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Profiles made easy.
By Steven Lewis

I have been using Photoshop for about 10 years now and I still don't know everything to about Photoshop. This is just my idea of how to easily make some nice looking profiles with a little time and afford.

For purpose of simplification, I will try not use quick keyboard commands. Yes, they are quicker and very handy but I'm trying to make this tutorial as simple as possible. It should be known that this is not only way to make profiles and it is not the quickest. 

Here's a few great and handy links...
Link to line art                              http://www.airwar.ru/other/drawe.html, http://www.the-blueprints.com
Link to roundels                           http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_aircraft_insignia
Link to fonts                                  http://www.dafont.com/
Link to paint schemes                 http://www.jpsmodell.de/dc/main_e.htm
Link to my paint pallet                 http://www.far148.com/FAR148%20paint%20pallet.JPG
Link to this tutorial PSD file        http://www.far148.com/TF-102%20demo.PSD
Also Goggle image search is great for photos, markings, squadron logos...

Remember to save and save often! Let’s get started,

1. Open your blank lineart in Photoshop. The first thing we need to do is to separate the line drawing from the white background. An easy way to do this is, go to select>all, edit>copy, file> new.

Note the image size is the same, Preset is to the clipboard and make sure the color mode is RGB color. Now paste your lineart into the new file.

Name the new layer"lineart" or "line drawing". Now to separate the line art, cut off the "background" layer by clicking the eye in front of it. Next pick the "magic wand tool” and click anywhere outside of the line drawing in the white space. Once you do, you should see the "marching ants" going around the line drawing and on the edge of drawing.

Now go to Select>similar. The "marching ants" should now be around all the lines in the line drawing. All you do now is hit delete to remove the white space. Your screen should look like this. Now you cut the background layer back on, you will see your line drawing in front of a white background.

2. Now it's time to paint the parts of the profile that will not change, if you are going to do multi profiles of the same aircraft. Parts like the canopy, landing gear, afterburner nozzles, antenna... Make a new layer set, call it airframe details. In this folder you will make new layers for each of the details. Make a new layer and call it "Glass". Now using the "polygonal lasso tool", select the glass. If your aircraft has more the one glass opening, don't worry. Once you finish selecting the first piece and see the "marching ants" moving, hold "shift" and go on to the next piece of glass.

Now that you selected all the "glass", it’s time to save the selection. Go to select>save selection. Be sure to name the selection what it is. Once named,click OK. Now that the selection is save, anytime you want to open and use that selection just go to select>load selection, pick the selection and hit OK.

3. Now that we got the glass selected, it's time to add some color. First we need to pick a foreground and background color. Click on the foreground color to bring up the color picker menu. Be sure that web colors is checked, it will life easier. There is a slider bar on the verticall rainbow, move it up or down to pick your color range. To select the color you want , just click on the color. For the glass,  I like a soft sky blue and a light gray.

Using the gradient tool, click and hold a little outside of the glass area (it will only add color to the selected area) and move the cursor down toward the bottom of the glass and let go just above the bottom.If you are not happy with the gradation, go to edit>undo and try again. When you are happy with the gradation, go to select>deselect.

4. On to making and saving a very helpful selection. Make sure are you are working in the "line drawing" or "lineart" layer, using the "magic wand tool" click and select anywhere outside of the line drawing. Again, you should see the "marching ants" around the line drawing and around the edge of the drawing. Next go to select> save selection, name it "white space", and then hit OK. This selection is very helpful when it comes to painting.

5. Now is a good time to edit the lineart, just make sure you work in the "line drawing" layer. If you are going to remove parts, add parts or just clean up the line drawing.

6. Here you can see I finished with all the "Airframe details". The radome, the metal finish around nozzle and the black antenna on tail use all done using the "polygonal lasso tool". I just selected the area and then painted the selection with the "paint bucket tool". The "chrome on intake" is just a gradation, dark gray to white back to dark gray. I also added a new layer called "paint pallet." You can download my paint pallet here  http://www.far148.com/FAR148%20paint%20pallet.JPG

7. The "paint pallet layer is a layer to select and save colors. If you are to use my "paint pallet" file, go to file>open (where ever you save it to)open. Next got to select all, edit>copy (close the "paint pellet" file) Click on your profile file, got to edit>paste. Make sure it is at the top of all the layers. To move, just click and hold on the layer and move it to the top. Once at the top, let go.Now name the layer "paint pallet".To add colors, using the "rectangular marquee tool", selected a box then go to "Swatches" pick a color and painted in with the "paint bucket tool".The red outlines are groups to be use in camo patterns. For this demo, I am going to use the upperleft group of colors. Make a new layer, call it "paint" or "paint job"

8. Its paint time! Pick the "Brush tool” and go to brush pull down menu. To change the size of the brush, just move the slide bar under "diameter". For a hard paint edge, select the brush that is a solid brush. And for a soft or feather edge, select the fuzzy brush. Both brush types, you can adjust the hardness of the paint edge be moving the slide bar under "hardness". Now that we got our paint brush figured out, it's time to select our colors to paint. Using the "eyedropper tool", click on the color you want to paint with in your paint pallet. You do not have to be working in the "paint pallet" layer to select a color. Once you selected a color, hit the "x" key on your key board to switch from the foreground color to the background color. Next pick the "brush tool" then select the "paint" or "paint job" layer to work in. Make sure the "paint/paint job" layer is the second to last layer, just above the "background" layer. Now using the "brush tool", paint away. Switching from the foreground color to the background color as well as selecting other colors on the "paint pallet". Do worry about staying within the line drawing, just worry about are you happy with the colors you pick and the look of the paint job.

9. Now the cool part. Double check to see if you were working in the right layer, the "paint/paint job" layer. Then go to select>load selection, under "channel" hit the pull down and find your selection named "white space". Make sure new selection is marked then click "ok". Again, you should see the "marching ants" around the line drawing as well as around the edges of the drawing. Now hit "Delete" to clean up your paint job! The go to "select>deselect.



10. The paint job is in done yet. The paint job look like it was projected on to the line drawing. Which if you look at the wing, the paint job just goes right on top of it. As we all know, the paint job on the wing would not look like this. So using the "polygonal lasso tool", select the wing just like we selected the glass. Once selected, save the selection. Go to select>save selection and name it "wing". Be sure that "new channel" is marked as well. Then hit "ok"

Now with the wing still selected, pick the "brush tool" and paint the wing. In my case, I just painted it in a way that the colors of the body is not the same as the wing. The colors only match where the wing meets the fuselage at the beginning of the wing. Don't  worry about messing up your nice paint job on the body; the "brush tool" will only work in the selected area. Once you are happy with the paint job on the wing, Go to select>deselect.

11. Time for some markings! First off, make another layer set and call it "markings". All of your markings will go into this set. Make sure that this new layer set is above the "paint" layer and below the "airframe detail" layer set. What I have done here, I open these markings file in Photoshop, went to select>all, edit>copy. Then I pasted them in to my profile file. As I did this I renamed each new layer what it is and placed it into the "markings" layer set.

You may notice that some of the markings are too big and not to scale. To resize them, (make sure you are working in the right layer) go to edit>transform>scale. Be sure "maintain aspect ratio" is on. If off, just click on it to turn on. When "maintain aspect ratio" is on, only use the corner controller boxes to resize your image. To resize, click on and hold any one of the corner controller boxes and move your mouse in to reduce the size and out to increase the size. Once you are happy with the size of your markings, hit "enter".

12. Now that all of my image markings are resized and in place, time for some lettering markings. If you have any photos of the aircraft you are doing a profile of and are big enough so you can read the markings, making them is much easier. I just so happen to have a few shots of a TF-102 and will use them to make some markings.

First open the photo in Photoshop and zoom in on the markings. Also zoom in on the profile where the new marking is going to go. In the photo, the lettering is the same color yellow as the rescue arrow. Using the "eyedropper tool" I selected the yellow (on the profile) by clicking on it. Again, you do not have to be working in the same layer to select color with the "eyedropper tool". I selected the yellow because the "horizontal type tool" will default the color of the text to the foreground color. Still working in the "markings" layer set; pick the "horizontal type tool", next I pick a font that looks close to the real thing. It does not have to match perfectly because it is going to be resized later. Click roughly where you want the text to go and type away.

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Working in the new text layer, I Used the "move tool" to move the text off of the line drawing. Then make a new layer, call it "door markings". Make sure it is below the new text layer. Next pick the "rectangular marquee tool” and make a rectangle around the text. Once you are happy with the rectangle, select the "paint bucket tool". Since the backing for this marking is black, the quickest way to select black is to hit the default "foreground and background color" button. After that, just paint the rectangle black then go to select>deselect.

Now make sure you have the text layer selected then go to "layer option" and hit "Merge down". This will merge the text layer into the "door marking"layer. Making the two layers into one.

Now it's time to resize it. Again go to edit>transform>scale. Make sure "maintain aspect ratio" is on. Using any one of the corner control boxes, click and hold then move inward to resize. Once you are happy with the size, hit "enter".

13. The next marking is a little bit different. It has black text on a white background with a black line arouund it. Using the "horizontal type tool" with black selected as the text color, I type what I wanted the marking to state. Next I made a new layer and called it "service marking". Make sure it is below your new text layer. Then using the "rectangular marquee tool" in the "service marking" layer, I selected a rectangle around the text. I then switch from the foreground color (black) to the background color (white), picked the "paintbucket tool" and painted the rectangle white. Then keeping the rectangle selected, go to edit>stroke. The stroke command draws a line around whatever you have selected. You can pick how wide, what color as well as location. It can stroke a line on the inside, the center or on the outside of your selection. Here I chose a line 3 px wide, black and on the outside of my selection. To stroke the line, just hit "enter". Then got to select>deselect.

Just like the "door markings" layer, "merge down" the text layer into the "service markings" layer. Again go to edit>transform>scale. Make sure "maintain aspect ratio" is on. Using any one of the corner control boxes, click and hold then move inward to resize. Once you are happy with the size, hit "enter".

14. Almost done. Time to add some weathering. Make a new layer and call it "weathering". Make sure it is just below the "line drawing" layer. You can see I cut off all the other layers and layer sets but the "line drawing", "weathering” and the background. Now using the "eyedropper tool", click on the foreground color to view the color picker. Be sure that "only web colors" is selected. (it just make life easier) I like to pick the second darkest shade of gray for my weathering. You can pick whatever color that make you happy. Once your happy, click "ok".

Now select the "paint brush tool" and open up the "brushes option". Pick a soft edge brush and be sure the hardness is at 0% as well as "smoothing is cut on. Working in the "weathering layer" begin painting the panel lines in your profile. Again, don't worry about staying within the lines of the drawing. Drawing a straight line with the "paint brush tool" is fast and easy. Just click the start of where you want a straight line, hold the "shift" key then click on the end of your line. Once you got all you panel line all painted, still in the "weathering" layer, go to select>load selection and pick "white space". Make sure "new selection is on, hit "ok" and then hit the "delete" key to clean up the layer.

Now cut on all the layers but "paint pallet". The "weathering" layer looks nasty now. This is due to the layers opacity is at 100%.To chance the layers' opacity, click on the little arrow beside the opacity % and then slide the slider to the left to reduce the layers' opacity. For different paint schemes, the weathering layer may be as high as 30% and as low as 5%. Try about 20% opacity, here is 26% and looks a bit much. Now your finish.


With these steps you can whip out profiles like nothing. These steps just a good starting point for you to come up with your own techniques and style. I will not get into adding shadows and highlights just because light falls differently on each aircraft and it can be very tricky even for me. I will post demo on how to make shadows and highlights but I will do it on another subject. (a missile or a bomb of some sort)

Here's a screen shot of my TF-102 profile. It was done use the same steps and techniques. The markings are the same, I did add shadows and highlights.The tutorial file is small compared to this one. The tutorial file is 2.65 MB and has only 19 layers. My TF-102 file is 23.3 MB and has 253 layers.

 

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©Steven Lewis/Far148studio