show you how to create a nice pixel art from an existing photo, in my case, the great Mohammed Ali.
Reader Tutorial: The Voyager Artwork by Moe Pike Soe
The Voyager artwork was created as a Ten Dollar Fonts showcase for a brilliant font designed by Maarten Van’t Wout. I used Cinema 4D and Photoshop to create the atmospheric photo manipulation. The technique is to use different blend modes and adjustment layers as combo to create dynamic lighting for each elements in the composition.
I will be showing you these simple techniques to create the artwork. The tutorial includes a part of Cinema 4D but I’ve also included the already rendered pictures for people without C4D to follow.
We are going to create the 3D text in Cinema 4D first. Create a new motext using the font, type in desired words and change the horizontal spacing to 85 cm with the depth of 35 cm.
There are two lights being given to the type. The first one is directly above the type at 100% intensity and another light is in front of the type with only 50% intensity. Also make sure you change the shadow mode to area as well.
Create a new material and change the color to R: 23 G: 23 B: 23 and assign it to the motext.
Create a new camera and place it along centre of the type. Change the focal length to 76 mm.
Open up Render Settings > Output and change the resolution to 4500 pixels wide and 3000 pixels high. Also change the saving format to PNG with straight alpha and separate alpha checked. Last of all, add Global Illumination from Effects menu.
We will be exporting two different renders. One is the full 3D render and another is flat type layer. To get the flat render, change the depth of the type to 0 cm and then render it.
Open Photoshop and create a new document with 4500 pixels width and 3000 pixels height then fill the background with black color. Place the stars.jpg and change the opacity to 50%.
Import the two renders and make sure you have the flat type layer on top of the 3D type layer. Also name flat layer Flat and 3D layer 3D.
As you can see the type is not that popped out enough yet and we need more rim light on the type. To do that, create a new layer above the Flat layer and clip mask it. Then grab a soft brush with white color and paint along the sides of the type.
Repeat the step 9 again but this time it’s for the 3D layer.
Group all the type layers and name it Title. Create a level adjustment layer with a clipping mask to the group. Change the values to 0 : 0.83 : 131 . And now we have a pretty dramatic looking type.
Import the astronaut.jpg and mask out all the white background so that you will be left with the astronaut only. Place the layer below the Title group and move the astronaut so that he looks like he’s hanging on to the ‘A’.
The astronaut is too bright compared to the type and it needs darker shadows. Create a new Levels adjustment layers and change the value to 63: 0.37 : 225 and clip mask it to the astronaut layer.
Create a new layer above the astronaut layer and name it Highlight. Make sure to put the highlight layer between astronaut and the adjustment layers. Grab a soft brush with white color and paint into the sides of the astronaut. And change the layer blend mode to Soft Light.
Create another layer below the highlight area and name it Shadow. Paint inside of the astronaut with a black soft brush with the opacity of 10%.
Make a group of all the layers except the Title group and name it astronaut. Create a new vibrance adjustment layer. Change the value of vibrance to 100% and the value of saturation to 0%.
Import earth.png and place the layer above the stars layer. Move the earth to the center aligned with the background.
Create a new layer and clip mask onto the earth layer. Change the blending mode to Soft Light. And paint in shadows to the bottom part of the earth.
On the same layer, paint on the top of earth with a white soft brush to lighten up the top half of the earth.
Create a new layer beneath the Earth layer. Paint along the contour of top half of the earth with a soft white brush. This will create a glow behind the earth.
Import moon.png. We’re going to repeat Step 18 and 19 to create the similar effect but instead of on top, we’re going to paint it on the left side.
Group the moon layers and the earth layers. Create a new exposure adjustment layer and a vibrance adjustment layer. Change the value as shown below.
Now we’ve got a pretty cool atmosphere now but the elements are not cohesive yet. Create a new color balance adjustment layer and a vibrance adjustment layer. Change the values as shown below.
Create a new layer and name it Top Light. Select a soft brush with the biggest size and change the color to #6d7595 . Paint it along the top of canvas and change the opacity to 40%
Import flare.jpg and change the blend mode to Linear Dodge. Adjust the position of the flare to the top and centre of the earth. Create a new levels adjustment layer and change the values as shown.
Find any unwanted highlights or areas that need more shadows and paint above on it by creating a new layer with soft light blend mode. Create a new layer and press shift+cmd+E (shift+ctrl+E) to merge all layers into one. Choose Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask and change the values as below.
The techniques I’ve shown are simple but they do take time to fine tune depending on the source light in anyway artworks. I hope you’ve learned some new techniques from the tutorial.
For more information about me and my work, please visit http://thebeaststudio.com