Started a new something last night. I haven't done a value/tone study since college, and never before done in Photoshop.
I'm looking for some advice about transitioning from grayscale to color. I'm experimenting, but I've never done it before. I'm very cautious about applying opaque paint on top of my tonal study because I got it mostly to the point where I'm happy and I don't want to have to redo it all. I know that I can only go so far with Photoshop layer blending modes, and I may have to eventually get rid of my underpainting crutch... (aaagh), but I dunno. Any feedback would be highly appreciated.
I think it's coming along nicely. It does have a bit of the "tinted photo" look that's hard to avoid using this process, but that's appropriate for the mood and subject matter. Still, don't be afraid of going in with opaque layers, especially because there are some places where your drawing got away from you between the linework and grayscale stages.
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The greyscale is a very nice piece of work. If it were me, I'd copy the greyscale to a new channel, load it as a selection and fill it with some color other than black (I used a sort of burnt orange in the JPEG below, but I think if I were actually going to to work on it I'd use a slightly darker brown) before painting over it. This will help avoid the "corpse flesh" look that generally results when one tries to paint over a greyscale image.
Actually I found a trick which is so enormously simple that most people probably don't even think about it. Just fuse layers and then raise saturation (eventually adjust color and raise/lower contrast). I've been drawing almost all my digital paintings by starting in greyscales and then working out color on a different layer, and so far no one ever noticed.
I'm very sorry - yes combining layers like TinyBird said. If you raise saturation only in the layer where you've been putting color with low opacity or set to overlay, it will be treaten differently after raising saturation.
Since I didn't have to merge any layers here, I just raised saturation. I'm still using CS4, and I also use the german version so I'm not 100% sure if these buttons still exist with the same titles, anyways - somewhere inside of "menu image" should be a pretty simple mode with 3 bars - hue, saturation and brightness (forget about brightness). I just raised saturation there, also since her skin came out too red, I've moved the hue bar, which moves all colors on a palette (green becomes blue, red becomes yellow etc.). I've moved it to the right (red becomes yellow) so her skin became less red-ish. On a sidenote, if you don't want everything to be changed, you can either cut out the stuff you want to be changed on a new layer or just put them under select (polygon lariat).
There are also different/ better (but more complex) tools for changing colors, like "selective color". Here you can chose what color has to be changed directly, it's a bit complex but not too hard. After chosing a color you get 4 bars (C/M/Y and black). It works a bit like the same principle as mixing real colors - raising cyan on yellow will make the yellow green, raising blue on the reds will get them purple etc. Black is obvious too. Think of it as mixing either white or black into the color - white makes it brighter and lowers saturation, black makes it darker and more intensive.
//about the grey-scale painting itself: The smooth transition between tones on the skin is very nice, but a more clean cut between body and background would make her stand out more, I think. Like this, it makes the whole piece look just a tad washed out to my eyes -and a bit more contrast would ease the coloring?