Let’s brutalize our ‘bots! This tutorial covers how to create catastrophic damage on your bots, as seen in the Transformers: Retribution photocomic. I’ll be using Adobe Photoshop for this tutorial, but since it’s the craftsman and not his (or her) tools, users of GIMP can easily achieve the same effects. It’s split into two sections: creating the effect, and applying the effect. Part I: Effect Creation 1) First, take a reference shot of the bot you want to brutalize. This is where you’ll build your damage layers that you will later import into your comic. For extensive damage, you would take reference shots from all sides of your bot, and create multiple damaged areas. I’ll just use a single reference shot for now. We are going to blow a hole in Prowl’s chest. 2) You’ll need to create (or find) some mechanical looking parts that will be the innards of our ‘bot. Screen-shots from video games like Doom, Star Wars, Mechwarrior, etc, are great, saving you time. Whether you create your own or steal them, you must make certain the components are on a black background. Since there should be no illumination inside a machine, the damage will look more realistic if a black background is used. Here’s the component section I’ll be using. 3) Copy the damage image onto your reference shot and position it where you want it. Use the rotate function if needed to square the image. Rename the layer “damage”. Select the polygonal lasso tool and use it to cut away angular sections of the damage layer. 4) Press ‘delete’ on the keyboard to cut away the lassoed area. 5) Now use various eraser brushes to finish cleaning the edges so the damage area doesn’t look so regular in shape. 6) Now create a new layer called edges, select a medium gray color and use the magnetic lasso tool. We’re going to create edges to the gaping hole in Prowl’s chest. Use the lasso tool to define an area, and then fill it with the gray. Work your way around the edges of the hole in this manner. 7) Right click the “edges” layer and select blending option. Select the drop-shadow option and set the angle to 90 degrees, opacity to 100%, and tick the anti-aliased box. Leave all other settings alone. Then select the bevel and emboss option, and check the ‘contour’ box. See the image for the settings I use. You’ve now created a realistic looking shadow all along the edges of the hole, and created dynamic look to the gray metal that is the edges of your hole. 8) Create a new layer and call it ‘burn’. Select a dark gray or black color, and paint around the outside of the hole. Don’t be afraid to overlap the gray metal edges a little. You can even paint the components of the ‘damage’ layer. Experiment with different brush types. 9) Now apply a Gaussian blur to the burn layer (I used a setting of 3). I changed the layer opacity of ‘burn’ to multiply, to darken it up. 10) Repeat steps 8 and 9 with different colors and brushes, and experiment with the various blending options. I applied an emboss filter on a subsequent burn layer to give the illusion of cracked metal. Another tip for creating burn around the hole is to create a layer below the damage layer, which is what I did for the crack effects, for which I simply used a ‘broken glass’ brush. 11) When you’re done, merge all your layers (Ctrl+E in Photoshop) into a single layer, and rename it the area of the body the image maps onto. Here, I’ve named it chest. I don’t really need to do it here, because it’s the only section I’ve brutalized, but if you’ve got many areas with damage effects, you MUST merge each area separately. One for shoulder, one for leg, whatever. You’ll see why when we go to apply the image. Prime and Megatron had about a dozen different damage points mapped onto them in my comic. Save the image in a format that preserves the layers (for photoshop users, use the default .psd file type). Part II: Effect Application 1) Now that you’ve got your reference image completed, you want to make it look consistent in every shot in your comic. Open up the comic panel your creating, and the reference image. Make sure your reference pic is on top, and that you’ve selected the ‘chest’ layer. Select Layer->Duplicate layer, and in the dialogue box, leave the “As” settings to default (PS will rename it ‘chest copy’, and select your comic panel as the destination. 2) The chest damage effect is now in your comic panel, now all you need to do is reorient it. Select Edit->Transform->Distort, and using your reference image as a guide, position the damage effect in your panel. Play with opacity settings and the blur tools if you need to, in order to blend the damage layer into the comic panel. A lot of mine are set to 80% opacity, but the ‘right’ setting depends entirely on your image quality, light angles, and color of your bot. Tips: When creating damage effects, try to use the contours of the area you want to brutalize as boundaries. This will make it easier to align the damage in your panel. If you look closely, you’ll note I’ve contained Prowl’s damage almost entirely to his hood. Enjoy!