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January 11, 2013
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Grayscale: huh?

:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013   General Artist
I know many great and awesome digital artists swear by grayscale but how do you do it exactly? I just did my first one [link] and I dunno if I did it right. I approached it as the basis for a colored work, blended and shaded it as best as I can, and plan to fix any mistakes during the coloring process.

I am worried that what I came up with is too dark and will seriously screw up the coloring process (which is another problem I have to tackle down the road). Are there values you should avoid, like 0% and 100%? I've gotten some really great feedback, tips and info when I asked for help before on other stuff so I'm hoping for more.

Thanks for reading. :)
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:iconalantherobot:
AlanTheRobot Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
The point of drawing in gray-scale is to get an eye for value. At first you can make the reference black and white too, than after some practice you can probably paint from a colored reference.

If you get the values down right it's easy to put color on top using different layer blending modes. I think I have a few tutorials saved about it in my tutorials folder in my favorites if you want to search through there. I found tutorials on this technique are hard to find since it doesn't have one common name. The thing is it's not easy to get the values right, and I often find using layer modes to add colors sort of dulls the image.

As for your painting, it's pretty good for a first try in B&W. The skin is just a tad bit too dark/glossy looking. Tone it down a bit and you should be good.

There aren't any values you should avoid. If something would be white, it's white, if it's black, it's black. Of course, sometimes you make things extremes that aren't extremes, and that's where problems come in. You have to develop a good eye.
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013   General Artist
Thanks. I did want a glowy skin effect, but I agree that the gradations might be a bit too drastic. I'll have to work on making next grayscale softer: better grayscale, fewer things to fix during coloration process.

Thanks for the feedback. :)
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:iconalantherobot:
AlanTheRobot Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
I think actually lightning around the skin with a soft brush and lighter skin might actually make it seem light it's glowing more. Also don't forget if we're talking about real light coming from her skin it would affect things around her and case a light on her hair, etc.
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
Doing a grayscale first and then adding color does seem like a lot of extra work to me, but I figure if nothing else, if you can't get the color right, at least you still have a good grayscale painting to show for it. Also doesn't seem like it would look right with colors laid over the grays, but I'm going to try it and see how it looks.
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013   General Artist
I found a great tutorial on how to color grayscale if you wanna check it out [link]. It really makes you think about color and tones once you put them over your grayscale.
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
Thanks! I'll check it out right away.
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
Thanks, I'll definitely check it out!
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
I've been looking into doing grayscale paintings lately, too, and adding color later. Doing just a grayscale is wayyyy easier than color, but I imagine adding color will be a bit difficult. The first one I did I had the same issue with making it too dark initially, and ended up having to correct that later. Just keep in mind complete white or black are used very judiciously, and I would even say rarely. I always try to establish my extremes (lightest lights and darkest darks) first, which gives the whole thing some parameters, then I go from there. You've probably noticed that lower contrast pictures are more difficult to do and take more skill.
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013   General Artist
That's a great tip. I really should do that, but my only grayscale experience does from traditional sketches so I'll have to adapt to digital (as usual). :)
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
I've seen your first grayscale painting and it's great! You are being too hard on yourself. You're doing just fine!
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013   General Artist
Thanks. :) I think dA makes me crazy sometimes; there are so many great and skilled artists here that my standards become impossibly high for someone with my limited experience.
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013
I've felt the same way, too! But you've probably also noticed there is a lot of crap on here, too =) Not everyone is a great artist, but it does seem like that sometimes
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:iconmattcombsart:
MattCombsArt Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013
look into how airbrushers paint. They use this technique all the time, but use a black background to start with the paint everything in whites, no greys or blacks, youll get the tones from not using so much white on areas that you want darker, letting the black background show through creating your shadow...its really hard to explain but watch airbrush stuff on youtube like this. Will give you a btter idea of how to go about it, when trying to apply colors over it. Its a very very usefull technique and i love it.

heres one showing how to go about painting the image in white 1st....[link]

heres him adding colors over the white....[link]

doing it digital is basically the same thing youll just have to figure out what layer option is better,color,overlay,hard/soft light. some give you different effects, or even painting over it with light opacity and building up the colors some, youll just have to mess around with it to find what works best for what your trying to go for.


if i do a portraits of people i dont do it this way digitally, but everything else i tend to use this technique in there somewhere.
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013   General Artist
Awesome. Thanks so much. :heart:
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:iconnarutokunobessed:
narutokunobessed Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013  Student General Artist
You can call this an underpainting, and then the colors are glazing if you want traditional terms.

One thing though, is to never worry because your in digital. You can just make another layer for color and color it over. If you don't like it, you can use adjustments, delete it, paint over and keep going.
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013   General Artist
Cool. Good to know. :)
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:iconnarutokunobessed:
narutokunobessed Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013  Student General Artist
You know, since I call it underpainting, there are many ways to do this. This technique as a whole together is called inderect painting.

Direct painting is straight to color and indirect is doing values first.
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:icontetchist:
Tetchist Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
"how do you do it exactly?"

you're already doing it. grayscale is literally just painting at 0 saturation.

as for getting better at it: do more of it, like everything else in life.
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013   General Artist
Thanks. :)
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:iconstraightx:
straightx Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
Just experiment with layer styles until you find one that clicks. The most popular are multiply, color and overlay. There is no sure fire way to go from black and white to color. Some just do a quick color layer then add all the finer details in color. Here is Dave Rapoza going from a monochromatic image to color. [link]

And to answer your question specifically if it's too dark or not. What you have is fine. I think you'll notice quickly how each layer style will effect the image.
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013   General Artist
Thanks so much. I saw tutorials using color and multiply layers, but not overlay. Will have to check. Thanks again. :XD:
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:iconstraightx:
straightx Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
You could also try using a gradient map. [link]
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:iconmatsuemon:
Matsuemon Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2013
Thanks for those links, Straight! I've heard people using gradient maps for this but have nooooo idea how to do it. I'll check out the links.
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:iconrayn3ll:
Rayn3ll Featured By Owner Jan 12, 2013   General Artist
Thanks. Already bookmarked it.
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:iconstraightx:
straightx Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
And part 2 :P [link]
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:iconknozos:
knozos Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2013  Student Digital Artist
the levels tool and histogram will tell you if your picture has a high or low contrast, the information panel also helps. Usually you don't want any main element with less than 20% brightness or over 95%, below 10% brightness everything looks basically black. All that makes more sense when printing though, but you can also apply it to on-screen stuff.
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