Am I to stupid to color my greyscale work?!

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  03 March 2009
Am I to stupid to color my greyscale work?!

I never been able to color any of my greyscale work and i've been trying for years now. It would be nice to have some help.

So I got my greyart work on multiply

Then the skin on color

And the hair on color as well

And seriusly, the coloring is so ugly that i'm about to kill myself right now. Anyone who would want to stop me from killing myself? Anybody?
  03 March 2009
You're doing it the hard way.

I recommend making your grayscale your base layer. Layer(s) above set to color mode. There's more to it but that should keep you on a "less hard" way.

Alternatively, colorize your grayscale layer in hue sliders or color balance to establish either an overall undercolor or local base color (but split parts, so a layer for hair another for skin, etc.). If you don't understand this second paragraph just practive more in my first suggestion above until you figure out how blend modes work.

Additionaly, pencil hatches makes for a poor represenation of tones or light/shadow if you're going for the monochrome photoshop way of starting your paintings. Either blend your pencil tones more or blend them in photoshop. Just add an overlay at the end if you still want to inlcude your sketch.

Multiply is usually advisable if it's a clean line drawing...and you color underneath.
  03 March 2009
The problem isn't that coloring greyscale is bad or hard--it looks more to me like your basic art foundation isn't quite strong enough to make it look good. I'm not sure what the effect you're going for is, but a very light and undefined pencil sketch usually doesn't work as well as a piece that has all the values fully defined. With the sketch you have now, you can try treating the coloring more like watercolor washes, but anything stronger than that will completely overpower your drawing because there isn't enough of a dynamic range of values in your drawing.

Which layer to use as the color layer or the multiply layer or normal layer isn't as important since the results are pretty much identical. I personally prefer to put a colorize or multiply layer on top of the B/W layer, depending on whether I have the monochromatic version fully worked out in terms of the entire value range.
  03 March 2009
So I draw a portrait of a picture (greyscale)

And then I made seperate layers for lips, skin and eyes, and made those 3 layers to 'multiply' while having the greyscale on normal.

And then I putted them together

And I hate the result.

Originally Posted by Pinoy McGee: Alternatively, colorize your grayscale layer in hue sliders or color balance to establish either an overall undercolor or local base color (but split parts, so a layer for hair another for skin, etc.). If you don't understand this second paragraph just practive more in my first suggestion above until you figure out how blend modes work.

So that was the 'less hard' part i guess. Now and

Now I use CTRL+U(hue slider) with the box 'color' checked only moving the hue slider.
Then I use CTRL+B(color balance) and on shadow= more to blue (thinking the sky is blue, so it makes shadows blue). On midtones, i keep it grey. And on highlights, i make it go more yellow because the sun is yellow, right?
So then I get this result

But I think it's getting better somehow, well, i like the mouth alot. But I want to have full controll =(. I saw on a imagineFX issue articel about an artist who showed how he made his art. He did it like this it says:

1.He makes a fine lineart.
2.Blocking in the colour, he makes them like seperate layers or something, also uses them as masks it says.
3.then he makes a Light pass. Where he makes everything black and white, as in puts in the main light so it's like a greyscale work.
4.then he puts on the second light coming from a magic staff/wand which.
5. seperating light from shadows.
6.creating the coloured lightning. He makes highlight yellow, and shadow desatured purple.
7. combines the layers, AND GET AN AMAZING ARTWORK!!

But the other thing is that he now have full controll on the lightning.
He can create diffrent moods on the painting. So he can fill (i guess) shadow color with blue, or with purple, och light desaturaded purple or dark green. And he shows not only that, he shows also how he can make the highlight to an other color too. And the most amazing thing: he can make the magic staff/wand lightning to ANY COLOR HE WANTS, i mean, wow, that even deserves the capslock button on. Then he shows how he makes it even look better in other steps, but i'm not intressted in those steps now because i can't even make these steps so far, i fail so hard, damn!

So please, help me more before i pick up the gun again, much apprichiated!
  03 March 2009
If you are using multiple layers of colors on top of your monochromatic layer, you should not be using Multiply but use Color instead, because on Multiply the layers will overlap in an additive manner and get darker where they overlap, but with Color, they retain their value and only the color changes.

Looking at the examples you just posted, it become more clear that the problem isn't necessarily workflow, but a weakness in your art foundation knowledge/skills. Starting with your monochromatic layer there's already problems--the bottom lip shape is wrong, the eyelid rendering is done carelessly. Your color layer also has inherent problems--first of all, colors are not constant across an entire area--there are both subtle and dramatic color shifts that makes something look real and organic. The skin is not just one color--there are some areas with more fat on the surface thus cooler color temperature, and there are veins close to some surface which will have even cooler colors, then there are areas that can get much warmer such as the cheeks, ears, nose...etc. Also the main light source and the secondary light source could have different color temperatures as well. Also keep in mind that often the value changes in a color will also have hue and saturation changes, and often the most saturated spots are at the terminator (area between the brighter and darker values)--just where the form shadow is about to start (this is because the color is not blown out by highlights or obscured by shadows).

I'll see if I have time to do a quick demonstration to show you what I mean. I'm in the middle of packing for a trip but I might find some free time.

BTW, I'm going to be teaching a workshop right here at cgsociety soon and it will cover this topic as well as many other critical knowledge and techniques for today's digital artists.

Last edited by Lunatique : 03 March 2009 at 07:04 AM.
  03 March 2009
OK, here are some quickie examples I painted during lunch (actually, I hate painting and eating at the same time, so I am going to eat after I finished this post). They are not perfect since they are just quickies, but I think they are enough to demonstrate my points.

So first, I did some correction to your monochromatic layer. Since your original version is pretty much a blown up version of the photo with your own execution of values, I just did some quick corrections like the bottom lip shape, the eyelid, eyebrow...etc, and then I blew up the original photo and overlayed it at about 50% and added some smart blur to get rid of the noise artifacts:

Next, is with the color layer--it's just one layer set to Color:

And here's the Color layer by itself:

Notice that colors are not constant in realism--there is always some shifting of hue and saturation happening. First of all, too much saturation is a common mistake made by novice artists--they don't realize the colors in real life are not nearly as saturated as they think. Also know that when it comes to skin tone, skin that is stretched tightly over a bony area will have cooler colors (for example, the brow ridge is all bone underneath with no muscles) Also areas with muscles and flesh in general at certain angles will allow light to pass through and the blood/flesh we faintly see through the skin will be very warm in hue.

Now, here's another approach--to add a secondary blue light on the left:

Here's the color layer by itself:

And here's turning the main light into a blue one, and the secondary right into a red one:

And the color layer by itself:

As you can see, color choices when under various colored light sources can almost be arbitrary, as long as you are consistently following the light source color and lighting directions. The highlight areas reflect the light source very clearly and you see the closest hue to the actual light source. As the contour changes angle, the influence of the colored light source will start to fade, but if there's another color light source on the opposite side, it'll take on the secondary color at the strongest when facing that secondary color light source.

In the grand scheme of things, Values are always more important than colors. Jumbled colors with correct values will still make sense visually, but the opposite is never true.

Last edited by Lunatique : 03 March 2009 at 05:51 PM.
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by xX_eXiGe_Xx: And I hate the result.

I did say "there's more to it" in my first post.

If you've gone that far in coloring, there's more...a lot more to bring it to a higher level of finish.

Again I preface by saying "there's more to it". The next steps that you could do is to image adjust your current results.

Add adjustment layers. Particularly levels and color balance.

But I agree with Lunatique re: skill level. We're now going into an intermediate level. Even if you follow a pro's recipe for painting you'll still most likely end up with a crappy painting.

Start with the simplest methods you can understand. And build from there (practice and study).

Good luck.
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by Pinoy McGee: But I agree with Lunatique re: skill level. We're now going into an intermediate level. Even if you follow a pro's recipe for painting you'll still most likely end up with a crappy painting.

This is actually something that's been on my mind a lot lately--that for novice artists, they cannot tell the difference between a problem that is simply due to ignorance of a particular workflow or tool, or what's really their lack of art foundation knowledge/skill. The fact novice artists aren't equipped with the necessary knowledge/skill to understand the difference makes it very difficult for seasoned artists to explain why they are asking the wrong questions and what they think is important is actually only a symptom of something far deeper rooted in the lack of overall foundational knowledge/skill. This is the reason why I spend so much time hammering home the idea to young artists that they must strengthen their foundation knowledge/skills first and foremost before they try anything fancy. Today's society of disposable entertainment and immediate gratification has shaped a whole generation of young people who can't understand or appreciate the idea of paying one's dues, and I think it'll only get worse as we now have a generations that was born with the internet and so many free things are available to them, with a vast majority of that free content experienced out of context and thus unappreciated and misunderstood. More than ever we need structured learning that will help young artists put all this free content in the correct context.
  03 March 2009
one suggestion I would like to forward is trying to make a painting once a day, it wouldn't matter if it looked crap because if you did it after year that means you practiced over 300 times,as long as you are applying what you learned over from what you read in books and tutorials, it will improve

someone once said that that the more you learn and study about something intently,
the more you realize you know so little, I would have agree with that man, it would be in the best interest to start acquiring as much as you would know to make you better

Last edited by derwonder : 03 March 2009 at 10:30 AM.
  03 March 2009
Hey Lunatique,

Thanks for the great info, as always. I was wondering if you could fill us in at all about the CG Society class you have in the works. As in a possible date and what the class would entail. If you can't officially say anything yet that's cool, I'll be keeping my eyes open for it Thanks again.
  03 March 2009
Originally Posted by fattkid: Hey Lunatique,

Thanks for the great info, as always. I was wondering if you could fill us in at all about the CG Society class you have in the works. As in a possible date and what the class would entail. If you can't officially say anything yet that's cool, I'll be keeping my eyes open for it Thanks again.

It's been in the works for a long time now--I actually started it years ago and never really finished it, and I thought it'd be a shame to not finish it, so I decided to give it one more push to get it done. The title will be "Creating Compelling Images: Critical Knowledge and Skills For Today's Artists."

Essentially, it contains all the most important knowledge and skills I've ever picked up as an artist in the past 23 years. If I could travel back in time in a time machine and teach my younger self all the stuff I wish I had known back then, these would be the very things I'd teach myself. This workshop is very different from the typical workshops out there because it doesn't just tackle one particular production skill or painting just one thing--it covers everything and anything, with the core lessons teaching students how to both understand and create compelling images that actually has visual impact, emotional resonance, or simply just entertaining to look at. The main chapters will cover abstract and straightforward narrative in images, deconstructing composition, demystifying lighting and colors for maximum creative control, analyzing and applying stylization, effective expressiveness in figures and facial expressions, surface polish/finishing touch, streamlined/flexible/efficient workflow, maximum workflow control over complex lighting and colors, common pitfalls, how to troubleshoot your own work, making images that matter to you personally and has worth beyond simply being cool, injecting emotions and narrative into even the most boring premises and scenes (like car render or architecture and product visualizations), and much, much more.

Needless to say, there is so much content crammed into the course that I've had to extend it by a week, and even then it's still bursting at the seams--I could easily separate the course out into 5 or 6 different courses. It'll be a very intense 9 weeks and anyone deciding to take the course will have so much information to soak up, and all that information are some of the most essential ones you'll ever come across in your artistic growth because they are universal truths, and will stay with you for the rest of your artistic journey. I'm basically trying to teach technical skill and theory and creative thinking and production workflow all at the same time, and making sure that every single piece of information is highly useful and vital to any student's artistic growth. I guess you can call it a bootcamp for students who are very passionate and serious about becoming an artist that is smarter, more efficient, more expressive, more creative, and more skilled than they have ever been. I'm pouring my heart and soul into this workshop--I treat it like if I were to die in a few months and I only have 9 weeks to teach the next generation of artists all the most important stuff I know as an artist. So yeah, it's a very special workshop to me, and I hope for those who will sign up for it as well.

Last edited by Lunatique : 03 March 2009 at 07:31 AM.
  04 April 2009

So I tried it, and it went alright, i understood what was up with the colours a little. But on the second time it went much better! But I have no idea how to do this with real life colours. But it feels good to color my grayscale work!! I ow you my life Lunatique, you saved me tons of money, i was so desperate to learn to paint that I was ready to sacrefise to go to an art school (and on that art school; the art isn't good at all compared to people here!). So now I'm thinking "what should i do with 6000$+food for 2 years$ of education i just saved?", i should give them all to you !haha! THANKS!! Thanks for saving me from wasting 2 years and money, you rock!
  04 April 2009
You're welcome.

If you thought this was helpful, you might want to consider the workshop I'm going to be teaching (mentioned in my previous post). It'll contain tons of other very helpful stuff like this, but covering so much more.
  04 April 2009
I'll consider it, i'll be keeping my eyes on you!
  04 April 2009
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