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~wind syllables
a graphics journal
tutorial | part one 
3rd-Jun-2011 11:26 pm

Tools: Photoshop 7.0
Difficulty: Intermediate? Nothing too complicated, but experience and knowledge of Photoshop is required (mostly of layer blend modes, adjustment layers, and basic tools such as the Pen or Smudge tool).
Notes: Tutorial is image-heavy.
Dedicated to: Annabelle, Zetsu, Jae, Shari, and Laena you enablers you.

... After letting this sit around for a month, I figured I should. Probably post it.

So in short, certain friends of mine are, uh, very persuasive, which ultimately resulted in this. Admittedly, I tend to be horribly vague in explaining things, so I apologize in advance if certain parts are confusing—in which case, feel free to ask for clarification! Also, a lot of what I've learned is actually from other tutorials that I've read over the years, so if any part sounds suspiciously familiar, it may very well be something that I picked up from someone else. o/;

Anyhow, the image I'll be using is this one of Zen Wistal from Akagami no Shirayukihime. Not the greatest quality ever, as you can see in the lines in the hair and clothing, but it'll do. And on that note—this is probably obvious enough already, but I'd advise using as high quality a scan as possible, as it'll result in a higher quality colouring. So if you can get the downloaded version of the chapter, which is generally higher quality from what I've seen, you should do that (compare this scan to this one).

Images have been scaled down—the size I'm actually working with is the same as the original image.

And with that being said, onto the tutorial!

Step 1: Cleaning Up the Scan

First, clean up the scan, which mainly means 'get rid of the screentones'. Or most of the, at least, as there are some screentones where trying to erase them will only mess up your lineart. You'll have to use your judgment there. In this case, though, most of the screentones can be erased without too much trouble. Again, try to keep the lineart as in tact as possible.

For this image, I actually duplicated the layer and set the layer that I was cleaning up to multiply on top of the duplicated layer. This way, I could see the screentones more clearly, as AnS tends to have rather hard-to-see screentones at times. I also darkened the lineart near the bottom where it looked like the scan was fading, though I generally don't have to do that.

The end result:

Step 2: Colouring In the Bases

As the title of the step states, now we fill in the base colours, with each part on a separate layer. If you haven't already, set the lineart layer to multiply. I also fill in the background with a dark-ish blue colour—not because the background's necessarily going to be blue, but so that it's easier to see when I'm colouring in the bases. Against white, it's harder to tell when lighter colours are going outside the lines, which is what the blue is for (and conversely, when I'm colouring in dark colours, that's when I turn the background off). Unless you want to have to go through the trouble of erasing all the extra pixels later, make sure none of the colours bleed into the background.

For this particular image, Zen's outfit doesn't have predetermined colours, so we pretty much have free reign there.

And after much pain with all those annoying little details:

Step 3: Skin

Now for the actual colouring part! Select the skin area by holding down the Ctrl button and clicking on the skin layer. Create a new layer (which I have dubbed skin 2) above it. Choose a shade that's a bit darker and redder than the original skin tone, though be careful not to overdo it. After that, set the brush opacity to about 30%. You'll have to shade over the areas a few times thanks to this, but this allows for better control over how dark the shadows are. For the rest of the tutorial, assume the brush opacity is around there unless otherwise stated.

Now, add your first layer of shadows. Out of all the skin shadow layers that we'll be adding, this one should have the most, as it'll also be the most subtle one once we're done. For his nose, jaw, and ears, I used a hard round brush, using the Smudge Tool (soft round, 60-100% Strength) and the eraser (soft round at roughly 30% opacity) to soften the edges. For the area under his hair as well as blending in the sharper shadows some more, I used a soft round brush. Try using different varieties of brushes to create more interesting effects, as shadows in real life are hardly the same. /o/ Admittedly, with how much I smudge and blend things, you probably can't tell I used different brushes.

Also, this is important: remember where your lighting source is. Some images will come a pre-determined light source, which could be helpful or the opposite. In this case, the light seems to be coming from the top-left, so we'll be shading with that in mind.

Profiles are admittedly not my strong suit when it comes to shading faces, but by the end, the image should be something like this:

Create another layer called skin 3 (and from this point on, just assume that every layer is called _______ < number >, really) with the skin area still selected. Again, select a new colour, slightly darker and redder than the previous one. For the most part, we're just repeating what we did with the last layer, except this time we're not shading in every shadow—just shadows that would be darker than others. In this case, that'd be the area under his hair, nose, inside of his ear, and jaw.

Create another layer and repeat the usual step for choosing the next colour. It's essentially the same as before, but we're dealing mostly with the details this time.

And that's it for the skin shadows! We just need one, final layer for the highlights now, so go and create a new layer for that. Set the brush colour to something a bit lighter than the skin tone, but same opacity as before. Shade in where the skin would be lighter than normal. Personally, I also add highlights in areas where some light would probably be reflected onto from other areas, such as the jaw. This requires either a tablet or a steady hand (or, if you're like me and possess neither, a lot of smudging and erasing |D;).

With that, the skin's just about finished. Zen looks a little sunburnt right now, but that'll be fixed later with the adjustment layers.

Also, for those who didn't get why I kept saying to use redder brushes, that's because it'd look duller if all the shadows were of the same hue, as seen here:


The change is small, but it all comes together in the end.

Step 4: Eyes

After the skin, I generally go to the eyes next (or eye in this case, I suppose), with the first part being the eye whites. Select them and create a new layer above. For the shadows, I use a bluish grey tone. I also tend to be subtler with the shadows here and do them all on the same shadow layer, since they shouldn't be especially prominent.

Once we're done with that, lower the opacity of both the eye white base and the shadows layer by 15-20% to help them blend in with the skin more.

Now, for the actual eye(s). Select the area and create a new layer. As usual, choose a new darker colour than the base—and here, feel free to go crazier with the hue than with the skin. Here, I'm using a more violet shade of blue than the eye base.

Since we don't have much space for this particular image, I'm not worrying too much about the details. Using a soft round brush, I shade in the dark areas. Like with the eye whites, I'm doing everything on the same layer.

Next, the highlights. Opposite to the shadows, I'm going with a greener shade than the original. After colouring in the highlights, I generally go in for a subtle effect where, using the Dodge tool (size 1, range: highlights), I draw in a few streaks. Again, this is fairly subtle and barely noticeable on the final product, but it's a habit. o/;

I also went ahead and coloured in some of the other details, since those don't require much of an explanation.

Step 5: Clothing

This section'll be a bit brief, since it's really just repeating what we did for the skin. Anyway, select the white... cloth attached to the beads...? I did warn you that my powers of description were somewhat... lacking, to say the least. Create a new layer. In this case, 'white' is actually 'pale blue', so the shadows will have a blue tint to them. Again, it'd be duller if we just stuck with plain grey. o/

For clothing, I generally stick with the hard round brush, only using the soft brush to, well, soften the shadows (along with the Smudge tool, of course). Fortunately, the article of clothing in question makes it pretty obvious where the folds are, but you'll sometimes have to assume where the folds are even if there aren't any lines to avoid pillow shading (i.e. just colouring along the outline).

So, using the same process that we did with the skin, shade in the cloth. Remember where the light source is!

Then I went ahead and coloured in most of the other parts, which follow the same process. I also went back and added another shadow layer to the white cloth to give it some more depth, but also lightened it up a bit as it was more shadow-heavy than I wanted. As mentioned before, to soften the shadows and whatnot, set the brush opacity to 10-20% with a soft round brush and colour with the appropriate shade over the shadows.

Step 6: Feather

This section is just as short, as it's also a repeat of everything that's been done before, but with just one new step, hence why it gets a section of its own.

First, colour in the feather as per the typical steps:

All right, so we've shaded in the feather, but it doesn't look very... feather-like. Looks more like cloth than a feather, really. So this is where the next step comes in!

Create a new layer—but this time, over the lineart layer. Make sure the the feather area is now deselected. Using the Pen Tool, draw a curved line somewhere in the feather, though don't be afraid to go past the lineart. You may want to raise the brush opacity—to 100%, even—and make sure it's set to hard round.

Then right-click (with the Pen Tool selected) and Stroke Path, making sure the tool is set to the Brush and make sure that Simulate Pressure is selected. Hit OK. Repeat this step using a variety of brush sizes and colours. I personally used size 3 and 5 brushes using my highlight and shadow colours plus a shade darker than my shadow and a shade lighter than my highlight (i.e. 4 colours in total).

Afterwards, I erased the edges a bit to help them blend in.

A better example of this step would probably be my Eve colouring from a previous icon batch, as seen here. :D;

That's it for Part 1. Due to the length of this tutorial, Part 2 can be found here. Comments have disabled for this post!
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