monster mountain concept art

Monster Mountain

Monster Mountain is the idea explosion for this post. This week I spent some time working with Photoshop gradients, lighting techniques, and textures. I also used a portfolio template that I purchased from Trent Kaniuga. You can get this detail and more from my last post. So…why a mountain monster?!! Well, why not!

The finished piece placed into a portfolio template.

Design Progression

This was sketched and completed entirely inside Photoshop. I used a nice hard brush to build the initial design and then use and air brush tool to fill in shadows. I used shortcut keys and moved through the initial design pretty fast. I didn’t allow myself to be overly critical. I typically lose most of my time doing that. Once I was happy with the overall design and the values I dropped in, I created additional layers for the color gradients. I would have normally flatted the entire piece first but I just jumped into the color gradients. I found the overall color of the creature that I wanted to use first and that became my base. I used additional gradients for the background and the hammer. The finger nails I separated into a gradient as well. I wanted to have a nice “pop”. Lastly, I used a final two final layers. Once was for fine details and the other was for lighting. I couldn’t decide between using a multiply layer or a vivid color mode. Both seemed interesting. I had my kids look at the piece and I changed the blending modes with them watching. They really liked the multiply so that’s how I chose it.

You can move the slider to see the different between vivid color and linear burn.


After the design was completed I made selections and placed them throughout the portfolio template. I added the additional text boxes to describe the parts that I wanted to draw attention to. The whole piece took about 3.5 hours. This was probably my best time.

I hope you enjoy this. Please hit me up with any questions that you have. Have a good one!

The Valentine’s Pool A Pre-Valentine Design

vday pic animated

Valentine’s Pool

The Valentine’s Pool is a heart shaped pond deep in the woods that crackles alive with magic once a year to grant a single wish to the worthy of heart. There is only enough magic in the pool to last a single night so those who wish to discover it, must plan accordingly and venture in at the right time.


About the Design

It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Why do I say this? As I was doing some after Christmas shopping, I saw that the Valentine’s Day products were very quickly replacing the Christmas decorations, cards, and lights.  So, to jump on the bandwagon of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would create this.

The design is created with Clip Studio Paint and was created using seven layers…whew…that’s a lot of layers for me.

Layer number one

The first layer was a typical pencil layer that I inserted so keep myself on track with what I wanted to draw. I used to do this in a sketchbook and then scan the pictures in but now I just draw straight in the program from the get go. After I sketched what I wanted, I just deleted the layer by dragging it to the trash can.

Layer number two

This was my inking layer. This layer I spent the most time on as I wanted to make sure that there were no “holes” in my lines. This is crucial to the flatting process. If there are gaps in the lines, the color will flow out and color other elements that may or may not need color. I used varying pen sizes to get some good texture and depth.


These are the final inks. I added some blending to the far tree in the background. I was going for some darker depth.

Layer number three

The third layer was for my flat colors. I set my inks up as a reference layer and then began filling in the color. Since this was a Valentine’s Day pic, I kept my pallet to three relevant colors of the season. I was looking for a bit of a gothic appeal so I used pale colors and limited myself to three.

It is also important to point out that I duplicated my flats layer before I added highlights and shadows. This preserves your color layers and allows you to use your copied color layer as a reference. It makes color picking so much faster. I also turn on fix pixel. This keeps your air brush strokes from going all over the place keeping your design a lot cleaner.

Layers Four Through Seven

These layers were for extra items that I put into the design. I used one layer for a painted background. Those mountains were painted in using a texture brush and then blended so that they looked far away.

I used another separate layer to create a pink fill. This is the sky color that you also see in the background.  I fill the entire piece with color and then erase out what I don’t want to use. This is time saving for me but I’m sure that there are other ways to do the same thing.

This is a screen shot of the inks with just the pink fill in the background. I used the fill bucket to paint in the whole layer and then erased out what I didn’t need.

This is what the design looks like with the pink fill. As you can see, I erased out what I didn’t need. In the background is the tree I erased out to leave the branches. Another layer I used was the glow layer. The glow layer makes certain elements really stand out. In this piece, the magic effects were placed on a glow layer to increase the contrast and make it look more magical.

The trees in the background are actually from a “tree brush” that I used. I set up the largest size I could and erased off the parts I didn’t need. The result is that the branches from the giant tree I placed now look like individual trees in the distance. I reduced the opacity so that they look blurrier and further back in the page.


This is the animated version of the design. Seven animation cells to animate the design. I primarily added in the magic affects to the pool to make it shimmer. I didn’t want to make it too complicated.

vday pic animated



That is all for tonight. If I left some things out that you may want to know more of, please ask. I am always happy to help everyone out.  Also check out my book. You can find it here. Amazon Prime holders can get it for free. It is available in hard copy and E-book format. The book has a lot of these types of tutorials designed to help you come up with design ideas.

If you enjoyed this tutorial, maybe you’ll like the one I did during the fall. I also did an interesting autumn piece earlier this year as well. Also check out Pilgrim in the Woods. You will find some really cool tips and tricks that I used to create it. I always on the prowl to collect suggestions and comments from everyone. Let me know what you think.






Pilgrim in the Woods

Pilgrim in the Woods visiting a Thanksgiving Dinner near you.



Pilgrim in the woods is visiting a Thanksgiving dinner near you. Halloween is over but are all the spooks really gone? The ghosts aren’t screeching and the werewolves aren’t yelping but the woods is not empty of danger.

The Pilgrim

How is it this pilgrim is here and what does he want? It’s been many long years since the Puritans first came to America and shared the first Thanksgiving. Was someone left behind or is this would be wanderer plagued with unfinished business? Time will tell when the truth is finally uncovered. I could write horror stories all year round. My goal this year is to come up with a horror idea that ties in with every major holiday. I don’t know if I will ever write a full story or not but ideas are where more ideas come from. Let me know if you have any special requests out there.

About this Design

I hope you are all enjoying my latest design. Please let me know what you think by commenting on this post or dropping a note through a form.

I used 13 different layers to design this scene. I didn’t start with a pencil sketch. In fact, I clicked on the oil paint tool and went right to work painting out the scene. The scene background was painted with the oil paint flat brush tool. The digital oils provided a nice blending affect to build the background just like playing with Play dough. I alternated shades and used the blending tool as well to get the lighting effect I wanted.

Tips and Tricks

Below are some screenshots of layers that I used. The first one is a 33% opacity layer that I drew the trees on in the distance along with some shrubs. I used a very light brown within the pallet that I was working with. This effect created some of the white noise that comes with designing wooded areas. A G-Pent was all I needed to design the trees. A darker bleed tool brush was used for the shrubs. I like to keep things murky and then pull the details out.




This next section is of just the trees themselves. See how they are on their own layer? I can manipulate the depth of the piece easier this way and control the highlights and shadows without creating digital mud. Using the selection tool helps to keep the overspray from going out of control. I still have a little. Through color discipline practice, it becomes easier to paint in this fashion. The airbrush highlight and shadow tools create nice textures on the tree. I selected where the light was coming from and then I just stayed consistent until I got the trees completed. Additional texture was created by using a darker pencil to enhance the bark.

Foreground Trees


As I go over each part of the tree, I can slowly pull out the natural texture of the tree along with other minor details such as the roots and growth defects in the tree that make it look more interesting.

I used the ink pen tool to design the Pilgrim and then I sketched out lightly what I wanted and then filled it in. I already knew that I was going to use a silhouette so I didn’t worry about every detail with the character.  Extra grass created the mired affect. The woodlands known to be wet.

The Pilgrim Design


I used the polygon line tool to detail the parts of his outfit that I felt viewers would need to see to understand he is a pilgrim. I used Google to find a some good ideas for what I wanted the pilgrim to look like. Again, not a lot of serious detail required. Using my G-Pen with white pigment, I colored in some wrinkles and added some buttons. If I did my job well enough, you can tell that it’s a pilgrim.

Some additional details I added were the sun beams shining through. The line tool is awesome to get this detail. I changed the opacity on the beams so they look more transparent and played around with the color. True yellow just wasn’t covering it.

I designed the bridge with just blocks of grey matter that I blended together. I used references for this too because I just couldn’t picture the bridge the way I wanted in my head alone.


That is all for tonight. If I left some things out that you may want to know more of, please ask. I am always happy to help everyone out.  Also check out my book. You can find it here. Amazon Prime holders can get it for free. It is available in hard copy and E-book format. The book has a lot of these types of tutorials designed to help you come up with design ideas.