Color Mock Ups For Confident Creativity!

Howdy All!

Get ready for another process post! This one’s about creating digital color mock ups to use when you are analogue painting. ;)

The piece I’m using as an example is a small section of a painting I just finished for Appleseeds! :D This will be published in October.

Color Mock Up Post Image

The reason I paint these digital mock ups is because I’ve found that I default to boring and bad color choices for characters. Digital mock ups help me use color more confidently and creatively.

First, I paint the background using traditional media. I don’t paint the figures at this point, in fact, they are masked with frisket film so I don’t mess them up. The reason I paint the background first is so I have something to base my characters’ colors on. Once the background is done I remove the frisket film and scan the painting then open it up in Photoshop. This is where I can play around with color! Yay! To choose the best colors I think about a couple of things:

  • Mood (sad, happy, etc…)
  • The tone of the painting (warm, cool or both!)
  • Contrast (I like to have a variety of contrast from light to dark.)
  • How well do these colors go with the existing background.

In Photoshop: I have my painting open and I’ve white balanced and color corrected it already. I open a new layer over the painting and set it to Multiply. This new layer is what I’ll be digitally painting on. Now I get to work choosing my colors. I primarily use the Color Picker to get the shades I want. Then I simply paint those in the new multiplied layer. All the while I make adjustments to the colors to create a painting with a pleasing palette, balanced color distribution, and good contrast.

Tip: If you want to easily change a color without using your brush tool to paint it out, try using the Transparency Lock (I call this the purina symbol).

Transparency Lock

Select the layer you are wanting to affect then click on the Transparency Lock, select the color you would prefer and just Paint Bucket it on the color you don’t want. This is an easy way to dump new color over old, no need to repaint. Just remember to unselect the Transparency Lock once you are done. If not you’ll find yourself wondering why other tools don’t seem to want to work on that layer. :/

Once I am done with the color mock up I print it out. I prefer to have a print out of my color mock up vs. looking at the computer screen because computer screens are backlit thus it is very hard for me to compare paint on paper to it.

You can see in the top most image a comparison between my Photoshop color mock up and my watercolor painting. There’s some difference due to medium but all in all it’s close! And I know I made better and more thoughtful color choices because of the color mock up!


    3 delightful comments!

    1. Hi Riti! I sure appreciate your photoshop lesson. About 2 seconds before I started checking out your wonderful and inspiring site I had been puzzling (again) about how to keep working in paint but use the computer to take some of the pressure off. Not only did you get me started but you let me know that a working professional like yourself is using this "mo." Way cool! Thanks!

      1. I'm super glad that you've found my post helpful!! :) Yay! You made my day!

    2. This post was EXTREMELY helpful. Thank you so much! I have been looking for a post that helps to break down how an artist like yourself uses Photoshop to help guide their illustrations.

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