Step 8: Colorizing
Even though I have used this method of "colorizing" (adding color in PS using layer effects), I want the image to have as much of a hand-painted look as possible (Fig.13).
So the first thing I do is create a limited palette in a separate window. I pick the colors from reference images of Manhattan at night and then adjust to their closest tube color counterparts. Limiting my palette this way keeps the image clean, uniform and cohesive. Taking colors from life and from actual tube paints also keeps the final image from looking muddy or too "Photoshop-ey".
Step 9: Creature Coloring
Now, I create a Color layer above the flattened tonal layer. Since the focus of this piece is the creature, I color render him first. From here I can use his hues and saturation as a guide to color and render the rest of the scene (Fig.14).
Step 10a: Coloring the Background
- I duplicate the tonal layer.
- I create a Color layer above and fill it with a blue-purple (night sky color).
- I merge the two layers.
I use this color because it is an approximation of the night sky and, when painting landscapes, the sky color generally heavily influences the hues (color) of the scene (Fig.15).
Step 10b: Coloring the Background cont.
- First, I create another color layer above the flattened blue-purple layer
- Using the limited palette I made for myself earlier, I paint in the colors loosely with large brushes
- Then I refine the colors and the saturation
Even though the scene is set in Manhattan, filled with bright, colorful, saturated artificial lights, I don't want it to compete with the character too much. I keep the colors slightly grey and slightly cool since the creature has a very warm local color. Again, I want the focus to be on the main character (Fig.16).
Step 11: Dodge and Burn
This part of the process gets a bit technical. Some working knowledge of Photoshop helps here (Fig.17):
- First, I take the colored creature layer and use an alpha mask to mask out the background
- I put the layer with the colored BG beneath the creature so that the background shows through
- I then merge the two layers and make minor painting adjustments
- I create a Color Burn layer above the flattened layer and punch in the darks to create some really nice contrast
I create a Color Dodge layer and use a very light yellow-orange to "punch in" the highlights and turn-up the saturation. Again, I mostly want to focus on the head and hands.