How to prevent an image from being too dark

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  01 January 2015
How to prevent an image from being too dark

I find i have to do alot of nighttime based paintings in photoshop but the problem is I always seem to be getting too dark the minute I start adding overlays and such. Is there a solution to preventing this from your experience?

NOTE: I also work on a cintiq with the brightness down to help my eyes, and when I turn the brightness back up the image is too light or too washed out. It's sorta of hard painting on the computer these kinds of night images for me because of that.
  01 January 2015
It'll be much more helpful if you post example images of this problem you're describing, so we can troubleshoot the images.
  01 January 2015
Originally Posted by Lunatique: It'll be much more helpful if you post example images of this problem you're describing, so we can troubleshoot the images.

Yeah I wish. I cant show the recent images I've been having this problem with though Im afraid. Images are coming out either too washed out, or too dark because they are night time scenes and my screen brightness is lowered to protect my eyes. I suppose the best thing I can do is wait till I have a better setup and can use 2 monitors to help me judge better. Right now Im sorta forced to use cintiq as my primary monitor.
  01 January 2015
When I'm doing any kind of critical visual work, I set my monitor to optimal dynamic range/brightness. This is critical because it's just like when doing critical audio work as a recording/mixing/mastering engineer--you must have a playback system that gives you the most dynamic range, highest fidelity, and optimal volume level.

If you don't set your monitor to optimal levels when doing visual work (such as too dark, too bright, too low in contrast, etc), you'll overcompensate for it and create problems later, just like how if your speakers/headphones sound too muffled, you'll end up adding too much high frequency detail to the audio to compensate and end up with results that sound too shrill/sibilant/harsh.

You don't have to turn your monitor down low due to too much brightness on the screen. What you do instead, is that in stages of your work when there's a lot of white blank canvas area still, you use a medium gray flat background to keep the overall canvas's brightness lower. And in your OS and software GUI, use a theme (or create a custom one) that is medium to dark so you don't have really bright GUI on your screen.

Then you need to calibrate your monitor/Cintiq with a good hardware calibration device such as X-Rite's i1Display (generally better than the Spyder products).

Also, it helps a lot to have a way to quickly switch between monitor presets. I have four presets I jump between constantly, depending on what I'm doing at the moment (browsing the web, watching a movie, writing novels, doing photo editing, painting, etc). The first preset is at 0% brightness and 25% contrast. The 2nd preset is at 0% brightness and 35% contrast. The 3rd preset at 0% brightness and 75% contrast, and 4th preset at 100% brightness and 50% contrast. The fourth one gives me the most dynamic range and is what I use when doing critical visual work.

Your ambient environment matters too. You need to have diffused light source in your room (must not be able to see the light source--it'll cause glare), and your monitor brightness must match the average brightness of the room as seen in your field of view when sitting at your computer. Neither one should be brighter/darker than the other, or you'll get eye strain. Ideally, if you are working in daylight, your window should not be within your field of vision--ideally you want it just outside of your peripheral vision (such as a window to your side, or slightly behind you). You don't want it directly behind you or else it'll create a reflection on your monitor. If at night, you want your light source (such as a lamp) to be pointing up at the ceiling and then getting soft, diffused lighting bouncing down from the ceiling. You want to have the light source higher than your eyes so when sitting down, you cannot see the glaring bright light bulb (ideally you want it higher than your head when standing up too, so you won't walk around the room and have the light bulb glare in your eyes).
  01 January 2015
Wow what great info! That really made things clear for me.
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