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Need coloring help.

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I have been spending some time reading and studying as much about coloring as I can. I had a vector bug for a little while but I've sort of progressed to a more digital painting fever now. I'm still very interested in learning all I can about vector but right now I'm really into digital painting and especially interested in learning a painterly technique style. I have made my own textures, I have made my own brushes and even downloaded ones that I like. But now what? I have been spending quite a bit of time trying to figure it out and I just don't seem to be progressing very much. I want to be able to color, shade, and highlight so that my images don't look boring and flat but still have a sort of cartoony look to them. Does that make sense? I'm including a couple of images to show you what I've done. One is the original sketch but I changed it because it didn't look right to me. The second one, the colored one is finished but not nearly at the level I want it to be. I feel like there's a lot that's missing I just don't know how to add it. Or what I should add to begin with. I'm stuck.

#1 - August 19, 2013, 09:54 AM

OddBerry- I would suggest looking into tutorials on 'cel-shading'. Cel-shading is what they use in traditional animation, and it works very well with cartoony styles. A quick example of what I mean is used in this tutorial:
If you want to go softer with it, there's also something called 'soft cel-shading', which there are tutorials for, as well.

From there, I would research into color harmony and color schemes. Try to set a specific and limited set of colors to use in a picture, and think about how they balance. Or, just look at artists you admire and see what color sets they use for similar lighting situations until you get comfortable picking your own. (This is something I still have trouble with - colors and color planning  :pullhair: There's a lot to learn about it.) I would also suggest look into lighting rules - some of the basics that I've found helpful are to remember that if the lighting is a warm color, the shadow will be a cool color, and vice versa. A book I've found to be super, super helpful (even if it is out of my depth in the realism painting respects), is James Gurney's 'Color and Light' book. It's well-written, and it has a wealth of practical info and knowledge. His other book 'Imaginative Realism' is also worth checking out.

Also, sometimes 'toning' your color helps. In painting that would mean that you were taking one color to mix into all the other colors you were using, to 'unite' them visually. So, like taking a light tan color and mixing a little of it into everything. It makes everything more harmonious (and in the case of the light tan, would give it an old photo type of color scheme). So, the way I like to do that in Photoshop is usually to create a layer on top of the other colors (but under the lineart) and bucket fill it with the color I want to tone with. Then I lower the opacity until it's not overpowering the other colors, just tinting them. That doesn't work with every illustration, but it helps to start figuring out what makes colors and tones work well together.

Hopefully some of that helps?
#2 - August 19, 2013, 04:10 PM

Also, I forgot to mention that the flat feeling you were talking about is probably also partially caused by the tangents in the lineart. A tangent is whenever something lines up with something else or almost touches something and causes visual tension. Often it causes a picture to lose depth. The two tangents I noticed that are messing with your depth are where the bottom of the girl's skirt lines up perfectly with the ground and where the rabbit's foreleg also lines up perfectly with the ground (as well as the belly lines on the rabbit all meeting at the groundline, too). Lowering the groundline a little would help.
#3 - August 19, 2013, 04:16 PM

Google is your friend.

I searched "children's illustrations" and on the first page found something 'similar' to what you're doing. Maybe take a look at how this illustrator added depth with changes in saturation and value:
#4 - August 26, 2013, 12:23 AM

Also just try stuff. Experiment and see what appeals to you.

I've been working on my book for a year now and my blog is full of various tests trying to nail down how I want things to look.
#5 - August 26, 2013, 12:29 AM

Artist Obscure
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Not sure if you are still having trouble with this! One thing that I can see is that you need to get some shadows in there. This may be part of the reason you are feeling flat. I also agree with Golden Bird. There are a couple of issues with the line drawings that are causing problems with your coloured versions. Most problems people have with colour (though I know a lot of yours are technical too) come from having issues with the line drawings. I think the original drawings are cute! If you want a little more depth with your drawing you should add more of a background and muddy/wash out the colours a bit in the background so that the focus is on the characters.

The best link I can give you is: Yes, most of the work here is character design and in a whole different genre to what you are doing. There is also invaluable advice in the resources and software/hardware sections of this site. Good luck!
#6 - September 23, 2013, 11:52 PM


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