I know that a lot of people are struggling with coloring in Adobe Photoshop. I am a member of a lot of digital painting communities on Facebook, and most of the questions people are posting are things like; ‘‘How do I color XYZ? How to color shadow? How to blend, etc.’’ Instead of answering every question separately, I decided to create a blog post (and Skillshare class, which we will discuss later) to help other artists out. So now, when people are telling me they are struggling with coloring, I can point them to this blog post.
I am a huge fan of creating digital art. When I just started out with digital painting, I got a Wacom tablet, and I hoped that everything would turn out perfect at my first try. Not!
Let’s just place my very first digital drawing and my latest one next to each other.
As you can see, I have improved a lot. I have learned some new techniques, I watched more tutorials, and I screwed up over a hundred times. But, if I didn’t do all of these things, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
I learned digital painting by trial and error. I think the greatest artists learned it this way. But it doesn’t mean that you have to. I made these mistakes, so you don’t have to. Actually, I am telling you all the steps you should take for coloring your digital art like a pro in Adobe Photoshop right in this blog post.
And after you are done with reading these tips, you can implement all the color techniques step by step with my Skillshare class. In this class, I have recorded every tip, trick and strategy (So basically I have recorded every damn brush stroke) that will show you how you can color your digital art. This class is straightforward and easy to implement. You can use this link to watch it for free for the upcoming 60 days.
More info about this class at the end of this blog post. I first recommend you to read the blog post before you dive into the course.
Okay, now, let me show you the steps I am using for coloring my digital paintings in Adobe Photoshop.
1. Knowing the importance of good coloring
The first thing we need to do before we are going to create the actual drawing is understanding color. You should know when you need to use certain colors, and when you shouldn’t.
Using the right colors can help you by adding a particular dimension to your art. It will also make sure that every aspect of your digital painting is in harmony.
But, using the wrong colors can also break your digital paintings. Watch the video below to learn everything about using the right colors, and how colors work.
2. Knowing how colors behave on different objects
Colors act different on different shapes. By that, I mean that the lighting and the shadow is changed on a sphere than on a cube.
Why am I telling you this? Because when you are coloring different shapes, you should keep in mind that your coloring technique matches the shape you are coloring.
If you are using coloring techniques for a cube on a sphere, your sphere will look off, and not realistic.
Below, I have a video where I will be showing you exactly what I mean. After this, you will look different at basic coloring shapes.
3. How to choose + Set up a good color palette
Now we have learned how important color is, and specific coloring techniques for specific shapes; it is time to select the colors you want to work with. Now, we are going to create a color palette.
What do you want to attract? Want to attract happiness, use bright colors. Want a depressing drawing? Use dark and low-saturated colors.
Colors add dimension. If you want to add more dimension, don’t just work your way up from light to dark. This will cause a dull effect in your drawing, and it will not add any dimension. Instead, play with the saturation and colors when you are going to build your color palette. Don’t just color pick, but add another color that compliments your palette a little.
4. Start by adding the base colors:
Now that you have chosen your color palette, it is time to actually fill your artwork with these colors. If you have checked out the image above, you know that you should create multiple shades of one color.
When I am filling my artwork with colors, I always choose the middle color of the palette to fill my work with.
I am always filling my work first to see if the colors are in harmony with each other. After I am satisfied, I am proceeding to the next step.
5. Everything is made out of basic shapes
Before we are going to actually color your digital art, we are going to take one final step: Understanding that everything is made out of basic shapes.
We are going to recognize the basic shapes in your digital artwork. This will help you identify which color techniques you should use for each shape.
If you would like an in-depth guide about this, you should definitely check out my Skillshare class, where I will teach you how you can recognize those basic shapes instantly.
6. How to build up your colors
It is finally time for coloring your digital art! In this phase, we are going to build up your colors. We are going to add highlights and shadows from your color palette.
From here, you will see your character coming more and more to life with every brush stroke you create. In my opinion, this is my absolute favorite part of coloring. I just love it to see how everything is coming together.
By adding highlights and shadows, your artwork will have more dimension, and it won't look flat anymore.
If you want to know all the techniques I use for the color building, adding highlights, and shadows; You should definitely watch my Skillshare class! Use this link to get 2 free months!
7. How to blend colors without looking like an amateur
After you have built up your colors, it is time for mixing them. This step is optional. Most of the time, I don’t blend because I already create a color transition when building up colors. But, sometimes it can be hard to mix colors without using the blending brush tool. That is when blending colors come in handy!
A mistake a lot of beginners make is blending EVERY aspect of the digital painting. If you do that, your art is looking flat and kinda boring, because it has less texture and harmony in it.
In my Skillshare class, I am going to explain how to blend colors, and how you should not stay in your comfort zone by mixing everything. I will show them how to add contrast, and how to blend correctly without blending things away.
8. How to add rough edges
When you have completed mixing colors, chances are that your digital painting starts looking dull again. Or maybe you just have the feeling something is missing.
Your digital artwork needs hard edges. Hard edges are some dark shadows in your digital art that will add more of a realistic look.
When you are adding rough edges, also make sure to add object shading. To know how to add object shading, you should check out my Skillshare class.
You need rough edges to add more contrast to your digital painting. If you only just blend every shadow, your digital art will lack dimension, and it will look plain. If you add hard edges, it will look more alive.
9. Cleaning up your line art
This is also another step that is optional; Cleaning up your line art. If you like it when the lines are visible in your art, you don’t have to remove the line art.
If you want to get rid of them, you should consider recoloring your line art. When you are recoloring your line art, you are actually making the line art ‘’disappear’’. If you want to go for the realistic digital painting look, cleaning up your line art is definitely an option you should consider.
Want to learn how to clean up your line art? I have a Skillshare class for that! Watch it for free for the upcoming 60 days.
10. Adding Backlight, textures and color dodge
Now it is time for the icing on the cake; Polishing your digital art. In this step, we are going to add more shading and highlights, textures, backlight, etc.
This will make sure that your digital drawing is going…
If you want to know exactly how to do this, you should check out my Skillshare class. Inside this class, you can steal my strategies for coloring your artwork in Adobe Photoshop. It is kind of a ''paint along'' course, where you can literally copy every step I take when I am coloring my artwork.
These are all the steps I take when I am coloring my digital paintings like a pro in Photoshop. But there is one thing that made me think. Explaining to you what you need to do to color your digital art is one thing. But how about teaching you how to actually coloring your digital artwork?
Well, I have great news for you! I have recorded every tip, trick, and strategies I am using, and I created a Skillshare course from it.
The Skillshare course is called how to color your digital art in Adobe Photoshop, and here I explain how I go from line art to digital painting in 2.5 hours of video content.
This course is straightforward and easy to implement. Throughout the course, we are going to color the character pictured above. You can paint along with me the entire class. This means you can copy every brush stroke. Speaking of brush strokes…
If you use this link, you can watch the course for free for the upcoming 60 days. And not to mention, you can also watch every other class on Skillshare for free for the next 60 days. Just use this link, and you are good to go!
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