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Hey guys, I'm here to ask some help, I've been doing this centaur below for some time now, and I decided to do it's volume on grayscale so that I could have more freedom later on when coloring, but I've done a few tests and I can't really get the color right.
Could anyone help me or give any tips on how to color grayscale images?
Should I learn how to color the image while adding volume to it?

[Image: Ii6UhOT.jpg?1]

Sorry if any of those questions are silly, I'm relatively new to digital painting and to this community xD and thanks guys! Oh, and of course, any anatomy, pose tips or anything really will be really appreciated. :)

P.S.: here's another one with transparency on, in case you need to do a selection to paint, or something like that, it's not so clean but I figured it could help lol. x)

[Image: eVhXQAt.png?1]
Hi there!

It's good that you're working in grey scale. I would say values are most important to learn and practice before you get into color when you're new.

I'm assuming you're using Photoshop? If so, have you tried layer blending modes? For example, you could quickly tone your image by creating a new layer above you painted greyscale, pick a color. Say a neutral brown. Use the paint bucket tool and drop it on the new layer. Change the blending mode to multiply. You should see your tones show through mixing with the multiply layer. If it's looking too dark you can lower the layer opacity to your liking.

This technique can help you get started with experimenting and learning digital painting. I don't believe there's a magic way to convert your grey scale image to a color image. You'll can keep piling on the layers and trying different layer modes to find a result you like. I hope this helps, Good luck!
Try working a bit more on the grayscale, before moving on to coloring it. As it is, the picture looks a bit flat. All the shadows in there seem to be cast shadows. Establish where your light is coming from and add shadow as the shape turns away from the light. Limit yourself to 2-3 shades of gray at first. You could also experiment a bit with atmospheric perspective and make the contrast stronger in the front (so that the arm and leg all the way in the back are more of a mid gray, but the arm and legs in the foreground have the lightest light in the light and the darkest dark in the shadow).

Also double check the proportions / foreshortening for those hands. They look weirdly stretched.
Thanks a LOT guys! I'll experiment a bit with the colors with different blending modes later on. I'll work on the grayscale more, and you are right about using less shades first, I should probably study more on simple forms before going to a bigger piece like this one, I'll keep working on it whenever I get time between studies! xD

I'm also going to fix those hands, not the first person to mention those were looking weird, lol.

Anyway, thanks again for the tips, I'll put them to good use. :)
Hi Chris,

Approaching grey scale digitally can be challenging and very rewarding. The trick is to make it look as natural as possible and not look like you used a bunch of overlay layers, which can leave a piece flat and boring. Your best bet is to experiment and find a technique that works best for you.

My personal approach is to use grey scale to work out my composition and over all lighting scenario. At this stage I will roughly render out the main shapes, establishing shadows and forms, I DO NOT render everything out, I don't even worry if all the forms read Pefectly. I am going to place a multiply layer over the complete image anyhow, which will darken the whole piece up. The multiply layer is like wash, I tend to use a gradient so I get a little more color. I then place another layer over that and change the blending mode to softlight and paint in some loose color, a little red on the nose and ear, some green and blue, have fun with this and be sure to move your colors around. Now the fun part, I add another layer over the top, i use my color picker to pick my base color and mix lighter tones and start rendering the forms out.

Hope this helps some:)

I did a quick paint over for some reference.

I am not a digital painter, so I can't tell you how to apply the color in that way. But I do traditional painting and it is an awesome idea that you went with a greyscale underdrawing. Smart cookies! I don't know if you have an idea about what colors you want to use, but I recommend going with a limited palette of colors. James Gurney wrote a fantastic book about color and he gives some great info on his blog as well, but basically, pick one color that you want to to tie the whole scene together. This will be influenced by the light you will have in the scene.

For instance, say you want a warm painting of a centaur in a forest during a hot summers day. Pick a color that would unite everything- a yellow, or an earthy red and then use it to influence all of your other colors. If you want a blue in there, with the warm color scheme, you could pick one that leans a little more towards reds/purples for instance. It is hard to say what I mean without images, but the idea is to plan your colors as a group, not as one color playing off another color. Remember also how colors influence the eye and use contrast to bring focus to where you want it. Red is the most forward punching color. If you really wanted the face to stand out, maybe you would give the centaur red hair, for instance.

There is a whole world of color theory that will make it pop, and I hope this quick little blip helps a tad but so far you are doing good. The only other thing I would add is the same as what is said before. Hold off on the detail until later. Try to stay as general as possible for as long as possible and simplify your values in underpaintings such as this. One good idea is to thumbnail your image first, using only basic shades of gray to decide on the composition.

Good job so far!
I really can't thank enough for all these tips you guys are giving me, I really appreciate it!!

First Elmst, thanks a lot for the tips, I'll definitely try out your proccess and see how I can apply it to my own! Thanks a lot, and I really liked your paintover, it clarified a lot for me, specially about the volume and texture you added to the torso, thanks! :))

And Jeanne thanks for the link and explanation, I do have to study more on color theory, guess it will help a lot with this kind of question to know the basics of complementary color, contrast and how to pull the eye of the viewer to specific areas.

And I will definitely try to do a small thumbnail next time, not only for shading but also for poses and maybe even scenarios. :D

Well, like I said, thanks a lot guys, you helped me great time here, I'm currently looking at some tutorials I've found in the internet about digital painting and color theory, hopefully next week I can show you guys another wip of this piece here.

Have a good week!