Working in color - grayscale with color layer?


  • SVS OG

    I am wondering how this might read to folks - i am starting to work on color and thought i would try adding a color layer to my grayscale drawing and see how it might pan out. A while back i tried adding a color layer to my black and white drawings and it did not work at all... i understand now how obvious that should have been. That was what made me decide to start using grays instead of black and white for my Oz project so that in the end i might be a little closer to having some success with a color layer - so here is my first go at it - this is the unfinished redo of my Gatekeeper drawing - i know it is not a finished piece but i am wondering if the color layer on grayscale ( with a bit of brushwork on top here and there) might work as a finished product for an illustration....or does it look too " color layer on top of grayscale'ish" ?- any feedback is much appreciated!!

    0_1539711110000_Gatekeeper 2.png


  • SVS Team SVS OG

    @kevin-longueil I think its working. I have tried this process before, some pieces are more successful then others. In the end I prefer to work straight in color and add a desaturated layer on top to check values while I work.



  • It looks pretty good to me. That's the process I use right now as it's easier to maintain the original values while playing with colour. I find with this kind of method it's much easier to get the painting into that 'oh-so-close-to-finished' state easier than just using colours.



  • This looks good. The reason this method can often fail is that people don't really know the true values of the colors they want to use and then the work comes out looking weird. Scott Robertson's book and You tube channel are great resources for information on working this way. I also own a video series from Matt Khor's page that goes into great detail on this work flow. I also recommend it.


  • SVS OG

    @Kevin-Longueil what method are you using to check if the values are still right after applying the colors?

    I like it to be honest..it is a little paler becuse of the color layer but maybe that is what you are going for?



  • This looks actually good! The yellow cast on the forehead is a little too saturated and the picture is overall a little pale, but it doesn’t struck me as being off.
    However, beware that using this method you basically relinquish control on color saturation and you cannot adjust the values anymore (unless you go back to your grayscale layer of course), which is very often necessary once you add color - basically you give up control of all parameters of color beside the hue. This is the reason why if you stop here art can look lifeless and “flat”, and in the long run I don’t think you’ll be satisfied with the results.
    One option is to use this as a “first pass” and then go on adding and refining color on extra layers.


  • SVS OG

    Thank you @Chip-Valecek - it is always good to hear your take on things!
    @Art-of-B Thank you for the feedback - it is Very good to know this is part of your process - your work is really great!
    @rcartwright Thank you for the the feedback! - i will check out the resources you mention - i recall Sycra has a great video about color value too.

    @darian Thank you for the feedback and the question that made me think 🙂 I have gotten out of the habit of checking my values with the cutout filter! But that was my main method Lee White mentioned it a long time ago and it seems pretty useful - i ran the image through the cutout filter with and without the color to see how it was reading - i will get back into this habit now that i am making an attempt at color 🙂

    0_1539798082956_Gatekeeper 3.png

    0_1539798103877_Gatekeeper cutout.png

    @smceccarelli Thank you for the feedback Simona! - it does look pale and chalky for sure - i think using this method as a first pass, as you say, will be the way to go. I think i will finish this piece and see where it ends up


  • SVS OG

    Looking great!


  • SVS OG

    @nyrrylcadiz Thank you Nyrryl!


  • SVS OG

    Love the cutout filter method! Thank you for sharing @Kevin-Longueil 🙂

    The reason I asked, is because like @smceccarelli mentioned, you can always paint over with saturated colors on top..but you might have to re-check it's grayscale again ( i tend to mess up the value structure at the paintover stage..haha).

    To check for values, I just save a copy of the image & convert it to grayscale mode.



  • @kevin-longueil I think it looks great! Looks like an oil painting.


  • SVS OG

    @kevin-longueil I think it looks good, the top of the head looks a bit washed out to me though it's void of any detail? I think what @smceccarelli said about using extra layers will improve this method because even oil painters don't finish with colour glazes over there grisaille under paintings... they would come along and add there thicker paint where needed to finish it off. I'm glad you've started to add colour to your work it will be exciting to see what you do. 🙂


  • Pro

    I think that looks pretty good! The one part where it really looks like you used this greyscale method is the hair I think! It ends up looking very dark and black. On the forehead where it's thinning, it would look more brownish.
    I think you're doing a good job with this method though! I never could use this method very well, it kind of bugs me not to have total control over the tones and I have to keep switching to get the right colors. It always ends up looking a bit grey and muddy to me in the end, I think you did a great job of avoiding that!


  • SVS OG

    @chrisaakins Thank you for the feedback Chris!
    @Jason-Bowen Thank you for the feedback Jason! Very much appreciated - i'm starting to a "normal" layer as we speak - it is improving i think...i will post the minor progress below - thanks again 🙂
    @NessIllustration Thank you for the feedback Vanessa!

    still working on it but the "normal" layer is helping for sure - thank you for your help everyone!

    0_1539919266442_Gatekeeper copy 2.png



  • @kevin-longueil I don't feel qualified to offer much critique on this but it is looking good. I am a huge fan of greyscale images (making them AND seeing them) but I am liking your transition into color. I really like his eyes behind the green glasses--they are so lively and, like some of your other Oz characters, they have that knowing look, like the character knows a secret that you don't.


  • SVS OG

    @eli Thank you for your feedback Eli!


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