Rick "Flatness" Grossenbacher
s you probably know by now, Iím taking Chris Buechelerís place with this column, so first off Iíd like to start out by saying congrats to him on his new job, and the excellent work he did on loonygames. I wish you the best of luck, Chris.
A few days ago, I started thinking about what types of articles/tutorials/examples/etc I should be constructing for future issues of Painting on Polygons. But then I got the brilliant idea, "hey, since this is an article, for you, the reader, let me know what you would like to see here." Of course, I canít guarantee it will become a tutorial, but Iíll do my best. So, e-mail me and let me know what kinds of things you would like to see. Just donít forget that this is an article limited to 2-D topics only. That isnít to say that something like 3-D Studio MAX wonít be used in an upcoming article, in fact, I plan on doing a tutorial on using 3-D Studio MAX for creating 2-D images. I just wonít be doing any tutorials on modeling characters or animation, etc.
Before we get started here though, I need to quickly say something again that I mentioned in my first article, Two Programs, Two Dimensions. Though I have a good deal of experience with Photoshop, I donít pretend to be the messiah of 2-D pixel editing. These are only my opinions and recommendations and you may have a completely different style or technique for creating your artwork. Iím just showing the way I do things, and what I think looks cool. Also, since it is difficult to accommodate everyoneís skill level in a tutorial, I apologize if any of you feel that the topics in this tutorial are obvious or too basic, but I wish someone had explained this stuff to me when I was starting out. So I would like to do that for the people who arenít familiar with the things I will be teaching. Plus, I think the following information is pretty important to beginners and veteran artists alike. With that said, letís get started.
Have you ever wanted to change the color of a graphic in Photoshop to something else that you know would look better, but you just canít seem to get it to look the way you are envisioning it? Like say, from a shade of green to a rich flesh tone, or something along those lines? That can be a pretty big jump in color value, and hard to accomplish. The easiest way to do it would be to bring up something like the Color Balance or Hue/Saturation menus and start dragging sliders until youíve reached something you want. But that is generally bad practice because you are altering every pixel in your image at the same time, and your graphic is going to "look" color corrected -- and in most cases you absolutely donít want that!
First, letís look at the Color Balance menu. For starters, it doesnít support very wide precision. To demonstrate this in action, here is a little exercise you can try. Using only the Color Balance menu, try getting the green to match the flesh color.
After a few seconds of messing with the sliders youíll see that it is virtually impossible to match the colors. About the only way to do it with that menu is by moving the sliders a little until you get a different hue, then pressing OK, then bringing up the menu again and repeating the process until youíre old and gray, and have finally matched the color.
Now, letís give it a shot with the Hue/Saturation menu using the Master level precision. First, try adjusting the color using only the Hue slider.
Hmmmmm... There is no possible way we can get a color match using only that slider. Ok, in that case, letís bring in the Saturation slider with the Hue slider. After you find a decent color range with the Hue slider (somewhere between -90 and -110), drag the Saturation slider up and down to see the effect on that color.
The Saturation slider richens it up a bit, but still doesnít quite get us there.
Ok, finally add the Lightness slider so you are using all three sliders in conjunction. Bingo! The Lightness slider really affects the values used by the Hue and Saturation sliders. I got it pretty damn close by setting the Hue to -115, the Saturation to +8, and the Lightness to +36. In fact, if you examine the RGB values of both using the Info Palette and bringing your mouse pointer over top of the color squares, youíll see that they are only one number off from each other (but I guarantee the human eye canít tell the difference).
So whatís my point with this little exercise, you ask? I basically just wanted to get your eyes to understand how the sliders affect colors in different ways, and that some colors can only be achieved using certain combinations of sliders. I also wanted to make the point that you are very limited if you are only using one slider. Keep in mind that in the exercise above we were dealing with one single color. Now what happens when we have a full-blown assortment of colors all within the same graphic?
Take a peek at the graphic below.
Iím not sure why you would want to change this graphic to the blazing orange color on the right, but the point Iím trying to make is how color correction affected the entire graphic. The metal circular holes on the sides turned to a more reddish-violet hue. The white around the cross (or what used to be white) now has an ugly colored-tint to it. You may have to zoom in to see that.
So what would be the best way to do your color correcting, and which color-altering menu is best for the job? I donít think there is a best way, or a best menu, but there are ones that work better than others. For starters, if you are going to do some color changes on your image, section off the parts that need to be changed so you donít alter the parts that donít (use the Magic Wand, the Lasso, or one of the Marquee tools).
The image below is a face of a dude (weíll call it Face 1). It is the same face I used as an example in my article, Two Programs, Two Dimensions, a few weeks back (issue 1.26 of loonygames).
Compare this one to a different face. Face 2.
Now look at the color of the skin in both examples side by side.
The colors are drastically different. Say we wanted to make Face 2 look like it had the same skin tone as Face 1. What should we do? Select Face 2, then letís try bringing up the Color Balance menu. Try all of those sliders.
No dice, and no real surprise there. It just gave it the "color-corrected-look" that I said should be avoided.
Your next instinct might be to start tweaking the Hue slider to see what you could come up with as we did in the example above. Ok, letís try it. Make sure Face 2 is selected, then drag the Hue slider back and fourth.
There isnít really anything that is even close. Now this is getting really discouraging. Since there are so many different tones of color in this image, what we need is finer precision. The Hue/Saturation menu offers Edit levels other than Master, such as Red or Yellow, however, when I messed with them I still really couldnít get the image to look like what I wanted.
So, now letís try something different. Letís use the Replace Color menu. This is great for picking out a certain area then altering the colors within that area -- much like making a selection of an area with the Magic Wand. The Replace Color menu has a cool little slider on it called fuzziness. With that slider, you can take the Eyedropper tool at the right side of the menu and suck up a color from your graphic, then dynamically see in the little black window what parts are going to be editable (represented in white). This way, when you adjust a slider, you arenít limited to altering all of the pixels in the entire graphic at once.
After a bit of messing around with the Replace Color menu, here is what I got. It looks a bit color corrected, but weíll fix that later on.
Again, examine the colors of the two side by side, but now with the newly colored head on the right.
The yellow war-paint on Face 1 throws your eye off a little, but if you just pay attention to the skin you will see that itís not perfect, but an acceptable match. To get a better look, here is a zoomed-up version.
Credits: Painting on Polygons is © 1999 Rick Grossenbacher. All other content is © 1999 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited, so don't do it, or we'll paint you white against a white background.