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May 8th, 2011 / 10pm
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Killzone 3 Signature Tutorial

In this Signatute Tutorial update we’re going to be creating this Killzone signature originally designed by Roroni. We have used a stock wallpaper found on, however you can use basically any wallpaper with a character or object you like, as this tutorial will mostly be about creating a flowing surroundings around a focal object (such as the Killzone Helghast captain in our signature). Please enjoy a long awaited update on SignatureStop, and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below!

Killzone 3 Signature Tutorial

As usual, SignatureStop premium members can download the signature PSD in our premium section!

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This is the wallpaper we are going to use, which you can find at the following link. However I encourage you all to find one of your own wallpapers to create your signature. This tutorial will teach you mainly how to create a detailed textured background, so do not worry too much about selecting your source. You could potentially even use a render cutout without a background, and create the background from scratch as we will be covering all of the soldiers anyway:

Killzone 3 Gamewallpapers wallpaper

A little sidenote: even though I try to be really detailed in my tutorial, I leave out a few essential basics such as creating new layers, which I expect you to know before you start. However because of a new photoshop version I am using (CS 5.5) I will still show you what the tools look like.

Place your wallpaper on a new canvas, the size we picked for our signature is 440 by 190 pixels. We’re going to use the blur tool to make our character stand out in the signature. Grab the Blur Tool, as shown below:

Blur Tool Description

Blurring tool used on the Helghast soldiers next to our focal point:

Killzone Soldiers wallpaper

Using the brush tool, we will make our focal point stand out by using a black soft brush, we will make the background nearly invisible. Don’t worry about covering the main character in black, we will be erasing it in the following step.

Brush tool description

Here’s the brushing we did on the canvas:

black brushing layer

Or shown below, here is the brushing on a white background to make it more clear exactly what we did:

brushed background

Using the eraser tool, we will remove the black brushing covering our character. We will use a technique a bit more sophisticated than simply click-drag removing, called airbrushing. First, select the eraser tool as shown below (or press E):

eraser tool description

Now reduce the opacity on the toolbar on top, make sure you select the airbrush button. The longer you hold your mouse click, the more your brush will erase:

eraser tool details

This is the brushing after we’ve removed some of it, shown on a white background:

Erased brushing

We’re going to repeat this step with some grey brushing, grab a brush tool a a greyish color to brush over the background and sides of the signature:

Grey brushing on background

This is the grey brushing done shown on a black background to clarify:

Grye brush tool

At this point the character is getting quite blended in, and it is time to start making lighting and details. We will be using the brush and smudge tool to create the desired effect. It’s not very simple to explain the smudge technique, basically it requires experimenting, and no outcome will be the same. What I suggest though is while smudging, you switch around the brushes. First, start by brushing some low opacity white colored dots next to your focal point:

White brushing on background

This is what our brushing looks like on a black background:

White Brushing

We will now be using the smudge tool. (Here are some other tutorials in which we use the smudge tool, if you want to practise the techniques: kickflip signature tutorial, smudge tool tag tutorial. ) Grab the smudge tool:

smudge tool settings

This is the smudging we did , keep trying until you are satisfied, and use the eraser tool if the lighting is covering the focal point:

Smudge Tool brushing tutorial

This is the result of our smudging, if you like you can experiment with the layer settings, you could set it to Color Dodge or perhaps Overlay. We’ve kept it on normal however:

Smudge result

We are going to do the same on the left side of the character, now with a different color however. You can use the Eyedropper tool (Press E) to select a color from your render to use. We’ve used the red color inside his helghast logo, and brushed a little around his shoulder. Play around with the opacity and airbrush settings:

red brushing killzone 3

We’ve smudged the red brushing, and tried to have it twirl around the character:

smudging red brushing

Change the layer settings to Color Dodge. This depends however on the color that you’ve chosen to create the effect with, you might not get the desired color by changing it to color dodge. Experiment with the settings:

Layer style set to Color Dodge

This is our outcome after changing the layer to color dodge:

Killzone 3 signature result so far

We will be repeating this step a few times, until we have a colory detailed effect around our focal point. Do not worry too much about which color to pick, as we will be using Adjustment Layers later on in the process the change the colors anyway. Yellow smudging (with the layer style set to Hue):

Yellow smudging

Blue smudging on the left side of the killzone signature:

Blue smudging

White smudging on top, repeat these steps until the signature starts to have some texture and detail:

White smudging tool

We will now be finishining the texture on the left side of the signature by using the Liquify tool. This requires a lot of experimenting and practise to receive a good result, and has to potentially be repeated a few times to get something to look good. Start the process by creating a new layer, and applying the image by going to Image > Apply Image:

Apply image to liquify

We’re going to be taking all of the color out of the part of the signature that is not covering our focal point. Press CTRL + U or go to Image > Adjustments > Hue/Saturation, and change the Saturation to -100. You could also change the Lightness if you’d like:

Change the Hue Saturation settings

Now erase the greyscale that is covering our focal point (Press E), don’t bother being very precies as the liquifying filter in the next step will take care of it:

Erase the greyscale

Go to Filter > Liquify, or press Shift + CTRL + X:

Liquify options

Play around with the liquify options, use all the different settings. If you feel you have overdone it, you can use the Reconstruct Tool (2nd from the Top). We’ve mainly used the Twirl Clockwise and the Mirror Tool to create our outcome, these tools are highlighted in the following picture:

Liquify toolset change

Our outcome, this may take a few times to repeat and practise to get it right, is shown below. The liquify filture has made our primary texture, and we will be using the Dodge and burn tool from this point on to improve it:

Liquify filter results

Select the Dodge tool, and start softly brushing around the twirls. Switch up the Burn tool in and outside of the bubbles to create a form of depth in the texture. Be creative, and switch around a lot. Make sure you duplicate layers and keep backups in case you feel you’re overdoing it:

Photoshop Burn and Dodge tool

This is the dodging and burning shown in a few different steps, keep going until you are satisfied:

Dodge and Burn the killzone signature

First we started highlighting the in and outsides of the bubbly twirls:

More burning and dodging

Now we’ve moved on to the background and right side of our focal point, creating a darker atmosphere:

burn and dodging

The final touchups of the burn and dodge tool, making the twirls and bubbles stand out of the backgorund:

dodge tool finished

As we’ve covered quite a bit of the smudging we did in earlier steps, we’re going to be creating some more. Scroll up if you’d like to see more examples of how the smudging should be done. We will be covering our blue beam of smudging first, with a bright red color:

Red brushing added

After smudging, this is our result shown on a black background:

Smudge tool brush settings

You can set the Blending mode to Color Dodge, however we decided to keep it on Normal:

Smudge tool outcome

Repeat this step a few times until you are satisfied, dont be afraid to overdo it as you can always erase it later. We’ve done some more blue smudging:

Blue brush smudging

With the layers Blending mode set to Color Dodge:

Blue smudging set to Color Dodge

Purple smudging on the sig:

Killzone 3 signature

With the blending mode set to Color Dodge, by this point we have probably created enough effects around our focal point. Try creating up to 5 or 6 if you are not satisfied. Once again, do not worry too much about the use of the colors, we can fix this later on with adjustment layers:

Layer styles changed

Let’s focus on the background a little bit, we will be covering some of the twirls that look good with bright brushing, and we will play around with opacity and blending modes to get desired effects. Here we started by brushing red and blue colors over our liquified textures:

Brushes added

Play around with the opacity and blending modes, for example set it to overlay, color dodge or reduce the opacity slightly:

Layer styles set to Overlay

Orange brushing covering the twirls:

Orange brushing signature detail

More orange, blue and red brushing, with various blending modes (overlay and color dodge):

Killzone signature color additions

Set the Layers blending mode to Overlay:

Switch between various layer styles

The left and right side were standing out a little bit too much, so we are going to brush with a soft brush like we did when we started the tutorial to make the focal point stand out. There is no real rule to where you brush, as long as you reduce the opacity properly:

Use black brushing

We have reduced the opacity of the black brushing to 30%, and we have also set the layer style to Overlay:

Set the layer to Overlay

We are now nearly finished with detailing our background, it is time to move on to the proper coloring. There’s different ways to approach this, the easiest way to reach a good looking result is by using Adjustment layers. We start by using a Selective Color, go to Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Selective Color:

Add a Selective Color layer

The settings we have used in our signature will be potentially horrible on different color schemes / backgrounds, however as an example of how to do it, here’s an animation of our settings. Please post a comment if the picture moves too fast and I will elaborate on the settings:

Selective Color adjustment layer settings animated

Our result at this point:

killzone 3 signature so far

This could potentially be an outcome for your signature, as it starts to look really great. We’ve added some touches with the sharpen, soften, dodge and burn tool here and there, and created this outcome so far. If you like you could place your text somewhere in your signature now:

Sharpen and Dodge tooling

To make the signature blend a little better however we’ve decided to add another Selective Color adjustment layer and a Color Balance adjustment layer as finishing touches. Below are the settings for the selective color layer, and the color balance layer. These are simply indications of possible settings, they might or might not work on different color schemes however, so I encourage you once again to be creative and pick your own settings. An animation showing the selective color layer:

Selective Color settings

This gave us the following outcome, nearly finished:

Killzone 3 signature optional result

The color balance adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance):

Color Balance adjustment layer added

This leaves us with just the text to put in, there are people that prefer to leave the text out alltogether as it can potentially ruin a perfectly good signature. We’ve used simple text with the layer style set to Overlay, with lowered opacity. Watch out to not overdo the text, and play around with fonts and font sizes:

Signature text

Our final signature outcome with the font set to overlay and 80% opacity will conclude this Killzone Photoshop signature tutorial:

Killzone 3 Signature Tutorial result

hopefully you’ve enjoyed the killzone 3 signature tutorial. Premium Members can download the PSD file in the premium section. Good luck everyone!

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About the author

Hi, I'm Base. I've been developing and designing websites and graphics since 2004, and I love sharing my knowledge with the rest of the world!

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