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Photoshop Android: Panel Work



Photoshop Android Panel Works Title PostThe Photoshop Android saga continues, with this installment focusing on the panel sections of our cybernetic beauty. Lighting techniques are used to give the prosthetic elements a sense of depth, with the Pen Tool coming into play once again for the precision work. Mastery of light is a fundamental skill when seeking realism, hopefully this guide will provide some insight into the outcomes that can be achieved.


A bit of Prep

Ive cleaned up the lines somewhat since the last installment, these guides will act as the panel sections that the lighting effects will be applied to. Also, Ive created a simple base for the synthetic face I will be creating later down the line; already adding a cybernetic flavour to the piece. Here is the prior version alongside the current piece:

Photoshop Android Panel Work

The black lines were created with the Pen Tool (P), using ‘stroke’ and ‘fill’ options. To fill a path, you must ensure that the path is closed; you can always right click your path to see a list of actions that can be undertaken. Likewise, the face and eyes were created using closed paths filled with their respective colours. If your not familiar with the Pen Tool, be sure to check out our video tutorial: Photoshop Pen Tool video tutorial [HD].


Consider the Lighting

The same principles that were used to create the mech spines come into play when determining where the highlights and shadows will be applied. Here is the rough mock-up I used previously to gauge lighting direction:

Photoshop Cyborg Tutorial Mech Spines 6The lighting in the example piece is a little tricky, but there’s enough to work with to produce the illusion. Shiny / gloss objects tend to catch the light at the edges, which is the effect we are aiming to achieve in this walkthrough. More tutorials on lighting in photo manipulation: Shadows & Highlights.


Stroking Paths

To start, I created a new Layer Group and named it ‘Shadows & Highlights’ – this is good practice and keeps the layer stack nice and organised. All the lighting layers will be contained within this group. Create a new layer within the group and set the mode to Soft Light. Set your brush to have a hard edge, this will be used to ‘stroke’ the paths you create for your highlights. Here’s the brush I used in the example piece, you’ll want to tweak the size of yours depending on the size of the image.

Photoshop Android Panel Work 1

Create a new layer set to Soft Light layer mode within your ‘Shadows & Highlights’ group; and ensure the group is under the black guidelines in the layer stack. Select the Pen Tool (P) (make sure it is set to ‘paths’) and create a path alongside the edge of your black guidelines, where you would like the highlights to appear. The red line here shows roughly where your path should be laid:

Photoshop Android Panel Work 2

With your path in place, now it’s time to apply the stroke. With the foreground colour set to white, right-click on your path and stroke using the brush tool you set earlier. There’s a lot you can do with Paths,  here’s the dialog options you’ll want to use in this case – a stroke using the brush:

Photoshop Android Panel Work 3

Some of your highlights will go over the guidelines, but you can easily clean up stray parts using Layer Masks or a hard edged Eraser (E). Take a look at a before and after of the example piece to see how these simple highlights create the illusion of 3D panelling:

Photoshop Android Panel Work 4

Soften and Blend

To soften the ends of the highlights, you can apply a Layer Mask (click Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layers palette) and use a soft-edged Brush (set to black) to gently blend. Work around the various highlights to lessen the intensity where needed using your Layer Mask – here is a before and after to illustrate:

Photoshop Android Panel Work 5

The result is very subtle, but these little considerations all work together to produce a higher standard for the finished piece :)


Repeat for Shadows

Creating the shadows employs the same methods as above. Create a new layer inside the Shadows & Highlights group and set the mode to Soft Light. Set your foreground colour to black and create / stroke the paths as before. Shadows are normally found on the underside of panels, or edges not facing the light source. In the example image a slightly larger brush size was used for the shadow strokes:

Photoshop Android Panel Work 6


Photoshop Android Panel Work 7



This is just the start to get you on your way, hopefully you can expand upon the principles explored here. To the casual observer it may not seem like a great deal was done, but the subtle lighting additions really enhance the illusion of raised panels. Don’t forget you can subscribe to our RSS feed to keep updated with new walkthroughs and articles. Coming up next in Photoshop Android, an article looking at wires!!


Follow on Twitter >> @Conzpiracy


• Photoshop Android Part 1: Mech Spines

• Photoshop Android Part 2: Machine Works

• Photoshop Android Part 3: Panel Work

• Photoshop Android Part 4: Highlights and Wires

• Photoshop Android Part 5: Mech-A-Face

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8 Responses to “Photoshop Android: Panel Work”

  1. Nice going bud. You know I have been checking every day to see when this was up :) Cant wait to see what you do with the face. The Images is really coming to life now.

  2. JERRY says:

    TERRIFIC CONTINUING TUT!!! Thank you Professor!!

  3. Ade.B:dfm says:

    Thanks for all your tuts. They’ve helped me loads, not just for the manips side of things but for general everyday photoshop use also :)

  4. Miguel says:

    DUDE, TERRIFIC AS ALWays. Thanks for sharing ;)

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