Still-life illustrations can be great practice for anyone wanting to learn how to create life-like illustrations. In this tutorial, we will explain how to create a photo-realistic fried egg from a reference. Let’s get started!
The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial.
The block-in stage. Lay down the basic color of egg using a basic hard Photoshop brush with shape dynamics on and spacing to zero. I always get right into an image without any preliminary sketches or line work. It is easier for me to think in terms of large shapes and colors, as opposed to lines. This time I figured I would begin with a color as the main theme for the base of the painting.
Continue painting with a hard brush, which has a nice hard edge to it, this will come in handy during the initial stages of defining the forms with light and shade. Lay down a flat red as well as some other colors. Don’t go too overboard and try to paint it all right here; start small as I did. Paint in the overall color for the egg, Put in the different shades of yolk and egg white and do not highlight yet.
Lay down more colors around the shape we laid down in the previous steps. Put some soft bright strokes down with smudge tool and smudge the frying pan area a little bit. As we are going to directly put photo textures on the pan area to save the time, so it doesn’t matter how you paint this area, just paint it along with other part of image.
Lay down some more solid colors and use the smudge tool to make the image cleaner for the next step.
Continue smudging to help blend the colors together.
Start to add some color to the right side of the illustration to balance out the image. Also, add some yellow around the yolk to indicate semi-transparent layers of egg.
As you can see, we have defined a light source and dominant color of the illustration. Now we need to make sure the viewer’s eye I directed to the focal point. You can do this by adding highlights in the right places.
Start with the main focal point, which is usually the brightest area in the image. Your eye is likely drawn to the bottom of the illustration, as well as to the texture of the pan below the brightest point.
The black arrows represent the levels of intended eye movement. Even though there may be separate paths to break off, they always meet back at the beginning of the painting. The circles represent the initial eye-catching areas of the composition.
Add highlights on the path indicated in the previous step to lead the viewer’s attention. Then smudge around the egg edge and the other part of the image here and there. The smudging process is through the whole tutorial. In order to make a smooth transition, we have to smudge whatever we put in the canvas with a basic hard Photoshop brush. Now we have all of the major shapes in and the colors set, so all we need to do is to refine, refine, refine.
This might be a good time to take a break. Put this image away for a while and then come back to it and look at it with fresh eyes. Usually you will see things that need to be fixed or changed that you just hadn’t even noticed before. Fresh eyes are critical when you are working on details.
Work on the details in the focal point where it has the most highlights and semi-transparent materials.
Smudge the egg white.
Shade the edge to give it more volume and add a highlight, indicated below, to show more depth in the reflecting areas.
Brighten these blue parts to give it more contrast, this little change will make a big difference.
So far we are still working on details. One way to help you with this is to paint zoomed out or in dual view with two different sets of zoom level. This will help you polish your image. This is because some details look different zoomed in than they do zoomed out.
At this point, we can move back to the yolk and add a golden rim around the edge to help guide the viewer’s attention back to the focal point. Also add some highlights on the left part of the illustration.
Now place the texture we provided of the metal pan as shown.
While the smudge brush does create a smooth transition, the colors created can be a bit dull. Use the RGB sliders to help introduce some subtle color variations to make it look more realistic.
The egg and egg white should show some delicate transparency. So we should cautiously apply small highlights (blue areas) to the yolk and egg white. These highlights will imply that depth exists in the egg white, which shines through the upper layers. So be careful with the lightness of these bright dots. Don’t let them overpower primary focal point and distract viewers.