Want to learn how to create dystopian sci-fi worlds and cyberpunk characters in Photoshop? Photo manipulation expert Encreate shows us how...
Photo manipulation and Photoshop expert Encreate creates futuristic, sci-fi inspired digital artworks straight out of the year 3000. Blending elements of the past with ideas from the future, his work combines everything from medieval fantasy settings and dystopian sci-fi worlds to retro-futuristic backdrops, resulting in some truly bizarre, captivating creations.
In addition to sharing his finished artworks with his 10k Instagram followers, Encreate also produces in-depth YouTube videos detailing the creative process and Photoshop skills used in each of his pieces to teach aspiring creators the art of photo manipulation. Since he first delved into digital art back in 2019, Encreate has amassed over 25k YouTube subscribers, becoming known in the digital art community for his unique concepts, impressive digital art skills and attention to detail.
How did you get into digital art?
I started out with a degree in engineering and initially pursued a career as a front-end web developer, but art has always been my passion. My knack for creativity enabled me to learn Photoshop early on, which I’ve now been using for 15 years for personal projects and creative experimentation. Surprisingly though, I wasn’t really serious about digital art until about a year and a half ago. After launching my YouTube channel towards the end of 2019 and engaging with other artists on Instagram, I was introduced to the amazing digital art community, which rekindled my desire to be an artist. Since then, I have been actively pursuing digital art, focusing primarily on photo manipulation in Photoshop and sharing my creative journey via YouTube.
What inspires you and how would you describe your signature style?
Most of my ideas come from video games, movies, animations, animes, or graphic novels. Despite being a 90s kid, I grew up with 80s cartoons and video games – and I still keep up with the latest video games and comic books. I’m also inspired and motivated by the works of other artists. Benny Productions, PhaseRunner, and Asabin Art are big influences in terms of photo manipulation, and I also follow a lot of other amazing digital and traditional artists, such as James Gurney, Andrew Tischler, Greg Rutkowski, Craig Mullins, Simon Stalenhag, Marco Bucci, Walid Feghali, and Imad Awan.
I love experimenting, pushing the boundaries and getting out of my comfort zone to explore new artistic avenues. I’m drawn towards medieval fantasy settings, dystopian sci-fi worlds and retro-futuristic backdrops, but I also like to keep my compositions vibrant, imaginative, and rich in compelling story-telling. I like to blur the lines between reality and fantasy to create something truly out of this world.
How did you come up with the idea for Neon Assassin?
I have always been a fan of sci-fi, especially cyberpunk and retro-futurism. The main ideas and building blocks for my piece Neon Assassin came from movies like Blade Runner and Alita Battle Angel, the anime Ghost in the Shell, and the game Cyberpunk 2077. I was also inspired by the neon-themed artworks of PhaseRunner.
What Elements items did you use and how did you choose them?
Assets from Envato Elements form the core of this entire artwork. I started with an amazing cyberpunk-themed character model, which I then complemented with city photos to set up the sci-fi backdrop. I also added some renderings of sci-fi corridors to enhance the futuristic vibe. However, the artwork wouldn’t have been possible without Envato’s vast library of sci-fi 3D assets. These include the robotic parts of the character’s armor, the cybernetic arm, the cyber car, sci-fi cargo, wire modules and the platform which constitutes the prominent foreground and midground environment. I also added a rain texture. Finally, to tune up the perfect mood, I packaged the YouTube video with some epic cyberpunk music.
What programs, tools or techniques did you use?
Adobe Photoshop has always been my program of my choice for the kind of artwork I do. I can’t imagine using anything else, be it for a quick photo touch-up or a complex photo manipulation. I mainly use photo manipulation techniques that require some understanding of Photoshop, but I also mix in other styles like photo bashing, matte painting, and manual paint overs.
Could you walk us through how you created the artwork step-by-step?
After I finalized the idea, I created a rough sketch to chalk out the composition. I then started the photo manipulation by placing the central subject character model and blocking out the backdrop buildings. I began adding textures to the buildings by sampling images from different city photos. After I was satisfied with the composition, I started color grading and blending the images. A cyberpunk artwork like this required a lot of bright neon colors in blue, pink, and violet. I experimented to get the colors to my liking, then added some carefully placed neon signs to amp up the cyberpunk vibe. Adding rain effects and creating the water splatters and drips was one of the most time-consuming phases of creating the artwork, but it helped achieve the sci-fi dystopian vibe I was looking for. I wrapped it up with some final color grading and lens effects.
This artwork was challenging for me, and I learned a lot while doing it. It didn’t deviate too much from my initial idea, and I’m happy with how the background and the central character turned out. Although I feel there are many areas that could be improved, I’m satisfied with the final result.
What were the main skills and techniques involved?
For this piece, fundamental compositing was essential, with a significant focus on perspectives. I did a considerable amount of photo manipulation to add the cybernetic enhancements to the central character, and I also implemented some matte painting and photo bashing techniques to create the environment. The entire artwork was done in Photoshop, so a basic understanding of the software was also required.
All my skills are self-taught through tutorials and experimenting to understand what works and what doesn’t. Envato Tuts+ is a great place for aspiring digital artists to learn and improve their skills.
Do you have any secret tips or tricks for achieving this style of art?
Laying out a solid initial composition is the key to creating a hard-hitting, balanced artwork. It can be done by simply blocking out the major players in the scene like the central subject, guiding objects, and even the negative space. The rest relies on your patience and persistence to keep creating until it looks right. Here are my top tips for creating eye-catching, digital art:
- There is no shortcut to creating a good artwork. Focus on getting the fundamentals right and practice every day, but be sure to rest and recharge.
- Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. You may be surprised by the results and your own evolution.
- If you are only focusing on photo manipulation, finding good stock images is crucial for creating great artwork. Spend time searching for the correct images, as they will greatly influence the final result.
- This is a bonus tip that helped me a lot – research and learn beyond your primary genre. For example, if you specialize in photo manipulation, try looking at art concepts from traditional paintings, illustrations and even 3D art. You don’t necessarily need to create art in all those different genres, but looking at the concepts and techniques will help you understand the subject holistically and improve your game.
How does Envato Elements help you create your work? What’s the best thing about Envato Elements for digital artists and video creators?
Envato Elements has been a magical solution for all of my creative needs over the past year. Honestly, my videos and artworks wouldn’t be anywhere near as good without Elements. It’s my go-to place for finding building blocks for my artworks and templates for my videos. I think the cost for such a diverse range of high-quality assets is incredible. The option of unlimited downloads truly unlocks an infinite number of ideas, and the best quality content. It’s a must-have tool that offers creative freedom.
Since I mostly do photo manipulations, the Photos and 3D Objects are my most visited categories. The 3D assets allow you to get the perfect angle, and they’re a powerful tool for creating unique compositions that are difficult to achieve with standard stock photos. For example, in my Sky Whales composition, 3D assets helped me achieve the perfect angle of not only the whales but the foreground characters. I also use a lot of motion graphic templates for my videos, coupled with sound effects and music to make them more engaging and interesting for the viewer.
Any words of wisdom for other aspiring digital artists?
My best advice for aspiring digital artists and YouTube creators is to never compromise on the quality of your work. Hone your skills and practice every day to get the fundamentals right. Don’t be afraid of failure or constructive criticism – your mistakes will help you to create better content. Enjoy the creation process and keep the passion for what you love burning bright. Your next masterpiece could be just moments away.
Feeling inspired? There’s more where that came from! Whether you want to learn How to Create a Composite in Photoshop, or read up on the digital trend of Photo Manipulation, you can find tons of creative content here on the Elements Blog. For more interviews, check out How to Make Anime Art in Photoshop with Farelyph, How to Create Award-Winning Digital Art with Zacktic, and How to Become a Self-Taught Photoshop Artist with sb. editing__.