The other week I put together this picture for a game my friend and I were playing. I had done this already for my Endless Deserts site and quite enjoy making them. They are a combination of model pictures and real photography and not that hard to make if you have a basic understanding of Photoshop or a similar photo editing tool.
The idea first started as me thinking about theming our game in Aqshy. This made me think about all of those pictures of volcanoes erupting with lightning all around them and how perfect that would be for Stormcast in Aqshy. Clearly the lightning is Sigmar sending down more Stormcast, or perhaps a Lord-Relictor unleashing his fury upon the enemy. This is where I started and after a quick Google search I cam across a bunch of pictures to choose from.
The one I settled on is from the Icelandic volcano I believe. I liked the composition of it with how it has the smoke taking up about 2/3s of the screen. In these pictures I am just turning different layers on and off since I already had the completed picture done. This picture of the lightning and smoke is just going to be the sky for my finished picture, so that's why it doesn't go all the way to the bottom.
Clearly snow isn't fitting for the Realm of Fire, so another quick Google search later I had a cool looking volcanic foreground. This picture originally had a light colored sky. I just used the Magic Wand tool to select the sky and delete it. This was pretty easy since there was so much contrast between the ground and sky. I did have to go back with the eraser tool though and clean up the horizon a bit, getting rid of any lingering remnants of sky.
Now that I had my basic Aqshy setting I decided it was time to start making it look more like it fit within the universe of AoS. I found a picture of an Ophidian Archway from GW's site, used the magic wand to get rid of the plain white background, and then shrunk it to size. I placed it behind the ground layer so that it looks like it is just over a hill or something. It was also much too bright and distracting so I used the Burn tool to darken it until I was happy with it.
Now I needed my Stormcast. I didn't want them to be the focus of the picture, just a part of it. I once again grabbed some images of them off of the GW website and edited out the white background. I also erased their bases at this point. They were then shrunk to size and just like the Archway, darkened with the Burn tool. I made sure to leave their wings brighter though, and even used the Dodge tool a bit to brighten them more.
Now it was time to add in some Orruks. I decided I wanted one in the foreground looking at the Stormcast in the distance, hinting at the promise of a coming battle. Getting a shot of the Megaboss from the angle I wanted was actually pretty easy thanks to the 360 degree viewing tool on the GW website. Once I got the angle I wanted I edited out the white background again, and then used the Burn tool to darken his back a bit as if it were in shadow.
It still wasn't dark enough though so I created some new layers and just used the Paint Brush tool with a soft edge to paint some black directly on top of where I wanted the shadows. I then lowered the opacity of the layers until the shadows were the correct darkness that I wanted. I used two layers of shadows to get variation from very dark to just kind of dark.
Now he is standing in a lava field so of course he needs some orange light reflecting off of him. I used the Magic Wand tool to select everything but the Megaboss on his layer and then reversed it so only the Megaboss was selected. This allows me to paint along the edges of the Boss and not get the color on the rest of the image since it will only paint within the borders of the selection. I once again used the Paint Brush tool with a soft edge and using an orange hue I selected with the Eye Dropper tool from the lava field, proceeded to paint on where I thought the glow would fall on the orruk. This was all done on a new layer above the Megaboss. I then set the layer to Overlay and lowered the opacity until I was happy with the look.
After that was done I went back in on a new layer and added some sharper and brighter highlights where the glow would be the brightest. This was just done with the Paint Brush tool set to a very small size. The layer was kept normal with 100% opacity.
The orruk is now done. At this point I decided that the smoke didn't fit the color palate of the lava so on a new layer I painted some orange over it and set it to Overlay and lowered the opacity until I was happy. I often do this with images like this when I am pasting multiple different images together. I'll pick one color to be the dominant color and make sure I work it into all of the different pictures so that they look more natural together.
Sigmar's lightning is always described as blue, not purple, so I created a new layer over the lightning and painted some blue with a soft edge brush. This was set to Hard Light and then tidied up with the Eraser tool. I also made sure to paint some blue on to where the smoke is illuminated from the lightning.
Next I did that same thing but on the horizon near the lightning and the Ophidian Archway so they look like they are being illuminated by the lightning. These were two separate layers. These were not set to Hard Light, I just carefully painted the blue on where I thought the light would fall. This and the orange on the orruk requires some knowledge of how light works and would fall on an object.
What's a lave field without some dramatic floating embers? I found the image on Google once again, it was some embers against a black background. I set this to Screen, which removes the black background and placed them where I wanted them. I made sure this layer was on top of all of the other layers.
The final touch was to add some rain. Again, Google came to the rescue. Just like the embers, the rain was against a black background, so I set it to Screen to remove the black part. There is one layer of rain in front of the orruk, on top of all of the other layers, and a duplicate layer on top of everything, including the orruk. This helps give the sense of the orruk being closer to us. I lowered the opacity on both of these layers until I was happy with the look. The layer on top of the orruk has a lower opacity then the other one, so it looks like there is less rain.
That's it, you're done! One thing I have to mention, is that since all of these images are from the internet you can't use your finished image for profit since you don't have the rights to them, but it's great for fan projects. If you want to use it for profit then you need to make sure to use your own photographs, or buy the photos off of stock photo sites.
Here are some other ones I made using similar methods for the Endless Deserts. Hopefully this was helpful to anyone out there wanting to make something similar. You can use other programs besides Photoshop, but Photoshop is only $9.99 a month now, so it's not too bad if you are going to make use of it.
Until next time,