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Create A Robotic Insect War Effect

After checking out this awesome tutorial on creating a robotic frog, I decided to give my own version a go. Using simple Photoshop tools, I’m going turn an image of ants meeting a bug into a scene right out of a Hollywood science fiction movie!

Final Result:

Step 1:

As always, open the image and duplicate a layer. I’ll start making over the beetle first.

Image ID: 2262820 © Andrey Pavlov

Open the next image. Use the Lasso Tool to select the section of the motorcycle’s fuel tank that will be pasted onto the beetle’s shell.

Image ID: 889384 © Igor Terekhov

Reduce the opacity so that you may transform the tank into the shell’s shape by using Transform (T) and the Warp Tool.

Erase unwanted areas by applying a vector mask. Vector masks allow us to make amendments without affecting other areas.

We will get something like this.

Use the same method to complete the other shell on the beetle.

Step 2:

Essentially, we will be using the same methods to create the beetle’s body parts: selecting mechanical parts, transforming them, and erasing unwanted areas.

Image ID: 5222046 © Rui Dias-Aidos

Image ID: 881854 © Baloncici

Image ID: 934509 © Andres Rodriguez

Image ID: 5602265 © higyou

Here’s an early look at the beetle. It may not seem perfect now, but we’re gonna make more adjustments after we complete all of the insects’ body parts.

Create a Group Folder and name it “Beetle”. Arrange all of the beetle’s layers into the Beetle Group Folder.

Step 3:

Use the same methods yet again to create the ants’ bodies.

Image ID: 573493 © Wally Stemberger

Image ID: 508066 © baloncici

Image ID: 4964584 © Rony Zmiri

Image ID: 1744208 © Richard Thomas

Be extra careful and precise while working on the ants’ legs. It should be done section by section.

Image ID: 2429631 © hfng

Move on to the ants’ mouths. Create a Group Folder named Ant and place all the ant related layers into it.

Image ID: 4757802 © Ian Langley

Step 4:

I added some texture to the beetle’s shell to make it more interesting. Transform the texture to ensure that it fits the beetle’s contour. Set the Blend Mode to Overlay, then remove the excess portions.

* Remember to place these two texture layers into Beetle Group Folder.

Image ID: 653589 © Pablo Eder

Step 5:

Notice that the sections circled red have different colors because they are sourced from different mechanical parts.

Duplicate the Ant & Beetle folders, then Merge Down both of them.

Next, we desaturate the colors by tweaking Adjustment Layers – Hue/Saturation ( -100 ) in order to achieve chrome-like effects.

Right click on the Hue/Saturation layer, and create a Clipping Mask, so that the desaturation process only affects the Ant Copy Layer.

See the image below:

Step 6:

Now, soften the edges of the mechanical parts to make them look more realistic. Hold control and click on the Ant Copy Layer to select the insects, then click Ctrl + Shft + I to inverse the selection.

1. Go to Select – Feather and set Feather Radius to 1.5 pixels

2. Then go to Select – Modify – Expand to enlarge the selection evenly

3. Set Expand Selection by 2 pixels

Darken the mechanical parts’ edges by tweaking Adjustment Layers – Curve.

Step 7:

The next step is to adjust the background color. Feel free to pick whichever colors you prefer.

Here I’m using an Adjustment Layer, as it may be modified if we’re not satisfied with the results. Make sure that the Adjustment Layer is below the Ant Copy Layer and above the background image, so that the mechanical parts would not be affected.

Step 8:

We’ll need to apply shadow to the areas circled in red and highlights for the areas circled blue. For example, the lower-lying areas parts such as the robotic feet would need to have more shadow.

Use Adjustment Layers – Curve.

After applying, press Ctrl + Backspace to inverse the masking and Brush (B) the areas circled red.

Moving on to the highlights, apply Adjustment Layers – Curve then Ctrl + Backspace to inverse the masking and paint the areas circled blue.

Step 9:

Now that we’re done with the insects’ mechanical parts, we can throw in some extra elements to enhance the image. I’ve added a couple of light bulbs, but it’s totally up to you!

Image IDs: 3190122 © tilltibet & 4137701 © Alena Brozova

Step 10:

We can make the chrome areas look more realistic by adding reflections of surrounding elements on the insects’ bodies. Merge down the Background layer and the Layer 1 Copy.

Select a small portion of grass and duplicate it.

Transform and Distort it to fit the areas that overlap with the ants’ chrome abdomens. Set the Blend Mode to Linear Dodge and lower Opacity. Then remove the excess bits again to make the reflections look better.

As for the legs and antennae, we can just color them green. Create a new blank layer – Green, Blend Mode – Color. Just paint the areas that you think should be covered with reflections.

Step 11:

Lastly, the parts circled red are supposed to appear more blur, based the image’s background and perspective. Merge down the layers, then paint over carefully using the Blur Tool (R).

Here we go, an intense battle screenshot from the next Hollywood blockbuster, Bug Wars! Coming soon to a cinema near you.

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