Now that Nariko’s design is figured out, it’s on to coloring! I decided to try a new coloring technique called the Ambient Occlusion method. This technique is a way to bring a structural quality to your images relatively quickly. I used Alex Negrea’s tutorial and also this helpful process post from David Lojaya.
Here’s a breakdown of the main layers in my painting.
- Sketch – I produced a clean line art using the hard brush. This Sketch layer hovers above all of the other layers for the figure. Notice I didn’t sketch in pure black, but a very dark brown so as to keep my image from looking too stark. I wanted subtle warmth and for the line art to look natural. The same goes for the AO layer, which is not pure black, but a dark brown. You can tweak this coloration later to suit the mood of your piece.
- Sketch+Ambient Occlusion – The Ambient Occlusion layer sits below the Sketch and Flat Color layers and above the Shadow layer and represents places that are hard for light to enter, the deepest, darkest shadows where light is ‘occluded’. It is set to the blending option Multiply.
- Sketch+AO+Flat Colors – The Flat Colors are actually a group of layers, as I kept each color on its own layer just in case I wanted to change them later. The entire group is set to the blending option Multiply so they show the AO layer beneath them.
- Sketch+AO+Flat Colors+Shadow – The Shadow layer was clipped to a standalone layer that masked out the entire figure to keep my shadows from going outside of the lines. The Shadow layer is located below the Flat Colors group and above the AO layer.
- Final – In the final image notice I’ve actually masked out some of the Sketch layer so that the hard lines don’t look so unnatural (particularly in the area of the neck where lines are too harsh for the soft transitions there). Lighting effects have also been applied here.
NOTE: My Patreon Patrons at the $5+ reward tier have exclusive access to my .psd file, so be sure to pitch in there if you’d like to peruse my layer structure!
Finally, here’s an animated GIF of my process (roughly 8 mb).
If you’d like to download wallpapers of the final image, I’ve provided the 1920×1080 size for free.
Also be sure to check out the article this image is featured in, What Women Want…In Women Characters for an interesting discussion of female character designs and representation.
Other sizes plus the .psd are available exclusively for my Patreon Patrons.
PRINTS AND PRODUCTS – Contact me privately if interested.