4 Coloring Part 3 - Anime-Style Coloring

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A picture is worth a thousand words. That's the idea behind these visual tutorials. You can learn more about coloring so much more effectively by watching a colorist work rather than by reading a bunch of dry instructions. So, I've captured my entire Photoshop workspace as I worked and annotated it so you can see everything step-by-step.

Cel-styled color is an excellent place to being learning about coloring. Composed of flat colors (usually only two or three levels of shading) which, when done right, can be very visually striking. Anime-styled coloring is simple, bold and easy to analyze, making it the perfect introduction to coloring technique.

This visual tutorial will walk you though from the beginning to the end of coloring an entire piece.

If you'd like to try this for yourself, the image "demongirl.tif" is located in the goodies folder on the CD. If you'd like to examine the completed .PSD file in close detail, it's also included.

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This is the image we're going to color. Prepare it for coloring using the instructions from Chapter 2.

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The first step is to fill the entire background with a neutral color. Classical painters did this so that the very bright color of white wouldn't compete too much with their initial color choices. If you try to build up color on white they will probably be too strong.

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I fill in the rest of the body and exposed skin. In my head I'm starting to consider the color relationships and which color combos I think will work the best with this piece.

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The demongirl has bird-like claws, so I select and fill them with a darker yellow color.

Adobe Photoshop - [demongirl.psd @ 25°b (Background, RGB)]

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I flat the other claw and then move on to the wings. I do the chain too. At this point, the image is basically "flatted". Nothing fancy, but I can begin to see how the colors are going to have to relate to one another.

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My initial impression was to use some purples. However, as she's a demon-type character I shift the color more towards red. Now I'm getting some color harmony. Nothing too special yet, but I can build on this. This will be the first of many color alterations.

Since I've commited to this for the time being, I begin to shade the hair. I decide on a direct top light, positioned a little to the right of the figure. Again, I'm only using the lasso tool and the fill command. I finish the hair shading and move on to the face.

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I continue shading until the entire body is roughed out.

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I add an off-white color to the eyes, then fill the iris with a flat red. I add some similar red to her lips.

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Eyes are a natural focal point on an image, so I add three levels of shading. I darken the rims of the eyes, shade the tops and add a colored highlight. I also add a little shade to the bottom lip to give it some form.

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The claws need some highlights too, so I pick another light color and fill the top edge.

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The claws look pretty good, but the nails need their own color. So I fill and highlight them next. I also want to soften the contrast in certain areas of the skin shading, especially on the arm which is thrown back and the left leg, so I add a third skin tone to help out.

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The chain highlights are now finished. The color is a little strange but I can always edit that later, so I stick with it to see how it stacks up with the rest of the piece.

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I highlight the other metal bit -her earring.

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The pinkish chain highlight makes me think of my original intent to use purple. Pink and purples are a powerful color combo, so I bend the color using Hue/Saturation until I find something I like.

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I've finished the wing on the right. The darker spines make me think the winged area is transluscent. I like that and will work that effect more.

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I finish filling in the wing spines on the left side.

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Time for a background. In this case, a stock photo of some clouds is blurred and color-shifted to match the character. I then paste it into the background.

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Returning to the transluscent wing idea, I use the Magic Wand tool to select the inner membrane of the wings so they can be edited.

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Using an enormous airbrush, I run it across the bottom of the wings in a quick stroke.

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I keep making little circles, concentrating them towards the bottom of the wings. This takes a while.

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Once I've got them all selected, I hide the selection and use brightness/contrast to lighten thedots.

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I touch up a few sloppy edges here and there, add some small highlights and I'm done!

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