Digital Painting in Photoshop: Grayscale to Color | Christopher Cant | Skillshare
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Digital Painting in Photoshop: Grayscale to Color

teacher avatar Christopher Cant, Illustrator and Concept Artist

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

    • 1.

      Introduction

      0:49

    • 2.

      When to Colourise?

      2:00

    • 3.

      Environmental Colour

      8:29

    • 4.

      Hue Adjustment

      2:47

    • 5.

      Local Colour

      5:04

    • 6.

      Saturation Adjustment

      2:24

    • 7.

      Exploration

      2:31

    • 8.

      Overlay Layers

      2:54

    • 9.

      Luminosity Layers

      3:51

    • 10.

      Normal Layers

    • 11.

      Soft Light Layers

      2:21

    • 12.

      Colour Dodge Layers

      1:42

    • 13.

      Using Layer Shortcuts

      1:50

    • 14.

      Finishing up and Merged Layer

      1:34

    • 15.

      Proof Colours

      1:50

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About This Class

In this 40 minute class you will learn how to effectively colourise a greyscale painting in Adobe Photoshop, maintaining flexibility and control throughout, as well as learn the function and use of many of the layer types within photoshop.  I also cover some tips and tricks to help the process go more smoothly, and push your skills and knowledge to the next level.

The class is broken into 14 short and consumable lessons, each explaining and utilising a layer type or tool in the colouring process, and sharing my knowledge from years of digital painting experience

I start by discussing when the right time to add colour to a painting is, then explain colour layers and demonstrate how to use them in an intelligent way to create convincing colour palettes and compositions.  I explain how to use the power of photoshop to remain flexible and experimental with these colour choices.  Next, I demonstrate and explain proper use of many other layer types and use them to push our colour further; lastly I explain some other tools I use to make my greyscale to colour process go more smoothly.

I have designed this class to be useful to all skill levels; I'm confident beginner and advanced artists will also benefit from watching and working along with the course.

This class can be completed with any drawing tablet, as long as it has pressure sensitivity.  The brushes I use are supplied, as well as the greyscale portrait I colourised if you would like to follow along and reproduce my exact steps.

I hope you find this course very educational, and if you have any feedback or requests please don't hesitate to contact me.

Meet Your Teacher

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Christopher Cant

Illustrator and Concept Artist

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Level: All Levels

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hey, guys, what's going on? I'm Christopher Can't for those that don't know me, I'm a professional illustrator working within the entertainment industry. I'm the creator of the 1,000,000 Legacy and of self employed artists in this class. I'll be taking you through my favorite process for colorizing a graceful painting in Photoshopped, including an explanation of many of the different types of layer on how to use them. This process is easy, powerful and flexible, so I really feel like you'll find this class valuable. So before we get into it, let's just make sure the tablets plugged in. You felt a shots fired up. So is your heart. Let's go. 2. When to Colourise?: okay. Today I'll be showing you how to colorize grayscale painting. I've painted this character bust to demonstrate on. As you can see, he is completely gray scale. At the moment, I've kept some previous stages of the painting for you. Toe take a look at these stages could all be viable times to add color to this grayscale. I've just decided to work the painting this far before adding color. Sometimes I might add color much sooner, sometimes much later. In the case of this painting, I hadn't felt the need to know what cover up any of this was. I just worked it up this bar happily in grayscale not wondering what color anything was until I hit the point where we're at right now. And I would use that as a barometer to decide when to jump over to color. It's when you feel like you'd like to in the piece when you think I would like to work on the color on. If that happens to be right at the beginning, so be it. If that happens to be right at the end, so be it. But the thing is really a wrong answer on because of the process will be using that. I'll demonstrate today. It doesn't matter how early or late you have a color. This process is flexible enough to handle whenever you colorize. So with that, I think we are ready to begin. The file for this painting is available below as a resource. If you want to work on this, piece yourselves. Or you could have coast create one of urine. Please do work alongside me on share what you've made in the class projects. Okay, I look forward to seeing you in them, and I hope you enjoy this tutorial. 3. Environmental Colour: But first they're gonna be adding a few different global Hughes to the peace, not work to entrance saturation, just thes different hues. Our focus. For now, saturation is right. We start the process by adding a new layer. Then, in this drop down selecting color, colonel heirs are unique in that they ignore value information in the letter. They really show the hue and saturation information so I can paint in gross scale on this layer, and none of the information shows up, but you can see by the thumb. Now I am making months. If I change the layer type into normal, the frustrates show up, so marks are being made. But because it's a color air that's ignoring the value information, it's not sure change this back to color. So I prefer to start off colorizing with this type of color layer type because it doesn't disrupt grace cow, it doesn't touch values at all. First you were going to add will be a warm brownie orange to the underside of the various forms. For my character, this is on a downward facing planes, as if the forms are reflecting the ground. So let's get started brushing that in now. I prefer Teoh rush color in by and let me just tweeted the color a little. I prefer to brush color in my hand. It lends more of a painterly look to the final product. It might take a little longer, but I prefer to avoid that very digital look of using a different method like, uh, radiance. So So I'm just adding it to various planes around that I think would reflect the ground. That's why I picked this form brown color expression on the inside of the helmet. Decide the breastplate showed a pats. Okay. Underside of this sword here. Make sure to catch the skin on his face. Now is his face wouldn't necessarily be perfected ground. But I do know that I want his face and his hand to be warm saying with this, please, I know that I want them to be warm colors by the end of the piece released. That's what I'm predicting. For them, you can always change on mine by the end, predicting that I'd like things to be warm colors, sir, I'm not as well brush this warm brown orange in that. No. Okay. I'm satisfied with that. So now we're going to make a new color founding a new, different color. This time it's going to be a call Blue. We have this to upward facing planes, parts of the forms that face the sky, as if they are reflecting this guy. So pressure on top of the helmet is the obvious choice. Aldrin's president all with the sword. Of course, Andi. I will be pretty much on his face, maybe none at all, because skin is not very reflective, a little bit on my hand. Skins are very reflective on the face. Tends to be. It's usually quite met. Red cheeks, red nose, red lips, blood flowing close to the surface of the skin. So reflecting this guy, it's not a large factor. I'm going to add some to the top of sleeve as well. Okay, now I'd like to put purple in the shadows, so another color for that bubble is, uh, it's a personal choice. I think purple lives brilliant in the shutters. It's pretty often that you'd want to use it cool color in the shadows because your your right would be warm and that for your shadows, cool. Some kind of brush this into all the different shadow areas on a few other extra areas. Just handsome Hugh variation. That's another thing that's nice about using purple. For. This is it's nice. Que variation. It's just an interesting It's the color. It's got a lot of debts in my thinking. So just mentioned. Catch everything that's in shadow dark areas right up this year, purple tense of it, quite good as it has an accent color on blood. So I tend to add it to any black materials that I have in the piece, just as a way to add some interest. What's gonna brushed on the skin? It's good around the knuckles around the facial features to represent that that high blood flow crusted service. It's game. Okay, finishing up. I think we're good. Another color layer. This time we're going to add a teal light blue color. Do the edge of his silhouette. Often I'll have this to both sides of the settler. Sometimes only one we're gonna do both. This imitates in some respects chromatic aberration, Uh, also how a form as it turns away from us, it will reflect more light. It's an hour, so it's imitating that also, what we're doing is we're building a pattern off color that relates to the forms in the piece. Okay, so every plane that faces downward is given this warm, orangey brown color. Every plane that faces upward is given a cool blue. Every plane that is in shadow. We have this purple to it on and planes as they turned away from us, we had this teal to it. This pattern helps communicate to the viewer which direction these planes are facing. It reinforces. Now. This deal is too strong. So I'm gonna turn down the possibility that if I go all the way to zero, you can see the layer is now invisible back up to 100 fully visible. I'm gonna tweak it down to around 70. I think that feels about right. There's a little overbearing and that wraps up this phase. Now this is something that I do for every painting, but I'm colorizing these same fall. There's in this same order brown downward planes. We went up up in the shadows till in the sometimes I mix up those colors. But usually it's those four. It's a unifying palette that I use for all of my personal work before we go on. I want to stay all these four colors added to everything in the piece. Not just if you'll end up blue or brown or purple. We do it, Teoh. Everything, regardless of the color we think, will be at the end as it's a under painting that will unify the whole he's together on will show through by the end of the painting. Also, don't worry about catching every single plane during this phase. This is just a rough under painting. We don't need to worry too much about being 100% accurate. No. Should you worry too much about saturation? This has been about Hugh saturation. We will tweet later. 4. Hue Adjustment: okay, I would like to introduce you to the hue slash saturation adjustment. The shock up is control you. It is now if we select the first parallel with brown downward facing planes and we can use this to edit the queue with that so we can change that brown to be any color that we would like it to be. And I just play with this just in case there's a come out that I prefer to the brown that we originally picked in case my instincts were wrong. Andi, in this case, I think slightly more yellow down the original color looks a bit better. The most of play with the saturation. But I tend Teoh, tweak thesis iteration later in the process, I think. And that'll do it for this there. So one of the second, this is the sky blue I put facing there. So we're gonna do the same thing. We're gonna tweet that you just check, see if there's a slightly better color. Just tweaking. Looking for small improvements. I think we're gonna make a little more green saturation. Should be fine. Yeah, Okay. I think that's the blue Done once the next This is the purple in the shadows first? Just trying, pumping up the saturation. Maybe a little bit. The issue more. I think it was a case. It waas Yeah, yeah. Okay. On finally the teal on the edges again. Tweak, flee, saturation. Think okay with you without a maybe a greener with this one as well. I'm not using any special rules or anything for this. I really I'm just playing with the huge slider, seeing if anything jumps out that May is looking a bit better. So the shortcut for that is controlling you, or you get to image adjustments, hue slash saturation, and that concludes this part off e class. 5. Local Colour: right At this point of the painting, we have a good color foundation where each color represents a particular facing of planes. That reinforces the idea that he's in an environment, reinforces the idea that he's built up. Volumes on those volumes are made of planes that face different directions. So far, we're gonna use these four colors on the whole painting. I don't put much thought into what color each material or objects will be, except for whether I want it to be warmer, such as skin so more of the orange in your cooler went the armor, which I added more polluted. So that is what we will tackle next. First things first we add another color on and I'm going Teoh tackle his plate. First, we're gonna make it red so I can brush this song very thin, very lightly on that is so the foundation colors underneath can show through. See, because of those colors, we've automatically got nuance on Dhue variation in this plane having some visual interest . If I turned these layers off, you see no than you wants is gone. We just read on gray. If I turned back on that small, nuanced comes back. It's very slight, but in my mind it helps bridge that gap between a digital process on day. Traditional looking painting synods mixture red two possible plea. Mostly where I feel like it would be denser whether be more strands, so the red would come through a bit stronger. And if you feel like you've gone too far with color, you could just hold Pick something without any color in it, like the gray of canvas or the black in the background, and brush that over and that'll work back the okay. Think I'm happy we're gonna make another color. This one's for his skin on. We're going to start by adding some yellow to his face just again. It's for a bit of a few variations, and we don't need to be very delicate. We can just brush this on quickly because I created a new land for that yellow. I can use control. You just play with this you? No. Yeah, my seem like adding a lot separate colors, and we are but control you. It's so useful that I feel it's worth and we can always take time to merge these layers all together later down the road once our colors are properly established and we're happy with them. So don't worry that we might have to finish this piece with 500 layers or something. It's Ah, that's not gonna happen. All right? So I think it's time for another color there. His hand feels very pale, so we're gonna add some red to it. So it feels like some blood something through his fingers. Okay, I think I got a bit far. So I would use the A razor to work this back. Another advantage off using one layer, one color we can if we get too far out with just raise it back like this. Have no fear off removing any of the other color on that hand. Andi, I feel like editing the color of one of these plates. So another layer, um, maybe a goals. So we'll just rush this in by hand as well. Andi, I'm gonna try and leave some of the under color showing through in spots. I should probably raise back just here, you know, to fulfill what I just said and, uh, control you again. You know, just to see, just takes a second. Just to see if there's something that that there was better than the gold we picked. But nothing is really jumping out. I think instincts were right this time. Yep. Yet so I will add this to the other side. Just come pick on, rush it in again. On with that we are done with our color lays. 6. Saturation Adjustment: At this point, I am happy with Paris that we've got, but we are a little de saturated. I like to remedy that by using just one player. Now, instead of using a saturation adjustment layer, I prefer to use a vibrance adjustment. This lad type still effects saturation, but in a different way to be saturation adjustments for play. With these sliders, you can see the saturation is being pumped up quite a lot. Just take that down. So if we if we pump up, vibrates all the way to 100 this is the result that you get nothing too overbearing. Now just turn it off on one again, okay? It's now if I add a hue slash saturation adjustment land. And then if I pumped this all the way up, we got really blown out saturation. Of course, you don't have to put it all the way up to 100. You can play with the slider and end it with decent results. It's no useless to adjust saturation, but I just find that the vibrance layer has got more nuanced control with these two separate sliders. Even if I push both, slide is all the way up to 100. We get colors that are still usable. They are oversaturated but could still use them. They're still natural looking, and that's why I prefer the vibrance layer to the hue slash saturation. So I'm just gonna play with these sliders until I find some settings that I enjoy and want to keep going back and forth with both of them messing around. Did I find something I like? Once I've made changes to be so I do like to hide on Hydra Layer just to compare what we have always got. I'm pleased with these increases in saturation. I think it's just enough still has a somber mood, not too colorful. It brings out the couples on the blues in particular, so let's move on. 7. Exploration: that's what we have at this stage. Is all of our different elements of the painting separated into different layers. We have first values, then environmental colors, then local color and finally, saturation. I like to take this opportunity just to play once more with the kind of parent that we've set up, and we can even try completely different color schemes. So let's try changing the color of this downward facing planes to maybe Green instead of brown as if he's standing in a field, perhaps. Okay, that's good. Now that's changed the sky reflection, maybe us blue. Yeah, he was going for a big graham on the third layer. Is the purple in the shadows. We will change this. Okay, We'll make it sort of greeny blue. Okay, Andi last for these environments. For colors, it's the teal. Or maybe just so, we are gonna do the opposite and make it. Yeah, Andi, we've changed the cars quite drastically. I don't really like the changes we've made, but I just wanted to demonstrate that you can. You can tweet the colors really easily with this because we set things up so that environmental colors have local colors. Are separate from each other. I can change the local color off. The flu, for example, on the new environmental colors will still affect it the same way as the rest of the peace . So we don't have to worry about having inconsistent reflected colors when we change the color of the plume. For example, if you change the flu Q of it on, it's still reflects the same environmental colors, just like the rest of the character and off course we can still at it the vibrance adjustment layer tweaking the saturation of the painting, which, if you adjusted the pilot a lot, then you might want to do this. But I'm gonna go ahead and I'm do these changes because I don't really like what we did to this guy on. Okay, let's move on to the next face 8. Overlay Layers: all right colors fully established, but we have a problem that is that Now that I've added color, I realized that the grayscale under painting is a little insufficient. The values I noticed good as I thought they were semi solution for this is to make an overlay layer Andi, using black and white and a large soft brush Andi again keeping black to one layer on white to another. You should start for that in the white will make brush nice and dick. And I'm gonna use this to make broad changes across the character really writing up the planes that face that sky, I'm going to use these overly layers. In this case, it's very more contrast between lit areas of character and unlit areas of the character. It's a really good lawyer type for making these kinds of changes on. Of course, we can use control you. Additionally, a type is well on with it. We can turn down or turn up the value on the layer. We can even colorize it. Alternatively, we can turn down the layer by changing its capacity, and we could always use the razor to work it back as well. Okay, We will create another over there later, this time for Black on using a big soft brush, we will talking areas that are in the shadow on. We can be experimental here, making his face a bit darker, just trying things out because we've separated everything out by layer. We can afford to be experimental. Just try things out. We don't need to commit to anything. You just play, have fun and see if we thought with anything stronger. If not, just work it back a little bit. Or due to eat the layers. Turn down the A pass ity of the lair so you can see overly layers are like a wash in that they're fairly transparent on bond. Their effects are largely dictated by what is the information underneath. It's mostly useful as a glaze of a sort to exaggerate, contrast or color. So this is how I use overlay layers after placing down color just to make larger changes to the structure of the peace. Just using black family 9. Luminosity Layers: Now I am ready to continue rendering, and you might think that I would do that with normal as. But I prefer to use luminosity rates so we'll just make one of those and demonstrate how these layers work. They're interesting in that they ignore any color information in them on. And so if I pain with some bright red here, watch the lay of thumb now. Now you can see that is a bright red Rushford. But on the actual painting, that color infection is being ignored. It is only affecting the luminosity, otherwise known as the values of the painting. If I change it to normal everyday, bright red. So the color from layers beneath it shows through, you can see the purples, the blues, the Browns that we put in earlier showing through. So let me get this layer. Andi show you why this is useful. I'll make another one and will stop publishing this guy up the little now digital painting . It's a usual habit of mine to come up it from the campus on defusing normal layer and color picking from the campus, you'll end up kicking all these different colors, blending them together slowly on really muddying all this color that we've spent all this time so far deliberately placing on tweaking until we're happy instead, off using normal layers. Andi losing all this different hue variation we got going on as we slowly branded altogether by color luminosity. There's will protect us against that. We can keep our carefully curated colors while happily color picking on the campus and only affecting the values. It's extremely comfortable way to render the peace as long as the main forms already established the colors of correct. So we know we can just polish girl render up a specific part of this painting just to show you how relaxed it is to work this way. Not as I work on this CEO. Just be color picking from the area around where I'm working. I don't have to worry about the color, Hugh. What I'd pick whatsoever, I could just concentrate on building out the forms, making them read properly, having the values just right now on unexpected bonus of working this way is that you end up with very interesting hue shifts okay on within your painting because of the way we applied color to this rushing all these different hues on manually, you end up with a lot of overlap between these different hues and transitions between them in unexpected places. And when you work with a luminous through there over that, the edges between those colors on the edges between the forms will end up being different. Onda. We can correct plant if you want to buy putting down in you cola, thinking to tell her we need reapplying it. But I prefer to think of it as a attractive and organic quality of working this way. And I'll usually keep a lot of these unusual color transitions in the piece, lending it on almost watercolor like quality, and that wraps up luminosity less. 10. Normal Layers: Sometimes I will use normal s not always luminosity. Unusually. I'll use them when I want to change the silhouette that I'm working with. So if I create a new normal there outside of the mask that we're working with him, then I can just color pick from the area. I want to change the silhouette on Andi. Find the change that's similar this way. If I was to do this with a luminosity land by making you one of them, then I would caliphate from the area. But of course it's gonna ignore the color information, just pain in grayscale. So then artists create you color liar on pick again on paint that over the top so twice as much work when I know that I need to change the values and the color of something, then I will use normalize, for instance like we're doing now when I'm changing the silhouette of this character. But if I'm going to be working within the cell, aware that I much rather just used luminosity and use it to change the lighting, that extra highlights, I can even like morphology changes such as carving a big hole in this post here taking values from around it to refine the form. The colors will be incorrect now, but I can easily go back up to my color there. Tele picked again. Andi, just brush to correct colors in that some that gold Perfect, is it? If I have been using normal less than I do a very similar thing, The normal air won't have a huge variation. So place down the color pick from around the canvas and at that you variation in and then is when I will use normalize. 11. Soft Light Layers: There are a few other layer types that I will occasionally use but are part of my normal process. The first is the soft light layer type, so I will create one of them. I think of so fight layers as being halfway between the normal layer on the overlay, Just like with overly, I will typically use so flight with a large soft brush with you the black or white. I'm using it to deepen shadows. Light or not, highlights create more contrast. Now you can see that the brush strokes more hate than those with an overlay layer on more transparent than with a normal air, it does rest in the middle. Usually, I will use a soft like there when I want something with subtle changes than a normal air, or when an overlay there is too saturated, too high contrast, another situation in which I might use this stuff light layer. What makes a new one would be when I want to add color, but I also want Teoh either darken or lighten with that color as well. Carla will only obviously change hue and saturation and not values. Software clear and overly layers are capable of doing both. And typically abalone is a soft light. Later when I try to do something in overlay and it looks too high contrast to saturate it. In which case I would have changed the layer type over to stuff like which take down the saturation, take down the contrast a little now a good example for an occasion when you might want to put down the color on dark and at the same time might be when you're adding some redder areas to the face, such as the nose around the eyes, the lips. These are high blood flow. Areas of the skin will have to be darker on redder in these places, so a great opportunity to use some flash. 12. Colour Dodge Layers: another last time that I will occasionally use is colored dodge. A father's layer requires extra set up. We make one have to double click the layer thumb now and then turn off transparency shapes layer, which is right there. Look our first demonstrate how the layer works with that setting turned off, and then I'll show you the results with it turned on Later. If I throw down perhaps some orange on the highlights, as if there is a bright sunlight being reflected off his arm, then you can see what it's doing to the peace. It's really bumping up the contrast in the saturation in the highlights. It's a little like using an overlay lie, but more extreme. And typically that's when I would use a college of layer when overlay isn't high contrast, Enough isn't saturated enough. All right, let me turn on this transparency shaped to their I'll show you how the Cardoza looks with that arm. See if I turn it on and off. You can really tell that it's no longer working to bump up the contrast of the layers beneath it. It looks a lot more like a normal there. Usually I want this their type to increase the intensity of my highlights and with transparency shapes there turned on. It doesn't do that. So I recommend that you use colored or players with this setting turned off. 13. Using Layer Shortcuts: I would like to explain at this stage that though you've been seeing the make layers manually by heading the new there button at the bottom off the layers panel and then picking delay, why want from the drop down? In reality, I rarely make Claire's this way. I have set up a little short cut. Well, it's bound to one of the buttons on my pen and what's clicked. This turtle pie menu comes up with the different layer types that I most frequently used has a time saver. We have the normal way. We have very or a velocity. We have color overlay, some flat on college. I've also got flipped campus on tap to turn off the U I on this menu as well. What this allows me to do is hit the button and flick my wrist on tap in the right direction to create the type that I'm after with a process like mine. When I'm creating glares of different types a lot, this drop down is really slow, so this menu is a huge time saver. The way I've made this menu, each of these short cuts is bound to an action in which I recorded myself making the latter type. You can see the collection of actions in the top right corner that Photoshopped and then I bound them to a whack on radio menu. But they could be easily bound to any short cut. It's just the massive timesaver. You can quickly get a short cut to do these multiple steps that you'll be repeating over and over again with this process. 14. Finishing up and Merged Layer: at the end. This coloring process we have all these separate layers, different facets of the coloring process separate to that when we can easily use control you to tweak individual elements like we were going through the whole process. But once I've got everything set laid out like we have it now, I do like Teoh, spend more time going back through everything and just double checking again. We can't change the color scheme of thorough, perhaps better schemes available so we could change this car Dodge, lad, Toe blue like I done change the clue to blue as well. And once we've got a color scheme that we are happy with, we know we don't want to tweak anymore. We can optionally merged all of these separate layers into a single layer using control shift old that I create a new lead with all the visible information in it. Remember, we can't delete our group of separated layers. What we've done here is we've built a system that allows us to be very flexible without color and will allow us to just concentrate on one facet at a time. Concentrate on perfecting a single element without needing to try to get everything correct all at once, all at the same time. And then once we are happy using the power of photo shop, we can just merge it all together into that single there. 15. Proof Colours: The final tip that I would like to share with you is proof colors. If we're going to proof, set up custom and then in this drop down, choose dot gain 20%. Now, when we hit control one on the keyboard, we can toggle between viewing the peace in RGB Andi in grayscale. I like to use this quite often. Once I've colorized the painting, I would like to continue working just in values on it. I create luminosity layer hit control. Why now? Reviewing the peace in grayscale on working in grayscale at the same time. But the color information is still there. I'm not being affected. This is something that I do very often during a painting, sometimes only to quickly check my values with control while talking it to grace gown and talk with straight back to color just to see my values. Good. But quite often, once I've colored apiece, I will use control why and luminosity layers to continue working in grayscale on the painting for long periods of time. It's a particular advantage off the digital medium that I'm not afraid to take advantage off Onda with that. This is the end of this class. I have been informative. Let's talk to you a lot about how to colorize grayscale painting and remain flexible throughout. I look forward to seeing your projects on seeing you in the next class.