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Gravity Works
Coloring Technique
#1.0 Soft Cell Technique
This tutorial demonstrates a quick and easy way to color a full piece with very few effects, tools and layers. It's good for beginner's and undoubtedly useful to experts looking to cut down production time.

Like all art tools, you still need to know which colors to pick, and how light and shadows work to bring out the full potential of your work.

Software : Adobe Photoshop 6/7
Note : With a little imagination, applying these techniques to similar programs such as Paint Shop Pro will be a snap. The tools are the same, it's the pressure and opacity levels that function differently.

Tools : Magic Wand, Lasso tools, Paintbucket, Airbrush, Paintbrush, and Gradient tool.

Settings :

  • Magic Wand normal setting for Background line art.
  • Lasso tools Anti-aliased, Feather 2-3 pxl for selecting shadow areas and light areas on the color layer. 
  • Airbrush normal, opacity 4-9. Used on lasso selections.
  • Paintbrush, options set on lighten, 100 opacity. Not used until last step.
  • Gradient normal, 60 opacity.


The importance of layers : Most amateurs do all of their coloring in one layer, and while you could do a number of these steps in less layers, we recommend you keep them separate. It's easier to make changes that way.

The importance of saving : As always, it's usually a good idea to make back up copies of your art file as you are working, including one under a separate file name in case of file corruption. Do this at least once a day, either when you start or you finish for the night, that way the previous day's work is saved in the event of a digital disaster.
 

Step one : Scan your drawing in at 300 DIP in text "line art" mode and save it to your disk.

(If your scanner uses different terminology, "line art" is the setting where your work is scanned in as pure black and white format with no grays)

Minor touch up work sometimes is required to make the piece clean and ready to be colored.  Make sure you get nice clean black lines by adjusting the contrast. You can do this by going to

Image -> Adjust -> Brightness -> Contrast

From there you can begin altering the dark lines on the piece manually. Don't leave any blemishes you don't want in the final piece.

Step two : Setting up Layers. Keep your Line Art as your background, make a new layer named "colors," and set the options to Darken.

In this layer, you will be filling a flat, basic color for all of the objects in your piece. You will be doing no shading or light effects in this panel at all. You will use other layers for that layer.

The easiest way to make selections, is to use the magic wand tool to select areas in the black and white drawing, and then fill in the colors on the "colors" layer. Leave your original B&W drawing untouched, you may need it later to make new selections or change colors on items if you become unsatisfied with your previous choice.

If you have decided on a background color, you can do a basic fill on this layer, or a gradient. If you are unsure, you can always come back later and do it. Basic fills will work great if you intend to shade the background like an object.

Step three : Create a new layer called lights, the setting should be normal. Use the lasso tool to make the shape of light patterns on objects that are getting direct light or reflected light. When you use the air brush or the fill tool, you will have soft patches of light hitting your objects.

If you have created a background already, you can add extra effects to it in this layer that can be edited later if you are unhappy with them.

Step four : Lightening your black and white drawing. Make a copy of this layer, and lock your black and white drawing up in case you have an accident coloring.

The copy of the B&W drawing goes under the layers for colors and highlights. Use the paintbrush tool to color over your lines, since it's below the color layers, you won't need to make any selections unless you want to. For the color, use any value darker than the color the line contains. When two objects of different colors are next to each other, like the face and her suit, use the color of the object that's in front of the other; in this case, her face.

If you're adding a background in later, don't worry about sloppy colors leaking outside the characters or objects in this image. simply add the background into the layers above the colored line art and there will be no problem.

If you're using it as stand alone image and or to cut and paste into other images, fixing it up is easy. When you're done, go to the B&W image, and select the area outside of your object or character, go to the layer you just colored in, and delete the excess color.

Step five : In every image there is a light source, usually artists don't include them because they can be hard to show accurately. But here we'll give you a simple technique that will let you put a very convincing set of flood lights into any image.

First make a new layer set at normal. You can put that layer anywhere but under the line art. In the example on the right, the background and lighting effects are done on the same layer, but you can do them separately if you wish.

If you wish to do lighting effects that run over your characters or objects, you will need to place this layer above your color and lights layer.

Select your Lasso tool, straight line or free, and begin selecting areas out for your background. Next, get your airbrush, you can play with the opacity and the options a bit, to start airbrushing in the selections. You should use some light colors like light yellow or white. Afterwards, make more selections with the lasso tool and repeat the process, changing the opacity on your brush tool if you wish. Your goal is to get a light glow effect, so work slowly and patiently. With each new layer of light you add, you will notice the center of the light source is getting brighter and brighter, which is perfect.

More on the backgrounds : Some artists wait till they're done coloring an image to color in the background, some do so at the very beginning. Honestly, you can do it at any time during the coloring process you choose. If you keep the lighting effects and background on separate layers, adjusting them is easy. But if you do them on the same layer, be sure you figure out your background first, save often, and be well aquatinted with the undo options your software and computer can handle.
 
 
 

Finally :

Flatten the image, enjoy!

Happy Coloring!

INDEX
FILMS
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STORE
OUT OF SITE!
LINKS
Q & A
MISSION
FILM BLOG
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SUBSITES
FAN ART