Create the “Sackboy” Video Game Character in Photoshop

January 13, 2010 • By

This is a considerably simple tutorial on how to paint an animated-like character in photoshop. But I must add that, some of the steps in this tutorials as to where it concerns painting with a brush, would depend on having a good eye for lighting and detailing. I’ve however been relatively detailed in lining out these steps.

Step 1

We’ll create a new transparent canvass of 800 by 800 pixels. From the Tools bar, select the Pen Tool (P) and sketch out the head of our animated ‘hero’ as shown below. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

(*note: select Paths from the Pen Tool’s menu bar)

Step 2

By right clicking the drawn shape, select Fill Path and the colour; #6c4f32 to fill the shape and name this layer “head”. To point out, for every shape drawn in this tutorial, we’ll be using the Marquee Tool (M) to clear its outline after a fill’s been applied. For example, select the whole shape with the Marquee Tool(whatever suitable shape as of the time) and press the delete key. Then press Ctrl+D to deselect the shape.

Step 3

Create a new layer by clicking the “New Layers” icon below the Layers Palette. Name this layer “body”. Next, select the Ellipse Tool (U) and draw a tummy in an oval shape. With the Pen Tool, sketch out the arms and legs each with its own layer.You may name these layers “arm1”, “arm2”, “leg1” and “leg2.”

Step 4

Right click each of these sketches and fill with the colour, #6c4f32.

This is the order the layers are arranged:

Step 5

We are now going to add a texture to all five layers.Go to Filter > Texturizer and in the dialog window, select the texture Burlap with Scaling at 103% and Relief at 3.

Step 6

Like Ive said, apply this texture to the arms and legs of the character.This is the result. Rather flat it may seem for now.

Step 7

I however felt that “arm1” was a little ‘disjointed’ for me. Hit Ctrl+T for Free Transform, right click and select Distort and adjust by from the corners as shown below. But this step could be avoided by drawing this arm perfectly from the start.

Step 8

Select the “head” layer and bring up the Layer Style menu by double clicking the layer. For the Bevel and Emboss style, enter the following:

This would add a directional light to the head of the subject.

Step 9

For the “leg1” layer, add an Inner Shadow Layer Style with it’s Angle at 207, Distance at 20px, Size at 13px and Noise at 31%. More importantly, have the Global Light unchecked first before making these adjustments.

Step 10

Select the “Leg2” layer and add an Inner Shadow Layer Style. Of course with Global Light unchecked first, the Inner Shadow’s angle placed at -149, Distance at15px, Size at 21px and Noise at 25%.

Step 11

For your “body” layer, the Inner Shadow Layer Style parameter would look like this:

Step 12

The “arm2” Inner Shadow Layer Style:

Step 13

The “arm1” Inner Shadow Layer Style:

Step 14

Select the “head” layer and duplicate it by right clicking it and choosing the Duplicate Layer option to do so. Then go on ahead to add a new Layer Style for it as shown below:

Now we’re giving the figure a little more dimension.

Step 15

In a new layer, draw with the Line Tool or (any prefered tool of choice), a mouth at the lower base of the head.

Step 16

For another layer, draw two straight eyebrows and apply a Drop Shadow Layer Style to it.

Step 17

For the eyes, in a new layer, draw two round shapes right below the eyebrows making it intersects at points of each brow. Note that the right eye should be a lot more rounded and left eyes a little more
stretched in appearance. By pressing Crtl+T and right clicking to select Warp, have the eyes positioned as shown below.You can see that the left eye has a slight tilt upwards and the right eye is fairly bent at an angle towards the left.

Step 18

Have the “mouth”, “eyebrows” and “eyes” layers selected accordingly and merge with the “head” layer. Go to Layer > Merge Down or simply hit Ctrl + E to do so.That done, Select Edit > Transform > Warp and only just slightly adjust the handles of the warp and the end result would be a head with a a more 3D look.

Step 19

In a new layer, select a soft brush at a size of 3px.With closely dotted application of the brush to the eyes, have the brush concentrated on the upper part of the eyes.

Step 20

Create a new layer and select the a Splatter brush – 24px and a black foreground colour. Delicately paint the face as shown below. There however are two methods you can use to clear the areas the brush overlaps. First, you can use the Eraser Tool (E) or select the layer while holding down the ALT key. Do this when done painting.

Step 21

Proceed to paint parts of the arms, body and legs.

Step 22

Still with the Splatter brush, change the brush colour to #d9bf9b. Across our subject’s forehead, draw a near-crooked slanted line with the brush and also use the brush to trace out the bulge over the eyes for an angry look.Continue to apply the brush around the eyes and line that forms the mouth.

Step 23

Still with the same brush, paint over the portions encircled below, you may paint round other parts of the figure until you satisfied the figure is appropriately highlighted towards the direction of light

The final outcome.

Step 24

Add a new layer for the zipper, select the Rectangle Tool and draw intersecting rows of rectangles in the shapes of ‘Ys’. Fill the these shapes with a white colour and deselect afterwards (when their outlines have been cleared). Hit Ctrl+T and right click to select the Warp option. Bend slightly the zipper to the right.

Step 25

Now apply a Layer Style to the zipper.With the Bevel and Emboss’s Depth at a 100%, size at 3px and no Soften.

The zipper embossed:

Step 26

With the Ellipse Tool, draw an oval circle at the top of the zipper and use the Layer Style below:

Step 27

Choose the Rounded Rectangle Tool with a rounded corners at 2 px. Draw over the circle and use the same Layer Style as the zipper’s. With a follow up, draw a handle in a something of a quadrilateral and apply a Bevel and Emboss Layer Style to it.

Step 28

There you have it.

Step 29

Being a “Sackboy”, the neck should appear roughen at its end.

Step 30

Add an Outer Glow style to the roughened neck and set the colour of the glow as #a58553 and it’s gradient reduced to an opacity of about 30%.

Do a follow up of this for the joints of the hips as well.

Step 31

Drag the “ground” texture to your workspace and resize as appropriate.This texture is credited to www.mega-tex.nl.

Step 32

Use a Free Transform (Ctrl+T) to scale the “ground” texture for the ground surface.

Step 33

In a new layer, draw a square that would serve as your sky and next, select the Gradient Tool (G). On the Gradient menu, choose a Radial Gradient and check Reverse. Edit the Gradient adding the following colours below. That done, draw your Gradient from above the head of ‘Sackboy’ to just below his left-hand side.This would be something like a diagonal line.

Step 34

Select the “ground” layer and apply a Gradient Overlay to it via Layer Style.

Don’t forget to reduce the Gradient’s opacity to about 35% and have it’s Scale set to 70%.

Step 35

We’re going to going to paint a shadow beneath the character with a Splatter brush in a new layer. The Blend Mode of the brush should be set to Soft Light and shadow should have its edges with a lot less details.

Step 36

Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool and select the upper edge of the ground texture and have it feathered at 5px.

The result would give the ground something like a horizon.

Step 37

Create a new layer and then go to Filter > Render >Clouds. Desaturate the “clouds” layer by pressing Shift+Ctrl+U.

Step 38

Still on the “clouds” layer, go to Image >Adjustments >Brightness/Contrast. Increase the contrast of the Clouds to +50.

Step 39

On the Layers Palette, set the Fill  Opacity of the “sky” layer to about 50%. Note that this layer should be above the “clouds” layer.

Step 40

Create a “clouds2” layer, select the Brush Tool and choose the Odysee brush by Axeraider70 from Deviantart. Set the brush size to 626px and its Blend Mode to
Soft Light and make the first brush strokes more pronounced. and the couple that follows quite faint.

Step 41

From the Tools bar, pick the Smudge Tool (R) and with swipes, stretch both ends of the cloud outwards and at certain points inwards.

Step 42

Pick the Blur tool (R) and use it to fade the edges of the cloud most particularly at its base in other for it to blend properly against the blue sky. When done, merge (Ctrl+E) the “sky” layer with the “clouds2” layer.

Step 43

Go to Filter > Render > Lens Flare and drag the flare to the upper right part of the preview window and the len’s midpoint around the middle of the preview window.

Step 44

With the Eraser Tool (E) as a Splatter brush, trim off bits of the wavy neck on both ends.


Step 45

With the Splatter brush yet again, choose it’s colour as #ecf3f8. I have to point out that, this colour has a faint bluish tint to it.

Step 46

Use the Burn Tool (O) and apply over the bottom part of the zipper to conform with the gradation of light.

Step 47

For the distant hills (in a new layer), select a square brush (if available) or a round brush will do just fine. Use for the brush colour; #a9a087 first and then followed by a colour; #51504d. Reduce the opacity of the “hills’ layer to 50%.

Step 48

Voila! It’s alive!!! Well, in the graphic point of view.

By David Ella Ella