If you’ve ever seen the movie, The Dark Knight, then you know what we’re talking about. That’s the Batman that almost no one believes will ever actually come out of Hollywood. Despite the fact that it was released in 2008, it feels more contemporary than any of the “classics” that came before it. It stands for all that is modern and terrifying and exciting about the superhero genre.
But what if we told you that, in reality, the Batman you know and love from the screen is actually the blandest, most boring Batman of all? What if we told you that it’s time to embrace the absurdity of the Batman mythology and bring it all back down to Earth?
Enter reality, where we’re about to overthrow the greatest police force in history and where our favorite bat-suited anti-hero is little more than a caricature of the Dark Knight we all know and love.
And it’s not like the rest of the film is without its faults. Christian Bale’s acting, for example, can often seem a bit one-dimensional and his physical performance is very lacking. The script, especially in the third act, seems to go through a list of characters that are just there to be killed off one-by-one. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an over-the-top, bombastic bat-climax?
But if all you’ve ever known is The Dark Knight, then all this probably seems like a radical departure from what you’re used to. So let’s walk you through a quick and dirty tutorial on how to make Christian Bale’s Batman face look as good as new. We’ll use computer graphics to show you precisely what steps to take and Photoshop to implement them. By the end of this, you’ll have a true masterclass in how to make any superhero face look good.
First things first, we need to establish some base colors for our model. For the majority of our work, we will be using a blue base color for the sky and a brown base color for the ground. This will help bring a more realistic appearance to our final image.
For the cape, we’re going to use a black base color. This is going to be the part that will make it look like Christian Bale is really flying. Adding a little bit of blue to the cape will make it pop out a bit better against the black base color.
Now for the face. We’re going to use a flesh tone to represent Christian Bale’s Batman. The best thing about this color is that it doesn’t really stand out against a white background, like we have here, so it’s a perfect canvas for our adjustments.
To start with, let’s adjust the brightness of our image. The Dark Knight is often said to be one of the most difficult movies to watch due to its low brightness. However, to get the most out of it, we need to bring up the brightness so that our eyes can really feast on the details.
If we take a look at the sky, you can see that there are a few areas where it’s a little less bright. This is where we’re going to bring up the brightness the most. We don’t want to darken it too much because we don’t want to lose the blue color in the sky. However, a small increase in brightness will make a massive difference. Bring it up by about 10% and you’ll be amazed at how bright and crisp the image now looks.
Next, let’s sharpen our image a little. Our eyes are naturally drawn to the sharp edges and the high definition of the image, so it’s naturally going to appeal to us more as we look at it. However, as much as we want to go through the image and sharpen everything, that’s not how photography works. So, instead of going through the image and sharpening everything by hand, we’re going to use an automated tool to do it for us.
Photoshop has a built-in tool that is specifically designed to sharpen images. We’re going to use it on our image and call it the “Sharpen” tool. With this tool, we’re going to go through our image and sharpen those edges that aren’t already at their peak. You’ll also notice that as we go through the image, the colors will become a little more vibrant. This is because as we sharpen the edges, the colors on either side of the edge are pulled closer together. This creates a sort of “vivid” appearance as we lose the darkness between the colors. Don’t expect this tool to actually make colors brighter, it’s going to do the opposite – it’s going to make them darker. But, as a beginner, we want to keep the overall brightness level of the image the same, so we’re going to go with the opposite approach and make the colors darker to match the effect that we’re going for.
The Hair And Makeup
Let’s start with the hair and makeup. We’re going to use a technique called “sculpting” where we’re going to add dimension to the face. This is going to make the face look more realistic and add a sense of movement to it. So, using a brown base color, let’s add some highlights to our hair and makeup to make it pop.
To get started, we’re going to use a technique called “bleaching” where we’re going to add color to our skin to make it look more natural. This is going to be especially useful for people with darker skin tones because it makes the colors on their skin pop out more. To start with, let’s add a little bit of yellow to our skin. As you can see, it makes the colors on our skin look more natural. It also helps to even out our skin tone. This is important because we don’t want to end up with a strange color contrast between our skin and our clothing or background elements, like the trees in the background here.
Next, let’s add some mascara to our eyes. Mascara can really help to make our eyes pop and add some life to the overall appearance of our face. This is important because, as we’ve established, this is a rather grim depiction of Batman. So, by adding some light to the eyes, we are going to make the character seem more realistic. Plus, it’s always nice to add a bit of color to your eyes to make them pop.
Okay, so now that we’ve established the general appearance of our character, let’s move on to the clothes. When we think of Batman, we usually think of his iconic black cape and cowl. But, as we’ve established, this isn’t necessarily the case. There are many different ways that Batman can look, and one of the most basic ways is simply in a plain, black shirt and pants. So, let’s add a little bit of color to the outfit to make it pop.
The Overall Appearance
Before we do anything else, let’s add another layer to our image. With each new layer that we add, we’re going to be taking a look at how our character is going to appear. To start with, let’s add a dark blue layer to our image. This is going to be the water beneath our boat. The darker the layer, the more submerged we’ll be in the water. This is going to be a key element in making our ship disappear. All we need now is a boat. So, using a brown base color and adding a small bit of green will make it look like a rather nice fishing boat.
As we’ve established, the sky in The Dark Knight is almost entirely blue. This is going to be our base color going forward. So, to start with, let’s add a small bit of yellow to the blue to make it pop. As you can see, it makes a difference. However, because we’ve already established that the sky is going to be our base color, we don’t need to add any more. Just leave this layer as it is and move on to the next.
Now for the ground. Similar to the sky, the ground is also going to be a base layer and the majority of our work will be focused there. So, using the same blue base color as the sky, let’s add some brown to it to make it look a bit more realistic. Small changes like this can make a massive difference in creating a more realistic atmosphere. Now, if we were to add more layers, we’d be pushing it a bit too far, but for our needs, this is perfect.