OGRE ALE V from Scott Story’s Drawing Board
In this picture, I used Adobe Photoshop to color, but it just as likely could have been Clip Studios Paint, or Copic markers, or watercolor. It’s the artist, not the tools that make the art. These days I use Clip Studio Paint for my digital work, but it’s all very similar in its application.
Color flats, or flatting, is the process where you put in blocks of color so that it is easier later to select those areas to render them. Most digital artists do some form of flatting, even if they call it “roughing in” or some such. For Mr. Ogre, I wanted to choose the base or “mother” colors, the mid-tones. This is also called “local” color. Essentially, it is color before shadows and highlights have been added.
Since this was a digital composition, I did the flat colors on their own layer underneath the line art. It’s best not to paint into the line art itself, although this is precisely what a lot of newbie artists do. They may not understand the concept of layers, and they grab the paint bucket tool and start dumping colors into place. Instead, it’s better to make the white’s in your line art turn invisible so you can color on the layer underneath and not mess up the line art. I’m not going into this in detail because the specific digital tools vary a little bit, application to application, and this subject is worthy of its own how-to article.
Those highlights and shadows I mentioned above? No, it’s time to put them on. Comics from the Gold, Silver, and Bronze ages of comics usually did not have the luxury of color rendering, and generally, it was the inker’s job to show light sources and shading. Frankly, that’s the way I prefer it, but times have moved on, and with better printing and digital option now, colorists have a much more prominent role.
There are lots of ways to arrive at color choice for the shadows, and that all has to do with the color and intensity of the light.
If my ogre is in a setting with colored light, such as the rose of the sunset, then I would use the light color’s complementary color for shading. For rose or red light, for example, I would shade everything in washes of dark green, green being red’s complementary color. A good rule of thumb is that warm light has cool shadows, and cool light has warm shadows.
For this picture, I went with neutral light, or light that did not have any color to it. If I want to shade the image, I take the complement of the local color. So, for green skin, I would apply red washes, resulting in sort of a brown-green. Honestly, I stay away from the burn tool when working digitally, because, to me, the results seem a little lifeless when you compare those shadows with ones based on color. The multiply tool, on the other hand, does an excellent job of shading. If I go that route, I usually set the airbrush with the same color as the local color, about 30% opacity.
For highlights, I’ve been known to use an airbrush with the local color, but set on screen mode and turned to about 30% opacity. A neater way to approach this is by employing a hotter color than the local color. There are a zillion different ways to approach this! Experiment and find your own best workflow.
I love doing superheroes, but fantasy art has always been a love of mine. I hope you learned a little from this demonstration.
Scott describes himself as an author, artist, medievalist, mentor, musician, publisher, introvert, and historian, not necessarily in that order. So far he has published dozens of comics, multiple graphic novels, and prose novels, and he has contributed art to scores of comic publishers and and multiple prose anthologies.