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Terra - Process by tsuaii Terra - Process by tsuaii
Process for my Terra painting.

thumbnails — I begin with a small sketch to place what's in my head on canvas. Don't zoom in or worry about details. It's good to do several of these, to explore different ideas and allow your creativity to shine through. If you get too stiff here, the painting's liveliness and spirit may be lost. I wanted this painting to be all about light, so I focused on developing clear values and ignored color. Depending on the approach, though, you may also need to figure out colors in the thumbnail stage.

lines — After I've settled on the idea, I figure out how I'm going to approach the painting from a practical standpoint through a series of line drawings. For me, the most important part of this step is not about what's on the canvas, or making clean lines, but about understanding the scene in my head — spatial relationships, overlapping, perspective, flow. In a way, it's like reverse-engineering the thumbnail and troubleshooting the problem parts. Do as many drafts as it takes — I did Terra's lines in about seven passes.

ambient occlusion — For this piece, I used a painting approach similar to how a 3D program renders in multiple passes. A key part of this process is ambient occlusion (AO) — placing shadows in those niches and crevasses between objects, where light can't easily get to. The steps for Terra are based on a painting process by Artsammich (Sam Nielson).

flat colors — Colors were handled in a separate pass from lighting. However, the solid color of an object will still shift in hue and value depending on the lighting conditions, so that has to be taken into account. In the end, even the flat color stage will appear to have some shading to it.

light sources — Once the flat color and AO layers are combined, it will sort of look like a 3D model, and adding a few light sources will basically bring the painting near completion. The lighting will look correct if the sources are consistent — where objects cast shadows on themselves or other parts of the scene is crucial. I positioned a strong, warm light behind Terra and a cooler fill light in front.

post-production
— My last step is to flatten the image into one layer and render out the remaining details. Color adjustments are made at this point, as well as subsurface scattering for the skin and light bloom/lens flare effects. Since my usual painting style is so opaque and rigid, I lost a bit of the softness present in the earlier stages of the painting, which I regret. Next time, I want more of the AO to show through at the end.
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:iconfluffbuttarts:
FluffButtArts Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2018  Professional General Artist
The AO technique in painting, I never thought of that.  This is immensely helpful, thank you so much for taking the time to make this and sharing.  I can't wait to try these techniques! :)
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:iconcadette100:
cadette100 Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2017  Hobbyist Digital Artist
interesting love this 
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:iconrotsentu:
rotsentu Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2017  Professional Digital Artist
amazing stuff!
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:iconmyjerart:
myjerart Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2017   Digital Artist
 This is so helpful thank you, but did you have a more "detailed" tutorial about the ambiant occlusion ? And where to place it ?
 Like, did the light affect the ambiant occlusion ( for exemple, Will the ambient occlusion be the same in a sunset atmosphere as in the middle of the day? ) :)
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:iconbuga-wuga:
Buga-Wuga Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Very nice breakdown. It really changed my painting workflow for the better :)
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2016  Professional
I'm glad it was helpful!
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:iconcassie-draws:
Cassie-Draws Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2016  Student Digital Artist
Absolutely gorgeous!
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Dec 1, 2016  Professional
Thanks a lot!
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:icondante-liu:
Dante-Liu Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2016
I love this!!I love this!!!I love this!!!
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:iconlostpapers:
lostpapers Featured By Owner Sep 30, 2015
Your AO step is really enlighting for me :)
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:iconjosianefortin:
JosianeFortin Featured By Owner Sep 7, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm really trying this "ambient occlusion" next time ! Thanks for sharing ! Clap You're really talented !
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:icondelaving:
Delaving Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Step 1-7 "Hm, okay I understand how this works"
Step 8, suddenly: magic! :D
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:iconxandermoore:
XanderMoore Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've never heard of ambient occlusion before, and I have an art degree! Now I'm going to have to try this. Thanks for posting!
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:iconrptw091:
rptw091 Featured By Owner Nov 30, 2014  Hobbyist
THIS IS BEAUUUUUUUTIFUL!!!! :love:
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:iconabetwabe:
Abetwabe Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
Beautiful work...... beautiful work..... Do you do the ambient occlusion over the lines layer? And does AO ony involve doing the shadows? Do you bother doing shades of colors when you do the flats layer? Thanks for any information. :)
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014  Professional
Yeah I do AO over the lines, and then hide the lines once I'm done with them. AO is just the shadows with a black brush on a monochrome layer — I've found that if you start mixing greys or white into the AO layer, it can mess you up later on if you try to give the AO a slight hue (which I usually do, towards the end)

Adding slight shading to the flat colors is actually really important, but it's something you do after you've' already put down your light sources. Naturally there will be hue shifting as a surface goes into light or shadow, so you have to account for that. Usually once my light layers are down, I go back to my flat color layers and add reds or blues to the shadowed areas.

Hope that helps!
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:iconabetwabe:
Abetwabe Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
gonna practice with all this very shortly. Thanks for the quick response and great amount of information. I will definitely start doing that more. Adding reds or blues to the shadows too.
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:iconthe-leander:
the-Leander Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is gorgeous! I may never end up actually getting around to it, but this really inspires me to try a new way of coloring. Seeing peoples' processes is always so wonderful; thanks for sharing yours!
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:iconivannamatilla:
IvannaMatilla Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you very much for this. I have one question (in fact, I have more but I don't want to abuse your patience.) What's the meaning of "subsurface scattering"? I read Artsammich 's tutorials, and he mentions the same, but I can't understand what it is. Thank you again!
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2014  Professional
Subsurface scattering is when light travels inside or through translucent objects. For instance, when you put your hand over a light and you can see a red glow in your skin, that's what we're talking about! Adding it to skin in select spots, usually next to brightly lit areas, really helps bring it to life
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:iconivannamatilla:
IvannaMatilla Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for the swift response! I understand it now.
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2014  Professional
Anytime!
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:iconrifthebit:
RifTheBit Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014   Digital Artist
cool :la: 
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:iconjhaoshshin:
JhaoShShin Featured By Owner Sep 27, 2014
Thank you for your kindness to breakdown the secret and let other people to understand this type of brand new coloring technique, thank you very much.

I'm kinda like this type of 2D mixing with 2.5D technique, you've reference and borrow the 3D rendering formula and bring it back to your original work, AO(ambient occlusion) and GI(global illumination) is a very good technology for lighting and coloring, the realism of photography and 3DRender is mixing with the traditional painting, it looks beautiful and real.

So, because I'm zero sense in coloring, I'm gonna just give a quick question for AO to flat color stage.
I'm guessing flat color is basically key color and combining a little shift of color in the shadow and bright area, change hue, saturation, brightness to fit the situation, and then use blend mod to make two piece work with each other, right?

Thank you for your time, very inspiring and helpful tutorial indeed, big appreciate!
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2014  Professional
Yes that's correct, shifting the hue in the bright areas is key. I'm glad this was helpful!
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:iconkoogleblitz:
Koogleblitz Featured By Owner Edited Aug 14, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
how did you get rid of the lineart?
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2014  Professional
Line art was on it's own layer, so I simply made it invisible once it was no longer needed
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:iconscylla225:
Scylla225 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I am really impressed and intrigued by how you shade. Usually I see tutorials and think "Oh, I'll be able to do that with more experience...", but this is something entirely new. Thanks for showing your process! I'll try to use ambient occlusion now.

A question about the line panel, though: Are those your seven line passes being shown and the final lines are those shown in the flat colors panel? The flat's lines look noticeably cleaner.
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014  Professional
It's an intriguing process!

The lines in the Flat Color panel are the same as the (barely visible) lines in the Ambient Occlusion panel, so yeah those have been cleaned up to their final look.
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:iconscylla225:
Scylla225 Featured By Owner Aug 11, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Okay, I see them. Thank you!
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:iconarchsider:
Archsider Featured By Owner Aug 8, 2014  Professional General Artist
love occlusion <3
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:iconyasasu:
Yasasu Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014  Student Digital Artist
After Light sources step, its like you put the Artwork in a magic Hat, Shake it and PUFF post production is DONE.... im very depresed now TT
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014  Professional
The post-production isn't as crazy as it looks! Just some color adjustment, quick lighting effects and a little rendering.
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:iconyasasu:
Yasasu Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Thanks for reply. I think your art is amazing and yes, that tutorial was helpfull. But the trick is in that step, that make the diference.
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:iconcrspiderman:
CRSpiderman Featured By Owner Jul 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Fantastic. Thanks for the pointers. Although, even your you're thumbnail looks better than my finished pieces.
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:iconshi-yin:
Shi-Yin Featured By Owner Jul 10, 2014  Student General Artist
Wooooaaahh!!
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:iconshanghaislave:
ShanghaiSlave Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2014  Student Digital Artist
"Don't zoom in or worry about details."

uh, the thumbnail looks pretty detailed. So I'm getting mixed messages on this part...

The thumbnail looks something like what the final (grayscale) would be if done with minimal effort or by someone with less skill or confidence.

so my question is, just how "detailed" are we supposed to go? just the basic values without embellishments?
______________

"Ambient occlusion"

I reckon this is what caused the "flat colors" part to have shifting hues?
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2014  Professional
The goal of the thumbnails is to put your ideas on canvas as fast and efficiently as possible, so that you can do a lot of them. I only needed one for Terra, but usually I need more — 5, sometimes 10+. When you're doing that many, you want to flesh them out just enough to get your point across and not much beyond that. This thumbnail looks detailed value-wise because I wanted lighting to be the major focus of the piece, and needed to figure out as much as I could early on. However, I didn't zoom in at all, nor really render out the hair, etc. Tend to the core things that matter for the piece, and save the rest for later in the process.

For the flat colors, you mostly shift the hues based on the light source. A surface being hit by light will change in color. The ambient occlusion is the shadowing that exists regardless of light source, so you don't have to factor that into your flat colors much.

Hope that helps!
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:icontjjoovel:
TJJoovel Featured By Owner Jun 25, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Very nice! Whish i could draw like that
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:iconkeem-toon:
Keem-Toon Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
It aways awesome to see the process work of those who can paint at this level. This really helps a lot.
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:iconcelesoran:
CelesOran Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I get it..... it FINALLY GET IT!!! 

You know that moment.. when no matter what you do or how others try to explain/show you just can't seem to put "one and two" together, and then someone says or does something in SUCH a way that this CLICK goes off in your head and you finally understand.

Yeah...

I don't know why but the way you do this process makes sense, THANK YOU for making it!!!
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:icontsuaii:
tsuaii Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2014  Professional
I'm glad it helped!
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:iconherlambangjati:
herlambangjati Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What techniques do you use? I'd love to learn
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:icondusk-of-angels:
Dusk-of-Angels Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
This was really helpful! thank you :)
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:iconmooncat1992:
mooncat1992 Featured By Owner May 30, 2014  Student General Artist
I've never seen ambient occlusion applied to a digital painting before!!! It looks amazing!!!! 
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:iconbeefxcake:
BeefxCake Featured By Owner May 29, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
DAT SHADING GOOD LORD
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:iconqpmjcv:
qpmjcv Featured By Owner May 29, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your work is awesome"
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:icontaerkitty:
taerkitty Featured By Owner May 15, 2014
Very detailed (the image and the steps.)  Thanks for sharing - I never really considered occlusion as a separate step and tried to do that as part of the initial steps.  Very useful for that alone!
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:iconfavilla89:
Favilla89 Featured By Owner May 12, 2014   General Artist
Beautiful ^__^
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:iconormille:
Ormille Featured By Owner May 6, 2014  Student Filmographer
yes thank you so much <33
learning from the best ! :D
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