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Texturing Skin in Adobe Photoshop, Part 2

Skin details: translucence and light veins By Dave Nagel
When we left off last, we'd created a base skin texture in Adobe Photoshop to be mapped onto a 3D character. Now we'll move in a bit and begin to add details to specific areas of the body, focusing this time around on skin translucence for the more delicate areas--the belly, inner arms, etc. As with Part 1 in this series, we'll be creating our texture details using brushes rather than filters.

If you have not done so already, you will need to download our set of free brushes for Photoshop designed for texturing skin, which you can find here:

Download: Nagel Series 27 Brushes (160 KB)

These brushes are designed for Photoshop CS and Photoshop Elements and will run on Macintosh and WIndows systems.

Also, if you have not done so already, you should go back and complete the previous tutorial in this series, which you can view by clicking here.http://www.creativemac.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=31082 It details a technique for creating the base skin texture on a UV map in Photoshop, though the technique will work as well for tiling texture maps or direct painting on a 2D character. For the current exercise, it would be best to work with a UV map, as we're now working on specific parts of the body, so you'll need to know with some precision where our painted areas will be mapped onto the 3D character. Most programs do support UV maps, from Poser to LightWave; if you are unable to generate your own UV map, you could always use an existing one as a point of reference and simply paint over it, saving it in as a new file for use on your own characters.

Lightening the 'delicate' areas
We've already added a fairly rough texture to the overall body map for our character, one that will work well for the average portions of the skin. However, certain parts of the body are obviously better protected from the effects of sun, exposure and general wear and tear than others--the lower portions of breasts, inner arms, lower belly and sides, to be specific. For these parts, the "average" texture we created in Part 1 of this series isn't really going to communicate a sense of human skin to the viewer. So we need to go in and lighten up these areas--or, more specifically, cloud them up a bit. We don't just want a lighter version of the texture we've already created, but rather a softer, less exposed texture.

For this exercise, we'll be working on the lower belly, which, in terms of texture effect, is similar to the other "delicate" parts of the human body, if not in specific details. Here's the base we're starting with.

And we're going to modify this in a couple of ways in terms of lightening that area and adding in light veins to arrive at something like this.

To begin, I'm going to take my existing composite and merge together all of my layers (except my UV grid) so that I don't have to deal with a bunch of layers and adjustment layers from the previous tutorial. Then I'm going to add in a new layer and set its blending mode to Color Dodge.

Now I'll select the brush called NagelSeries27-07, which is a nice, rough brush, seemingly not what I'd want to use in this situation. And I'll set the foreground color (in HSB values) to H 335, S 19, B 100. Then I'll paint the lower belly area in an upside-down triangular pattern until it's been lightened up, destroying most of the texture.

Then, we're going to add one more layer, this time setting its blending mode to Color Burn. Using the same brush and same color, I'm going to paint over the previous layer using several strokes to bring in some new texture, a sort of milky, cloudy texture with something of a large cellular structure (a bit like turbulent noise).

And here's the result on our model so far.

Then, as a final step in this phase of the process, I'll turn the brightness on my foreground color to 50 percent and select the brush called NagelSeries27-06. I'll use this to paint on my Color Burn layer just on the edge between the lighter and darker portions of the image, creating a smoother transition but also accentuating the differences between the textures of the lighter and darker portions.

Adding in veins
Now to help establish the translucency of our lighter areas, we're going to create the effect of veins showing through the skin. This is a step that needs to be subtle, but not too subtle, so we're going to do this in two stages: painting and adjusting. For the painting process, create a new layer, and leave its blending mode at Normal. Then switch to the brush called NagelSeries27-08. And switch your color to a light blue. In my case, I'm using H 200, S 74, B 87.

Now, applying maximum pressure (if using a pressure-sensitive tablet), paint two or three quick swipes in a V or N stroke pattern. The effect will be barely visible, but you will notice something of a blue tinge to the light areas of the skin.

Now choose Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Brightness/Contrast. When the dialog pops up, choose the option "Use Previous Layer To Create Clipping Mask." After this, adjust your contrast all the way up, and turn the brightness down until you begin to see little purple lines, making sure to leave some of the original lines blue. In my case, that means taking the brightness down to about -29.

And here's the final result on our model, with some variations using different stroke styles on the veins for a more pronounced or more subtle effect.

In the next installment, we'll explore the creation of blemishes and sun damage. In the meantime, if you have any further questions, be sure to visit me in the Adobe Photoshop forum by clicking here.

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Related Keywords:adobe photoshop, painting, texturing skin, skin texture, veins

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