Setting Up the Image

This tutorial is based on a doodle from one of my sketch books (Figure 5.1). You are encouraged to start with your own drawing. If you would rather follow each step a little more closely, the original sketch is available for you to download and use.

The brushes and paper textures used in this tutorial are also available to download if you have not done so earlier.

There's no reason why you can't just open the sketch and start painting directly on top of the drawing. Often that is exactly the approach I will use. In the long run, though, taking a few minutes to set up the sketch will save time later in the painting process and often make for a less frustrating experience.

Figure 5.1 The original scan of the sleepwalker sketch

Setting up the image is not difficult. A few small adjustments to the sketch, and we'll be ready to go.

Open the sleepwalker sketch.

Select the entire sketch; cut and paste it back into the image.

Duplicate the Sketch layer, or paste another version into the image.

Change the Composite Method of the top Sketch layer to Multiply or Gel. All the white and near white in the sketch become transparent.

Hide and lock the top layer. You might use the hidden Sketch layer to reference the original sketch if needed later in the painting.

When we've finished the painting, we'll no longer need this hidden Sketch layer and can delete it.

Tinting the Sketch to a Different Color

The original sketch is visible as black lines on a white background. Often when I begin a painting from a sketch, I want the drawing to be tinted using colors that will be used in the painting. There are several methods of tinting the line work in a drawing. Which method we use depends on how we'll use the line work in the painting.

In this case, we want to tint the sketch to make the drawing harmonious with the colors that we will use in the painting. We will eventually cover most of the drawing as the painting progresses, but there will no doubt be a few areas where bits and

pieces of the sketch will show through. If the lines in the sketch are black, those areas may not be in harmony with the rest of the painting.

1. Create a new layer above the Sketch layer.

2. Fill the layer with a mid-value blue-gray color.

3. Change the Composite Method of the layer to Colorize.

Depending on how light or dark the color was that we used to fill the layer, the sketch now takes on that color. It's best to avoid very saturated colors because they tend to burn out the lighter areas of the sketch. Also, at a certain point, lightening the color no longer changes the appearance of the sketch. Generally, the best results are with colors that are not too light or dark and not too saturated.

4. Collapse the Blue layer with the Sketch layer. Name the layer blue sketch.

The sketch is a nice bluish color that will go well with the colors that we will use in the painting. Any parts of the sketch that show through the painted colors will not disrupt the color harmony of the painting (Figure 5.2).

Figure 5.2 The black colors of the sketch are tinted a dark blue color.

Colorizing a drawing this way is a great way to get rid of a black sketch.

We will use the tinted sketch as a guide to paint the sleepwalker. One thing to avoid when using a sketch as a guide is that you do not get into a coloring book mode. We were all complimented as children when we showed our parents the crayon colorings we did as we were developing some motor control. The praises we received were great if we "stayed in the lines" of the images in the coloring book.

The lines of this sketch are only a guide, and you will not receive praise if you carefully try to stay inside the borders defined by them.

Setting the Value and Color of the Background

When beginning a painting, it is always a good idea to set the value and predominant color of the image as early as possible. This painting will be a night scene, so the color scheme will lean toward darker values. Blue is the predominant color, and orange is the accent color because the candle will be mainly oranges. The overall color harmony scheme will be complementary.

The first step is to change the Sketch layer to either Gel or Multiply. We want all the white to once again become transparent. Lower the Opacity setting of this Blue Sketch layer to 50%.

1. Create a new layer above the canvas but below the sketch.

2. Create a Two-Point gradient with a dark blue as the main color and dark violet as the additional color.

3. Pick Circular Gradient for the Gradient Type option. In the Gradient palette, the preview should show the violet in the center of the gradient, with a smooth transition to blue on the outside.

4. Using the Paint Bucket tool, fill the layer. Center the fill on the candle so the violet colors are concentrated there.

The color of what will become the wall in the painting is set (Figure 5.3). Now we need a floor for the sleepwalker.

Figure 5.3 The colors of the wall are established.

5. Make a rectangular selection along the bottom of the Colored layer. The top of the selection should end at about ankle height on the character.

6. Fill the selection with the dark blue used in the gradient. This filled rectangle will become the floor (Figure 5.4).

When we build a digital painting, we should save selections for the basic areas within the image. The wall and floor are good examples. Saving selections for these areas will make it much easier to come back to them later in the painting. We may need to do additional work or make corrections, and being able to load a selection will allow us to do so without disturbing the surrounding parts of the painting. Selections are so easy to create at this stage that there is no excuse for not taking a moment to do so.

Figure 5.4 The floor is filled with a dark blue.

Creating Quick Selections for the Wall and Background

To create quick selections for the wall and floor do the following;

1. Pick the Magic Wand tool from the toolbox. Set the Tolerance to either 1 or 0. Tolerance levels limit the difference between the selected color and surrounding colors that are also selected. A low Tolerance level limits the selection to a narrow range of colors.

2. Click the Magic Wand tool in the floor color, and save the selection as Floor.

3. Invert the selection and save it as Wall.

That's about all there is setting up the image. We've set the basic colors of the painting, indicated the wall and floor planes, and have the beginnings of a light effect on the wall.

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Freehand Sketching An Introduction

Freehand Sketching An Introduction

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