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Thread: [Book Cover] How do I get people to look alive in an analogous blue colour scheme?

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    [Book Cover] How do I get people to look alive in an analogous blue colour scheme?

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    My sincerest apologies, I'll close this thread. I'll come back when I've improved my ability to take criticism.

    Thank you to everyone who contributed
    Last edited by Tintreas; August 17th, 2011 at 12:33 AM.
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    A couple key thoughts:

    1 - Just because your scheme is mostly brown or blue in itself doesn't dictate whether skin looks lifelike. Our eyes are suckers for relative distinctions between colors, so a slightly warmer blue will look quite red in an overall blue scheme. You could actually go significantly bluer and still be fine. Try it out - make the overall scheme as blue in hue as you could imagine, and try giving the child "rosy cheeks" with a purple.

    2 - James Gurney represents a technique called "gamut masking" to limit his palette. There's a nice flash tool that makes this pretty easy here. I'd go for a triangle in the lower right corner - giving you blues, purples, and just a hint of green. If there's some torchlight, you could also try doing a gamut where you take a hint of the opposite orange color. By limiting your gamut, you can pursue #1 to great effect.

    3 - Skin is far more reflective than we often assume. The biggest thing that makes a face texture "lifelike" is its reflection and subsurface scattering of surrounding colors. A corpse looks dead because it looses this reflectivity and has a much more matte quality. Throw in a vaguely dominant blue source in one direction, a somewhat less dominant and ever so slightly warmer light source in another, and go to town on the reflectivity. This alone will make the faces look considerably life like.

    I'd do a paintover, but I'm at work. ;-) If you still need one tonight (Asia time), I'll do one up.
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    Here you go. I'm by no means an expert painter, but this should at least serve to point out the sort of things you need for skin to look life like. As you can see, I stuck with a very cool palette, but it doesn't matter - The deep purple looks plenty warm.
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    Take a look at paintings that have cool colour schemes. What makes the skin look cool, yet alive? In most cases there is no actual blue in the skin, it's just about choosing the right values and colours NEXT TO EACH OTHER that make it APPEAR as if the skin is blueish. I'd personally make the figures have pale marbly skin, that will also make them stand out since I am assuming they are supposed to be the focal point. Right now the statues in the back are way more prominent, especially with that bright blue shining in from the background.

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    A subtle, cool pink blushing would stay within your set ambiance/pallet. Moist lips and eyes will also help bringing your characters to life so don't forget to add some reflection/highlights in those areas!
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    I think the thing that's not clear here is if this is painted blue stylistically, or if this is supposed to be an actual scene lit by strong blue light. That would make a pretty major difference to how this bears out. Certainly, as thegiffman says, it's not the colour that makes it seem lifelike.

    If it's lit by blue light, making the statues close to flat grey isn't helping. If you make them bluer, and then bring the shadows on the skin towards a purplish grey, it should warm it up a little. Get some higher contrast on the faces to make them the focus, and lower contrast on the statues to push them back a little. A few sharp highlights to show skin's reflective properties, especially if the highlights are actually bluer.

    Although it's a very different style from a rendered, painted image, I'd suggest looking at stuff by Tomer Hanuka. He's a master of making skin all sorts of crazy colours and still making it work in the context of the image.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revidescent View Post
    Although it's a very different style from a rendered, painted image, I'd suggest looking at stuff by Tomer Hanuka. He's a master of making skin all sorts of crazy colours and still making it work in the context of the image.
    Holy shit thank you for bringing this artist to my attention! I love his stuff. His website is tooooooo small tho--I can hardly see the awesomeness!
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    The best thing would be to throw a blue piece of cloth over a lamp and see for yourself. This is one of those instances where setting up the scene with you and your friends will give you way more information than just trying to fake it without ref. Especially when you don't have a clear grasp of color fundamentals.

    In the mean time here is a blue night scene from the master Dean Cornwell.
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    One of the things that really distinguished living people from mannequins is variation in the local color of the skin, especially the face, due to sun exposure, blood supply, body hair, etc. As a rule of thumb, the middle third of the face is redder than the forehead, while the lower third is more neutral. These variations can range from incredibly subtle to dramatic, and tend to be more noticeable in pale complexions. Also, and this is where things tie into your particular situation, cool light tends to increase the contrast of the redder areas, as seen in the Cornwell piece above, and in this page from huevaluechroma.com.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    The best thing would be to throw a blue piece of cloth over a lamp and see for yourself. This is one of those instances where setting up the scene with you and your friends will give you way more information than just trying to fake it without ref. Especially when you don't have a clear grasp of color fundamentals.

    In the mean time here is a blue night scene from the master Dean Cornwell.

    I did go out in the moonlight with a friend, but when one is surrounded by all blues in a half-light it becomes hard to see objectively what colour you're looking at. Its harder to colour pick life when there is no reference point.

    Also I resent your poke at my fundamentals.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Revidescent View Post
    I think the thing that's not clear here is if this is painted blue stylistically, or if this is supposed to be an actual scene lit by strong blue light. That would make a pretty major difference to how this bears out. Certainly, as thegiffman says, it's not the colour that makes it seem lifelike.

    If it's lit by blue light, making the statues close to flat grey isn't helping. If you make them bluer, and then bring the shadows on the skin towards a purplish grey, it should warm it up a little. Get some higher contrast on the faces to make them the focus, and lower contrast on the statues to push them back a little. A few sharp highlights to show skin's reflective properties, especially if the highlights are actually bluer.

    Although it's a very different style from a rendered, painted image, I'd suggest looking at stuff by Tomer Hanuka. He's a master of making skin all sorts of crazy colours and still making it work in the context of the image.
    Thank you, I hugely admire tomer and i think that is more the direction i was approaching this from, I've found very realistic light rarely suits a cartoonish style, and can throw of the graphic design elements of a book cover quite badly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thegiffman View Post
    Here you go. I'm by no means an expert painter, but this should at least serve to point out the sort of things you need for skin to look life like. As you can see, I stuck with a very cool palette, but it doesn't matter - The deep purple looks plenty warm.

    Thank you! That colour wheel site is brilliant, I'll paint away tonight and hopefully I'll have a big improvement to show you
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    Quote Originally Posted by freiheit View Post
    A subtle, cool pink blushing would stay within your set ambiance/pallet. Moist lips and eyes will also help bringing your characters to life so don't forget to add some reflection/highlights in those areas!
    Thank you frei, i will do
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