Lithrael's new tutorial


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New Berserk Color Tutorial!!!

This is a bit rushed. Feel free to ask questions/feedback etc and I'll get more detailed.

Whoops. Second draft. I just revised a few things to improve the workflow I'm suggesting a little bit.

First things first: scan cleanup. Berserk in YA is printed on tinted paper so it'll usually need a little cleaning up after you scan it.

OK! Ready to go. The simplest way to show most of this stuff is just to give you an example, so here's the photoshop file that adds up to this:

Right-click, save, and open 'er up. This was made in CS2 but should open in most versions of Photoshop.

Now open up the Layers window (Window->Layers, or the F7 key). So. What are you looking at? A mess of layers.

At the top there's a Group. A Group is a folder full of layers whose overall result can be blended into the rest of your image as if it was just one layer. This group is where I put the adjusted lineart and all the work I want to do on that lineart. (The lineart is a Normal layer at the bottom of the group and above that, inside the group, are Screen layers lightning that lineart. The overall Group is set to Multiply.) If you look at that group by itself, it looks like this:

And all the layers below it add up to look like this:

I always used to have the lineart on the bottom and layers of color on Multiply above that, but turns out it works WAY better to have the colors on the bottom and the lineart on Multiply above that.

By putting the lineart group at the top and setting it on Multiply, I can do all the color layers below it as normal layers, which saves a LOT of careful painting.

Now about the actual colors:

There's a big plain layer at the bottom; this is the overall background color. I've used a round gradient fill (the other option on the paintbucket) for color (set to normal). Then I made another plain gradient layer for luminosity (set to luminosity), which makes it easier to get exactly the effect you want.

Next I blocked in (that's not a photoshop term, it just means 'painted in simply') all the basic parts of the picture with basic colors, with each bit that needs to be 'on top' of another on a new layer. So here there's basically these blocking layers (again blocking isn't a photoshop term, I just mean 'where the color is at'):

the scuff of dust and the voicebubbles
Schierke's outfit and Isi's knife handle
her skin
her hair
the rock edge she's standing on
the tentacles grabbin' her
the 2 tentacle parts that are in the foreground (closer to 'the camera')
the staff and the bag

With these blocked out we can start shading with Clipping Layers. You make a new layer above the main blocked in shape and, in the layer menu, right-click the layer to get the options and choose 'create clipping mask.' (left double-clicking the layer gets you the layer style menu, the thing with glows and drop shadows etc.) You can color on a clipping layer as sloppy as you please and it will stay within the borders you blocked in on its source layer. And if you change the blocked-in color's borders on the source layer the clipping layer automatically updates its borders from that. (It's easy to accidentally release clipping masks when you're re-arranging layers but don't worry, you can just click the layer and create clipping mask on it again.)

For Schierke's dress, I blocked in that & Isi's knife handle on one layer and used a clipping layer based on that to shade her dress, but for Isi's knife handle I 'locked' transparency on the blocking layer and did some shading work right on that with a brush set to Multiply (the layer lock holds the borders).

Here's how that works: This is the dress's blocking layer:

This is the shading layer on top of that (see how sloppy it is)

And this is the shading layer as a clipping mask based on that first blue layer:

The upshot of all this is that, with a little planning, you only have to be careful about creating any EDGE for your colors ONCE. Once you start shading, you can use clipping layers for shadows and light. Usually I find it convenient to use layer locking for smaller things that need shading, and clipping layers for larger ones. In this I used clipping layers for the dress and the tentacles, and locked transparency for everything else. (The disadvantage of just shading right on a locked layer is that you can't go back later and adjust your blocked color and the color you shaded with independently from one another, whereas if you use a blocking layer and a clipping layer you can use image->adjustments->hue/saturation on either layer anytime you want.)

At this point the color work looked about like this:

After this it's mostly a lot of fiddly work and more layers that are pretty self explanatory if you spend a little time turning layer visibility on and off to see what each layer is there for. (That's the eye icon next to each layer on the layer menu.)

There are also a few layers with 'outer glow' filter on them for the glow effects: Isi's knife blade, the head of the staff, and Ivarella.

I actually did the line layer first but I'll mention it last. In the line group I lightened the ziptone of Schierke's dress simply by painting it out on a layer set to Screen, with NO PAINT over the actual linework (I erased those back out). (Another option is to paint out ziptone sloppily and then paint the linework back in on another layer.) Then I locked the layer and painted a little shading into it. On another Screen layer I lightened some of the linework and played around in general. Now my lineart layer group looks like this:

Add up all the layers and you get this!

download full res:


All praise Grail
Wow this is pretty neat. Makes me want to get back into coloring (not that I'm very good), but this is so helpful and intersting. Thanks Lith! Great stuff!
Alright, this is blowing my mind - what a fantastic, comprehensive tutorial! You've got my gratitude for posting it, and now I gotta buckle down and get as much juice out of it as I can. :chomp:


Remember, always hold your apple tight
Thanks guys! I just revised it because I realised I was overusing the clipping layers a little (I just discovered them, heh, Lith is behind some times). Anyway the .psd file is updated too so don't forget to re-download it. :casca:
Awesome. Cheers to you on the tentacles. You lit them correctly when I compare them to mine which are much too bright and a bit too saturated. I like how the 'middle tentacle', the one going up her dress, is very shiny. How'd you pull that off? A certain brush type? Your staff looks good too. ;)

So, what are you working on now?
I don't usually make demands but I have one!


It's hard coloring straight black. Now, I'm not talking a drop or two, I'm talking those heaping wounds Miura draws that are solid black with no detail within the wound.

I normally paint the blood in layers but I feel I could tackle them in a more effective way. I've been painting something awesome and hit a FUCKING road block when it comes to wounds like this.

Lith, enlighten us.


Remember, always hold your apple tight
Wish -> Command

OK. Gouts of black manga blood. Here is my new strategy. Here is the .psd file of it.

Set up the lineart layer in a multiply group folder like in the example above.

Copy the lineart layer. Image->adjust->curves and ramp it to black and white with most of the blood looking pure black (minimum of white holes). Then grab magic wand selector with antialias on and contiguous off. Click a white spot. Hit delete. Image adjust hue/saturation, set to colorise, turn up saturation and lightness for desired base blood color. This is your blood lineart layer.

Drag this blood lineart layer above the other lineart in that multiply group folder. Now click the eye icon to hide it for the moment and follow the mess in this image (the blood lineart visibility should be turned back on halfway through):

Now you can paint much as you like in the blood lineart layer, the screen lighten lineart layer, and the color fill layers underneath until everything looks super sweet.

The reason for the extra steps with the masks and the blood layers etc is that you can be moderately sloppy painting to get the blacks back into the lineart screen layer because that mask will be working with the blood lineart layer to result in all those specks over white space being blood without each speck over white space needing to be painted individually, and with out everything getting double-lightened if you want to screen lighten any of the non-blood lineart.
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