The Pre-Raphaelite art movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries was known for the romantic styles of artists such as Sir Edward Burne-Jones and J. W. Waterhouse. Inspiration for these paintings was culled from classical and Arthurian mythology, poetry, and the writings of Shakespeare.
In the last few years, Pre-Raphaelite painting has seen a resurgence of popularity and since digital art allows for detailed work, current artists are incorporating the Victorian fantasy ideals with today’s technology.
Curious Lab’s Poser 4.0
This tutorial assumes that you use Curious Lab’s Poser 4.0 or 5.0 to create your character figure. In my case, I made the character in Poser 4.0, used a prepared skin texture (Byte-Me-Okay’s Djana for DAZ’s Stephanie), and transported the nude figure into Corel’s Bryce 5.0.
I completed the composition by adding trees, a decorative arch, a ground terrain, grasses, and water. I rendered it in regular mode with gamma correction off. (Gamma correction in Bryce will tend to wash out the vibrancy of the picture.)
I opened the render in Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 to create the clothing. Elements is an affordable 2D image editing program that is comparable to JASC’s Paintshop Pro.
Create a new layer (normal)
I created a new layer, normal setting, 100 percent opacity. The brush settings are for airbrush, normal mode, 100 percent opacity. I outlined and filled in the dress with a deep cobalt color, using a 3 pixel soft, round brush for the outline and a 20 pixel soft, round brush for the fill. Make sure that you completely fill in all places where you want the dress to appear; such as under the figure’s fingers.
A new layer (multiply)
I created another layer, multiply mode, 100 percent opacity. I then set the airbrush to multiply at 50 percent opacity. Working with a 6 to 20 pixel, soft, round brush, I began to add shadows with a dark blue/black color, following the lines of her body and remembering that the light was coming from left to right.
I also added darkness around the outer edges of the dress. This is done to give the dress depth. Once you have the shadows in place, use your smudge tool, set from 6 to 20 pixels, and soften the brush strokes, again following the lines of the figure.
Add the highlights
It is now time to add the highlights that will start defining the dress. I created another layer, screen mode, 100 percent opacity. I then set the airbrush to screen at 50 percent opacity. Working with a 6 to 20 pixel, soft, round brush, I began to add highlights with a slightly lighter blue than the basic dress. Follow the line of shadows you just put down. Highlights will make the movement in the dress appear.
Once you have the highlights in place, use your smudge tool, set from 6 to 20 pixels, and soften the brush strokes. Add more highlights in places where you want to give the effect of ‘folds and wrinkles in the fabric.’ This is basically a guide for you to place more detailed highlights later. Always be aware of the direction in which your light is coming.
This art is all about detail
Pre-Raphaelite art is known for its softness and detail. The dresses have many folds, wrinkles and texture. At this point, you may wish to use a resource to base your painting upon. I used one of Burne-Jones’ paintings found at ArtMagick.com.
I opened a new layer, multiply mode, 100 percent opacity. I then set the airbrush to multiply at 50 percent opacity, chose the dark blue/black color of the shadows, and used a 1 to 3 pixel round, hard brush to sketch in definition shadows. I wanted her to have a flowing but detailed dress with a bodice, so I followed the lines of her body, adding ‘folds’ where I felt they would fall. I smudged the shadows slightly with a 5 pixel round, soft brush.
When I had completed the shadows, I opened a new layer, mode to screen, 100 percent opacity. I then set the airbrush to screen at 50 percent opacity, picking up my lighter blue color again, and used a 1 to 3 pixel round, hard brush to sketch in definition highlights. Follow the shadow lines and where you want the folds to be higher, build on the lighter color. Use a 5 pixel round, soft brush to blend the highlights into the shadows.
Create different parts in different layers
I created the bodice, arms, and skirt in different layers because it gave me more control, but you can limit the number of layers if you choose. I tweaked each layer by adding more definite lines of shadows and highlights and then blending them with the smudge tool until I got the detail I was trying for.
Pre-Raphaelite painting is identifiable because of the soft, wispy, fantasy-like lighting used, and our digital Pre-Raphaelite is no different.
Flatten your layers into a single layer. Choose the ‘duplicate layer’ from the menu. Go to your ‘Filter’ menu and choose ‘blur.’ Select Gaussian blur on the flyout and set the intensity to 5.0. Select apply. (Yes, your picture turns really blurry, but don’t panic!) Set your layer mode to screen and presto–lovely, wispy light! Flatten your layers and save. You’re done!
Are you interested in Photoshop? Read our article on Photoshop tutorials.