Monday, 22 April 2013

Drawing Cartoon Characters

I recently treated myself to a Wacom Bamboo Tablet with this weird notion that I'd be able to turn my hand to digital painting. Sadly my artistic style doesn't seem to lend itself well to what I want to be able to do, so I ended up just doodling my usual type of character, and I thought I'd go through my process to show how I got from start to finish.

I flood filled the background with pale grey, and on a new layer, sketched this out loosely with a small, hard-edged round brush using black.

Now I created a new layer between the background and the black lines, and used a larger brush to colour the character in mid blue.

With that done, I created a new layer between the blue layer and the lines, and painted in shadows with a darker shade of blue and a soft-edged brush on a low opacity.

I repeated the last step, albeit this time using a lighter shade of blue to give highlights. Et voila!

What about you? Have you ever used a graphics tablet, and if so, did you find it difficult to get used to?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Quickly Lighten a Night Time Shot

It's always a shame when you take a photo at night and find that even if you used a decent shutter speed or a flash, the image is still a little dark. So today we'll have a look at a quick and easy way to lighten your images in Photoshop. I'm using an image of the Northern Goldsmiths jewellers in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Open your photo. You won't get very far if you don't.

Now, duplicate the layer. Either drag the Background layer down to the New Layer icon, or just press Ctrl+J/Cmd+J. Set the blending mode of this layer to 'Screen'.

It already looks lighter, but we need to do a bit more to it to improve its look.

Click on the Adjustment Layers icon at the bottom of the layer palette and select 'Curves'. Give yourself an S curve a bit like this, to boost the highlights and darken the shadows.

The settings you choose will depend on your image, but an S curve of some description is a pretty safe bet. You'll get an image with more contrast. It already looks less 'flat' than the image that came out of the camera.

It's kind of yellow, which you could fix by altering the colour balance with a new adjustment layer, but I want a bit of a 'filter' effect. I've created a layer that I flood filled with dark blue (hex code 1B1464). I set this to Hue and lowered the opacity.

You should end up with something a bit more like this!

And there you go! It's such a simple technique, and by altering the curves or using different coloured overlays, you can achieve all kinds of effects depending on what you're going for. Have fun!