UPDATE: For photoshop users. Use the LAB-sliders in order to get the right value for the colors;
I think I’ve done something like this long ago, but that tutorial is not really up to date since I didn’t 100% understood this technique back then.
But tonight, I finally understand how it’s done.
And I know that some people out there might be laughing or be surprised that I didn’t know this before, but hey - they never really brought up this subject in my art school (which also was aimed at comics and not really at digital art eheh.)
This method should work in any digital art software that has layer functions, the blending mode “Overlay”, “Multiply”, “Saturation” and a filter/mode that can turn the picture into grayscale.
First, I’ll begin with showing how saturation can fool your eye to believe it’s “lighter” than the midtone.
Here we have two blue eggs, or something. They almost look like having the same color on the highlighted part.
But if we turn the picture to grayscale, we can clearly see that the right egg has a lighter value than the left egg.
The colors are different on the eggs highlighted areas. The left one has a much more saturated color. While the other one simply has a lighter value.
However, this is more visible to the human eye if we turn it into grayscale! The contrast is much more visible in grayscale!
What I learned from this is that more or less ALL 100% saturated colors share the same value!
Here’s another example:
The warm colors in this picture all have the same value.
We can see this when we switch over to grayscale.
Having a good and wide range of values (light and darkness) in a painting, is what makes it pleasing for the human eye. This is why black and white photography i still very popular for example.
That said, with a good set of values in the composition, you can make ANY kind of artwork in ANY kind of style give 10x more impact on the viewer.
So, how do we use this knowledge when we wanna color a grayscale value painting?
Well, first off you should take a look at how the color wheel works.
Or more like… color triangle!
Now, this is how the color wheel looks in Corel Painter. I removed some of the color wheel here because of reasons.
I DO NOT know if you can get the color wheel like this in Paint Tool Sai. I know that Photoshop use a square instead (that more or less works the same way).
The important thing here to keep in mind is that along the line where you can read “Saturation”, no matter how high or low the saturation is, it can still have the exactly same VALUE.
Now, let’s continue to the painting.
Here’s the value painting that I did in grayscale.
In order to color this, I’ll add a Overlay-layer above it.
Now this is some funky colors!
However, what we should keep in mind here is that ALL the colors on the overlay-layer has the exact same value. And that value would more or less be 50% gray. (Meaning, in the middle of the value-range from black to white).
Now, the purple and orange color in the background has both the same value (“lightness/darkness”). So this would mean that if we turned the painting to grayscale, the stripes should barely be visible…
Okay, the reason why the striped still are visible, is because I used a brush that is slightly blending the colors, so the outline of the strokes turn out a bit lighter.
However, this still proves what I told earlier.
So, if you just make sure that the colors on the overlay layer all has the same value. You should be able to color the painting in any kind of color, but still have the same values when turned into grayscale.
And this is why it’s so popular among Concept artists to work in grayscale when they for example do character/monster design; they can do several different versions of one monster with different colors but still keep the same values.
Here’s a Note to Self (I’ll write it down here in case you can’t see the picture):
- Let the value painting) control the values - NOT the color-layer.
- All the colors on the Overlay layer should ALL have the same value. Vary the tones by the amount of saturation instead. (The amount of saturation should not affect the values.)
The left one is more or less the finished result. By lowering the saturation, I managed to give the skin different skintones. The one to the right is more or less the value-painting before I added color. Now let’s do a last test and check if I have messed up the values on the colored version…
Aaaaaand as you can see, it’s more or less the same values! Yes, there’s some small areas where it’ a bit darker, I discovered that some colors do affect the values even if it’s *supposed* to have the same value. However, the difference they do is very subtle and isn’t really a major problem.
I srsly feel so happy to finally understand how the heck this method works. This is more or less that part I never get to hear about in all those tutorials in value-painting.
NOW GO PRACTICE VALUE PAINTING! >:D