Insider 9-7-2012

When it comes to painting a model, the toughest thing for me is deciding on a color scheme. Today I thought I’d share a fun trick to make customizable color schemes using the magic of technology. I’m using Photoshop here, but these techniques should work in other image editors as well. This is the process I used to come up with my Legion of Everblight color scheme.

To start, you’ll need an image of the model. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just make sure it’s over a backdrop that contrasts against your model so it’s easy to color. You’ll notice that I primed my model black. Don’t worry, it doesn’t matter what color your model is. White, black, or even already painted, this will work for any model. Before you start coloring, though, you’ll need to remove all the other color from the image. To do this, just go to image / mode / grayscale.

Now take a look at the model and try to mentally break it down in sections. With this Angelius, for example, I can see all the skin being one color, the wing membranes another, and so on. For each section, make a layer and color the corresponding area. For the Angelius I ended up with six layers; body, wing membrane, chitin, belly scales, mouth glow, and teeth. I made each layer in a different color so you can see how it breaks down.

Looks like a rainbow nightmare, doesn’t it? This might seem a little strange, but it will make experimenting with color schemes take mere seconds when you’re done.

To get your colors to show through onto the model, you’ll have to mess with the layer blend modes. It’s best to experiment to see what shows through the best, but generally if you’re painting on black you’ll want to use Screen or Linear Light, and if you’re painting on white Multiply or Hard Light. I used Linear Light on every layer in this.

Now that you have each section in its own layer, you can change that whole area individually by altering the Hue/Saturation menu. You can pull up this menu instantly with Ctrl-U (Command-U on Macs). Changing the Hue bar alters the color. Changing the Saturation bar makes that color more or less vibrant. Changing the Lightness bar makes the color darker or lighter. Try experimenting with these and you’ll quickly see the full range of control you have with these slider bars.

It might take a bit to set up the layers, but once you have them you’ll be able to alter whole selections of color in just seconds. You can get some really inventive schemes out of experimenting with this. Here are a few I came up with in just 10 minutes. I liked the blue bottom right one so much that I painted all my beasts in this scheme. Hopefully this inspires some of you go to out there and make some cool new color schemes yourself.