Depth Without a Base

This design is based of a piece of armour in the game Guild Wars.

Part 1: the canvas, on a wireframe you’d select the area you wish to work with and lay down your base colour, in this tutorial i’ll be working just on a 2d surface to help keep things simpler.
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Part 2: Build up your shapes, on a mesh these shoulder parts may be extras hexed on, therefore this technique will help you blend your extras into your skin. when setting out shapes, feathering the edge by 0.5 pixels accomplishes a softer, natural effect.
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Part 3: Lay down your base shading, this can be done with burn and dodge on your base layer, or using a new layer airbrushing lighter and darker shades, the use of black and white is avoided if possible, as they look less natural.
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Part 4: A very simple method for making edges on your pieces is to select the shape you wish to edge, and on a new layer fill it with a darker tone, contract your selection by 1 pixel and fill with a lighter tone, finally contracting again by 1 pixel and deleting the selection, leaving the 2 pixel outline.
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Part 5: By building up some solid details you add to the depth, in this case a metallic trim, using gradients makes light work of these.
The trim here was made using the same method as in part 4 but with some selective erasing.
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Part 6: Finishing the larger details will help you decide which areas to focus on, the seams were created much like the edges, a dark line with a lighter line either side, notice the seams curve through a darker area so the base helps to pronounce the seam.
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Part 7: Not much difference here, I just wanted to show the colour change on the upper piece, amongst the metallic trim, it was filled with a solid colour, the same shade as the lower shoulder pieces.
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Part 8: Detailing a piece will remove the need of most (not all) of your shading, the pattern on the darker areas was hand drawn, where as the pattern on the pruple area was achieved by filling it black on a new layer, running a texturize filter on it, and setting the layer style to screen, on the screen layer style black becomes see through, this is handy when positioning things like lens flares.
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Part 9: Add shadows where you want depth, there are various ways to achieving shadows, these one’s were airbrushed and shaped with an eraser on 50% flow and 0 hardness, the more you exagerate the shadow, the more you depth you can achive, tho it’s easy to overdo and lose the effect completely.
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Part 10: The final step to make the base look like material is to add some wrinkles, these were done quickly using a light tone to shape and shadowing with a darker tone, and then using the smudge and blur tools.
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Anyone wishing to dissect this further can download the PSD from This Link