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Hey guys and girls. Today something especially for you. Some useful tips from coloring artist.
Some of you asked me about tutorial. I really wanted to write one but they are so time consuming.
So let's start.

1. Make good flats at the start. Use polygonal lasso tool in Photoshop and then Paint bucket tool, it's the most accurate method. Filling areas with brushes is wrong, believe me. You will swear to gods and scream out loud trying to later fill all these tiny holes you didn't notice white painting flats with brush.
Of course don't stick to this advice too much. If you have a bunch of tiny elements it's obvious that it's better to color them with hard brush than to use lasso, especially the polygonal one

My way of doing flats is to make every particular color/character on a separate layer. For example, having two girls, sky and clouds in the picture, I make 3 groups: background, girl1, girl2. Then in each group I make layers for: sky, clouds, skin, hair, shirt, jeans... etc. May look pedantic, but taking care of it at the beginning will save your life later, when suddenly you (or your commissioning party) will decide to change the hair color of one of the girls.

EDIT There's actually even better method that I learned thanks to :iconvest: David aka vest. Thanks, David!

I actually have something that I'd like to throw in, and it's about having the flats broken up into separate layers so you have a set of flats for the BG, girl 1, girl 2, etc. While that works to an extent, I find that there could be some issues if you're working with flats with dozens of characters in the same shot. While the obvious solution is just putting several characters on the same layer (which I used to do), I'd actually like to share a workaround to such an issue just to see what you think.

I keep all the flats on a single layer.

Beneath that layer, I have an 'Elements' layer. That layer will have each element of the image (BG, girl 1, girl 2) as just a single fill. Therefore, if I want to adjust an entire character without having to select each and every single bit on the flats layer, I just go to the 'Elements' layer and select the entire character with a single click.

While this won't do much for saving memory when working with single character shots, it has saved my life many times when working with group shots and highly complex backgrounds.


And how to select the element using this method when it's divided into parts and not on a separate layer? You can go for Select > Color Range option. Unless you have a better idea - then please share it in comments!

If you have it on a separate layer, then You can select an entire layer all at once (with everything in it) by holding down ctrl (cmd for you mac people) then clicking either anywhere in the layer in the layers pallete for older versions of photoshop or in the little icon box for that layer for CS3 versions and higher. - really nice tip from :iconseane: Sean

More tips on dealing with flats and colors, from Sean:
I do each character or major component of the picture's flats on their own layer. Work on one character/component at a time using as many layers as I care to for that and then when done flatten the whole character down to one layer before starting the next one.

Additionally, because of the way I colour stuff I copy that characters/component main flats layer first before doing anything to it. That way I can select the flats bits and pieces but if I need to I have a preserved section of the flats underneath - just in case. I ditch that layer when I've finished the character.


For flats don't go for saturated colors. They will distract you and won't let focus on the whole composition. Use colors from somewhere in the middle of color window, not too bright and saturated, not too dark and dull. Try to make your picture look good on this stage. Doesn't matter that you will change these colors later on, try to match them now, on flats. It will give you an idea of where you want to go.

2. Start shading. You know the "lock transparent pixels" option, don't you? Well, I didn't. I colored my first Zenescope cover without this knowledge. Anyway, it's hell useful option. You'll find it at the top in Layers window. With this option enabled you'll be able to paint shades inside the flat color, without going outside the shape.

Try not to use only soft brush. It's easy, but gives rather crappy effect. Try various brushes, grainy and textured ones. Used properly they will help you get rid of the plastic look on everything.

For shading don't use dodge and burn tool. They will give your coloring rather dummy look. Use similar colors from the same palette, but not exactly the same hue. If you have a beige skin, for example, make highlights not only brighter, but also more into red/pink shade. And shadows more into bronzes. This way it will look more natural than just light beige/medium beige/dark beige shading.
One more trick, rather advanced. If you make shadows in warm colors, make highlights in cold ones. And if you make shadows cold, make highlights warm.

vest:
Remember, all light and shadow has color, no matter what. Black and white do not occur naturally, they are just projections of existing color our eyes cannot detect, a particular wavelength on the light spectrum that's beyond our eye's capability to see.

Comic art is full of contrasts, lots of black, inked elements that suggest that shadows are black and highlights are the opposite white. It can be really misleading for a beginner, especially that we do use black and white, BUT to adjust the contrast, not as a shading method.

3. After it's done, think about the surrounding of your character. Is it a blue sky? Then either shadows or lights will affect some of the background colors. Not much, but adding some light blue color on low opacity for your highlight will bring your coloring a whole new dimension.

4. Study. Make lots of studies. Study other artists - :iconartgerm: Stanley Lau for his fantastic anatomy, :icontoolkitten: Nei Ruffino for vivid colors, :iconphoenixlu: Phoenix Lu for bright, "chinese" colors, etc. There's nothing wrong in learning from others as long as you don't just pick their colors :-) But try to learn from the best. Studying beginners will only make you repeat their mistakes.
Study good quality photos. Watch them from totally new perspective. Try to understand how the form is created by lights and shadows, what are natural shades of skin, wood, sky, metal etc. The best way to do it is just practicing. Go for as much realism as you can in your colorings and you will not want to go back to lazy airbrushing anymore :-)

Good luck!
  • Mood: Artistic
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Add a Comment:
 
:iconiamkomics1:
iamkomics1 Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013
awesome tips....i will have to get started and tryout digital coloring;)

btw, how did you like Sebastian Caine, The Swagman, The Angel and Visture McKenzie? Awesome universe, huh? Did you read the second book, yet?

Cheers!

Tony
Reply
:iconknytcrawlr:
knytcrawlr Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
some really amazing tips! thank you so much for compiling all of these :D
Reply
:iconuzaele:
Uzaele Featured By Owner Oct 6, 2012
Thank you for this tutorial! I used only the brush tool to do my flats and like you said, I screamed and yelled about the small holes.... well, mostly grumbled to myself ;)
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You're very welcome :-) Good luck with coloring!
Reply
:iconmanlivs:
MANLIVS Featured By Owner Jul 18, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the pointers! Followed (and credited) your advice on this piece: [link]
Reply
:iconbbmactoma:
BBMacToma Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Just FYI, Nei is awesome, and has her own video blog thing to watch her and how she colours people's lineart. And she's very personable even in real life. Take her advice and have fun with it!
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Nei is already a legend, I guess everyone interested in coloring have checked her out :-)
Reply
:iconjasonmetcalf:
JasonMetcalf Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012
Awesome Tips Ula, Sean, and others! They even help a penciller/inker guy like ME! LOL
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Lol! I'm glad they are useful for you, Jason! A good artist learns from everything ;-)
Reply
:iconseane:
SeanE Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I do each character or major component of the picture's flats on their own layer. Work on one character/component at a time using as many layers as I care to for that and then when done flatten the whole character down to one layer before starting the next one.

Additionally, because of the way I colour stuff I copy that characters/component main flats layer first before doing anything to it. That way I can select the flats bits and pieces but if I need to I have a preserved section of the flats underneath - just in case. I ditch that layer when I've finished the character.

You can select an entire layer all at once (with everything in it) by holding down ctrl (cmd for you mac people) then clicking either anywhere in the layer in the layers pallete for older versions of photoshop or in the little icon box for that layer for CS3 versions and higher.
Reply
:iconatlas0:
Atlas0 Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
On the last picture I colored -- [link] -- I left the flats completely intact at the bottom and colored everything on top of them in a new layer -- it saved me time, cause if I messed up on one layer, I could just trash it and the flat would still be there. I also work on everything on its own layer like this. It worked out very well =)

Only, I wish I would've seen your info before I started coloring -- it would've help alot :lol:
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Having flats underneath is a smart idea. I thought about it too but keep forgetting as I keep almost everything on separate layers with lock transparent pixels option. But need to change it, doesn't work well with complex works. Just too many layers.
Thanks for sharing useful tips!
Reply
:iconvest:
vest Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012
Very awesome!

I actually have something that I'd like to throw in, and it's about having the flats broken up into separate layers so you have a set of flats for the BG, girl 1, girl 2, etc. While that works to an extent, I find that there could be some issues if you're working with flats with dozens of characters in the same shot. While the obvious solution is just putting several characters on the same layer (which I used to do), I'd actually like to share a workaround to such an issue just to see what you think.

I keep all the flats on a single layer.

Beneath that layer, I have an 'Elements' layer. That layer will have each element of the image (BG, girl 1, girl 2) as just a single fill. Therefore, if I want to adjust an entire character without having to select each and every single bit on the flats layer, I just go to the 'Elements' layer and select the entire character with a single click.

While this won't do much for saving memory when working with single character shots, it has saved my life many times when working with group shots and highly complex backgrounds.

Other thing I want to throw in here:

If you make shadows in warm colors, make highlights in cold ones. And if you make shadows cold, make highlights warm.

PEOPLE LISTEN TO THIS. No more of this black-shadow/white-highlight garbage. Got a friend of mine totally disagreeing when I say this, but until I see him shade a scene without 3d rendering software I might give his protests a tad bit of credence. Remember, all light and shadow has color, no matter what. Black and white do not occur naturally, they are just projections of existing color our eyes cannot detect, a particular wavelength on the light spectrum that's beyond our eye's capability to see.

Black and white DO NOT EXIST.
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Well said, David! That "Elements" thing is genius, you know? That would definitely work better than my separate layers. I will add it to my tips if you don't mind so more people will learn it.

As for shadows and highlights, you're right. People should sometimes study some paintings to learn more about color theory, not only comics. Comic art is full of contrasts, lots of black, inked elements that suggest that shadows are black and highlights are the opposite white. It can be really misleading for a beginner, especially that we do use black and white, BUT to adjust the contrast , not as a shading metod.
Reply
:iconkincross:
KinCross Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Something you may want to consider is check out the artists you want to study here on DA, on Twitter, or on whatever sites they like to use. Look for livestreams. Nei, for example will livestream her work process from time to time. It can be very informative to watch something go from flat to fully painted.
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, I forgot to mention about livestreams. It's very useful advice.
Reply
:iconbluedragon82:
bluedragon82 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
Ula, thanks for all the tips. If I get back to trying to color you have some stuff there I've never tried or done before. I feel they'll help me with a lot of my issues I have when I color. :D
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You're welcome, Randy! I hope this and next ones will be helpful when you feel like playing with colors.
Reply
:iconbluedragon82:
bluedragon82 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional Interface Designer
I think they will.. I'm always looking for more and more tips.
Reply
:iconiris-artuts:
Iris-ArTuts Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012   Digital Artist
This came exactly the right time I needed it! :heart: Thank you for your insight, it's really helpful! :hug:
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You're welcome, Iris! Have fun training.
Reply
:iconatlas0:
Atlas0 Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Super helpful tips!
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks! More to come :-)
Reply
:iconxguardsmanx:
xGUARDSMANx Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
Cieawe kto tak Cię "molestował" o tuoriala hę ?:D Ciesze się, że w końcu się doczekalismy choć troszke szkoda, że nie video...:D Ale nic to, bo to i tak rzeczowy i bardzo pomocny tutorial. Może dałabys sie jeszcze Ulko skusić na kilka słów o samym inkowaniu, który równie mistrzowsko Ci wychodzi, hę ? :D Dobra nic nie mówiłem :D
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
No Ty, Ty :-)
Ale ja przecież nie inkuję... Coś Ci się pomyliło chyba? W każdym razie cieszę się, że rady pomocne, może w przyszłości rzucę się na coś większego.
Reply
:iconmasterchiefmanley:
MasterChiefManley Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I definitely needed this... thanks muchly!
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Glad I could help :-)
Reply
:iconvoodoodwarf:
Voodoodwarf Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Would'nt be better , to make an bigger tutorial (with pics, you know, as an deviation) then a "simple" text like this?

Maybe some peoples who dont have any idea of the "lock transparent pixels" option or "layers" could be little confused.

Please dont misunderstand me - i dont want to troll or make a dump critique here (you tut here is helpful of course) but maybe a "real" tutorial would maybe better, especially if it's comes to technical details like this one.

Hope, you dont hate me now ... :blush:
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Maybe it would be better, but I have no time for it now. Besides, there are so many tuts here, I can't believe that no one wrote about it. Personally I prefer reading quick journal tips than search through all these huge deviantart resources about coloring, extracting lines, usung colors properly, etc, etc. Here you have it in a pill. You're free to share this knowledge if you want to :-)
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Besides, speaking about technical details. There are 1000s of users here, almost everyone on a different level of advance. Some maybe haven't seen Photoshop in their life. Should I make a tut about basics of PS + basics of color theory + basics of anatomy? I wrote it for people who know, more or less, how to color, and come on, it's not that hard to find it out in a google how to turn "lock transparent pixels" on. If you only know that this option can be useful for you.
I don't mean to be harsh, just sometimes you can't make everyone happy.
Reply
:iconbulletproofturtleman:
... Within 5 minutes of reading this, I learned so much that already helped obscenely. >Lock transparent pixels?< NO WAY! A LOCK TRANSPARENT PIXELS BUTTON!?!? WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!? :icontearsofjoyplz:

Even something so simple as a button... so beautiful. I thank you. This has just changed coloring for me.
Reply
:iconivannamatilla:
IvannaMatilla Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2012
The same happened to me when I discovered the Lock transparent pixels button: it was Heaven.
Reply
:iconbulletproofturtleman:
It's an indescribable level of genius for whoever thought of it. "Hmmm... it's annoying when we do flats and when we color, it goes outside the lines and flats we've already laid out. Wait... what if we make something that prevents you from coloring outside the lines/flats?"
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You're welcome :-) I don't know how I managed to color before I discovered this magic button. You can use it on extracted lines too, to color them.
Reply
:iconbulletproofturtleman:
Jolly good snuff! Now things just got easier dramatically.
Reply
:iconcross-bonez:
cross-bonez Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
My big problem is I learned off of Opencanvas, so when I got Photoshop from my sister-in-law I can't figure the damn thing out properly and drives me crazy. My "Death Knight Kaylia" piece was colored in photoshop and I can't tell the difference between it and opencanvas when completed, other then I would have finished faster in Opencanvas. Tricks with locking transparency and the like I've known about, but never quite got to work right, always pulled white with the color when I blended and I have no clue why or where it came from. So I free hand just about all of it. No vectors, or selections, highlights and shades are on different layers from the base. I'm sure I make it a lot harder for myself then I need to.
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Well, you can of course work however you like, just like you said - it makes the whole thing harder and more time consuming. I started like this too, but just prefer to focus on artistic aspects of coloring instead of cleaning all that mess over and again.
Why don't you work in Opencanvas if you prefer it?
Reply
:iconcross-bonez:
cross-bonez Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2012
The new Opencanvas (that I have to get yet) has more of the same tricks Photoshop does. I'll try that out, see what improvements I can make.
Reply
:iconmanlivs:
MANLIVS Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the pointers! I didn't know how to "lock transparent pixels" either until now.
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I'm glad they're useful!
Reply
:iconjeffnitro77:
jeffnitro77 Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
Thanks.
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
You're welcome :-)
Reply
:iconda-andi:
da-andi Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
So, you want to deny making a Tutorial because you call yourself not experienced enough?
It's not bad that you are still learning, because you still know how a Rookie thinks and what Mistakes he would make. :)

Anyway, may i add a suggestion for a really good book about coloring in general? It's calles "Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter" by James Gurney. It's primary focused on traditional painting-techniques, but most of the book can be used for digital Media, as well. :)
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you, I'll check this out. Color and light, that's exactly what fascinates me :-)
As for denying making a tutorial, it's mostly because I don't have time to make it correct and useful. I am quite experienced, but still happen to make basic mistakes which I have to fix later - not a good base for teaching the others.
Reply
:iconda-andi:
da-andi Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012
Making some Mistakes is not so bad, even pro's make Mistakes, just less obvious ones.
(I know, you are a Perfectionist. Just trying to put away the pressure you are applying to yourself)

The Next time you do a coloring, make some Screenshots among the Process and comment them what are you doing there. Voilą, there you have a fullsize-Tutorial with only a bit more Effort than for a regular work. :)
I am (still) fascinated how an Artist works, the Way how they build their Artworks. You can't see that from the final Painting, at least if you are a rookie like me.
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
To put away the pressure? Never! :-) It's the best part of creating!
Ok, maybe I write like I'm all stressed and pressed, but it's not like that. I'm just not trying to tell everyone "I'm A PRO, I can do everything". My works speaks for themselves, and I'm just being honest about artists everyday life and dilemmas.
As for these screenshots, good idea. Maybe I should try this next time I'll do colorings.
Reply
:iconbadlyacidic:
badlyacidic Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
interesting
Reply
:iconsinhalite:
sinhalite Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I hope so :-)
Reply
:iconbadlyacidic:
badlyacidic Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:)
Reply
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