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Flesh Tone Tutorialish by novenarik Flesh Tone Tutorialish by novenarik
Sometimes when i get really bored, and can't think of anything to draw -- I like to practice things like flesh tones, hair, etc. This is the result of one of those times.

The reason though that I upload this, is that when going through a lot of the pieces of vector work in the galleries, I notice a lot of beginners really struggling with shading, coloring, etc.

And I think all it really comes down to is two stumbling blocks:

1. In most drawing applications, there is just SO much you can do, not necessarily things you *should* do, but just so may options. And I think you can get really bogged down with all the options: gradients, gradient meshes, styles, filters, brushes, strokes, etc etc etc. Things that complicate the piece to an unnecessary degree, and quite frankly, make the piece look like shit.

2. A lot of people, when asking me about technique and crap, do not realize just how much the program (at least in illustrator) can do for you when it comes to blending and color management. Most people don't realize that Illustrator has nearly all the same blending options the photoshop offers, although some function a little differently. When drawing a piece, they manually rummage through their palette trying to mix the exact right shade for shadows, the perfect color for highlights -- and it leaves SO much room for error, i.e., flesh shading containing weird amounts of cyan, maybe jaundicey, etc.

SO -- for this piece, I grabbed a pic out of the stock collections here at DA and basically had one goal in mind: render a quality image, simultaneously extremely complicated and ridiculously simple.


The image at left is composed of 13 'colors' - 7 solid colors, and 6 gradients. I did the outline on one layer, the flat colors on one layer below, and the tones on a layer above it. I tried to keep the tones very warm, and very homogenous.

Now, illustrator's 'Screen' blending mode works a little differently than photoshop's (where black is transparent, and everything else basically lightens the color beneath it) -- In illustrator is basically lightens everything all to hell -- black still lightening things as well. For this reason, I find it usually works better, to work with a simple gradient, one color blended to white, and then its transparency adjusted. And also, do the highlights *first* immediately on top of your flat colors. It makes blending so much simpler, the highlight is created by a screened shade of the exact same color beneath it -- so the highlight is precise; you don't have to worry about matching your colors over and over and over again -- since you basically have one color beneath it.

Transparencies is another key issue -- you can fade your shading in and out until you get some extremely subtle shifts -- sooo many people keep going back to that palette and tweak their colors until its just a hint lighter, but its sloppy and slow -- the transparency palette is your friend.

Anyway, next I go in and do all the shading -- typically with gradients, one color to white, blended with the "multiply" mode -- again, the shading will blend perfectly with the colors beneath it -- and you don't get any weird rastery lines on your edges. You can really go nuts at this point -- the multiply mode works exactly like it does in photoshop, so with white as one color in your gradient, you essentially are getting a perfect shade to transparent wash over your flat tones and highlights.

The image on the right is just the image on the left, all the colors stripped out, each path stroked with a quarter-width stroke -- I've left the transparencies intact, so you can see which paths had which opacities.

The images underneath are the three layers I mentioned earlier:
Layer 1 (the first layer I created): the outlines
Layer 2 (the third layer): All shading and highlights -- anything that is a gradient, or blended, or not 100% opaque
Layer 3 (the second layer): color flats, basic full opacity washed of color.

Document Info:
454 Paths, 383 of which have are 99% opaque or less, 264 of which are gradients. 0 gradient meshes, 0 brush effects, 0 filters, 0 stylized objects, 0 stroked objects.

So thats a pretty concise, and albeit broad tutorialish walkthrough of shading -- play around with blending modes, transparencies and limited palettes and see what you come up with. It mostly a system of trial and error that you get the hang of the different modes, etc. I hope I didn't sound cocky or authoritarian -- i was going for just helpful.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2007-10-25
*novenarik's illustrations have a warmly tactile feel and a painterly flow that is uncommon in vector art, Flesh Tone Tutorialish offers some instruction on how to take your shading to a more sophisticated level. ( Suggested by wroth and Featured by bleedsopretty )
DagonOmega Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for your help back in 2k7 now that i needed it in 2013.
Black-Baruko Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2012
A master piece! Elucidative and helpful!
Myspiderungoliant Featured By Owner Feb 1, 2011
Dude, you just helped me with a problem I've been having when I first started trying to use illustrator to draw people (or at least humanoids). I simply could not get the skin to look right. Tried this once on a photo of a girl...worked perfectly. Thank you so much!
nirman Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010   Digital Artist
that's good insight on shading with Ai.

max1sanjay Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2010
thnx bro...
Groundshock Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Well this'll help me heaps :D
ChazKemp Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
This is an extremely cool technique you have & I can't wait to get home and try your tutorial out. I'm always looking to improve my art and this tut will really help me to get to that next level. Thank you so much sir and may good fortune smile on you! :)
Rivellis Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009
Actually, Illustrator's "screen" mode acts the same as in Photoshop. The difference here is because Photoshop works with RGB color mode by default and Illustrator works with CMYK.

If you want that black color would be transparent in "screen" mode you'll have to set the color manually in colors palette in CMYK color mode to C - 100%, M - 100%, Y - 100%, K - 100%. Same thing applies to "overlay", "lighten", "color dodge", "soft light" modes. I discovered this recently while experimenting with Illustrator.

I hope this helps you (if you didn't know that already :)).

Oh, and this walkthrough is really useful. I'll definitely try something like this.
novenarik Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2009
Ahhhhh! Genius. That is super helpful!
talon001 Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2009   Writer
This has been something I've been struggling with for quite sometime... Thanks for the post.
thelearningcurv Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2008
this is probably the best flesh tone tutorial I've ever seen....
novenarik Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2008
Aww thanks, hope its useful!
Soft-n-Pale Featured By Owner May 11, 2008
Great post!
o429 Featured By Owner Apr 26, 2008  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
wow! you really know your thang! thanx alot man!
novenarik Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2008
No sweat, hope it helps!
CarabARTS Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
nice tut.
tartleigh Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Awesome! I do everything the same way that you do (not as well), but you have an excellent point. I haven't been changing my layers to multiply or overlay, so I've really been struggling with getting my gradients to work. Thanks for the great tips!
Elora-Danen Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2007  Professional General Artist
just... WOW
Ramen27 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
Great wok! Thanks for sharing. :)
Whothehellisthat Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
Cool stuff! Useful tips I'm sure a lot of people will benefit from!
Juzzt Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007   Digital Artist
really helpfull, thanks
decency Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
Great! Thankyou so much for doing this!
aphroarc Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
I love people who share their techniques. Art is for everyone to see.
thesolarwinds Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
oh wow, that's amazing!
DimytriART Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Professional General Artist
When you good, you good right? ^^'
Leonor Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Professional General Artist
Congrats on the DD! Well deserved for a master like you!
novenarik Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
Thanks -- it caught me quite by surprise!
Klew1013 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Professional
Wow, so that's how you do that. Just wow.
pouiboui Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks, very useful! ^_^ Shading seems so much easier now. :O
Nesis-mystic Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
very usefull!!
dadouX Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
So wonderfull job !
Stich83 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
GeminiNinja8 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
Ummm yummy ^^ :D
leccah Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
he's gorgeous, you deserve the DD, i wish my practice's turned out so well!
trabbit Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
How do you do such line art in illustrator? When I use brushes in it, the line will always be flat and not as variant in size and weight as it is in this picture for example?
novenarik Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
I only use brushes for certain parts of the hair. I hand-draw everything else.
trabbit Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2007
Phew, that's what I wanted to hear, thanks :)
Ahuri Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Professional Digital Artist
so usefull !
Sentinelgrafx Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Hobbyist Digital Artist
A big THANKS for this. Been looking for something like this for a long time. Illustartor is a real pain at times, but this somewhat clears things up for me.

Agagin ...Thank you.
novenarik Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
No sweat!
Runneri Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Just incredible!! ..or should I say insane?
I just cant understand how someone does see things in the "vectors way".
ryano292 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007  Professional Interface Designer
good reference
Rickbw1 Featured By Owner Oct 25, 2007
Congrats on the DD
Anushka Featured By Owner May 29, 2007
I really love how you managed to make this image look so photo-realistic! The later addition of the hair (in another artwork here: [link] ) is also a bonus to look at as well *nod nods*. I have a few questions though ... my first is with shapes.

* How do you know where to put the shapes (that are to be the highlights and shadows) and what they'll look like? You've got a great eye for shadowing and contouring but I just don't understand how you do it. Did you draw out the image on paper first before you started getting the shapes for the shadows just to see where they might go, before you started making the shadows and highlights on the character?

* My second (or third if you consider the top portion a two-part question) question concerns your website. I've typed in the URL but for some reason I get a page that looks like one of those 'Under Development' web pages where it has tons of links to random things but nothing that look like artwork you might have done and am a bit confused. Did you maybe mistype your URL or is there just no content available on your website just yet? (I've triple + 1 checked my own spelling and nothing art-related comes up)

I did have a third question but I'm not sure how to go about asking it ... I'll put it up on your 'Shoes' section since that's what prompted the brain fart to arise O.o

Thanks a bunch for reading this (if ya did ^_^)! You really do some spectacular stuff!
KitsuneChan66 Featured By Owner May 24, 2007  Student
Photoshop looks incredibly complicated.
Maybe I'm better off sticking to Corel. Sure, it's not as intricate as Photoshop, but at least I know how to use it.
novenarik Featured By Owner May 24, 2007
This isnt a photshop tutorial, its an Illustrator tutorial.
KitsuneChan66 Featured By Owner May 24, 2007  Student
Then I have failed at life.
kickz8 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2007
man, that really helped, can you do some hair tut? hahaha
brucaliffa Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2007   Digital Artist
I think that all your tutorials and all your walkthrough are absolutly fantastic and useful! thank you :)
saramania Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2006   Digital Artist
ummm... wow
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Submitted on
April 14, 2004
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