Do you work in grayscale and move to color or start directly with color?
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Thread: Do you work in grayscale and move to color or start directly with color?

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    Do you work in grayscale and move to color or start directly with color?

    I can't imagine this hasn't been asked a thousand times before... but I couldn't find a thread about it using search and, amazingly, even Google failed me.

    Anyway, I know there are those two different methods out there, but I'm not sure what style to use. Do you guys use both? One or the other mainly? What do you think are the advantages or disadvantages of both?

    The reason I ask is because the black and white method certainly wasn't available to traditional painters and is only possible because of stuff like Photoshop, and it seems effective, but it also feels and looks strange to work in.

    Mainly the kind of art I want to get into is stuff like video game character design (if any of you know of League of Legends, the kind of art being produced for that game is basically what I'm talking about), but painting is surprisingly hard for me to get into.

    I'm alright at drawing, but I'm definitely miles better at drawing than painting (I haven't ever painted anything outside of gradeschool).

    If you guys are interested, a bunch of the characters created for League of Legends actually have art spotlights up on YouTube. Here are two examples:

    Grayscale to color: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1y_-0...eature=related

    Blocked in colors to more detail (of the many artists who work on League of Legends, this particular artist is probably my favorite style / composition-wise): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYwGBmX7gZw

    Last edited by acamaxos; February 23rd, 2012 at 02:21 PM.
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    A lot of people will say to do a grayscale value study first and then apply the same values but in different colors.

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    I recommend doing it in full colour first using the RGB sliders so you gain an understanding of the relationships between colour and light. If you're working in photoshop then there's a couple of methods you can use to simultaneously check your values:

    1. Simple way is to create a new layer, set the blending mode to Saturation and fill it with 100% black. When you turn the layer on, it sets everything to greyscale, turn it off and you go back to normal.

    2. Go to Window -> Arrange -> New window for myfile.PSD (Down the bottom.) Then go to View, Proof setup, and click custom. Set Device to simulate and press sGray, then okay. You'll have a second window open with your values so you can look at your colour and your values simultaneously.

    Values are more important to defining shape recognition and silhouette than colour is, but light is more important to understand because they affect your values. It's important to understand the relationship between both than see them as separate stages of a pipeline.



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    Quote Originally Posted by acamaxos View Post
    The reason I ask is because the black and white method certainly wasn't available to traditional painters and is only possible because of stuff like Photoshop, and it seems effective, but it also feels and looks strange to work in.
    This is incorrect.


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    Quote Originally Posted by acamaxos View Post
    The reason I ask is because the black and white method certainly wasn't available to traditional painters and is only possible because of stuff like Photoshop,…
    Grisaille is a very old term.

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    Quote Originally Posted by acamaxos View Post
    The reason I ask is because the black and white method certainly wasn't available to traditional painters and is only possible because of stuff like Photoshop, and it seems effective, but it also feels and looks strange to work in.
    Wrong. Traditional glazing often involved painting layers of transparent color over a monochrome under painting - which in itself was generally rendered with a full range of values and a high degree of finish. And people have been doing monochrome preliminary studies for eons.

    What you do depends on what works for you. Though if you actually want to learn how to work with color, I suspect you'll learn more by working directly in color. Laying color over a monochrome image can do strange and unexpected things to the color, unless you know what you're doing and have a thorough understanding of color. Plus if you're working digitally, odds are you'll have to touch up a lot of areas with opaque color to make them look right, which means you're essentially painting some areas twice... Not terribly efficient.

    Personally I prefer working directly in color, it's faster for me. I've dabbled with color glazing over monochrome underpainting with acrylics, but it was a bit too tedious for my tastes...

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    I sometimes do a grayscale underpainting, but only in real media, not digital. Refer to Sheppard's "How to Paint like the Old Masters" book - several of his method reproductions involve detailed underpainting en grisaille, which is then glazed and enhanced with opaque lights. This is exclusive to human skin in Sheppard's case - allows to get the values right, gets you cool transparent shadows with no extra effort, and makes color mixing super easy. I can't imagine this could be useful in digital medium, because you do not get the same "automatic" translucency effects.

    I also sometimes do pure-value studies in preparation to painting. Those are more useful than grayscale underpaintings.

    So yes, it's a valid way to work. Personally I think it has its uses in some cases, and doesn't help much in others - it isn't one of those things that are an absolute necessity. Just one of the tricks that are good to know.

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    As QG said, working in monochrome digitally means you end up painting the image twice or more. Because its digital there is no benefit to the process as there is in traditional painting. Just learn to work in color. Best to start out painting traditionally when learning to paint. Starting with digital just hides your inabilities longer making bad habits hard to break.

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    Neither way is necessarily better then the other, both methods are used by some of the best artists. Neither of them have advantages or disadvantages either as long as you know what you're doing. If you paint something in greyscale and convert it to color you will probably have strong values, but if you don't know much about color then your colors could come out terribly. If you paint starting in color it could be reversed where your values end up being messed up. If you want to know what to try I suggest doing studies using both methods and then seeing which you like most. But study both.

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    Greyscale first then color. I start with a "Shade" layer for grayscale and then go back over it with a "Color" layer set underneath the shade layer, if I need shading that's in a specific color I make a third "Colored Shading" layer in between the two. Works great for me since I can tweak light and color separately.

    I literally do see/think of color and light separately so going in with full color and/or blocking has always been, and always will be, my guaranteed goulash of grungy garbage. I refuse to work with that anymore, it is too frustrating and limiting IMO. I need to be able to experiment without trashing the whole picture because I changed my mind on the lighting (or the color).

    Last edited by Little Auwnja; December 18th, 2012 at 05:01 PM.
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    I've always heard/read to do GS before color so that you get your values set in correctly. But, what dPaint said makes a lot of sense as well (just learn color values first, so that you don't have to paint the same image twice).

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