For clarity’s sake, in this series I will explain how I draw each part separately. In reality, the entire image is drawn step by step, and as a result, several parts and layers other than the explained parts may be explained out of order.
 Drawing the dragon’s breath
The dragon’s breath is meant to be more of a lingering breath rather than a roaring flame. It acts as the silence amid the destruction.
In this series, I have introduced the steps for drawing wings first in lesson 5. In reality, the breath was drawn before the wings as there was a large overlap.
(1) First, I checked my rough sketch.
(2) I initially tried to draw the breath with the [Blend] too l→ [Finger tip] sub tool, but it came out looking like vomit instead.
(3) So I used the “fire_brush” texture brush introduced in lesson 1. I made a new layer named “dragon_fire02”, and painted a base pattern with the “fire_brush” brush.
(4) I duplicated this base pattern layer and set it to “Glow dodge”.
The blended colors will look bright as if they are glowing. Minor adjustments are made, and the glowing part’s shape is trimmed.
(5) I colored the breath to have a gradient from blue to orange. The logic for this is that there is more oxygen near the mouth, and that the flames would become orange after leaving the mouth.
The breath pattern layer is selected from the [Layer] palette. By clicking the [Lock Transparent Pixel] button at the top of the palette, colors can be applied only to the drawn parts of the layer.
Once I've done this, I use the large [Airbrush]→[Soft] sub tool to add a blue gradient.
(6) While the breath is done, the brightness difference between the background elements is too jarring. The wing layer is brightened to compensate for that.
 Adding sparks
To give the impression that the entire town is on fire, sparks are added to the entire image.
(1) A new [Color dodge] blend mode layer is made. On this layer, I add sparks around the dragon with the [Oil paint flat brush] tool.
Sparks can be used to express motion by drawing them with the wind’s direction in mind. Here it is important to prevent sparks from becoming all the same size and brightness.
(2) The sparks are applied to the entire image, and the background is done.
 Adjusting materials
While the metallic surfaces are smoother than the dragon’s skin, it would be strange if they looked brand new, as the surfaces will probably be battle-worn. To prevent this, rough textures are added.
New layers set to [Color dodge] are added and clipped above the dragon and arm layers, and adjusted with the “brush_custom01” brush which was used for the dragon skin.
As I wanted a finer texture, the paper texture’s [Scale ratio] was lowered in the brush’s [Tool Property] palette.
 Adjusting contrast
To adjust the contrast in the end, a [Tonal Correction layer] is added.
For details on [Tonal Correction layers], refer to the TIPS below.
(1) One is added to the top of the [Layer] palette using the [Layer] menu → [New Correction Layer] → [Tone Curve].
(2) In the displayed [Tone Curve] dialog, the following adjustments were made to add contrast.
(3) After making overall adjustments, the entire image is checked and finished.