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A Digital Coloring Tutorial: 1



Finally, a long-promised tutorial sees the light of day (well, part one at least)~! >D >D

The downloaded zip file contains the main tutorial word document, as well as a large image of the picture during each step. It's pretty detailed and long, but hopefully that should be a good thing....

Anyway, without further adeiu, here is an excerpt... Download the zip to read (and see) the rest!

7/25/05 Edit: Part two now available (clothing, lace): [link]
8/10/05 Edit: Part three now available (how to color hair): [link]

--start excerpt--

The Tools!

Let me preface my tutorial by starting off with my "tools of the trade." I used a laptop with not-too-great processing power (800 MHz) but decent memory (520MB RAM), a Wacom 6x8 in. tablet, and Adobe Photoshop 7.0 and Corel Painter 7.0, although this particular picture was mainly done using Photoshop.

I trade off between the programs because there's certain things that both are good for. However, I consider myself to be a much more adept Photoshop user due mainly to having lots more experience with it (and also laziness in devoting time to completely familiarizing myself and learning all that Painter has to offer... It's a tricky program! >D). That said, the thing I like most about Painter is its better responsiveness to my tablet. At least in my opinion, (and this is the opinion of someone who has a terribly shaky hand and has about a 15% success rate in producing a nice line on paper at any given time), Painter leaves a smoother, more natural stroke. So I typically use Painter to sketch, ink (if I need to--a lot of the time, I stick with seamless CG), and do strand-y hair. >D

Photoshop is solid for most everything else, and it has the advantage of having the Dodge tool and Smudge tool, which I use religiously. (I know Painter can do similar things, but I personally don't like the results as much.) Oh, and it's color tweaking and shape-transforming features are pretty useful too.

1) So here's how I start--roughly sketching a design in Painter using the pen ink tool. Starting with a blank canvas, I create a new layer just for the ink lines (this layer will always be one of the top-most layers, since we want it to be above everything else). I just mainly concern myself with the details of the face for now (why? Habit, I suppose ^_^), and leave the rest of the body as an amalgamation of messy lines. I want my Dark Chi to look... well, I suppose the "darkest" a persecon can get is emotionless and maybe slightly sad. So I accomplish this by making her Chi-ish eyes stare slightly down and appear like they're looking off into the distance, a non-smiling mouth, and a slightly hunched back. Oh, for reference, the original file is pretty large. Like 1200x1600 or something like that. Whenever I’m referencing particular brush sizes in the future (and I try to avoid doing so for this reason, but I know some got past me), keep in mind that that’s relative to the size of this canvas. If you’re working with a smaller piece, then a “big brush” size for you may vary.

Now comes the next step, probably my least favorite of them all, and that is.... *drumrolls* outlining! Sometimes I do this in Painter if my current sketch is too messy and I need to completely re-ink. If the original sketch isn't too bad or if I'm working on a picture where more detailed inking isn't too necessary (like a seamless CG picture) then I cheat a bit in Photoshop and basically use the eraser to erase everything except the line that I want to keep, and then the smudge tool to smooth out that line.

2) But... This picture will undergo "reinking." I basically open the file (always saved as a .PSD until the very end), click on the sketch layer, and go to Image->Adjustments->Color Balance and play around with the settings until I've made the whole thing a nice, light shade of cyan. Since I'm going to ink over this layer, I want it to remain visible but noticeably separate from my brand-spankin' new and shiny layer. After that's done, I create a new layer above this sketch layer (called “ink”) and return to Painter.

3) Now comes the "nice inking" stage. Basically, it's pretty self-explanatory. Pick a lovely, pointy pen (I like to use smooth ink pen and make the tip pretty small--you can experiment with the lines if you like) and neatly trace over the sketch. Like I mentioned before, I'm not much of an inker and don't really enjoy it, so I try and get away with as little inking as possible. Coloring is more work if you don't ink all the details now, but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. For example, even though I know there's plenty of detailed lace I will eventually add to her dress and probably a flower in her hair, I choose to skip inking all that in. Additionally, you can see from the screen shots that the body of the inked Freya looks different from the “sketch.” I determined that the original frame was too small, and promptly made adjustments on my “nice ink” layer. Did I mention my rough sketches aren’t very thought out? The inking, on the other hand, will serve as a platform for the rest of the picture, so I’m more careful with the way things look.

After you're finished, you can delete the old sketch layer and marvel at the cleanliness of the picture now. :D (I actually kept it around for a few more steps, and really turned down the opacity of the layer to 20%)

4) The next step has always been one of my favorites since ancient times--coloring skin! It's by habit that I color skin first--no real substantial reason other than maybe the fact that I like to see the face done as soon as possible (only when the face is done do I feel like I'm really in the "groove" of coloring ^^), and the skin is such a big part of the face. Actually, for this picture, I want to try and experiment on a "different" type of coloring. (I guess I shouldn't be writing tutorials on anything that's not a "tried and true" method, but I don't think this is really *too* drastically different than what I normally do.) Basically, I'm going to attempt what I call "soft-cel," which is sort of a compromise between normal cel-style coloring and soft-style coloring........

--end excerpt--
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MariaTeresa1012's avatar
Link broken, help :(