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29 June 2010 @ 05:50 pm
1. manga coloring + icon tutorial  
Hello, watchers! I'm Terpy, another maintainer whose failed to introduce herself here. :D;;; To make up for my fail, I present to you a coloring and icon tutorial! Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll have some icons for you all.

By request, today I shall share my secrets on how I color manga scans for icons and other graphics. These... really aren't secrets, as anything can be achieved with a lot of practice! It took me two years to get this technique down, and I still have a lot to learn.

(This is cross-posted to my journal as well!)


I'll be using a lovely scan of Rukia from Bleach for this tutorial so I don't have to color any hair, as well as Photoshop CS3 and a Wacom tablet. Cleaner scans make for better coloring; there are several tutorials on how to clean messy scans, but for the most part you'll want to Image → Adjustments → Levels (CTRL+L), and mess with the sliders until you get the desired effect - I prefer pure blacks and pure whites.

But we'll skip that since the scans I'm using are just perfect. 8Db

Now, for the sake of organization, I use two .psd files - one is large, and holds all the scans I want to color in several layers for easy access. Generally I just cut out what I want to color from the page rather than copy the whole page itself. Normally, I'll have four layers per image, from bottom to top: the background layer filled with white, the original image, the layer I color on, and the lineart layer.

The second .psd file I use is 100x100, and for the icons. I'll get to that later.




Once everything is set up, the first thing you'll want to do 1) is go to the Channels tab in the sidebar to the very right of your workspace, and 2) click the first button on the bottom, which loads the channel as a selection. What this does is select all the white areas on your document.




Next, hit CTRL+I and this will inverse the selection so that you're selecting the black areas. Then hit CTRL+C to copy your selection, 3) go to your layers tab and hit "new layer". Click on the new layer, and hit CTRL+V to paste your selection onto the new layer.

Congratulations! you've just separated your lineart from the background, which makes for easy coloring.




You can set the base layer (called "rubanner", in the picture) to invisible by clicking on the eye symbol right next to it; we're done with that. I name my lineart layer to find it easily, and you'll want to 4) click the square symbol there to lock transparent pixels. This allows you to color just the lineart itself whatever you want without messing up anything else; right now, we just want to choose a large, solid black brush and go over the lineart to make sure everything is solid black. We're ready to color now!




For coloring, all I use is a hard round brush at 100% opacity for laying down base colors, and about 33% opacity for shading and highlighting; I adjust the size as needed (using the '[' and ']' buttons to go smaller or larger), and I always have pen pressure enabled for brush strokes. For animanga, I try to lift my color palette from colored manga scans to be as authentic as possible to the mangaka's color choice (in some cases, if the choices are too light - as I like using rich tones - I'll lift from the anime, as I did on my most recent icon set), and generally for skin you'll want a definite contrast between the base color (the lighter color here), and the shadow. These are the only two colors I'll using, and here, I've colored in the base color and placed my darkest shadows. Don't worry if you don't color in the lines, just erase as needed. It's easier to clean up when laying down the base colors now than later.




Next, I set my brush opacity to 33% and pretty much dab and scribble where I want my tones; you'll also notice that I locked my layer for easy coloring. Here is where it pays to make sure your shadow is significantly darker than your base color, otherwise you won't get much contrast when you blend it all together (which is why the base color here is different; I didn't like how dark it was before, so now the shadows show up better), unless you want to do a softer, more airbrushed style of coloring. I pick a light source (from the right, in this example) and shade accordingly, going along the facial features; it takes practice, and I reference from real life photos.




For Western keyboards, the shortcut for using the brush tool is 'B', and for the smudge tool it's 'R'. Here, I used the smudge tool (hard round brush at 50% strength) and just blended the hell out of everything. Blend as much or as little as you want; I like a mix of both to achieve lots of tones and make the most use of lighting and shadows. I also touched up any place I may have blended too much or too little with the brush tool. This is the basic coloring technique I use on everything, from skin to clothing, hair, objects and backgrounds when I paint them.




Using a pure white brush, I add my highlights, and with the eyes all colored in you can see we're done here! Isn't that pretty? Detail is everything; some is lost when you resize down for iconing, which is why the shadows and highlights are important here, as they'll still stand out even when this image is made smaller. Take your time as you color, and the overall result will be that much better. Since I'm used to it, I color all in one layer, but feel free to separate your base color, shadows, and highlights into separate layers as you practice. Usually once I'm done with the skin, I'll move on to the next 'layer' in the image, such as clothing and hair, but lucky for us Rukia here is very productive towards quick coloring. Coloring pure black/white is an art in and of itself, not to mention a real pain in the butt, so I usually don't bother.

Since the coloring is finished, SAVE YOUR WORK! (CTRL+S, or CTRL+shift+S) This way you'll always have your lineart and color in separate layers in this .psd file, so you can always go back and edit as you please. Now, to icon this coloring, 5) select the lineart layer and press CTRL+E to merge it down with the lineart. Next, press CTRL+N to make a new 100x100 document if you haven't already done so for the icon(s). When that is made, 6) select your merged layers on the coloring and holding your button down, drag it over to your icon-sized document. Then, go back to your coloring 7) select history and click on whatever you did before you merged the layers, and save your file again. I've messed up many a file by forgetting to undo the merge before saving again, and while you can always go back and separate the lineart again like in the beginning of this tutorial, since you still have the original image there, this just saves time.




Iconing time! If you haven't already done so, make sure layer 1 in this document is filled with white using the paintbucket tool; when you drag over your coloring, you'll only be dragging over the lineart, and the colors, which means no background (or possibly white areas on the figure, if you didn't color those in from the background being white already in the other file). You're going to need the 8) Move tool (CTRL+V), and you'll want to 9) move your cursor to this corner of the move box, and hold down the shift button as you resize your image to whatever you want. Holding down the shift button will resize your coloring proportionally; if you don't do this, you'll make Rukia here look wacky.

Once you have your image where you want it, you can do whatever you want to icon it. Three techniques I've used are:

1. Soft Light


(You all may use these two icons for practice!)

If you don't like the skintones, selecting the layer with your image, then dragging it down to the new layer button in your sidebar will duplicate that layer.



See 10) that little arrow there? This little guy here is your very best friend when it comes to iconing. Selecting that will give you a drop down menu that presents you with very simple options that can make for wonderful and easy icons. In this example, I selected soft light for that duplicate layer, and voila! The skintone is now a bit brighter; this is an optional step for the next few examples, depending on whether or not you like the coloring as is. The important thing here is that arrow for setting the blending mode.

2. Multiply and Overlay fill layers



Here, I filled two layers with color and produced this effect with just a few adjustments.



10) The Overlay layer is RGB 239;213;255, and set at %30 Opacity. The layer underneath that is a Multiply layer, RGB 249;230;255 and Opacity at %100. I use this technique for super quick iconsets that I don't feel like coloring; this works great with just lineart, and it's probably best for characters with hair that's anything but pure black. Two examples below:

(credit either princessorgod or terpzilla)

3. Multiply and Screen fill layers



This works great for black-haired characters. Instead of the Overlay layer, here I just have a Screen layer (RGB 25;22;29) at 100% Opacity over my multiply layer.

4. Textures

All of the following were done on top of the pale Multiply fill layer from above.

: Screen at 50% Opacity.
: Screen at 100% Opacity.
: Screen at 100%; in this example, using Screen on a texture with a pure black background makes the black background disappear, so all that appears is whatever was on top of it. Great with textures with lights.
: Multiply at 100%
: Multiply at 100%; if there's any pure white in the texture, it disappears.

As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to use Screen with darker textures, and Multiply with lighter textures. Screen fills anything that is not white, while Multiply fills everyone that is not black.

Here's some examples of five effects you can get with the same texture. These are probably the main five blending modes you'll want to use with textures.

Multiply 100%
Screen 100%
Overlay 100%
Soft Light 100%
Hard Light 100%

And for a bonus, using Hard Light on a texture that has a background color of #808080 gives you this (just like with black with Screen, and white with Multiply, the gray background here will vanish):



You can layer textures on top of each other with different blending modes and opacities - go wild! A tip I keep in mind is that while it's tempting to slap any pretty texture on what you want - and there's nothing wrong with that! - if you take the time to find some color or pattern that really fits the character or mood of the icon, it makes for a better icon overall. You also don't want to use so many effects that you lose whatever the original image is supposed to be.

Whew! That's a lot to take in. DX In closing, all I can say is practice, practice, practice! Anyone can learn how to color, and the longer you keep at it, the better you get. Even if you don't have a tablet, so long as you can find good scans or clean them up, you can make lovely graphics with just flat colors, too (and it's much easier on your wrist, all you have to do is use the paint bucket tool and the brush here and there :|b).

That's all for this tutorial. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you have any questions please feel free to ask away! (And do please point out any typoes, errors, or otherwise weird text if I said something that makes no sense.) I look forward to seeing what you can create!

Oh, and before I forget, yes, feel free to nab any of these icons with credit.


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violet! ♚: full moon » scarphalor on June 30th, 2010 10:30 am (UTC)
Oh my :o
I actually learnt a lot from this that I didn't know since I'm not very good with photoshop. ♥
✩ Dazzling the Stage ✩: [Bleach] in your keepingterpzilla on June 30th, 2010 11:18 am (UTC)
\o/ I'm glad! ♥
lunatum: pixivlunatum on July 17th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
thank you. so helpful