So, you´ve got Photoshop for Christmas...

eliseu gouveiaeliseu gouveia Registered User regular
edited January 2008 in Artist's Corner
Or maybe it was your birthday? ^_~

Before you start posting artwork on Deviantart, can I interest you in a little diagram I cooked?


I love fanart.
I really do.
Very few things in my internet life give me as much pleasure as scouting for the next Adam Hughes. I genuinely want to be impressed and inspired by you.
I want to be dazzled by your personal interpretation of Katara, the way you draw Juggernaut or your awesome portrayal of Malcolm Reynolds.
But when we get down to it, very few times does it really manage to catch my attention.
So, I thought I could help you improve your coloring skills if only for a tiny fraction.
I am no coloring expert and color is a new territory for me as well, but there´s a couple Do´s and Don´ts I picked up over the years that can perhaps help you - and me- in our way to become the next Linda Bergkvist.

Once you go Black...
Just so you don´t think I´m trying to sound cooler-than-thou, look at the pic below. This was me at my very beginning (which was not so long ago).


So, now you know. Everyone had to toddle before they could sit down in front of a keyboard/wacom tablet. ^_^

If you are coloring your first pages and you dream of becoming a coloring pro, my first advice is ... cheer up!
Leave the dark colors be.
If there´s one certainty in life is that Printer Houses hate you. No matter how amazing your work is, they will find a way to mess the prints so that the final page will look less than what you had envisioned.
So, don´t make their work easy!!
Their first habit is picking the dark colours you´ve painted into your page and dragging them AAAALL the way down. If something is dark on your computer screen, it will look twice as dark in the final print.If something is brown, it will be pitch black when the copies hit the shelves.
That little girl in that page? She would vanish if this page ever saw print. Morphed into a shapeless black whole.
Always keep this in perspective.
If you have a dark object in your page, work it!
You can leave everything else flat but the dark object.
Give it shape and form, highlight it, make it bounce some ambient light.
Just don´t leave it as a dark thing in the pannel because it will look like a blot on paper.

The goggles.. they do nothing!
My second advice is.. stay away from the saturated colors for now.
If you have to use them, less is more.
If colors were sounds, saturated colors would be screams.
They´d grab your attention alright, but after a while you´d grow numb of it- nobody likes to be yelled at all the time. Leave the saturated colors for the SPLASH! That key moment or detail when you want the reader to be mesmerised.
Never-ever-EVER!! do this:


Hitting the viewer in the face with a 4X4 spectacle of color and rage may seem cool (to you), but steering his eye through contrasts of hues and tints goes a long way to keeping him glued to the page.

Gray is not a color
I know how dumb that sounds, but believe me, for a Photoshop beginner, it holds true.
Often, coloring n00bs will have the reflex to reach for the gray when they don´t know what color to apply to an object.
I know this. Hell, I was one of them once.
But unless you´re making an artistic statement, gray rarely ever looks good in a colored page, it´s like inviting Aunt Mavis for your Spring Break boobapallozza.
If you don´t know what color an object is, look around it.
Think in terms of light instead of color. Is there an incandescent light tinting everything it touches with a subtle yellow hue? A computer screen making everything it touches look blueish and techy?
Don´t just reach for the left side of the palette.
What object is this? Is it a machine? Machines are made of metal. Metal is cold. Maybe a slight blue hint?
Or maybe it´s plastic? An almost umperceptible salmon shade could probably help.

Notice the paramedics in the distance. They probably wear gray shirts. But there´s also a blue light bouncing off of them, making the overal seem more harmonious.
Heck, look at the foreground.
Julian´s wristpiece is metal. You can see this just by looking at it even though it´s been colored blue.
So, until you´ve mastered your craft, know that in a colored page, very few things look good in gray.

FREEZE!Step away from that brush!
Last but not least, I wanted to say a word about brushes. Namely the airbrush. They are not your friends. In Photoshop, the airbrush look is an abomination.
It looks artificial, machine made. Don´t use it.
Never EVER.
Especialy if you´ve only just begun learning your tool.
Here´s a cautionary example from someone who didn´t know any better:

I´m not gonna bother trying to find out the official english term for this (heck, I still haven´t found a portuguese word for "cross-hatching" in all these years ^_^), but believe me, the normal brush stroke is still one of the best creations in 2D computer graphics history.

Aim for the natural brush stroke.
Try to emulate the traditional medium look as much as possible.

And that´s about all I can think of right now.
Sorry if I sounded a bit mean, I´m just a guy who wants to see a cool Katara/Jean Grey/Taki fanart masterpiece once in a while.
Politeness would have me say "go out there and try to have fun", but I´ve already seen what you come up with when you´re trying to have fun, Photoshop n00bie.
The pleasure is only yours.
So, instead I will say "Go out there and try to surpass The Masters".

eliseu gouveia on


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    MKRMKR Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
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    NakedZerglingNakedZergling A more apocalyptic post apocalypse Portland OregonRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    good stuff

    NakedZergling on
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    MagicToasterMagicToaster JapanRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Setting colors to look similar on screen and print has got to be one of the toughest things on the planet. Even when I'm dealing with pantones I always get some slight variation, be it because of the way they mixed the inks, the calibration of the machines at the press or simply because they're (for some reason) using a different color profile.

    I think sometimes examples are the best. Do you have anything digital and in print that you could show to illustrate how much variation there can be?

    MagicToaster on
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    tracertongtracertong Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Thanks for that chart and the explanation. Can you post a link to some of your recent work for comparison?

    tracertong on
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    Penguin-FactoryPenguin-Factory Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Last but not least, I wanted to say a word about brushes. Namely the airbrush. They are not your friends. In Photoshop, the airbrush look is an abomination.

    I hate the way amateur photoshop users always go for the airbrush. It makes everything look really flat and shoddy.

    By the way, what's up with the gun-toting little girl in those pages?

    Penguin-Factory on
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    Asamof the HorribleAsamof the Horrible Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Nice write up guy, never really thought about the gray area before. I'll keep it in mind when I get to coloring

    and here's to dissuading the cheesey airbrush effect, yay! and yay again!

    Asamof the Horrible on
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    eliseu gouveiaeliseu gouveia Registered User regular
    edited January 2008
    Hey, gang, thanks for the replies, just trying to add my 2 cents.

    I´ve managed to find an old copy of my book so you can compare them side by side and see what I´m talking about.


    Pay no attention to the airbrushed look... I was young, needed the money....

    Penguin, forget about the girl. That book is never seeing print. NEVAAAHH!

    eliseu gouveia on
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    NakedZerglingNakedZergling A more apocalyptic post apocalypse Portland OregonRegistered User regular
    edited January 2008
    again, nice stuff.
    are you still working in comics?
    want to do a short story? lemme know your rates.

    NakedZergling on
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