Monday, 31 December 2012

Let's (digital)Paint! - Step2 - Colors

Hi people, this tutorial is a step by step guide about digital painting for "real" beginners.
In this STEP2: Starting from a previously prepared linedrawing (in STEP1) i'm going to show you how to apply and manage colors into your paintings!

It will be awesome to see your results so feel free to send me a sample via message (remember to sign it), with your permission i could even public use some of those in here!

NOTE: This is ONE way to paint, not the only existing way . My personal workflow is very different from this but i think this is the easiest way to learn about digital painting if you are a beginner. Keeping things separated and following steps is the best way to not forget about anything and to learn what to do one thing at a time to not get confused and frustrated! If you know a better way please let me know! :D

Here's what i did in detail

1) Adding Colors: Let's do it! Add a new layer between your LineWork and the Silhouette (the gray solid color under the linework) and drop the colors over your subject like in the picture (be sure to select a color dark enough, let's say under 50% B). Then Right Click on your color layer and choose Create Clipping Mask. What happen is that your color layer will be cropped by the underneath mask and everything that falls off the mask will still be there but is not visible. This is handy in a various amount of ways, i'm sure you can find a lot of them just by experimenting but the main one is that you don't have to loose time to erase the borders every single time and is especially useful to add fading colors with huge brushes without having the fear to mess around with the rest of your canvas. Anyway now that you have one color just add another layer for every major color that you want in there and put it on clipping mask, if the color you are applying is falling of the inner borders of your drawing.... well in that case take your eraser and clear your mess like in the video! Anyway you can just have one single layer for all the colors if you want, there's no rule about this BUT i'm making you do this to learn the mechanism and because you will need it by the end of this guide ;)

2) Shadows: After you have finished adding your colors to the subject the next thing you want to do is adding shadows. I don't know why but people seems more comfortable with shadows than lights, probably most of them thinks that shadows can't screw up the look like the light does if applied incorrectly and that's partially true... but actually you have to fear shadows exactly like lights :D! Nah i'm joking, a lot of people knows that shadows are the absence of light and a lot of people are just wrong about that ^^ What you want to know about shadow is that it is just less light... yeah if you are watching a shadow essentially you are watching a place where lights is less present than in the rest of the surface. If there where no light where the shadow is then you will just see pitch black in that spot. Ok i think i'm going to far but to continue this point just think about shadows on your subject as a place where less light is hitting the surface... so because it is still light it can be colored! The next time you go outside in a sunny day look at your shadow and try to figure out what color it is (SPOILER ALERT: it's blue most of the time, can you tell me why?). Anyway how do we apply shadow to our drawings? In a very simple way! Add a New Layer, put it on Clipping Mask and set it to Overlay like in the picture. It's really hard to explain to you what Overlay does but in short it just add light if you use a light color or add shadow if you use a dark color (it's not this simple at all, but don't complicate your life with this stuff right now). Anyway now take a Round Brush (change it's Hardness if you want a soft shadow or an hard shadow), put your Opacity at around 50% (it's your choice) and use a Gray Color (so it's no color, desaturated, just value) and when you are drawing your shadows the program is just taking down the values of your base color. The result it's a natural shadow with no color! If you want your shadow to be colored than just use a color instead of grey... simple enough! If you need that (you do, i'm telling you this, do it) draw an arrow to remember you where your light is coming from.

3) Lights: Ok take a deep breath... Now that you have your nice colors and your shadows adding lights to your image is just easy as adding shadows. The BIG part where people screws up is just knowledge. All this painting thing is about knowledge and this is why: if you are drawing a light hitting a cloth surface you MUST know how that surface reflects the light, simple as that. There's no random guessing, no magic trick, it's not just a technique issue, you have to know it. If you don't know how a soft cloth reflects the light there's no way you will be able do paint it, and this principle is applied to everything in drawing and painting. So if you believe that just drawing will transform you into a better artist one day well... good luck with that ^^ Anyway you've got the message, now for the purpose of this tutorial i'm telling that a light hitting a soft cloth will reflects scattered around, most of the light will be reflected away from your eyes so you are just going to see a smooth light reflection. So how do we do that? Exactly like shadow! Add a New Layer, put it on Clipping Mask and set it to Overlay like in the picture. Now take a Round Brush and change it's Hardness to a minimum value for a soft effect, never use 100% Opacity, you want to be able to increase the amount of light in a spot by passing over your brush multiple times so you will be sure to not overdo. Of course if you are adding light you have to pick up a Light color (more than 50% B), I've used a desaturated value at 70% B (gray white) because i didn't wanted my light to be colored! 

4) Light Spots: When you are painting you may want to add an actual source of light (even if it is the sun or a blue light coming from behind). You can suggest that your light is coming from a place that's not in the canvas like the image if you want (you don't have to draw a sun to assume that there's a sun lighting the painting right?). So here's how do you add a light that hit a whole picture or a part of it in a soft fading way! Add a New Layer and put it on Overlay. Now take the Gradient Tool (G on the keyboard for the friends), select the Color to Transparent effect from the list (top left of the image) and take the Round Shape next from there (you can experiment with the other ones too if you want) and set your Opacity to around 20% (because we want to control how much light we are applying, remember?). Now take a spot where you want your light to start from and hold Left Click to Drag the tool where you want your light to reach his maximum transparency. Do it as much as you want to make your light strong!

5) Other Lights: Here's one simple truth: there's almost never just one light hitting a surface! The reason is simple: if you stand in a dark room and you add a light source you will have just one side in light but the light from the light source is going to be reflected by the walls back to you in a very subtle way. Imagine standing on the outside or in a normal situation... you will have lights reflecting over you from all over the places! I'm not saying that you must paint a crazy amount of lights in order to make something feel realistic (because that's our job, we draw stuff and paint stuff but none of the things that we do is real... we have to trick our viewers mind to make them think that's real)... one good light is enough sometimes but two lights at least it's just perfect. Here's an example of a secondary light that's hitting my subject from behind, this is a very common technique used in cinema or illustration because it help the viewers to read the shapes, adds depth and can change the mood depending of the direction and the color of the secondary light! So it's a really powerful knowledge to have! Here's how i did it: i just painted it on a Normal Layer :-D . Simple as that? Yes. The fact is that usually this kind of light is really strong and it just affects a tiny region of the surface of your subject that most of the time can just perfectly reflect back to you with a lot of strength  that's why i'm using a 100% Overlay solid color. If you want to have different reflective effects change your brush from an Hard one to a Soft one and try that (as shown on the picture above).

6) Tricks: Ok guys, this is the last part of the guide, if you have done everything correctly try this: Select one of your Color Layer, press CTRL + U to call the Hue/Saturation adjustment tool (you can find it in  Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation if you want) and try to make some changes : ) Now you can change the colors of everything you have made (even lights!) because you did everything on it's own layer! Have fun!

That's it for this STEP2 ! If you guys like it please share it around, if you have questions just feel free to ask!
If you want me to talk about a specific topic let me know, until then, see you around!

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