Michel used this reference shot of a Russian Church's cupola as a starting point. He was especially looking at how the metal roof reflected light.


Base Color
In photoshop he created the cupola with the proportions he wanted. Just like traditional painting he started with a brownish base color so that no white might peak through the rendering. Using the eyedropper tool set to 5x5 pixels he sampled the original photo for colors and airbrushed the highlight first.

Cupola3 Airbrush Rendering
He wanted his metal roof to be copper rather than gold so redder hues were used to continue. He used smaller brushes to simmulate the slightly uneven surface that many sections of metal would give.
Cupola4 Adding a Tile Grid
Now that the basic rendering was done he wanted to add semi subtle tile effects. He created a grid in Illustrator and imported it into Photoshop. Using Filter>Render>3d Transform and a little more regular transforming he altered a basic grid to give the illusion that it followed the cupola shape (this might have been easier using a real 3d software application). This grid was saved as a channel and loaded later to slightly lighten the selection.

True Grit
Plain photoshop airbrush has a tendency to look mushy. So to add some feeling of grit Michel painted some loose brushstrokes in oil and scanned them in. He then changed the blending mode to Hard light and lowered the opacity a little.


He then used the dodge and burn tools for highlights and accents to the now distressed copper surface. The porthole windows were later added to finish off the the cupola.

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