Making of Long Journey

Making of Long Journey
Skill Level: Advanced
Techniques: ,
Used Software: Photoshop
Completion Time: 6 hours

In this tutorial Darek Zabrocki describes how he was making his work “Long Journey”.


I did this picture as cover art for a book entitled “Lost and Found” by Rhonda Parrish. It was supposed to be quite fairy-tale scene. Colby young, beautiful girl is looking for the magic stone at the heart of the Reptar’s sacred tree. She needs the stone to save her brother from vampirism. Her mission is not easy because danger lurks around every corner.
When she approached a swamp she meet Xavier, a gentle soul trapped in the body of a monster – his current look is the result of the mad experiments of a man named Scholar who once held him captive. Xavier and his sentient shadow accompany her on her mission. He is so unhappy cause all the time Scholar does not let him get away… Colby and Xavier need to work together and overcome evil. If I have outline the story I can begin working on first attempts…

STEP 1: Concepts and sketches

I need to determine which pallete choose for this pic. At least I decide to use a bit amber colours, broken with some light browns and dark green.

STEP 2: First corrections

I would like to enrich my pallete and put more contrast on the whole scene. I change the lighting and correct its operation on characters. Sometimes I do lines which can help me establish appropriate light working.

STEP 3: Xavier

I start my work on characters. Firstly I choose Xavier’s character because it requires more work from me and I need to make him interesting for observer, I guess.

STEP 4: Colby

I want to make really beautiful and convincing female character. She is worrying about her brother so I should especially focus on face expressions. She is young and seems to be a bit innocent, she must has subtle facial features.

STEP 5: Adjustment characters and background

Now, I begin adjust background and characters, all the elements should fit to the scene. I change a bit lighting work and define background elements like trees and bushes.
I also decide to add a little purple light from the right, I want to achieve some more contrast and enrich the pallete.

STEP 6: Checking correctness

Sometimes I want to make sure if the light I putted into the scene is correctly done. Then, I change picture’s mode on black & white and improve illumination on characters/background to give them better depth.

STEP 7: Colby corrections

I did not like the girl’s hands setting so I decided to change it. I achieved it thanks to put her palm near the chest, it looks really subtle and womanly now.

STEP 8: Defining and cleaning

In this stage I try to make the colours more clean, dark middle-tones looks dirty yet so I put some more hues between shades.

I also polish up Xavier’s tentacles, add purple light and give more green here and here,.

Still a little more work on purifying the scene from expandable strokes and stains.
Next I correct the girl’s legs and boots.

STEP 9: Adding details and effects

I add more details to the bottom part of picture- it gives better sense of depth.
Finally I define appropriate tree’s form and put more details on it.

And finally the picture is done.

Some close-ups

I hope this tutorial is helpful and you enjoyed reading it. I wanted to perform not only process of creating that kind of illustrations but especially obstacles which some of artists may face with.

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