Wyna Hiros (wyna_hiros) wrote in fan_tutorials,
Wyna Hiros

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How to CG Chain Mail (Digital Art)

First tutorial of mine from way back, so it's a little old. Let's try and get the ball rolling. :)

Title: How to CG Chain Mail
Fandom: "Lord of the Rings" is my example, but more General applications too.
Fanwork Type: Digital Art
Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate
Additional notes: I used Deleter CG Comic Illust. Open Canvas should work just as well. Very image heavy.
Lj-cut or Link:

CGing chainmail. A little ghetto tutorial: a little rambly and graphic-heavy.

Basically, how I CG chainmail to my stuff. I'll be using the "Corruption" fanart as my example, since it's most recent.

I'll quickly go through the layers and the Deleter bars.I generally use "Deleter CG Comic Illust" to color my stuff - I think Open Canvas is very similar to it. This'll probably work on Photoshop(PS), although the layers have different names. If you're interested in Deleter (at least trying it out for free), go to www.comic-artists.com/eng and download the free trial version. With the tutorial, I'm hoping that regardless of program, you're somewhat familiar with how layers work. Having a tablet makes this easier - I've never used a mouse to make chainmail. If it works, let me know. <3

Deleter's layers

Standard (same as Photoshops' standard layer, I assume)
Multiply (same as either Photoshops' multiply layer or the screen layer). I'm still hard-pressed to explain how it works - famira might be able to help on that more than I could.
Add (has the same effect as the dodge tool on PS, but in layer form. PS might have an equivalent layer, the "color dodge"layer.) You can control the glow color on the color pad. Simply put, Add can make crap really glowy.
Subtract (has the same effect as the burn tool on PS, but in layer form. PS might have an equivalent layer, the "color burn"layer.) You can control intensity on the color pad. Subtract makes this shady.

Here's how the Deleter screen and the important color pad looks:

Basically, you choose the colors from the pad. However, if you use the Subtract layers, the closer down to the 10 shades you are, the lower intensity of the shadow: the higher up to the 1 shades you go, the darker the shadow. With the Add layers, it's the same: the closer down to the 10 shades you are, the lower intensity of the color glow. The higher up you go, the brighter the glow color will be (and it'll look more like the color, rather than blacks or a dim shade). You can change layers by going to "Create--New Layer" and choosing there, or changing the existing layer from Standard to whatever other layer at the white bar above the Layers floaty thing for which I forget what they're called.

Like Photoshop, you think of layers as like transparencies, sometimes like painting a cel.

I start with my rough sketch...

And ink over it.

Basically, I'll finish inking on Deleter or outside of the program. Usually I ink in black but it doesn't matter - you can change it later.

I'll use one of Frodo's sleeves as an example. I put in the flats (base colors) next all over the picture. I saved chainmail for last in the rough shading, since it's generally more time-consuming for me. I put down a grey for the base color. I don't usually name layers beyond the base colors 'cause I'm lazy, but I'll name layers here to make it easier. The base color layer's called "F Chainmail Base". Standard-type layer.

I start by creating a new layer above the sleeve's flat color. Picking a slightly darker color, I begin to make small rings, working line by line (works best if you do it horizontally, not vertically). This layer is "Rings1". Standard type layer.


I create a new layer (Standard-type) above "Rings1". I pick a darker grey. I begin to give little edges to the rings (on their left sides, giving it a little more of a shape). My light's coming from the right, so the shapes are on the left sides. This layer is "Rings2". The image next to the example is what one ring should look like close-up, if it was by itself. (Note: don't cg them one at a time completely; it'll take forever, and I don't know how it would look)

So far, it still looks rather flat. The next steps begin to add more shape to it.


I create a Subtract-type layer above "Rings2", and begin to make little shadows underneath each ring-row. This layer is "SubtractShadowRow1"


I create another Subtract layer above "SubtractShadowRow1". This layer is for making the basic shadows of the sleeve itself . This layer is called "SubtractShadow1".

It looks more like scales than rings still.


Ontop of that layer, I create a Standard layer, and call it "ChainMailLight". I pick a very light grey (almost white), and select a smaller brush. I make little half-moons on the right sides of the rings - basically, make them on whichever direction the light source is (in this fanart, from the right).

It's looking a little better, but since this is Orc Armor, there's no way it would still (realistically) be clean.


I make a layer ontop of "ChainmailLight". This time it's a Multiply Layer. Taking a brown, I brush a few times carefully/gently with varying pressure. If it's too much, I mess with the layer's opacity/make it more transparent. This layer is creatively called "Dirt".


Another subtract layer over "Dirt", same deal with the "SubtractShadowRow1". You do more horiziontal shadings between each ring row.

This last one is the final version - it's actually skipped a little.

Close-ups show more shade:

And then a glow added if there's fire nearby:

Basically, I just slapped on a few more subtract layers and added more shadows.

Basically, you want it to look thick, not like cloth. Rings should be as sharp/distinct as you can get them, not blurry.

At least more like this-->

than this....

[An interesting effect is if you take your finished chainmail, open it as a jpg in Photoshop, copy the layer, and make the top layer type as "Color dodge": it can make your chainmail look more metallic/shiny. I might see if I can squeeze it in myself at some later artwork. Running the final sleeve through PS looks like this:]

Unfortunatly, it dodges the hell out of skin/etc.

[edit: Actually, what you do is erase everything but that armor layer in PS Color Dodge layer, and it comes out fine.]

[Tutorial completed:11/03/04]

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