this video is a bunch of tips that I use daily to save time in my professional illustration and concept art work to save massive amounts of time. I’ll go through them very quickly to give you an introduction on the tool, but I go in depth on how these tools work in separate videos.
First up is the gradient map, if you work for clients, or in a team under an art director, there will come a moment when someone asks you to change the colors of a specific part of your image, he might ask that multiple times only to end up choosing our very first proposal. If you don’t want to waste any time redoing your work, it’s essential to paint in shades of gray, and then apply color on a separate layer. My color layer of choice is the gradient map, because no other tool gives as much control over the color.
For example, on this picture, the director didn’t know what colors he wanted, but the creature will have to be done in different elements including cold and heat, so I rendered the rhino in gray, and then applied gradient map with masks to limit them to the zones I wish to color. I save all the gradients I make in a folder for this project, that way if the director wants to go back to a previous color scheme, it’s literally just a click of a button.
Just a quick explanation of the tool, the gradient map works by mapping the colors you select in your gradient to the values from black to white, of the image underneath. You can also modify the blending mode of this layer to color mode to keep all your values intact, or leave it as is to change it to the values of the colors you selected in the gradient. Try out all the different blending modes, overlay or soft light with reduced opacity can be very useful for adding a tint to your shadows and highlights.
Second is the symmetry ruler, this tool will allow you to cut your painting time by 2 when drawing something symmetrical, and also you don’t need to draw something once, copy, transform and paste it, everything is done in one go on the same layer.
You first need to create the ruler on the layer you want to draw on, and remember the ruler will be attached to that layer. I use it often for my character sheets, since they are made for 3d modelers everything has to be perfect, on this illustration I drew a symmetry ruler in the center of the character, and started drawing on one side, and everything is automatically reproduced on the other side. This is especially useful in conjunction with the next tip:
The reference layer, it will allow you to use tools on one layer while acting as if they were taking reference from another layer. To enable this mode, click on the little lighthouse on the layer you want to reference.
For this piece of work, I used the line art as a reference and then create a layer underneath to paint quickly with the paint bucket tool. Which is my next tip.
Use the paint bucket tool when you have a clean line art, with its function to close gaps, and overflow, it will reduce the amount of time you color spills outside on all the drawing, and the overflow function will add some pixels outside the area that would have been selected. This way, you won’t get nasty white lines between your color flats and your line art. Everything will go really fast to paint, and give you a clear flat color layer, that you can then use as a layer to clip other layer on, to add your shadows and light, or even to color pick from it to get clean selections of one color area.