Merging the rough draft

It’s not necessary to do detailed color flatting if making a single illustration, but as I’m making an evolved version as well, I’ll divide the parts up so that it’s easy to change the colors for the evolution later.

I start by organizing my layers.
I change the name of the “cherry blossom effects” folder to “sword effects”, and put all of the effect layers in here. I also move the layers with skin shading to the “character” folder.
One method would be to export the rough draft as a JPEG and then do the color flatting on top of that. I find this method a bit difficult because you need to add the background and effects back in after the color flatting, so I’ll merge the character layers within the file and use those.

My layers are completely disorganized at the rough draft stage, as I just add more layers whenever I need them. To start with, I merge all the character layers into a single layer.
However, I keep the eyes separate because I’m planning to remove the eye patch for the evolution character.
I delete the sketch layer as I don’t need it anymore.
▲ I merged all the layers in the “rough draft”, “character” and “horse” folders

I merge all the layers inside the “eyes” folder and rename the layers in the “eye patch” folder.

Adjusting the rough draft

Before color flatting, I make some last adjustments to areas that are bothering me.
These changes are mostly to improve the balance of the character.
The jacket was still unfinished in the rough draft, so I clarify the shape. I also thought the head looked too big, so I made the shoulders slightly wider.
Lastly, I lowered the lower body and horse a little.
When I’ve finished these adjustments, I merge the edits onto the “character” layer.

Color flatting

First I’ll do the character, dividing the colors into skin, hair, clothes, gold metal decorations, clothing accessories, and weapons.
I typically work from the lowest elements to the most forefront elements.

I show the “character” and “eyes” layers, then reduce the opacity to about 20%.

I make a new folder called “body” above the “character” layer and start flatting the skin.

I work on a low-opacity layer so that I can see the “character” layer as I do the flat area. I use the [Pen] tool > [G-pen], although any brush is okay as long as you can see it at a low opacity.
When flatting, I start off with black because it is easy to see.
I’ll adjust the shape later when I add details, so for now I just get the rough outline.

When I’m done, I’ll change the color of the skin from black so that I can move onto the next section.
I lock transparent pixels on the “skin” layer, then color it.

I make a new layer called “clothes” above the skin, then lay down the flat color in the same way.

I use the same method for the rest of the parts.

Creating layer folders for the horse, horse accessories, and sword, I make different layers for each part and add the flat colors.
Once I’m done with everything, I change all the layers back to full opacity.
Now I’ve finished the color flatting.