Faced With Fear: Conquering Your Fears of Illustrating Faces | Coloring Skin in Adobe Photoshop | Melissa Lee | Skillshare

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Faced With Fear: Conquering Your Fears of Illustrating Faces | Coloring Skin in Adobe Photoshop

teacher avatar Melissa Lee, allow yourself to fail before you succeed

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.



    • 2.

      Drawing Resource Recommendations


    • 3.

      Inking Your Pencil Drawing


    • 4.

      Digitizing Your Drawing


    • 5.

      Quick Tip for Generating Skin Tone Palettes In Photoship


    • 6.

      Shading and Highlights


    • 7.

      Demo - Base Colors


    • 8.

      Demo - Warmth, Shading, and Highlights


    • 9.

      Demo - Details


    • 10.



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About This Class

Welcome to the next session of Faced With Fear: Conquering Your Fears of Illustrating Faces! Throughout this series, illustrator Melissa Shaw guides you through the fundamentals of drawing and coloring feminine and masculine character portraits, from using basic shapes and line to build features to generating and implementing beautiful skin tone palettes.

In this class, Melissa takes you through her process for digitizing pencil and ink line art so that it can be used in Photoshop, share a quick trick for generating skin tone palettes, and demonstrate her favorite technique for digitally coloring faces.

The aim of this series is to provide you with the building blocks and knowledge you'll need in order to feel more confident in your ability to tackle drawing and coloring faces. That being said, you don't need to take the first two classes in order to benefit from this one. :]

All levels of skill are welcome! 


Adobe, and Adobe Photoshop are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

Meet Your Teacher

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Melissa Lee

allow yourself to fail before you succeed

Top Teacher

Hi! My name's Melissa Lee, and I'm an illustrator and surface pattern designer living in the hilly forests of Northern California. Alongside doing freelance and art licensing work (I am a proud Riley Blake Designs fabric designer), I've spent much of my time cultivating my love of sharing what I know and encouraging others to nourish their creative side through teaching online art courses here on Skillshare. I love making patterns, character art, and watercolor paintings. I'm endlessly inspired by animals and nature (whether living today or extinct), science fiction and fantasy, space and astrology, witchy things, and bees.

Always bees.

The classes that I teach on Skillshare focus primarily on surface pattern design, watercolor techniques, and character design. See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: If you're a begging getting digital artists, I'm sure you're familiar with that overwhelming feeling you get when you open up Photoshop to try to start coloring something and you just have no idea where to even start. Well, I know that feeling, so I want to help you take your first step towards overcoming. My name is Melissa and welcome to my series, faced with fear: conquering your fears of illustrating faces. In this class, I'll show you how a digitized pencil and ink [inaudible] that it can be used in Photoshop. But most importantly, I'll take you through my process for digitally coloring faces. I'll also share some tips and tricks on quickly generating skin tone pallets in Photoshop and on understanding coloring skin in general. If you already feel comfortable drawing faces but you have no idea where to start when it comes to digital painting, particularly when it comes to painting skin tone, then this is the class for you. Essentially, all you need is tablet and Photoshop but if you're going to use a pencil ink drawn, you'll also need access to a scanner. If you don't have Photoshop, don't worry, you can pick up a 30 day free trial at Adobe.com. Click enroll and let's get started. 2. Drawing Resource Recommendations: My final recommendations for this series are the Oatley Academy and proko.com. The Oatley Academy is a really wonderful online art education resource founded by, and primarily taught by Chris Oatley. He was an incredible character and environment artist who's worked for Disney. So he really knows this stuff. The class that I'd like to recommend in particular, since it's the only one I've signed up for so far, is the Magic Box. There are a couple of different kinds of classes at the Oatley Academy. There's the self-guided courses and the mentor courses. You click on the Magic Box and it'll give you all the information needed to know to sign up. I'm going to take you to my dashboard. The Magic Box is a self-guided, amazingly comprehensive digital painting course. There's a whole section on character painting, as you can see, and it covers such things as painting hair and painting skin in incredible detail. It's a monthly or yearly subscription, and you can even pause your subscription at anytime that you need to. Chris is enthusiastic, encouraging, and really talented, and it's a really wonderful community to be a part of. You upload homework assignment and people give you feedback, much like Skillshare. I highly recommend checking it out. In fact, some of the brushes that I use pretty regularly, and then I'm going to show you later on, I got from the Oatley Academy Brush Club, which is free for anyone. Anyway, it's a really wonderful resource for digital artists. My second recommendation is proko.com, run by Stan Prokopenko. I only just discovered this a couple of weeks ago. It's probably the best anatomy reference resource I've ever seen. He has a ton of videos on human anatomy. But for the sake of relevance, this series he did on drawing heads is seriously so amazingly helpful. It's, I think, only 15 or 20 minutes long total. Yeah, check out his entire YouTube channel. It's really awesome. There's so much useful drawing advice. Yeah, I've included links to you both of these under class project. 3. Inking Your Pencil Drawing: When I go to ink my pencil sketches, I use a light board. I have this [inaudible] however you pronounce that, light board and it's touch activated. I think I got it for 45 or $50 on Amazon and it's super thin, really lightweight and wonderful. I don't know how it took me so long to get one of these because now that I have one, I use it all the time. It's such a nice thing to have. I've got my sketch and I'm just going to use regular sketch paper. I'm going to turn this on to its brightest setting. As you can see, it's really nice and clear and ready to be traced. First, I'm going to be using a fountain pen. Specifically, I have a pilot metropolitan fine tip pen. I like to use this pen because it gives a really consistent, smooth dark line that's really good for lining. Now I have a really nice clean ink drawing that I can use. Next I'm going to be using a brush pen because it's important to consider the different line thicknesses that you can get with different pens. The brush pen that I'm using is the zebra disposable brush pen in super fine and I'll link to this pen as well as the fountain pen I used. I love this brush pen because the tip is neither too hard nor too soft so I can get some really nice results with it. 4. Digitizing Your Drawing: I'm going to show you how I digitize my traditional drawings. First, I scan it in at 300 DPI or PPI. DPI stands for dots per inch and PPI stands for points per inch, sp they're the same thing. The higher it is, the more high-quality it is. Now, I've got my scan in. This is the drawing that I did for the first class of this series. I just want to color the girl on the right. I'm going to take my rectangular Marquee tool, and you can click M on your keyboard to bring it up if you want. I'm just going to select her, and I'm going to click Crop, double-click, and it's cropped. I'm clicking Command D to deselect. What I want to do, is remove all of the white. Because I used blue lead, I have to make sure that this is black and white, and to do that I hit Shift Command U, and now it's been desaturated. I also want to make sure that the line art is nice and dark. So I'm going to bring up my levels panel by clicking Command L, or you can go to image adjustments and levels. I'm going to use the arrow slider just to do it manually because I like the control of that. But you can also take the black eye dropper tool and click on it, and it'll automatically make it really dark. It's usually a little bit too dark for my tastes. Then click Okay. Now, you want to select the entire thing by clicking Command A, and copy it, Command C. Now you want to go to your channels panel, which is right next to the layers panel. This won't work if your piece is, for some reason in CMYK. So just to make sure that it is an RGB, go to image mode, and make sure RGB color is checked. So you want to create a new channels layer, and you do that by clicking the button down at the bottom that looks just like the New Layer button, and it automatically makes an Alpha-1 layer and hides the layers on top, which is good because we were copying. Now you want to paste your work in, by clicking Command V, and you want to invert it by clicking Command I, or going to image adjustments invert. The reason why you need to invert it, is because you are going to be using a selection tool later on, and the selection tool select the white pixels and not the black ones. If I had it like this, it would be selecting all of the white and not the lines that you want selected. Now go back to your layers, and create two new layers. The bottom new layer that you made, you're going to want to fill it with white. Get your Paint Bucket Tool [inaudible] , and then make sure you've selected on the top layer. I'm selecting on the whole things, so I'm just going to click Command D to deselect. Making sure you selected in the blank layer on top, go to select Load Selection, and in the channel drop-down menu, click Alpha-1. Now it's going to select the Alpha-1 channel pixels. Then direct to your Paint Bucket Tool, make sure it's selected on a darker color. Click within one of the lines. I'm going to hide the dotted lines by clicking Command H. It's still selected, but it's just hidden. Now, I can see the selection more clearly without the dark lines on there. If I hid the bottom layers, you can see that the only thing I've colored in were the lines. Then you can add a layer underneath it and color underneath it or use it as a guideline, you can also just lock the layer and cover the lines with different color. I'll show you that. I'm going to click Command H again, to bring the selection backup, and Command D to deselect it, in the layer with the lines. Then there's this little checkerboard icon, and it lacks transparent pixels, so that you can't paint on the transparent pixels. Then I'm going to go over here and pick a color, and I'm just going to pick a really obvious one. So you can see it. Get my brush, and now I'm just coloring words. You can come in here and clean the sketch up a bit if you want. I like the sketchy look at it, so I'm probably not going to clean it all the way up, but I'll take my eraser. Be sure that when you're going to go back into edit the lines, to erase them, click at off lock. So I'll go in here and clean this up a little bit before I start coloring with it. Essentially, that's how that works. You can use it as a guideline, or you can use it as the actual lines you'll use in your final work. Once I discovered how to do this, I would use Alpha channels to get rid of the backgrounds. My Photoshop life has been so much easier. It will save you so much hardship, if you want to use your traditional work. It's really not that hard. I hope you find it useful as well. Just so you know, I go into this in more depth in my class on using traditional elements and digital art. So check that out if you're interested. I've talked about how to remove the white background from color images as well. 5. Quick Tip for Generating Skin Tone Palettes In Photoship: So I want to share a quick tip that I learned for generating skin tone palettes in Photoshop. I have this free stock image that I got off the Internet, and then I just go to Filter, Pixelate, and Crystallize, and then you can play around with the numbers that actually might be good, and let's see. I'm bringing the preview percentage down so I can see more of it. Now it looks pretty good to me, so I'm just going to click Okay, and then essentially, it just gives you a really nice layout of colors for you to then take the Eyedropper tool, and make a palette with them. Here are a couple of other examples. We're from this to this, and it picked up this really cool palette from here. After clicking the Eyedropper tool or hitting I on your keyboard, and then clicking the color, getting your brush. I'm just brushing it on. You could also just use the Eyedropper tool to pick out color straight from the picture, like so. [inaudible] Crystallize filter technique is a little faster, and it just gives you the palette right there, and these color palettes are not something you have to stick to rigidly. They just give you a really good starting point and idea of the variety of colors in the face, and also, I was surprised by some of the colors in here that I was picking out because they look so different up against white as compared to up against each other. So it just gives you a good idea of what colors are actually in the face. There's lot of variety. 6. Shading and Highlights: Shading and highlights. Highlight and shadow interacts with the face. One of the best things about painting skin tone in my opinion, is that there are so many different skin colors and tone variations that exist and it's really fun to explore them. One thing I've noticed from observation is that dark skin tends to be more reflective and have higher contrast between the shadows and highlights, while light-skinned tends to be more diffuse. Also, different skin tones have different shadow and highlight colors. A good way to learn is by doing quick color studies using photo reference. Shadows tend to fall around the edges of the face and eyes, while highlights fall around the center and on prominent features like the nose and eyebrows. One mistake that a lot of beginners make is to use black and white for shadows and highlights. White is okay for a little points of light here and there. But when you use black and white as your primary colors for shading and highlighting, the overall skin tone ends up looking muddied and flat. So when in doubt, don't use black and white. Before you start coloring, you need to decide on your light source. What's the strength, color, direction, and type of lighting? What's the environment? et cetera. All of these things should affect what colors you choose for the shadows and highlights. For example, if someone is standing by water, the bounce light from the water can cause bluish glow on the person's skin. It can be really neat to incorporate that in your painting. I've probably learned the most from doing studies based on photo reference. I've linked to James Gurneys post about the color zones of the face and you can access it by either clicking on the link I provided under your project or by downloading the PDF of this Google Slide and accessing it through that. He talks about how the complexion of primarily light-skinned faces is divided into three color zones and he gives examples of what he means by that. I think it also applies to dark-skinned people just to a lesser degree. This is a somewhat advanced painting concept, but I wanted to show it to you anyway, just so that you can absorb it and possibly come back to it later. Let me palettes from these pictures again but I want to say really quickly, don't get too hung up on color. picking. It can help you understand the many different hues in the face, but don't force yourself to stick to the palette if you feel like it's looking dark, rather evolve as you go. So anyway, a beginner mistake that I see, especially with digital painting, is when people use hues that are simply darker and lighter versions of the base color for shadows and highlights. You should use slightly different hues or the piece could end up looking flat and without any warmth. Which brings me to my next point. Warmth and, or undertone, depending on what you want to call it, is really important. One of my painting teachers always says that skin wants to be warm. Don't forget to include those warm colors, otherwise the skin won't look alive. What I did here is I took the base color that I chose with the color picker, and then I basically chosen more saturated version of their color for the warmth color. But again, you don't have to stick to your palette when you're painting. These are just good things to keep in mind. That's it. I'm going to go over a lot of this information in more depth in the drawing demo. 7. Demo - Base Colors: So now that you've got your digitized line art, you want make sure that it's at least 300 DPI, so that the resolution is nice and high. I want the background to be bluish gray color, so I'm just going to go ahead and change that. I have everything in separate layers, so I've got my palette lines and then I have a reference photo here. Make a new layer for the coloring and I like the title mind colors, and I doubled my lines to be black. So I've got this dark brown color because I know her skin's going to be brown. I'm going to lock the layer, so I can just color over the pixels and not the transparency. Hit "Eye" to bring up the eyedropper tool and "B" to switch back to your brush. So first, I usually just lay down to base colors, and I already have my base colors chosen, so I'll just start with her skin. I'm using a basic pressure sensitive hard brush for this step. Click "Command" or "Control Plus" to zoom in and "Command" or "Control Minus" to zoom out. The indicator is saying equal sign is either plus sign, but just say, it's easier to remember by Command plus and minus. You can also zoom in by hitting "Command" or "Control", "Space-bar" and dragging right and left, and it will zoom in to wherever you click down on. If you want to paint realistic skin, you should use relevant photo reference. Don't be afraid to use it, professionals use it all the time, as long as you're not directly tracing or copying something and just using elements of it, there's no harm done. There's been this culture, it seems like online of shaming people for using reference, but master artists have been using it for hundreds of years, so don't worry, you can use reference, you're not a cheater. 8. Demo - Warmth, Shading, and Highlights: Working digitally, I always try to work non-destructively. That's part of the charm and appeal of digital art for me. What I mean by that is essentially that, I try not to lose any step of the process. I'm going to duplicate these layers by clicking ''Command'' or ''Control J'', and then drag them into a new group folder that I'm going to make and title copies. The group folder button is right next to the layer button and you just click it. It makes a folder, and then you drag and drop the layers into the folder. I do this periodically throughout the whole painting process. Remember to check periodically that you're on the correct layer because boys are frustrating when you realize you're coloring on the wrong layer. Just try to remind yourself to look over at your layer's panel, make sure you're on the right layer, because sometimes when you could click back on some things, they could do Command Z or Control Z to undo something. If you are on a previous layer, it will automatically put you back on that layer, and I will forget that I was on that layer before. I'll start coloring again and then realize too late that I'm on the wrong layer. Just check it periodically to be safe. Without further ado, the next step is to add warmth to the cheeks, nose, lips, and ears if they're visible. I like to use a textured brush for the warmth. My very favorite texture brush of all time is this brush called soft crosshatching, and it's by Kecky on DeviantArt. I provided a link to her brush set and you can download it for free. But there's also an option to donate, which I suggest doing because trust me, these brushes are amazing. You will use them. They're so great. I love them so much. I use this particular texture brush all the time. Look how beautiful that is. It's so nice. I use it on watercolor stuff. Has interesting watercolor effect. It's just great. I highly, recommend it. I'm just going to go along the cheeks and nose, and I'm adjusting the opacity here and there. I'd like to start very low and give the cheeks a really soft glow, and then up the opacity as I go, if I need to, just depends on the painting. If you aren't working from a pallet or you don't have a warped color chosen already, just choose more reddish or orangeish color than your base color. If you read that post about the color zones of the face, I think that this is the most important thing to take away from that the pink or red zone in the cheeks and nose. Just adding a little bit of warmth to your skin tone can really make it look alive. The brush I'm going to use for the shading is another one of my very favorite brushes. It's called the Carlson soft brush. I also sometimes use it as the regular Carlson brush. It depends on my mood. But the Carlson soft brush is created by and provided by Crystal Lee, who is the director and founder of Oatley Academy. You have to sign up for the Oatley Academy brush club in order to download these brushes, but it's completely free and you get a bunch of great brushes. Once you've watched me using it, I feel like you'll probably be tempted because it's just wonderful. The next step is to add the shadows. First, you need to figure out what your light sources and where it's coming from. With this, I think I'm going to keep it simple and choose a soft light coming from above. I have the skin and hair on separate layers. I can lock the skin layer and color without worrying about painting the hair. If you want to get a really nice smooth gradient from the shading to the bass tone, the eye dropper tool is your best friend. Essentially, just switch back and forth between the eye dropper tool and the brush, and I keep it at a low opacity. Sometimes we'll use the smudge brush, but for the most part, I'm just working with clicking the eyedropper as I go along to get that subtle change in color. Painting a couple of strokes, seeing how it looks, keeping the opacity really low, and then repeating the process over and over until there's this really beautiful smooth gradient. Unless I'm really looking for a more painterly style where every brush stroke is visible, that's what I do. In this case, the skin's really smooth and I like how it's looking, so I'm going to keep it like that. I'm sure a lot of you know how in a lot of beginning drawing classes, they'll make you draw spheres just to understand shading. Well, that's what I did with different skin tones. I would just draw spheres and then practice with making this smooth gradient shading. It's boring just like it was in beginning drawing. But it is really helpful. You get into the groove of it, and then once you start painting an actual figure and actual face, it's a lot easier because you have that practice already. Next, I'm going to block in my highlights. You'll want to choose a slightly more yellowish version of your base color for the highlight. I'm constantly duplicating layers and putting them in my copies folder. Just in case I want to go back and edit something from before, most of the time I don't, but you never know. I'll be referring to my reference throughout, especially for lighting inspiration. These are just overall highlights, not necessarily details. Sometimes they use the Smudge tool to smooth things out. I have it set to a texture brush. It's the same one I was using for warmth. Carlson soft crosshatching brush because it's probably my favorite brush ever. I just like the effect that it gives. I generally like to try to stay away from this Smudge tool though if only because I like the painterly effect of just using brushes. But sometimes, this Smudge tool can be really helpful depending on what look you're going for. Remember to save periodically by clicking ''Command'' or ''Control S''. I feel my painting is looking a little bit dull. I'm going to go to Adjust or Image, Adjust, Color Balance, and then just play around with the colors a bit and just brighten it. If you want to do an adjustment on a separate layer so you're working non-destructively and not permanently affecting layer, go onto the menu at the bottom where the new layer button is, and then click the circle icon next to the group icon, and that brings up the same adjustment menu. But, in this case, once you click on it, it creates a layer above the layer you are selected on and then it affects everything below it, and that way, you can delete this or turn it on or off, and it's not permanently applied to that layer. 9. Demo - Details: Now, for the long, complicated parts, the detail work. Depending on how realistic you want to be, you can spend a lot of time on details. As you can see, I like to paint in a sketchy, less realistic style, I like to smooth the colors out, but I love the pencil strokes in a rough outlining to shine through, I just like how that looks. If you'd like to achieve a smoother, cleaner look, one thing you can do is lower the opacity of your line work or hide it altogether early on, and spend a lot more time smoothing out the colors, and creating clean transitions. I'm going to merge my lines and color layers at this point, because I sometimes like to color over them or erase parts here and there, and this way I don't have to keep switching layers. My lines will still be visible though, as I really like that sketchy look like I said. If you do merge your layers, be sure to make duplicates of them just in case and put them in your copies folder, and you merge them by hitting Command or Control E. I switched over to the screeching line brush by techie , which is basically like a imitation pencil line, or some of the line work here, and then I also used the textury thing brushed by techie for part of the iris. If you wanted to draw digitally from start to finish, the process would be similar. Only you'd make a rough sketch on one layer and a cleaner darker line art on another layer, and then the coloring process would be up to you if you want to merge the lines later or just use them as guidelines. When I zoomed out to look at the whole painting, I noticed that I need to up the contrast and a lot of spots, so that her eye isn't the only dark section with painting. So that's what I'm doing here. I wanted her to have freckles, so I chose a speckled brush to get that effect, but of course you can always draw them in by hand, which I do later with a few more at random spots on the face. Now I'm experimenting with different blending modes, which is the drop down menu next to opacity, I have the freckles on a separate layer and I'm just applying various different blending modes to it to see what looks best. Here I wanted there to be a concentration of freckles around the bridge of her nose, so I'm going to take the lasso tool and draw that section and then paint inside of it so the brush will only show up inside of the elastic section. First, I changed the feather pixel ratio to 10 pixels, so that it feathers out nice and smoothly, and there won't be any obvious breaks of any of the freckle dots or whatever, and you can click Shift and then drag with a lasso to add on to your selection or Alt to subtract from your selection. Because I don't think I mentioned it before, the left and right brackets change your brush size. I hit Command H to hide the selections that I could see it better, and Command D to deselect. I don't think I mentioned this before, so you can hit Command or Control zero to make the canvas fit to screen. So there we go. I'm pretty happy with this. There's a few things here and there I may want to work on later. I want to up the vibrancy of it and maybe play around with levels, heightened the contrast, I don't know, we'll see. But for the most part, I'm pleased and this looks pretty finished. 10. Closing: It can be really overwhelming to take in all this information all at once, but try to think of it as pieces of a puzzle. The trick is to surround yourself with this info and digest it over and over again. That knowledge builds and eventually becomes part of your muscle memory. I'm still working on getting their myself. Without further ado, the project for this class, is simply to choose one of the character portrait drawings you created for the first two sessions of this series and digitally color it. Or obviously if you skipped the first two classes, create a character portrait from scratch. Thanks for taking this and I wish you the best of luck.