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28 October 2012

How to Create an Evil Red Demon Head

An Intermediate-Level Tutorial


In this article I'll explain how I created this evil red demon head design.

Final Evil Red Demon Head Design
Final Design


Recently I was reading Girl Genius graphic novel 6 by Phil and Kaja Foglio when a panel containing some evil-looking creatures caught my eye and inspired me to draw this sketch.

Original Demon Head Sketch
Original Demon Head Sketch

I decided to create a digital version, so I fired up Inkscape 0.47 and GIMP 2.8 and got to work.

First I used Inkscape to draw the demon head elements freehand using the Bezier Pen Tool and my mouse. I drew the outline of the eyes as one object, then copied it twice and pared each copy down to make an eyeball for each eye. The head, horns, and mouth are all separate objects. I put a radial gradient in the eyes and the mouth.

Grayscale Demon Head
Grayscale Demon Head

Then I scaled the drawing to 2000 pixels high and exported the head, eyes, horns, and mouth as four separate image files. I created a new file in GIMP at 2200x2200 px and loaded the head into it. After using the Select by Color Tool to select the background of the head layer and then inverting the selection to select the head, I used Filters > Render > Clouds > Plasma to create a mottled, multi-color texture. Then I used Colors > Colorize to change it to red, and Filters > Map > Bump Map to give it a nubbly texture.

Textured Demon Head
Textured Demon Head

Since I happen to have the G'MIC plugin installed, I chose Filters > G'MIC and played around with some of the filters until I found an interesting effect with Lights & Shadows > Relief light. I applied this filter, then placed the output layer above my textured layer and changed the layer mode to Multiply.

Head with Relief Light Effect
Head with Relief Light Effect

I loaded the eyes, horns, and mouth into GIMP as separate layers, and used the new Layer Group feature to put the eyes in one layer group and the horns and mouth in another layer group. I added a new layer at the top of each layer group and filled them both with different shades of dark red. At this point I realized the horns looked too flat and the gradient in the mouth didn't look right, so I went back to Inkscape and added a couple of blurred layers to each horn and removed the outline, and changed the gradient in the mouth around a bit. Then I exported them and reloaded them into GIMP.

To finish off the head, I used a plugin I have at Script-Fu > Layer Effects > Bevel and Emboss to add an inner bevel to the mouth. I added a dark drop shadow to the eyes to make them stand out, and I used the airbrush with a dark red to draw around the horns where they touch the face.

For the background, I created a new file at 1000x1000 px and played around with Filters > Render > Lava until I got something that looked cool. Then I copied it into my demon head file as a new layer, resized it to fill the background, and rotated it until I liked the look. To make the demon head stand out a bit, I gave it a red drop shadow.

Here are all the layers in GIMP:

Demon Head Layers in GIMP
Demon Head Layers in GIMP

Fiddling around with GIMP and Inkscape is always fun, and it's a great way to discover new techniques.

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