‘Rupert the Owl’ Tutorial
Skill Level: Intermediate
In this walkthrough you will learn how to create an adorable owl by using fur and feather techniques in Photoshop.
First of all the body and head of the owl are created using ovals which are then re-shaped using the warp tool.
The pen tool is then used to create another shape for the face.
Two more ovals are used for the eye, the first is yellow, then another black one on top.
Each will then have it’s own layer style.
The yellow oval needs an outer glow which will act as a shadow around the eye.
Next, an orange inner glow.
And then an orange gradient overlay.
The layer style for the black oval only needs a Bevel and Emboss.
Use the settings shown above.
To give the eyes a shine, create some small white shapes using an oval shape and the warp tool.
And their layer style will require only an outer glow.
Now that your right eye is complete, you can just duplicate it and drag it over to the left.
To create the shape for the beak use a rounded rectangle, then use the warp tool to shape it.
It’s layer style will first need a Bevel and Emboss.
Then a gradient overlay using your chosen beak colour fading to white.
Next, in a new layer, we will create the outer face feathers.
Use a large soft brush at 80% opacity to paint a base.
Then a smaller lighter coloured brush to add a little more detail.
Decrease the opacity a little, then use the Smudge tool at 50% strength, and smudge outwards.
Still in the same layer use a large, soft, dark-coloured brush to paint the black stripes.
Now use a very small, light-coloured brush set to 20% opacity to draw some fur.
Build up layers of fur, raising the opacity by 20% each time until you reach 100% opacity.
Now use the smudge tool at 50% strength and 10px and smudge outwards, then inwards, in the direction of the fur.
Use a 0% hard, 125px eraser to take away the edgers of the fur, creating a softer appearance.
Next, in a new layer, we will add fur around the eyes.
Use either a 1px brush or a three pointed brush.
Start at 40% opacity, and increase the opacity as you build up more layers.
When you have finished, give this layer a layer mask.
Use a large soft grey brush to create a shadow around the eye, then use a smaller black brush to take away any fur that overlaps the eyes.
With the face fur now complete, we can create the fur on Rupert’s tummy.
First add a layer style to the body layer, creating a gradient overlay.
In a new layer use a large, soft brush to paint a strip.
As we did for the face fur, use a small light-coloured brush to build up strands of fur with varying opacity.
Then use the smudge tool to blend it a little.
And use a large soft eraser to soften the ends of the fur.
Now duplicate this layer, and flip it vertically.
Then use a large, soft, dark-coloured brush to add some shading to the fur.
Add clipping masks so that the shading only affects the fur.
Change the shading layers’ blending modes to Hard Light.
Duplicate your two layers, then begin to apply them to your owl, using the warp tool to shape them correctly.
The four layers should each be stretched and shaped separately to give variation to them.
Once finished, use a large, soft eraser to blend the fur in.
Next we will create the feathers.
Use the pen tool to create a custom feather shape.
We will use 3 feathers with slightly different sizes.
Use the smudge tool at 100% strength.
Starting with a 20px brush, smudge away from the edges of the feathers.
Then use a 7px brush to smudge out finer details.
In a new layer, use a 7px, dark-coloured paintbrush to add some stripes to the ends of the feathers.
Then in another new layer, use a much larger soft brush to add some shading.
Use clipping masks so these only affect the feathers.
Now merge these two layers and use the smudge tool at 100% to add some texture to the feathers.
Duplicate your feathers a few times then merge them into one layer.
Now create a gradient adjustment layer that is 40% opacity, rasterize it, add a clipping mask to only affect the feathers.
You will now have a set of feathers with varying tones.
Give your feathers layer a very subtle drop shadow.
To apply the feathers to your owl, you will select one using the marquee tool, then use the Move tool while holding Alt to copy it, and move it onto your owl.
The feathers for the moustache need to be a lot smaller than the body feathers, so you will need to scale them down.
When the moustache feathers are applied, make a selection around them, then right-click and Layer via Cut.
Now these feathers will have their own layer.
Apply the wing feathers starting at the bottom, rotating and resizing as you go.
Create separate feather layers for the wings and the top of the head.
You can re-shape each layer with the warp tool if you need to.
Finally we will add some details to the face.
Gaussian Blur the head layer and paint on a soft light-coloured area to use as a guide for painting on the eyebrow fluff.
In a new layer use a small brush to paint some strands of hair around the beak and eyebrows.
For the tufts of fur above the eyes, use a darker-coloured brush and paint very long strokes, starting at the beak.
Then use a lighter-coloured brush to paint more fur ontop, then use a large soft eraser to soften the tips.
And with that you’re finished.
See you next time!