Learn how to create this super cool neon tiger poster in Photoshop! You’ll learn how to get neon colors using Gradient maps and learn some over-painting techniques to bring the whole image to life.
Preview of Final Results
Download the PSD
Neon Tiger.zip | 4.26 MB
Psychedelic Tiger Illustration Photoshop Tutorial
Open a new file in Photoshop.It should be 5100×3300 pixels with a resolution depth of 300dpi.This size is perfect for keeping as much details as possible.
Unlock the background layer by double clicking on the layer thumb and using the Paint Bucket tool (G) select black as your foreground color and fill the layer.
Drag the Tiger stock image to your canvas.Using the Pen tool (P) we are going extract the animal from the background.Draw the path a little bit inside of the tigers face.We don’t need to be specifically exact here because we are going to draw all the hair we cut out again.
Once you close the path, right click and select:Make selection. On the feather radius use an amount of 10 pixels.This feather will make it easier for us to blend the hair we are going to paint on the sides of the face.
Now we are going to manipulate the head to deform it so that the tiger appears more symmetric and so it has a double snout that goes with our psychedelic concept.Select the head layer and duplicate it. Then go to Edit>Transform>Flip Horizontal.
Add a layer mask on the duplicated layer and using a soft (0% hardness) medium (300 px) Brush (B) with Black selected as your foreground color,paint over the left side of the face to reveal the other layer under it until both faces are blended.
Select both layers and merge them together (Ctrl+E). Now we are going to do a few adjustments to the tiger face before we add our gradient map and star painting over it. Go to Filter>Sharpen>Sharpen and apply the filter 3 times (Ctrl+f) to remove most of the blur on the image.
Now add some contrast by going to the menu Image>Adjustments>Brightness and Contrast and apply the next settings:
Our image now has better contrast but still need to be darkened a little bit more.Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels (Ctrl+L) and apply these next values:
I suggest you play around with this settings to get different results when adding your gradient layer because it will act directly on how dark or bright the image is.
Create a new Gradient Map layer (Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Gradient Map) on top of the head layer and click on the Gradient to go to the Gradient editor menu.
I selected a cold color palette I thought would go nicely with the theme (Black for the shadows #000000, Dark Blue for the midtones #04225e and a bright green for the highlights #62e121).I suggest you experiment using very contrasting colors to get a trippy feeling on the illustration.As we go along with detailing the illustration,we are going to use different variations in tone of this same colors.
We need to clip mask the Gradient Map layer to the Tiger head so the effect is only visible on that layer and to do that we are going to click between the two layer thumbs while holding Alt to clip mask them:
This is how the tiger head should look like with the gradient map clip masked:
We are now going to star painting all the details on the tiger’s face to make it pop.But first we need to go through some color and brush setting before we start. I’ll be using a Digital tablet for this part of the tutorial because of the pressure sensitivity settings,but you can very well imitate them by using the Pen tool and stroking the paths using the “Simulate pressure” option (it will take more time but the final result will be similar to the one using a tablet). Create a new layer and select the brush tool with a basic round shape %100 hardness and about 4 pixels wide.Under the Brush presets menu, check the option “Shape Dynamics” and make sure to have the control set to “Pen Pressure”.(This settings are also needed if you are using the Pen tool instead of a tablet).
As we go painting the details,try changing the size of the brush to get different results. For the colors we will be using,You can enter a quick eyedropper mode if you hold Alt while on the Brush tool and click on any color on you canvas to sample it.Sample 4 different hues of the main colors (2 greens and 2 blues) we originally had to start filling up the parts of hair we erased while we were extracting the image.
We are going to start on the edges of the face.making short quick strokes taking as a reference the direction of the fur and the color.
Try changing the to lower sizes of the brush to get more detail.Remember to have patience while doing this step.The more hair you paint,will make the blending look better.
If you are using the pen tool in this step,I suggest you stroke different parts of the hair, then duplicate the layers and change their positions slightly to create clusters of hair you can easily move around,copy and paste around the face to speed up the process.
Once you have the edges of the tigers face filled with hair,we are going to start painting the face.First we are going to fill the face and defining it with the colors we sampled and then we are going to add details and accentuating them with another set of contrasting hues. Create a new layer,sample the bright green color and start stroking small indications of fur where the blue color is.
Now select the blue and paint to fill the parts that need more detailing.
You can create new layers for every color or sector of the face you paint to keep things in order.Slowly fill the face with short paint strokes but be sure not to over do it! (We are trying to give it more detail without taking away the main composition of the tigers face).
Pay attention on the direction of the fur,that will help you guide the way you should do the strokes.
Now we need a selection of brighter color to paint the accents and detailing on the face.
Create a new layer.Starting with the bright green color,paint over the the darker shade of green to accentuate it.
I want the main focus of the face to be the eyes,so I will especially add more detailing here.
Keep painting more detailing on the face changing the hue of the colors:
Use white to give the accents on the highlights of the image and accentuate the features of the tiger like the eyes and the nose.
Increase the size of the brush by a couple of pixels and paint the whiskers.