Designs with Flare
In this tutorial we're going to create a butterfly with flaming wings. Using the warp transform tool in Photoshop you'll see how easy it is to shape and manipulate fire into wings. We'll also create a custom brush and see how applying a simple texture can add depth to your digital art. Let's get started!
We'll need a couple of images for this tutorial. You can use any butterfly image that you like, or you can download the one I'm using here. For the fire, you'll need to download this excellent resource provided by sidestreet-stock on DeviantArt.
Open Photoshop and create a new document. Mine is 2000x1500 at 72dpi. Fill the background with a dark gray (#1b1a19). Copy and paste the butterfly image onto our new document.
Set the butterfly layer's opacity down to 30%. Now open the fire images and choose a few that look like they can be easily manipulated into the wing shapes. Copy and paste a fire image onto a layer above the butterfly. Set the fire layer's blend mode to "screen", then click Edit | Transform | Distort to position the fire over the butterflies wing.
Now click Edit | Transform | Warp to shape the fire within the butterfly's wing.
Repeat this process until the entire wing is filled with fire. You may not have to warp each flame, but you will have to scale and rotate it into place.
Once you have a nice shape for the wings, combine all of the fire layers into one.
Now set this new combined layer's blend mode to back to "screen". Duplicate the layer and click Edit | Transform | Flip Horizontal. Position this new wing copy on the opposite side of the butterfly. Select the two wing layers and press Cmd+E to combine them. You'll need to set the new combined layer's blend back to "screen" again.
Let's add a couple more adjustments to the wings, just to give them more of a painted look. Duplicate the wings layer, and with the duplicate layer selected, click Filter | Other | High Pass. Use a setting similar to mine below, and set the layer's blend mode to "overlay".
Combine the two layers by selecting them and press Cmd+E. Set the combined layers blend mode back to "screen". Now choose Filter | Sharpen | Unsharp Mask. Use a setting similar to the one I have below.
Note: If you have little white lines around the wings shapes, like I do above, after this step, simply erase them with a soft eraser brush.
Finally, let's set the original butterfly image's opacity back to 100%. Create a layer mask and use a soft brush with Opacity and Flow set to around 50%, and begin hiding most of the wings. You can let a little show through some of the flames if you prefer.
No digital art is complete without texture. I chose a file from this Bleached Paper Textures collection(http://wegraphics.net/downloads/textures/bleached-paper-textures/) at WeGraphics. I added it to a layer just above the background layer. I set its opacity to 50% and its blend mode to "Overlay".
Then I duplicated the texture layer and desaturated it by press Cmd+Shift+U. I set its opacity to 100% and its blend mode to "Overlay".
To adjust the lighting I added several items. The first is a Gradient Map adjustment layer. It's positioned above all other layers and is set to the colors below.
Next, use a large soft brush and click once on a layer above the butterfly but below the wings. Use a color similar to #f6bb0d. Set this layer's blend mode to "overlay".
On a new layer above the wings use a small soft brush to outline the edges of the wings. Use a color similar to #fc7504. Set this layer's opacity to 50% and its blend mode to "overlay".
To finish it up we'll add some sparks using a soft round brush. Open the brushes panel and adjust the settings as I have below.
Choose a color similar to #f36f09, and begin painting sparks around the edge of the butterfly.
I hope you found this tutorial easy and informative. Hopefully you'll be inspired to use the techniques in your own digital art. If so, I'd love to see the results. Please use the comment fields below to share your work!