Digital Illustration: Underpainting Made Easy! | Sydney H. | Skillshare

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Digital Illustration: Underpainting Made Easy!

teacher avatar Sydney H., Digital Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (48m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Creating Transparent Lineart (Optional)

    • 3. Masking your Drawing

    • 4. My Approach to Backgrounds

    • 5. Adding Your Base Colors

    • 6. Adding Shadows

    • 7. Enhance with Ambient Light

    • 8. Add More Lighting!

    • 9. Project Overview

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About This Class

For this class you will need a graphics tablet (or tablet with pen stylus)!

Ever wanted to enhance your coloring and make it more dramatic without having to fuss over un-harmonized colors? Then join me in this class to learn how I create the under-paintings of my illustrations.

Over the years, I have learned and collected multiple different rendering techniques from many artists. After learning and studying how other artists create their forms, I began to combine the ones that looked the best for my illustrations. The best part about this method is that after you finish your under painting, you can either declare yourself done or continue to refine the drawing further! Not only that, it allows for colors to harmonize naturally without much editing later. For the best results, it’s helpful to be aware of color theory and how it works. However, even if you don’t know that much about it, you can still achieve amazing results by following what looks good to you. While this is a continuation of my first class,  Digital Illustration: Digital Sketching Basics to Tips and Tricks, it is not required to complete this course.

Join me in this class to expand and learn a new easy method of under painting!

PLEASE NOTE: In this class I will be using Adobe Photoshop during my process. Having a tablet with a stylus is essential for this course to be completed smoothly.

Tools You Need:

-Tablet with a Stylus (Graphics Tablet)

-Adobe Photoshop

  Music Credits:

Open Hand Project (Music by Marcus) - "Techy"

Bensound - "Straight"

Open Hand Project (Music by Marcus) - "New Heights"

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sydney H.

Digital Illustrator



A freelance artist creating artwork that strives to engage and generate pieces that everyone can enjoy. I love exploring multiple fields of the art some of which is digital, traditional, design! I'm highly influenced by old illustrators (like J.C Leyendecker), anime, and video games.


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1. Introduction: ever wanted to enhance your coloring and make it more dramatic without having to foster over on harmonised colors and join me in this class. But learn how I create the under paintings for my illustrations in photo shop. Over the years, I have learned in collected multiple, different rendering techniques for many artists. After learning and studying how other artists create their forms, I began to combine the ones that looked the best in my style. The best part about this method is that after you finished your under painting, you can either declare yourself finished our continued or find the drawing further. Not only that, and allows for colors to harmonize naturally, without much editing for the best results, it's helpful to be aware of color theory and how it works. However, even if you don't know that much about it, you can still achieve amazing results by following what looks good to you. While this is a continuation of my first class digital illustration, digital sketching basics of tips and tricks, it is not required to complete this course. All you need is a drawing or liner to get started. Please note that having a talent and a stylist is essential for this course to be completed smoothly. Join me in this class to expand and learn a new easy method of under painting. 2. Creating Transparent Lineart (Optional): If you have taken my previous class sketching basics of tips and tricks, you should already have Leinart prepared. But just in case you don't, I will show you how to prepare your lines for color. But I didnt go over. Previously in my other class was how to mask out your character. If you have traditional liner, depending on whether or not you have a traditional or a digital liner, the steps will be slightly different. Since I usually draw digital liner with transparency in mine, I can easily correa layer below it, and the colors will show through with no problem. But if you have a traditional liner, you need to make an Alfa version of your drawing, which is just a fancy term for making the white paper transparent to city like this. I'm going to merge the liner with a white background layer. If you don't have traditional liner or a black white digital drawing, you're welcome to skip this lesson. The first thing you're going to do is high in the contrast of your liner, so there are less Gray's and more blacks and whites to do this, go to image adjustments, brightness and contrast If you have a little bit of shading, make sure the whites and you're drawing are bright white with minimal gray areas. This is very important if you plan on using a lot of light colors on your drawing, says I don't have to worry about that. I'm going to just adjust the lines to be darker. Then go to your layer window and click on the channel's tab. If you don't have that time, open, use window channels to bring it up. It should bring you to a tab that looks like this with red, green and blue listed. Bring your cursor to the bottom of your channel window and click on the dot a circle icon on the far left. Once you click this, it will select all of the whites and you're drawing. Switch over to your layer tap in Korea new layer. Then you shift control I to invert your selection so it selects only the blacks and you're dry Completely. Fill your selection with a color by using edit and Phil, and now you have the Alfa version of your drawing. Use the eyes on the side of the layer to hide the original drawing so you can see the transparency 3. Masking your Drawing: Once you have your lines prepared, it's time for you to start masking your drawing. Not only does this make it easier for adding color, it prevents a lot of headaches later on down the road. Am I drawing? I have two objects that I need to mask the character and the dragons. Since they're two separate things, I need to treat them as such. After I make a quick adjustment with liquefy, I take my magic wand tool and select the outside of my drawing. Once I haven't selected, I go to select modify expense. I like to expand the selection by two pixels. That way, the selection is more within the character and then go to select universe to invert the selections that covers my entire character. Once that is done, I create a new layer below and feel this election with edit Phil. If you want to prevent yourself from accidentally feeling in your liner, Oh, Pacey, lock the layer with this checkered box in the layer panel by taking this precaution and helps you catch yourself before you ruin your work most of the time, and you will have to either erase or fill in the tight spots of your mask with a hard brush . This happens to be mostly near the face and hair, since I tend to be buried detail, The fine tuning pays off in the long run. Trust me on this one from, unlike the character liner, the dragons were nearly as easy to mask. If you have any broken lines in your liner, it prevents the magic one tool from selecting what you actually want. Well, I could go through and filling the dragons with a hard brush. It would have taken a lot longer than I want, and I'm all about getting things done quickly. So instead, I decided, connect the lines of the dragon with a hard brush and then continue with the selection method I demonstrated earlier. - I then ran into a dilemma masking the dragons. The dragon layer was greed on top of the character, since the majority of it is supposed to be in front of her. But I didn't want the dragons mask and lines to overlap with the character when it wasn't intended to. So I decided that it would be best if I raised out the parts that overlapped and then left the ones that didn't. This is one of the reasons. By masking is so helpful, I could easily select the character mask and use that selection to erase the parts of the dragon without touching anything outside of it. I like to consider the selection tool and masking as your safety net. Not only is it easy to use, it could make your digital painting process much faster. 4. My Approach to Backgrounds: I like to consider the way I do backgrounds a bit different than how most people would do it. Backgrounds air, usually not the main focus of my illustrations. So I try to be as minimal as possible. The background for me is all about creating an atmosphere. With that in mind, I then start to pay a black and white background. I start off with a based color of light grey that fills my canvas and then create layers on top of it to build up my background from. I want to go with something more dramatic in that brought attention back to the character. So I had the idea of using a flame shape to show that she is in motion or tearing through the environment. I try to keep my gestures loose in the beginning until I have a more concrete of what I'm going for. My favorite part about the background is adding color, and it's not as hard as you might think. Go to your layers panel and click on the circle to bring up a list of options and click on Great map, and it will bring up a window with a Grady int of your primary and secondary colors. That great map will use your values in your background to place its colors and your Grady in. You'll see that all of my darker values take on the color on the left side of the radiant and my lighter values taken the color of the right side of the Grady. In this way, you can manipulate the colors of your blacks, whites and grays with practically no effort at all. The best way to begin creating agreement for your background is to choose two different colors. They could be different in value, shade or hue. You can shift this watch around to change where the color will show up in your values. Even the slightest shift could dramatically change the impact of your background. You could even add more colors simply by clicking somewhere on the Grady Int and then shifting it to the value wanted to be. By adding additional colors, you could easily introduce new colors to your illustration. This is the best time to experiment and see what appeals to you. - After I decided on the overall colors, I wanted to add a little bit more to it. This is where the blending modes and image adjustments come in handy. The mining modes I use the most or overlay multiply in color dodge. I use overlay in order to add subtle colors to my palette. Not only can the over layer enhance the color that is below it, you can also shift. It's you in a way that harmonizes with the surrounding colors and makes the overall image more visually appealing. I tend to use a soft brush in order to achieve the best results, and then wanted to add more shadows into the background to to do this, I create another layer on top and said it to multiply. Multiply combines the color below and the color you are painting with to a darker shade that embodies both of them. It's one of the easiest ways to blanket shade everything without spending a lot of time. I don't use color dodge often, but what I do is usually when I want a dramatically light in an area or at a glow. In this case, I wanted to create a mood in the background with a combination of using the soft brush and the eraser tool. I made the moon fit in with the clouds in order at a second color. To this guy, I created a new layer. Set it to overlay countries. Deal. Pass you to tempt the sky color towards a blue. Rather than agree. I tend to play around with the different shapes, textured rushes and even carve out shapes with the eraser tool. If I feel like you add something extra to the peace, don't forget that you can change the opacity and different blending modes. Other than the ones I've mentioned, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find a lot of approaching backgrounds in this manner. No land. Does it continue to harmonize the image? The more you work on it, you are also free to experiment and see how colors interact and how they affect the mood of your illustration. 5. Adding Your Base Colors: once you have amassed done. If you're objects, the next thing you have to do is mask out your base colors. In most cases, you should be able to use this election technique that I used in the previous lesson to mask each individual color of your illustration. But since my drawings are usually very intricate, I can't always get away with doing that without having to go back through and fix it. So instead of selecting it with the magic wand tool, I found it easier. Just outlined each part with a hard brush and then fill the inside with the same color before I go through and create new layers for the base colors. I always like to plan ahead and give each form its own folder. The character look at its own folder. And so with the Dragons, you can create a folder for your forms by clicking this folder icon at the bottom of the layer panel. Once it's created, rename it to the name of your form and then drag your object layer on top of the folder and place it in there. Most of the time. I end up creating a ton of players for the base colors. So using the folder method to group those layers together is easiest way for me to queue track and keep them organized. Since we have this silhouette mast out already and make spending the base colors a lot easier, create a new layer on top of the so let and right click it to create a clipping mask. You will see that layer and then to the right and then have an arrow pointing downwards by creating a clipping mask. Your layer is now confined by the boundaries of the layer below it. His quickens the process so you don't have to continuously a race of the access of your base colors. You see me here using a hard brushed outline, the outer edges of the blue dragon and then filling it in. Since I have the blue dragon now massed out, I am free to change the color of the silver mask to the color of the other dragon, which is red. I did this simply bio Pacey. Locking the layer and using the bucket tool. I found that if you don't pay, see lock the layer before using the bucket, it might make your mask more pixelated or jagged, it isn't that noticeable from far away. But if you're planning to print a high resolution version, you don't want that to show up in your final illustration. I like to start feeling in the characters colors by filling in the silhouette mass with the color that appears below all the other, in this case, is going to be the character's skin. I O. Pacey locked the Sylhet layer and filling the entire mass with the skin pace. After I do that, I begin feeling in other parts of the character. Since I intend to make the hair color white, I want to make sure that I completely fill it in. If you were feeling in a light color as your base, it is best to either use a dark or century color to mask it out. That way, you can make sure you feel in each and every crevice of the form from when Syria shura is filled in a pace, a lock glare and use the bucket tool to replace the color. You'll be doing this with each based color of your illustration. If you have anything colored, like stitching or small details, that are different color. Create a new layer and add it into your base colors. This will save you a lot of time piddling with it later. The state is generally all about planning ahead and setting up your illustration. Now you might be thinking, How do I know which color is to use as my base? As I mentioned earlier the characters hair is going to be white, but why did I make the base gray Instead? After many years of painting the base and shading it lay too dark, I found that it is a lot harder to protect with certain forms should be, and that sometimes so shading isn't as smooth. It's so much easier to create forms if you start with the shadow off your intended color rather than the highlight. By working backwards. In this sense, he only had to think of where the highlight should be, which is much less to think about that if you're doing it the other way around. After further inspection, I felt the sash in the left leg didn't follow the perspective of the rest of figure. You'll see me here, go back into the lives, affects the perspective of the sash, and both the base colors have a liner. This is a prime example that is never too late to go back and fix your mistakes. Since the character skin is supposed to be fair, I noticed that the base color is far too light to work with for my shadow. To fix that, I obviously lack the layer and found a darker version of the color. I've intended it towards my background color, since the shadows tend to pick up the ambient lighting of its surroundings the most. If he used colorist like I do, you can easily do this by going to the sliders and adding red, blue or greed to match to your back room. He only in a hint of this color for it to work, so there's no need to overdo it. Once all of your base colors are massed out on separate layers and all of your colors are a shade is time to start carving in some highlights, pick a color that is later than the shadow to use for your highlight and then shifted slightly towards your light sources color. In my case, since the light sources warm, I did it towards a warm yellow. I always use my airbrush for this step to create soft highlights and to get the overall idea of my light source. Remember when I said that the shadows pick up the most ambient lighting? By taking advantage of that tip, you can make your character blended with the background even more. Choose a color that dominates your backer in the most, an airbrush along the edges of the shadow. This adds more dimensions to your forms and even make sure shadows more saturated. They previously look knows how that slight color change makes a huge difference in how your forum looks. And now with the Dragons, I took a slightly different approach since I intended for the Dragon sued more like a aura . I didn't want the lions to look too harsh, so I decided it would be passed. If I use caution. Blur to reduce the edges. Events at the Dragons liner to multiply and a Pacey locked it in order to color it. I like to fill in the lines with a darker shade of the main color. By doing this, it softens. Airliner in blends, aligns with the base after a while you'll notice that I'll start using a different brush other than the airbrush. I don't usually do this if I'm painting a solid object, but since the dragons air intended it to be semi transparent, I wanted to add a bit of dimension and texture to them. This is where the texture brushes really come in handy for those quick effects here I used a combination of a cloud brush, an airbrush to get that fiery look. I don't try to add too much here, though, since I plan to add more luminous effects later from. I then decided to take it a bit further and blend at the edges of the directions mask and liner with a sledge tool. I did this in order to give the illusion the or was not confined to a solid form, which is important for the flame. Look I was going for after I finished that I went back to the character liner, set it to multiply and also colored it in. I always color in the liner with an airbrush to ensure that their smooth transitions between the colors you will most likely noticed dark patches in the liner, especially where you have light colors are relaxed. The best way to fix that is to go back into your base mask and paint underneath for your race to find tune. Take the time now to double check all of your base colors and masks to see if there any fixes you need to make. Once you do this, you can either leave the layers as they are and keep them grouped in a folder. Or you could merge all of the base colors down to reduce the file size. This is by far the most time consuming part of the entire process, but it will be well worth it if you stick with it until the end. 6. Adding Shadows: the best thing about setting up your base colors like I did in the previous lesson, is that now you can just focus on the fine details. The base colors are a nice undertone for the shadows you're about to make in this lesson. Believe it or not, I actually use just one color to paint on the main shadows. The color that I choose depends on the overall temperature of the light source. Have I have a warm light source, which usually is towards the red yellow spectrum. I will go with this de saturated violent right here. If the light sources cold like blue or purples, I would choose a warmer shadow like this to saturate pink. Well, I find these colors are optimal for shadows, no matter what color you choose, is very important for that color to be de saturated. If it is too saturated, it will be easier for your shadows to pick up other colors later. In order to make it to saturated, bring the color closer to the left side of the color wheel. Once you have selected your shadow color, create a new layer on top of your Objects folder and create clipping mask and set your layer to multiply. I like to start with the overall cast shadow of the form and then go into specific details like folds increases later. In order to achieve this, I gradually build up the shadows and multiply layers with the use of, Ah, hard brush and this much tool. I start by painting the area desired, and if I wanted to soften or blend it, I would use this much tool. This much tool is a preset I have in order to blend my colors faster with a better texture . The texture prevents it from looking too smooth and uniform, which I love. If there is a larger area you want to cover in shadow, I highly recommend you start with the Arab rush instead. Since it will cover more ground for you, don't forget that you can also use the eraser tool to sharpen up. Edges are forms as needed. The right edges can show the difference between a sharp and soft transition of a form. It is important to be aware of them when creating believable textures and shapes like clothing, hair or even rocks. Since the I doesn't read every detail instantly. A little can go a long way when it comes to quickly reading forms. Now, remember when I said that having the shadow colored too saturated was going to be important ? Well, this is the part where you take advantage of that. Sometimes the lighter colors don't always benefit from the violet shade, so this is where the saturated color comes in. Lock your shadow layer and use your airbrush for this step by choosing a lighter hue of the base and painting along the edges that are facing the light source. It allows your shadows to transition into your highlights much better. It livens up your shadows and also gives them a bit of a glow. - After you finished those shadows, it's time to go into more specific shapes, create a new layer and said it to multiply like you did in the previous steps. This is a stage where I paid the most hard shadows, since a lot of the shadows are mostly accounted for with the previous layer, I like to focus more, intensifying the folds and cast shadows. Try not to paint too many shadows on the Slayer, so I don't end up making the character look too dark, depending on the texture of the object. I sometimes like to go back and that address the liner so it blends more. You see me do that here on the characters back with a combination of color changing and the eraser tool. After I finished the character, it's now time for me to start working on the dragons. Since the Dragon folder is transparent, clipping the shadow to the folder will make the shadow layer also transparent. However, I don't want the shadow to be the same opacity as the dragon, so I don't end up clip masking the layer for this reason. This way, the Dragon little maintain is transparency while defining more of its features. 7. Enhance with Ambient Light: I used to hear the term Amy and waiting being thrown around all the time over the years. But what actually is it? Ambient lighting is referring to the light not supplied by the photographer. I like to refer to it as natural light. A good example of this lighting is from the sky. Since the sky naturally scatters light, this light can be reflected onto an object or figure. Not only is ambient lighting making your illustration look cool, it also immerses your character into the environment. From what I've observed, a Beit lining seems to be the most noticeable in the shadows are around the edges of the character, so I try to take that concept and apply it to my own drawings. In order to set of your alien lighting lier. Simply create a new layer, clip it to the folder and set the layer moto overlay. Depending on the base color you use, you can achieve different results. Darker colors make the area you paint darker, but it also tends to make it or saturated with your primary color. Lighter colors offer a nice girl effect, which adds even more values into your piece with minimal effort attendant lean towards lighter colors in order to achieve that glow on both the shadows and the base. When you are applying your ambient lates, I recommend that you use the airbrush tool for this that way. The transitions are soft and smooth and pleasing to the eye. See how much of a difference the sky lighting makes in the darker colors of my character. Because these areas are dark and too saturated, they're more likely to take on the color of the ambient lighting that if I had a saturated color in its place. After I am finished with the sky ambient lighting, I started to work in the lighting that is directly causing my shadows Well, this isn't technically natural. I wanted to enhance my main light source by adding more dimension to the skin and a few other objects. This is where that glow that overlay supplies is awesome. By painting over the highlight areas with this light orange, it blends the colors into each other. Not only that, it shows up. The objects are related to one another, rather than them being separate. You can also use early to liven up your base. Colors are at a bit of contrast to, I mostly do this with the skin around the face so it stands out since overly contrasts and as close to the area you paint, it may wash out details of your drawing in order to fix that, I like to create another layer on top, clip it to the folder and said it to multiply. Then choose your favorite hard brush with a similar shadow color to the one used in the last lesson. I then begin painting over certain areas in order to bring back the details I might have lost. Originally. Some of the most common areas I tend to tackle in the figure are the eyes, folds and drop shadows. Make sure you zoom out periodically just to make sure you don't overdo it. You want this step to add even more dimension to your dry, not flat it from. See how much of a difference those little shadows made 8. Add More Lighting!: Now it's time to take your illustration to the next level by adding even more lighting effects. This is the part where I like to enhance my colors and make each object stand out. Since the dragons are considered it a light source, I'm going to start by defining its form even more. I create a new layer and switch it to overlay to enhance the areas of the dragon that are not in shadow. By using overlay in this manner, I could lighten and saturate the color of the dragons from in order to make the dragon appear fiery. I need to make the center of the dragon lighter than the outside, much like how you would see in an actual flame. Perfect way to do this is to create another layer on top and switch it to lean your dodge in your dodge as luminosity to any color that is below it. It usually appears less saturated, but it's perfect for any type of intense light source. He'll see me switching between several different texture brushes and already create the fiery look. When it comes to making quick textures, I find it much easier to imply it with texture brushes rather than painting individuals strokes well, it is easier and faster. It doesn't mean that technique is completely thrown out the window. A commonly switch between overlay and leaner dodge at the stage and or itchy of my desired look for the dragons. I'm now going to start carving in the reflected light onto the character. In order to do that, I'm going to great a new layer on top, clip it and switch it to lean your dodge. The type of lighting I feel is the most neglected is reflected light. Reflected light occurs when a light source hits one object and then reflects the color onto the shadow side of another. Notice how in this image that the red bleeds into the shadows of the face. That is happening because the light source hits the red card and then bounces back towards the left side of the face. An essence it becomes another light source. Not only does it define your core shadows, it also shows that all of the objects are related and belong together. I found that leaner dodge does the best job of creating reflected lights lighter. The color used, the water and more dis saturated. It will appear since the as luminosity and looks too saturated. It doesn't take over the shadows. Unlike some other blending modes, this guy naturally scatters light in order to form its color, so it will be in the main source of reflected light in my shadows. I want to be obvious that the reflected light has a hint of blue, so I dark in my color before painting the lights in. It's I use the same method when I work on the highlights as well. I tend to work on the reflected light in the highlights at the same time out of habit, but you're welcome to create. Separate layers were both, so you don't mix the colors or get confused. If they're reforms that get lost in your shadows, you can use linear dodge to bring them out as well as with edges. Don't be afraid to smooth the side of the line down with smudge tool. Even the smallest amount of linear dodge on edge of a form can make a huge difference. It's after I zoomed out, I found that I wanted to add even more glow and color into the drawing, particularly in the skin and the dragons instead of using overlay and linear dodge. For this, I like to use color dodge color Dodge is like the best of both worlds. It lends but also saturates the color beneath, which is perfect for adding more glow in a more subtle fashion. I always use the airbrush for this is all about enhancing and building upon what I painted earlier from this point forward. As I was nearing the end of the under painting, I wasn't satisfied with how the dragons look, so I started messing with the folders blending mode. I then found that light and made the dragons look more like an aura. I knew that I could define them further in the over painting stage, so I decided to go with it after adding a little bit more blending layers. The under painting was pretty much done at this point, so I decided to take a break from it and come back with fresh eyes. One last adjustment that I made to my drawing was salting the canvas slightly. I did this. So the direction of the lines in the composition, particularly the dark streak in the middle look more appealing to me. Not only that, tilting it made the figure look more active rather than stagnant. If you're ever not sure about your composition, see if tilting it makes it look more interesting. And now the under painting is completely finished. 9. Project Overview: I used his process all the time when I color my illustrations. But I also find that this method works the best when the drawing includes dramatic lighting , which I love to do already. Now that I've walked you through. How to set up your drawings for my techniques and the steps I take in order to complete the under painting is now time to apply it to your own drawings. For your project. Create an under painting with dramatic lighting. The more dramatic the better. You can even place your character or object next to intense light. Source. If you wish, make sure that you have a tablet and stylus on hand if you wish to complete this project without any headaches. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below and thank you for enrolling in my class.