Thursday, May 20, 2010

How to become awesome! part 2 (and in black and white)

One thing I noticed in the last few weeks is the excitement with a lot of people on the internet about working from B/W and adding color later on.

I learned this from Bobby Chiu as well, and I have to say that I immediately started working with this, but I did it the other way around, because I never got the colors right after adding them to a B/W image. Instead, I use(d) it to check the values of the colored image. In my opinion the only reason to start in B/W; Because of the values.

The values of your original B/W image are different from the colored image (I prefer to check values of your colored image by adding a black layer on top and the blend mode on color, instead of turning the saturation down). Just check it yourself.

Experimenting with technical theories is what you should do. Understand them. Don't expect these kind of trics to do the magic for you. Make it work.


  1. Hi Michael!

    Yup, you are right. I have tried the technique and it doesn't give a result as good as working directly with color. The good point of going from grayscale to color is that you can concentrate first on the value and then "play" with this psychology of color (that's why I thought the technique was about)

    The problem is that when color is added, the values change, as you said (brighter if you add them in overlay mode and darker if you use multiply instead) I also tried to set the value layer in Luminosity mode and color in a layer below, it works better than the other two techniques, but the clearest values get brighter.

    The solution? I guess that there are two choices left, but this is only my opinion:

    1. Start directly with color, painting in normal mode using a short number of layers (Richard Williams Law KISS (keep it simple, stupid)) Plain and simple, like we do in a good old canvas.

    2. Make a mix between the two techniques. starting by doing some general values in B/W and then, starting to work it with color before it's even defined.

    And now for the question. How do you work your digital paintings?

  2. Hi Spiritto,

    Thanks for your comment.
    I always start working in color. I only check my values during the process. This way I feel more in control of my painting and color technique. I also forced myself not to use blendmodes as a part of my painting process (I used to do that a lot), because it gives you a better understanding of the use of color and next to that, using blendmodes leaves the endresult in the hands of a blendmode one happens to like.

    In general, to give you a really simple example, you could use less saturated colors for areas that are less important and more saturated colors for the focal point.

    I'll keep in touch with your blogposts to see how things are working out for you!

  3. thank you for addressing this :)

    There are so many artists starting out this way, and it's easily evident in the final colour pieces. It's missing that 'spark'

    I think it's important that people struggle through these things just like you say. Experiment! One person's way is not the only way.

  4. HI again Michael, I finally used your advice and started practicing some digital painting, working with the color from the very beginning.
    You can check the result on my blog. I still have to practice a lot to develop the technique and gain some speed.

    However, thank you very much again for this post. It really helped me to get curious about the different methods and test them by myself in practical work.

  5. You're welcome, Spiritto! keep it up!