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Character Design: Swift Shock Colors

Choosing a Color Scheme, Lighting & Rendering

In this tutorial we’ll be coloring Swift Shock from Rob Arnold’s Replicator comic book series. I’ll teach you how to pick and choose the colors that’ll best suit your character, then how to light and give them form using multiple rendering passes.

If you missed the previous video in this series, where we went through the process of designing Swift Shock, you can watch it here: Comic Book Character Design: Swift Shock | Creating a Congruent Design & Working With Clients

To learn more about the Replicator Comic Book series, click here:

The coloring process begins with a complimentary color scheme that looks appealing to the eye and helps to reflect who the character is. Swift Shock for example has a super cocky, over-confident personality. He also manoeuvres at high speeds, thus the name.

So if we’re looking at the color wheel, what hues might express those traits? I thought red would fit in with who Swift Shock was perfectly, so that’s the color I made both his jacket and shoes. In the same way you’ll want to choose colors that are appropriate for your character, hues that convey their feel and vibe.

Just as important is that the colors we choose sit together well. Our goal as we fill in the base colors is to compose a harmonious color scheme that’s easy on the eyes. The color wheel comes in handy when it comes to figuring out what colors go together well, and which ones don’t.

Generally, most of us notice immediately when we’re looking at a color composition that clashes. Use that natural intuition as you compare different hues. Keep in mind too that the hue of a base color isn’t the only variable you’ve got to consider when defining the color scheme of your character. You can also adjust the brightness and saturation of your colors to ensure they contrast in a complimentary way.

With the base colors down we’re ready to move onto the base shadows and highlights. This is the first lighting pass, and our aim at this stage is to broadly define the lighting scheme by blocking in the core shadows and highlights. To do this accurately, we must pay attention to the form being lit.

If we consider the direction of the main light source as it casts down across the forms of our character, this will give us a fairly good idea as to where the shadows and highlights should fall. To make this process easier, it’s best to interpret these forms as simplified shapes. By doing so we’re better able to comprehend how they should be lit.

From there we’ll begin to blend the shadow and highlight tones together, smoothing out the surface forms and creating a seamless transition between the dark and light values. The softness of the transition will be determined by the form you’re dealing with and its surface characteristics. Is the form rough or smooth? What material is it made of? These factors greatly affect the way in which light disperses across a form.

In the final lighting passes, we’ll continue building up the highlights to bring the forms out further, giving the overall character more depth and dimension.

I hope you enjoy this tutorial and take away a ton of insight from what you’re about to learn. Thanks for watching and if you found the video useful, be sure to share it with your fellow comic artisans. They’ll be thankful you did, and so will I!

Until next time, keep on creating and keep on practicing.



Software Used: Photoshop CS6


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