Help With Photoshop Blending Modes

I'm going absolutely crazy with blending modes. I've watched Dan and Dave's streams and tried to assess how they're using blending modes to add colour to an image that started off in black and whites (or grey-scale values, to be more accurate) but I'll be damned if I can get this to work.

I pick a colour and apply it on a layer in "color" blending mode - it looks nothing like it ought to.
I pick a colour and apply it with "multiply" - again, not even close.
I try "overlay" - another completely different result.

Now, I get that these modes alter the colour shown based on the value of what's underneath, but how on Earth do you know which colour to pick if the colour is different when you apply it? Does it all come down to trial and error? Is there a mode I'm not seeing here?

It's so freaking frustrating to me. I can draw what I feel are really nice images but I cannot for the life of me get them to colour well.

Maybe I suck and need more practice. That's fine. As I'm practicing, does anyone have any tips, know of tutorials online, or have other suggestions? Maybe building colours on grey-scale values isn't for me and I just need to paint on one layer... I don't know.

I ramble. I'm so frustrated.

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: Found this:

Still frustrated but it's a start.
I mostly work with "soft light"
the thing is, with the grayscale you already have made your values, so if you paint color over it, it is unneccesary to choose the values again - go for a normal color, a bit more saturated than you would like to have it. (which means, you want something dark blue, don't choose a dark blue color but a more "normal" blue tone)
If it looks a bit flat, it is completely normal, you still have to refine the painting, and adding specks of other colors for a more interesting color composition.
but then, I am still trying to figure all the blending modes out, too -_-

I personally really like the Color layer mode, I start with really desaturated colors (almost gray) and then slowly build up towards more saturated with a soft round brush, and like Saraiza said, I think you should add the basic color layer before you do any real rendering, and then render with color on top. Soft Light and Overlay will alter the values of the sketch, but I don't think Color mode does, which is why I greatly prefer it.

Thanks for your replies.

So, essentially, the colour I see in my mind - how I want the image to look, is not the colour I should be picking. This is hard for me as it seem totally unintuitive.

I will put your advice to practice here and see what I come up with.

I'm so frustrated at this point that I'm ready to scrap PS altogether. Here's hoping I get somewhere with your help.

The trick with overlay layers is to use them to add hints of colour (same goes for softlight and so on)

I add the colour I want, say ... warm reds into skin on an overlay layer. Then I alter down the opacity, rinse and repeat. If you're going to be using strong colours on these layers then personally I find that they don't work.

Just add your colour bit by bit and it'll get there :)

I paint that same way every time. I know where you're coming from, if you paint a face in grayscale, then add color with layer properties set to color, the darker areas of the face seem to be real bright and saturated. I normally bring it down by blending in either a very desaturated version of the skin color, or add a very desaturated version of whatever the base or background color is. In other words, after you pick your skin color, click the color selection and reselect something further to the left and a little lower. As such would appy to other materials as well. Just something to try!
Perhaps you can all help me further here.

So, here's a very quick and rough sketch to illustrate what I'm dealing with. This is a black and white image where I went messing around with some values. Initially I wanted to add some brown colours to work out the leather equipment on the waist. I tried the "color" blending mode as suggested by some tutorials as well as this and other forums. I added some other colour examples out of frustration. My result is attached.

You can see the colours that I wanted under the column marked "Normal" vs. the colours I got under that marked "Color." It was suggested here to start with weaker values or lower opacities but when I did this, the brown never got as dark as I wanted it to. The "color blending mode" colours are nothing like the ones I used as an example.

So, is this "just how it is" or am I doing something completely idiotic and wrong here? (I'm willing to accept it is most likely the latter). These colours aren't even close to what I'm picking and lighter colours just don't have the same strength - they look washed out. For reference, the colours in the example here are at 100% opacity.

I don't want to whine but I'm really frustrated here - I want to get better but I feel like I'm having to either a) completely abandon the B&W value model and just paint on one layer or b) start learning to pick a colour that looks nothing like the one I want to hopefully get the colour I'm after, or c) have a different blending mode for every different colour/value/section of the image.

I'm lost at this point. I just don't get it. I know that a B&W values base is good for workflow but holy hell - it should not be this wonky to colour it. I must be doing something wrong - I just don't know what it is.

At this point I'm about ready to just start painting on a single layer because clearly I don't understand this at all.

Thanks in advance for those patient enough to try explaining this again.

Attached Files Image(s)

well, the first thing I see is that the blackwhite values don't show any real variety. If you want something a dark brown later, make it a really dark grey beforehand. This makes a lot more difference than just picking a dark brown color later.
But on the other hand, the colors will never look exactly as the ones you picked - you are laying them over a greyish tone after all, it has to change something.
Workingn with blending modes is more fitted to lay down a quick color wash, so you can see where you want to go -> it doesn't release you from actually painting with color.
Well - basically everything that has been said already.

long story short: Blending modes will not magically bring in the color you picked exactly as you imagined it. and the greyscale sketch underneath needs to have a good valuerange.

'color' mode has nothing to do with the actual value, it just creates a hue over your existing values. You can easily spot this by turning your image black and white (the 'color' column marks won't be visible at all).

If you need 'strong dark' brown, you need strong dark value to begin with.

Creates a result color with the luminance of the base color and the hue and saturation of the blend color. This preserves the gray levels in the image and is useful for coloring monochrome images and for tinting color images.'

I hope this clears this up for you. Cheers and keep working.

Hey Anti, the reason you are having trouble with this technique is that you need a very good knowledge of colour values to make it work. And it seems from your post that you're not sure what value in terms of colour means so here's a quick and simple rundown of terminology:
I included hue and saturation so it helps the explanation

- Another word for colour really. Red and blue are 2 differant hues. So I if you blend a blob of red and blue all the colours mixed from red and blue will be hues too, as they are also colours.

Now the next few terms are related to the hue you are using (your colour)

Saturation - This is how pure your colour is.....say what? Well take a red colour (hue) and imagine that you put in as much red colour as you can (almost like pigment in paint) until it's the brightest that red can go. The red doesnt become lighter and turn pink, it just looks like a strong red colour. Now if you start taking the red away it is going to become dull and then it will just be grey... and not just any grey but a certain darkness of grey which brings us too:

Value - So we sucked out all the pigment out and now we are left with this grey gook. If we take some yellow and suck it dry to make it grey you would notice someting. The previously yellow,now grey is lighter than our previously red,now grey. Each colour or hue has its own specific "grey" or as you'l hear people say light or dark value. Yellow is generally light grey, red and blue much darker, and white and black are the lightest and darkest vaules. To check the values of an image just make it a grayscale image in PS. It's worth checking out a good image or two and see how there is a good range of dark and light values. Also how these have been used to enhance the image or get a specific effect is good to have a look at.
Here are some images to help you out:
[Image: colourlandscapes3.jpg]
colours and their values:
[Image: spheres1.jpg]

so yes maybe just working straight in colour from the beginning would be better to start with. Dan and Dave makes it look simple and as if its merely a quick layer mode, but really it's their deep knowledge of colour and values, which they gained from many studies! So go do many studies! now!


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