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24 April 2010 @ 12:02 am
Tutorial No. 03, Part II, Section I: Coloring  
Here is the second part of three, and by far the most image-heavy. Please enjoy!

Beginning: Lineart and the Face

Now that we have a color scheme ready, we can finally get started on coloring. One of the notable differences about my mode of coloring versus others is that I lay down colors on Multiply layers on top of the lineart, which is colored by a Screen. I do this out of necessity: Adobe Photoshop Elements, so far as I know, is incapable of extracting lineart as well as other versions of Photoshop. (It's called "Elements" for a reason: it's surprisingly versatile for bundle software, but it's just bare bones compared to the vast array of options offered by, say, CS4.) For my digital artwork, I always work with the lineart on top and the colors all set to Normal--it's a much easier method, and I strongly recommend it if you have access to it.

If you don't, like me, let's start by making a new Screen layer above the lineart and filling it with the darkest color in our palette (#060639). This helps lend coherency to our coloring early on. (You may want to start naming your layers as you make them; I normally don't for my manga colorings, even though they can sometimes end up with more layers than my actual artwork!)

On top of the screen layer, make a new Normal layer and color in the face with any color you want (preferably a dark one, if you're working on a white background), using a Hard Round brush with pressure set to Size and Opacity. (Note: this, until further notice, will be the brush we will use for coloring.) Be careful to stay within the lines of the face while covering all of it with color.

Change the layer's mode to Multiply and, after making sure that the entire face is covered, click on the little lock icon. You can now only paint on the color you have already set down--a very indispensable trick!

Using the Fill tool, fill in the face with white and begin painting.

"Wait!," those of you who are paying attention say. "Light isn't supposed to be white!" That is absolutely correct, unless the subject is in unusually bright light or is being represented by an unusual medium. Here we are imitating watercolors in that we'll lay down the shadows and flushed skin tones first, then paint the base tone over them. Ecthelian has an excellent traditional watercolor tutorial that I found particularly useful. (Note that other artists who use watercolors normally lay down a wash first, then shadows. If I were ambitious, I would print Alpha out on heavy paper and go at it the old-fashioned way.)

Here we define the lips and nose.

To blend the colors, we use "Eyedropping," or the extensive use of the Eyedropper tool. Since our brush's pressure setting is set to "Opacity," we can fade colors into white or into each other; with the Eyedropper tool, we can pick up the shades in between them and blend them. You can quickly access it by holding down the ALT key while painting, allowing you to pick up and lay down colors without breaking the rhythm of painting. Fox_orian details this better in his tutorial on tablet painting.

If you are using a mouse, this will obviously be much more difficult. You can compensate either by using cross-hatching, which if done tightly enough will yield blended colors, or by experimenting with your opacity settings. This is poor advice, I know, but it can be done.

Note how we're forming the shadows based on a light source coming from the upper-left. The shadows are sharply-defined now, but as we progress we'll work with both soft and hard shadows on the face. Some icon-makers use only soft shadows, while others use only aggressively-sharpened ones; neither one of these approaches will generate a decent representation of the face. Kissmyhuman made a portrait lighting tutorial which I refer back to almost constantly. Just remember that the extent and severity of shadows change depending on the shape of the face: the sharp cheekbones and manly jaw of the tutorial's mannequin would look bizarre on, say, Sakura Kinomoto from Card Captor Sakura.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the face of Evil.

With all that in mind, we move on to the neck, defining Alpha's jawline in the process.

We then paint the shadows on the left edge of her cheek...

...beneath her bangs, at the highest point of her left cheek, at the corners of her eyes, and in her ears. Note how the inside of the ear isn't entirely in shadow--I don't know what materials Alpha is made out of, but her ears are most likely as translucent as a human's.

Now we move on to the eyes! Note how the sclerae, or whites, of Alpha's eyes aren't white, but purplish-gray. If you look at your own eyes in the mirror, you'll find that they aren't pure white globes--they're normally a shade of gray, with noticeable shadows. The eyes are, after all, spheres set in the head, and spheres are one of the first things we learn to shade in school, right?

Here we define the eyes even more by adding a lighter color to block in the shadows...

...and then some reflections and highlights along the edges of the eyelids. Coincidentally, one of Alpha's noticeable differences from other robots in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou is her ability to cry, since she was built with tear ducts in her eyes. Why was she built that way? That is one of many mysteries in Alpha's world.

Now we paint in the irises, taking care not to go overboard with the purple. I'll spare you the rant on that one.

Instead of progressing further on the Multiply layer, we'll go back to the Screen layer and start working with the colors of the lineart. Here we color the lines of the mouth, nose, and ear with flesh tones.

When working with thick lines, such as Alpha's eyelashes, go back to the Multiply layer and erase the color over the lines. This will enable you to paint on the Screen layer with clearer colors.

Be careful not to use too-light colors on your Screen layer, as that could lead to something like the monstrosity below.

After screening the eyelids and painting in the eyebrows with the hair palette, we start coloring in Alpha's eyes by screening over everything except for her pupils. Make sure they're aligned!

We then add a subtle gradient on the Screen layer, and a highlight on the Multiply layer.

With the eyes almost finished, make a new layer set to Normal on top of the others and add highlights to the sclerae, lips, and nose. (Please don't overdo the nose highlight--it will make the subjects look like drunks.)

We can also add a flush to Alpha's cheeks at this point, on the Multiply layer. Some icon-makers utilize a heavy, red flush immediately beneath the eyes and marked by bright highlights. In some cases, especially when the subject is actually blushing or crying, this is aesthetically charming; in many, it looks downright disturbing. I don't know about you, but I certainly wouldn't want to use an icon of someone with a horrible skin disease or a 105° fever.

We're just about done! At this point, it would be a good idea to zoom out and take in the face as a whole--it makes spotting mistakes easier. Here I fixed the shadow along Alpha's left cheek, which was too sharp.

We can now finally add the base color. Normally I lay down the base color first and paint over it, but here we'll do something different: group an Exclusion layer with the Multiply layer and fill it with dark blue. Don't, um, make a habit of this--it's not the best method.

And at last the face is finished! We'll move on to the rest of the image in the second part.