1. The Final Image
The final image, probably my first attempt in a long, long time to colour something in Photoshop, been too comfortable with Painter. I got too scared with Photoshop's brush setting and the way the colour mix in PS that I always stick with my Painter. Lately I see a lot of inspiration of awesome work done in Photoshop that still gave the stroke type feel that I try to achieve. So I thought to save this attempt step by step and maybe it could be some help to those that are struggling with Photoshop like me too because in the process of colouring this I learned a bunch of new things myself.
2. Line art
Here's the line art, I did some small brightness and contrast and other tweaks to make the line a bit darker and cleaner. One method I tend to use a lot instead of just purely brightness and contrast, is to duplicate the line art layer and set the top layer to multiply then merge the two layers (by linking it and Ctrl-E). The difference with this layer is that it'll darken all the lines (and the background) first before you tweak the brightness and contrast, which in a lot of cases will lose a lot of the little details that are drawn or scan lightly.
3. Basic Colours - Part 1
Now, usually in Painter, I start with a really dark colour and work towards light, a piece that's done dark to light usually looks different then a piece done light to dark, or a piece starting with mid tone. Working dark to light usually gives a darker mood while light to dark, or at least starting with mid tone, gives a cleaner brighter touch to it. Here I laid out the basic colours, keep in mind this is an experimental piece in PS so not meant to really tutorial, more like info sharing :) Usually I try to plan out some lighting before hand during the drawing stage (which the desire lighting NEVER comes out in my final ha ha but sometime it's closer) In this piece I wanted to break the piece with a blueish tone for the bottom part, and desert/yellow tone for the top, as well as a big dark contrast in the dragon vs the guy. I focused first one the dragon, and laid out a basic mid tone, highlights, shadows, and under light.
4. Basic Colours - Part 2
I added some more details into the water, as well as in the hobo, some tinge of red is to add more colours into the piece. At this point, I don't use much of the colour picker tool as of yet, and manually choose the colours so I lay out a bunch a clean colours. The colour picker used too early at this stage in a piece of work tends to make the piece dirty in my opinion, because you're working with too little colour and keep mixing and picking back and worth the same few colours + the grey in the line art. Added a darker shadow in the dragon, which comparing to previous start, it pops out the form of the dragon must more, and being in the foreground, the dragon would have more contrast. As the things get further away, the contrast's lower and I also used less saturated colours. At this point I had no idea how to do the water, etc and the colours for the hobo was strange, I was kind of frustrated, but I know, with all the pieces, if I keep pushing and trying, it usually turns out at least ok.