Adding highlights
We have finally reached the finishing stage. I put in highlights, which are key to the textures of food items.
This may be the most enjoyable process of all, since the textures finally come out at once.
To add sharp, hard light, I used the [G-pen] from the [Pen] tool → [Pen] tool group as my tool of choice.
I recommend drawing each element carefully one by one.
Since the image might become “noisy” if too many highlights are added, I judged the amount of added highlights while watching the overall picture.
The potatoes and broccoli create a contrasting texture to the meat and complement it as a companion item. Therefore, the highlights are a bit more low-key, to “flatten” their texture.
To really emphasize the meat, I added a lot of strong highlights.
At this point, the overall highlights have been added.
 Considering additional elements
Now that the overall highlights are added, try to think of additional elements to be added to make this steak illustration even more delicious .
First of all, an important point to make the steak look delicious is its “temperature”.
Therefore, I considered what I should add to suggest a hot steak.
One thing to convey “temperature” at a glance would be a piece of “melted butter”.
So adding some melting butter is a good idea.
Next, I added the hot, bubbling sauce.
Lastly, I used the [Airbrush] tool → [Soft] to incorporate some steam.
These items (butter, boiled sauce and steam) are three essential elements to convey a feeling of temperature.
Overall, it looks like this at this stage.
 Finishing touches and adjustments
Finally, I adjusted the finishing touches and colors.
■ Blending contours
I created a new “Final adjustments” layer for the finish.
Carefully, I checked the parts where contours might have been too sharp or where the base color have been protruded, while blending these areas from the layer above.
Even for this, I used the [Running color edge watercolor] tool to paint.
■ Blurring highlights
To make the highlights look more realistic, I applied some blur.
For something like this, you can duplicate the “Highlight” layer and blur the duplicated layer using the [Filter] menu → [Blur] → [Gaussian blur].
Here, I lowered the opacity of the “Blurred highlights” layer to about 50%.
■ Adjusting the color balance
The last thing to do was to merge all the layers and to fine-tune the colors.
To do that, select the [Layer] menu → [Combine copies of displayed layer] to create a new layer including all elements.
With the combined layer selected, select the [Edit] menu → [Tonal Correction] → [Color balance] and adjust the colors.
Make sure to explore the most delicious colors. Since the yellow in the base photo was very strong, I dulled the color in the illustration.
I adjusted the colors a little more to make them more natural, and with that, it is complete!
This is the final result.