Hobby Hangout: Photoshop Magic – Testing Colors

Usually the first step, before I start painting a miniature, is to figure out what color(s) I want to use. For some time now I’ve been using Photoshop to do this, coloring underneath the Mantic DreadBall concept art.

In this article I will go over the way that I do this. I’m not trying to teach you how to use Photoshop, although I will try and keep it straight forward. The focus is more about how I use Photoshop to color in the concept art, to get a better idea how the final colors used to paint the miniatures will look.

For this article I’m going to use the Koris concept art.


Open the file in Photoshop.

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Duplicate the layer that was created and delete the original layer (it was locked when you opened it and we want an unlocked layer to work with.

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Create a new layer and fill it with white to be a plain white background for the final image.

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The most important step is to set the type of the concept art layer to MULTIPLY. This allows the colors applied beneath this layer to show through but the dark lines of the art are still visible.

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Next I select the shape of the art using the Magic Wand tool. This should get you almost all the way to the selection you want to fill with your base color.

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You can use Quick Mask mode to see if the Magic Wand selected everything the way you wanted. If not you can use the Brush and Eraser to manually fix the selection in Quick Mask mode.

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Once the selection looks good turn off Quick Mask, invert the selection, create a new layer and fill it with a base color. The color(s) you pick initially don’t matter because you’ll be able to easily change them. What is important is the order of the layers and the shapes they fill in.

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As you can see the artwork is visible overtop the colored layer becasue it is set to MULTIPLY.

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At this point I often adjust the Levels of the art to make the blacks sharper but it’s not necessary.

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The concept art often looks like its on the little round base, if it’s not I like to add it in. I draw a black oval and move the layer to the bottom, just above the white background.

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I like to label my layers so it’s clear what they are.

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I then start creating new layers above the base layer, and filling in colors where I think I will like them.

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I CTRL-Click on the base layer to select it while I paint on the new layers. This ensures I don’t ever paint outside the original shape.

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With the Koris I started by using the Brush tool to paint the various hoses. Again use whatever color you like, here I chose a grey.

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You can use the Zoom tool to zoom in to make it easier to paint the areas you’re working on. Also adjusting the size of the Brush helps a lot. Use the keyboard short cuts for the Brush (b), Eraser (e), and to resize the brush and eraser ({) (}) so you don’t have to keep going back to the various menus and toolbars.

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If you paint over the lines, use the Eraser (e) to clean it up.

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There, hoses colored.

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Repeat this process to create as many different layers of color as you want.

I colored the lights…

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the mouth…

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the teeth…

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and some armor panels.

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Once you have all the color layers you want, you can start changing the colors. Double click on a layer to open the Layer Style panel and use the Color Overlay section to change the layer color. I started by choosing a dark grey for the base color.

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You can also use the Layer Style’s various shadow and glow options to give your color layers a semblance of shading but you don’t need to if that seems too confusing at first.

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Repeat this process to adjust the colors how you like. Look through this gallery to see screenshots of the steps I took.

This is what I came up with for my first pass.

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You can play around with it and try all the different color combinations you can imagine.

I look forward to seeing the cool color combinations you can come up with. It’s a lot of information to take in, if you have any questions Follow the blog and post questions in the comments section or email us.

Good luck.

One thought on “Hobby Hangout: Photoshop Magic – Testing Colors

  1. Pingback: Hobby Highlight: More Crystallans – BreadDoll

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