Hi! I didn't see this anywhere on your faq or tutorials, so i hope its ok to ask! is there a blur tool on photoshop elements 8 or do you use some kind of technic for blending? your colouring is extremely natural and i can't get the same effect on photoshop (i use cs5). Your art is seriously amazing!
Of course it’s okay to ask me things :D
Ahh, the blur tool… now, this is just my completely unprofessional opinion here but I hate it. I never use it. I don’t encourage anyone to use it. And I’m going to tell you why.
The blur tool can lead to lazy painting. Using it means you dont have to mix and therefore you lose a lot of tone and value in skin shades. I find that using it can take away precision and control because you’re letting the transitions between colours depend almost entirely on the computer, which ties into the second part of your question. to get a “natural” feel you can’t rely on the computer, let me show you.
Really look at these. If this was someones skin, which looks more natural?The hand mixed one. How? The blurred one has two colours, the hand mixed one started with two, then I mixed two more intermediate colours, then I hand blended them together, effectively creating several more colours. Even though the blurred one has technically mixed the colours, one colour is so light and the other so dark that the blur tool doesn’t provide enough intermediate colours for it to look convincing.
Using the blur tool also means you lose some control over your colours. In the example above, what if you wanted the dark colour to blur over the light colour, effectively darkening the whole rectangle? You can’t do that with the blur tool, the tool works indifferently and uniformly. If you decide to blur something, you need to be positive that the two colours you’re blurring are in the perfect place, in the perfect lighting, and are close enough together to need no more intermediate colours. But to get that “natural” look you’re talking about you need variation, you need visible brush strokes for texture,imperfection, sharp shadows, and soft gradients, none of which are possible with the mechanical nature of the blur tool.
Some artists manage to make the blur tool work for them, it’s part of their style, and thats totally cool. Personally, I like to have a more painterly feel in my digital art and the strangely airbrushed weirdness of the blur tool just does not work for me. I suggest, especially if you’re new to digital art or art in general, stay away from it and keep yourself from falling into the pit of lazy painting.
Anyway, there’s my rant for the day, on to my own shading technique.
so I start off with my messy line drawing
then I but basic colours underneath with this brush
it has no pen pressure and it’s set at normal, 100% opacity. then using the same brush I do basic shading still underneath the line work to flesh out the light source and skin tone
then using this soft round brush
which is sort of pressure sensitive (it only goes so dark on one stroke, if you want it darker you have to physically lift the pen off the tablet and go over it again) on normal and 100% opacity.
I shade on top of the linework.
This bit isn’t done yet and I’ll refine it with the same round brush only in a smaller size. But look at the left clavicle, theres a very dark shadow and a very light part where the bone rises leaving a sharp shadow between them. some shading is required for the transition between the two parts but if you used the blur tool, you’d lose the sharpness of the edge.
Anyway, I’m not an expert and my way isn’t the “right” way so experiment! See what works for you. But my advice remains; be wary of the blur tool. Mixing colours is an important skill to have in art, in digital and (definitely) traditional mediums.
Hope this helps!!!