“Hard Light” Coloring

This tutorial can be used in Photoshop and/or any graphic edition software that supports  “Hard Light” layer mode.

This is an easy way of coloring =3
It’s simmilar to the Multiply layer technique, and it saves a lot of time when deciding what colors to use when shading a picture.

I’ll use the same lineart and flat colors than the Multiply method, so check that one first!

- The next thing to do is duplicate your flat colors layer.
I rename it  “bw” or something, so you remember what is it for.

- Paint the whole “bw” layer with 50% gray.
It’s really important that it’s 50% gray and not other color!

- Now pick a 20%-30% gray and shade as you normally do (celshading or soft or whatever).
You can add some darker details with a 10% gray and highlights with 70% gray. Don’t use actual black or white!
You can use the flat colors layer as a selection template to color over separate areas at a time.

- Now set your “bw” layer to “Hard Light”.
It looks ugly and greyish XD;

- Still on the “bw” layer, open the Color Balance window (Ctrl+B).

- Move the slides =D
With the color balance window, you can change the tint of the highlights, midtones and shadows of a picture.
Usually you’d want to add some yellow to the highlights and some blue to the shadows.
Play with the slides until you’re happy ^^

If you set your “bw” back to “Normal”, you’ll notice that you’ll grayscale layer has now some tint of color =P That’s what the Color Balance does.

- Then add some special efefects or whatever you want to add and it’s done =D

What’s so good about this method?
- Just like the multiply method (adding a new layer in multiply mode for the shading), you add the same amount of shadows and highlights to every part fo the picture, thing that’s harder when you choose the shading colors by hand.
- Another good thing is that you don’t need to worry about coloring over another part of the picture that has a different color when shading XD; you just shade everything! The color comes afterward ^^ It’s also good when shading areas that have lots of different colors, like a fabric with a pattern. (just like with the multiply method)
- You can add highlights in the same layer than the shadows, unlike the multiply method =3
- Also, when coloring in grayscale, you have a better idea of the lights on the whole picture, and you can easily make tests and change the light source if you want, since you’re using 2-4 actual shades of gray to paint, instead of a whole palette of different tones.