How To Make A Fantasy Castle Scene

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A Castle is an image so closely associated with Fantasy that it can be hard to avoid them. This is not a bad thing of course given they're both amazing and versatile. The focus of this tutorial will be on how to make your castle your own while also covering how best to use the tools within clip studio to make your fantasy scene look awesome.

1. Start With The silhouette

To begin I open a new document > setting it at 1920px x1080px @300dpi.

After you have an idea of the style you want your piece to be in and have done some image research. Start drawing out the silhouette of your castle.
I have looked up various images of castle and architecture from the Roman​ period and use this as a starting point.

2. Do A Rough Sketch

Once you have a silhouette you like the look of, start sketching out your castle scene. I take a mixture of elements from my first stage. Trying to keep the shapes dynamic.

3. Outline Your Sketch

Once you're happy with your sketch, create some new layers in the layers panel called; "Foreground, middle ground, ​and background"
Begin to draw clean lines over the top in the relevant layers. Making sure your sketch layer is on 50% opacity. I use the standard G-Pen to draw my new lines.

4. Lighting Pass

When it comes to creating a lifelike scene, knowing your light source is a very crucial part. To quickly define my light and shadows I use the paint bucket tool/ the pen tool, working on it until I have the desired result.

5. Ambient Occlusion

Ambient occlusion is just another way of describing shadows. In this case, the shadows that objects will cast. Because you have done your Lighting pass and know your light source, this will make this step much easier.

Turn down the opacity on the lighting pass layer and create a new layer, naming it "Ambient Occlusion". Set the opacity to 50% and select multiply in the blending mode menu.
Make sure your brush color is black and start drawing in those shadows. When you're done, you should have an image that looks something like this.

6. Values/Greyscale

Very similar to the lighting pass you can now start adding in those values. Creating separate layers for each element will come in useful later on. So create one for the Castle, the Bridge, the Mountains and the foliage​. Again, I use the paint bucket tool and pen tool to do this.

7. Lighten Your outlines

If like me, you don't like your outlines to stand out and want to give your image a more lifelike feel you can lighten them or erase them. Here, I go to my outline layers and put on the transparent lock and use the Airbrush tool with the color white selected. I get to work lighting the areas where I don't need a black line. There are various ways to do this step. So choose whichever you find best. By the end, you should have an image that looks like this.

8. Rendering

The next step is rendering. Here I begin to merge my outline layers with their corresponding greyscales and clean up any unwanted lines and focus on the lighting, making tweaks to the overall image. Resulting in a cleaner and smoother look.

One tool I like to use in clip studio is the "Oil brush" tool. I find it a good brush to work paint around and blend tones easily. Using the "color change" brush I work on softening​ the lines and shaping the clouds.

9. Color

Once I'm happy with my greyscale image I start adding color.
To do this, create new layers like with values and set them to "color" in the blending mode menu and set the opacity to 40%.

Using the Magic wand. Choose from one of the grayscale layers and select the areas you want to color. Filling the selection with the chosen color​ in it's "Color" Mode layer.
If you are familiar with clipping masks you can use this method also.

10. Full color

When I have colored all my elements. I create a new layer filling it with a green color and set the blend mode too "Hard Light" and 30% opacity. This sets a Hue over the image that you can tweak to your liking.

11. Final Adjustments

For the last step, I make some final adjustments.
Tweaking the color balance I go to Layer > New Correction layer > Colour balance.
and ​also add "tone curve" from the same menu.

I then add in some noise by going to; Filter > Draw > Perlin noise. Adjusting the setting until I get a fine-ish grain.

Happy with the image, I export.

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