In this tutorial, we’re going to create the possum (one of the possum brothers) from the animated cartoon-Ice Age. In the first part of the tutorial, we’ll focus on creating a fur coat for our eccentric creature and in the second part of the tutorial, we’ll be creating a dark environment around the possum.

I must add that this tutorial would have been a lot more easier with the use of a graphic tablet (I’m saving for one myself). Nevertheless, everything is still very much workable with a mouse.

Before I started with the project, I decided to sketch out some mock-ups for the subject. I explored various postures and expressions of the possum and decided to stick with  seventh sketch. If you can’t draw, you may trace out the drawing by placing it underneath your working layer. I did relish reliving my cartoon drawing days.

Step 1

Create a new transparent document at 850 by 650 pixels and a resolution of about 200px. With the Pen Tool (P) selected, sketch out the outline of the face (not the head entirely) of our character. Before tracing out the face, make sure “paths” is highlighted on the Pen Tool Preset right below the menu bar.

Step 2

Fill the shape with the colour #a49e6e and then name the layer  if you wish, to “face.”  Use the Marquee Tool  (M) to select the whole area of the face and push delete on your keyboard to delete the outline.

Step 3

In a new layer, use the Pen Tool to trace out the body of the possum. Note that, we’ll not be drawing the body in full.

Step 4

Have the “face” layer unchecked so as to hide it when working with the layer below it. Fill the body withthe colour #7b5832. This layer will form the base for our fur coat.

Step 5

Now go to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and increase the noise amount to about 30%. Also keep Uniforn selected and monochromatic checked.

Step 6

Select the Smudge Tool (R) and set its brush size to between 27px to 39 px depending on the size of the area you’re working on if you’re zoomed in. The strength of the Smudge brush should be set at 45%.

Your Smudge brush must be a Spatter brush.On the Brushes Palette, have Smoothing unchecked.

Step 7

Starting  from the head, apply the Smudge brush with short strokes.

Do endeavor not to make the flow of the fur go all in one direction. Our hairdressing skills might not be at par with that of Vidal Sassoons’s (whatever happened to him?) but we do try. When done, go to Sharpen > Sharpen to sharpen once. See the result below:

Step 8

Select the Burn Tool (O) as a Spatter Brush, the Range as Midtones and its Exposure at 10%.

Using the Burn Tool, darken the edges of the head and certain levels of the body.

Step 9

Select the Dodge Tool  (O) and set the parameters below:

Highlight the portions of the body most particularly in areas in between where burns were made. This would constitute something of bandings.

The resulting visual effects makes the fur look lush and glossy.

Step 10

Select a Soft Round Brush with its size set to 5 px, colour to #36282e and Opacity to 40%.

On the Brushes Palette settings, double click Shape Dynamics and enter the parameters below:

Step 11

Apply the brush over the fur coat in consonant with the direction they flow.

Also for a lighter shade, change the brush colour to #72582e. The changes might be just subtle but the little things does count.

Step 12

In a new layer, with the Pen Tool selected, draw both arms of the possum and fill with the colour #563f27.

This fill might be darker than the fur coat’s but we’ll of course darken in the course of this tutorial.

Step 13

Head on over to Filter > Noise > Add Noise and set the Noise Amount to 25% and have Monochromatic checked. Use the Burn Tool to darken the edges of the arms as well.

Step 14

A Smudge Brush with Strength at 15% should be used for the arms. We don’t want the arms to be as hairy as the that of the fur coat. When halfway through the smudge, set the Smudge Mode from Normal to Darken. The result is depicted below.

Step 15

We’ll be applying a various shades to the face in a new layer, “facepaint” right above the “face” layer.

Select the brush colour as #5c4f3f and its Opacity at 12%.

B. Brush colour #63441d and Brush Opacity 10%.

C. Brush colour #e0c98b. Paint over the brow area, cheeks and nose areas.

D. Brush colour #fdf3d9. Paint the top part brows and the cheek areas.

E. Brush colour #f5eeda. Painting sould be made within the face for highlighting.

Step 16

To clear the overlapping brush paintings on the face, click the “facepaint” layer while holding down the ‘Alt’ button to create a Clipping Mask. Select the the Blur Tool (R) with its size at 17 px and Strength reduced to 33% to blend.

Step 17

With the Pen Tool yet again, draw the eyes and fill.. Don’t forget to clear the pen outline.

Step 18

For the “eyes” layer, apply  a Gradient Overlay Layer Style. Edit the Gradient  colours: 1. #949fb1 2. #a29f97 3. #ffffff.

Step 19

The Gradient Overlay Layer Style parameters:

Step 20

Name a new layer “pupils” and on the layer, draw two oblique shapes with the Ellipse Tool (U) amd fill with black. Add a white reflection of light with a Soft Round Brush to the pupils.

Step 21

Under the Pen Tool, select the Freeform Pen Tool to draw a rather tricky nose (for those with shaky hands).

But the Pen Tool can be use to accomplish the same feat only that with the Freeform Pen Tool you can add, delete and adjust anchor points on the shape. This ensures greater control and hence, smoother or rounded curves.

Step 22

Add a Gradient Overlay Layer Style to the “nose” layer. From the left, the Color Stops are:
1. #341302
2.#480c12
3. #b77363
4. #e7909e
5.#ffffff.

Step 23

Still on the nose, paint over its base and more particularly shape out a nostril with a black Soft Round brush with an opacity of 25%. Secondly, use the Blur Tool with a Strength of 45% for a blend and also add a Noise Amount of 5%.

Step 24

Select a Spatter Brush with an Opacity reduced to 25%. For the Brushes Palette, enter the parameters below:

Step 25

First off, the brush with colours #6e635e should be used to create the lines of the face and bearing in mind that the brush is faded, you’ll get swoosh-like lines as a result.

Step 26

Finally, paint with a brush with an appropriate size (depending on the area of the face you’re working on). The first colour of the Spatter brush should be #fcfaf9that would painted over the top half of the face.

The second brush colour: #24140b(a dark colour) should be painted around the areas of the eyes, below the nose, on the edges of the chin and a faint outline of the mouth made as well. When done, though the face may look messy now, blend your markingspaintings with the Blur Tool.

Step 27

For the “ear” layer, select the Pen Tool or Freeform Tool to draw an ear.

Step 28

Create a Gradient Over lay style for the ear. The Gradient Color Stops from the left: 1.#41291c
2.#54301c
3. #45858 4.#ffffff.

Step 29

Set the Gradient Angle to 93 degrees.

The final outcome:

Step 30

Over the ear layer, use a Soft Round Brush to paint the outlines of the ears and blend with a lower brush Strength after wards.

Step 31

Using a brush (colour: #eadccd)faded at 25% on the Brushes Palette, paint out long stripes of fur. Follow with a greyish brush colour (#a09485) that only be applied sparingly.

Step 32

Use the Smudge Tool with its size set to 7 px and Strength at 70% for the white fur markings.

Step 33

For the furs of the head, create dark strands of  fur with the brush colour #291f14.

Step 34

Now for the body areas, we’re going to shade these areas as we’re creating the possum in a poorly lit environment. Select a Soft Round brush with the colour #271d12and Opacity reduced to 75%. Do allow for the whites of certain strands of fur to show through in the shaded areas.

Step 35

With the same brush but at a lower opacity, shade  the face. Also make the the outlines of the mouth a little prominent; this time with the brush colour, #4a3e37.

Using another brush colour: #331f15, paint the near the edges of the chin. Blend with the Blur Tool with a strength of 15%. Click the fur “highlight” layer and merge with the other fur layers by pressing  Ctrl+E.

Step 36

We need a rough looking texture for a grudge background. This one’s called ‘deadcalm’ and it can be downloaded for free on graphicmania.net.

Step 37

Drag the texture into the document and resize to fit the current canvas size. He does look like a furlong figure in an abstract world of his own-pity.

Step 38

For a fading directional ligthing for the background, go to Filter > Render > Lighting Effects and select Light type as Spotlight.

Now there’s a lot more atmosphere in the image.

Step 39

With the Freeform Pen Tool, sketch out a a tail and continue to adjust it until you get the desired shape. I got it right after more than several undos later.

Step 40

To add a shade to the tail, add an Inner Shadow style to it with the parameters below:

Step 41

Also darken the lower base of the tail.

Step 42

Merge the fur layer with that of the tail’s and you’ll notice that the fur coat automatically gets the Inner Shadow attribute of the “tail” layer. Everything all falls in place here. Also, duplicate this new layer and add a black Color Overlay Layer Style to it. Reduce its opacity to 65% and use the Move Tool (M) to position the “shadow layer” so-called, behind the possum.

Step 43

Select the Marquee Tool and draw the shape for a ray of light as shown below.

Step 44

For the Gradient of the “ray” layer, the Gradient Color Stops are:1.#bab1ab 2.#dad9d7 3.#ecebe3 4.#cfeae4 5.#ecebe3 6.#aaa19c 7.#ffffff.

For the Opacity Stops: 1.55% 2.55% 3.60%.

Step 45

With the Gradient Tool (G) selected, drag downwards within the Marquee selection.

Step 46

The light rays here, appears a little too prominent.To fade its edges, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and increase its Radius by 7.1 pixels.

We have here a more soft lighting  for the light ray.

Step 47

For a new layer to add a glow to the face, choose a white Soft Round brush. Highlight the edges of the face right from the nose and up to the brows.

You’ll get this ‘heavenly’ look of bliss below.

Step 48

Create a new Adjustment Layer by clicking it (the fourth icon from the left. Select Levels and enter the figures for Input Levels below:

The application of Levels for this image, is intended to add a shadefrom one end of the picture.

Step 49

I also applied a Soft Round brush on the edges of the head for a glow. There you go, its finished! Like any art piece to an artist, his artwork might never seem complete. You can throw in a halo to make the possum look a lot more saintly, candles or even add a cloud of smoke for added effect. These instances Ive mentioned, exploits the dark nature of the image and a result, there’s more gravity to it.

By David Ella Ella

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