How to draw a flapping flag

Artist Sara Forlenza reveals how to draw a realistic flag flapping in the wind.

How to draw a flapping flag

Sara creates a sense of movement by using the Motion Blur tool

Looking at flags and war banners, the first thing you'll notice is that they usually have a simple design, in order to be recognisable from a distance. Typically they'll feature the coat of arms of a feuding family, geometric designs and bright colours.

I lay down some rough sketches of the banner I want to paint, and then paint my chosen design. I add colour to the various flag elements, which are placed on separate layers, enabling me to move and alter them with ease. Once I'm happy I save my basic flag design.

How to draw a flapping flag

Sketching out designs beforehand saves time during the actual painting

Now I open a new file and I sketch the scene that will feature the flag flying in the wind. I import the basic flag and create a motion effect with Photoshop's Transform>Warp tool. I can also use the Liquify tool to fold and warp the flag design and add more folds. To boost the fluttering effect, I use the Puppet Warp tool: this enables me to give movement to the flag by rotating or pulling specific areas around specific points.

How to draw a flapping flag

Sara splits the flag in two to give it an impression of depth

Now it's time to render the flag in the environment. I create a Multiply layer and I lay down shadows, choosing a cool colour and a Soft brush to simulate the softness of the fabric. I pay attention to where the flag meets the wooden pole: here, there are a lot of folds. Finally, I add some highlights on a new Color Dodge layer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sara Forlenza creates art for book covers, cards and RPGs. After many years using traditional media, she was introduced to the world of digital art.

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