Controlling Photoshop: Color Picker, Part Two!

So now that I've blogged about the technical reasons for switching your color pickers mode. Now I want to go into how to think about this while coloring, which will be easier with some visual aid. heres a doodle I'm going to color:

Dragon Suit McStabby

Alright, so lets put some base colors on this. 

So at this point its time to start thinking about light. As we established, the default color picker is in "hue" mode. I think thats the reason that I see a lot of pallets like this when people first start digitally painting in PS:
Now, for one, I don't like making the little blob of on canvas color swatches. I generally just use the color picker when ever I need a new color and use the eye drop tool to gain access to colors if used already. The only time Ive used these blobs is when I'm specifically using limited color.  

Anyway, Heres that pallet in action. 

Okay, so other than some sloppy quick application, you can see this is a functional selection of colors. Still, I like retina burning rainbows and toxic purple secondary light sources. The problem is finding those colors in this:  

to me is really tedious. Finding a blue that will go over my orange involves a lot of messing with the color slider and adjusting the brightness and contrast in the color field. Really what I wan to do is start with my orange and simply add blue, not start with a blue and adjust its brightness. So lets look at this chart from the last blog of the color picker in red mode.

In red mode you can adjust based on color rather than brightness and saturation of the hue you already have picked out. The amount of red will be locked by the color slider, and you can modify the amount of green and blue in the color field. 

Here is the base orange
Alot of red, a little green and a smidge of blue.

To get a shadow color, I'm going to add some blue, and take out some green. 

This gives me a salmon-y pink, but note that the color slider will display what will happen if I start to also take away red with the hue I currently have selected. I'm going to take away some red and green, and add some more blue. 

Now I have a purple, sweet. It might look a little odd as a color blob, which is why I hate color blobs. for proof of concept lets throw that purple over the base colors:
Hey, thats not too shabby! Way more vibrant than the hue pallet equivalent. Of course, when actually working this is all about flexibility and experimentation. I like to play with different color pickers, layer modes, and overlaying textures while I color. I hope this helps explain the color picker and gets you to try something new in your next PS session! 


Controlling Photoshop: Color Picker

  Using Photoshop can sometimes overload new digital painters with options, while stripping away some of their basic instincts. Still, my philosophy with software is to dig deep into it and play with all the options available. The more familiar you are with your tools, the better decisions you will make while creating a work flow.

 There is a lot out there about fighting the lack of texture and achieving better brush handling, I find that there is not a lot about color, so thats what I'm going to focus on.  The color picker seems fairly technical, but if you familiarize yourself with it, it can really help you find that exact color your looking for while painting, saving you time and allowing more flexibility when you are guessing and checking.

The color picker that is default for Photoshop is the "hue" mode, seen here

There is noting wrong with Hue mode. But when painting traditionally, I rarely lay out a color with a drop of pure black and pure white to mix with. This picker doesn't work with how I want to think about colors while working, but luckily there are other options. So first lets label the color picker so I can talk about specific parts:

Here in the color picker we have three major areas, the color field, the color slider, and the mode buttons. To change the color picker around, You'll be playing with the mode buttons. Generally when I suggest this to people, they click the mode buttons and find the new spectrum extremely confusing. The first thing to understand is that the mode buttons are applying themselves to the Color Slider, and modifying that subsequently effects the color field.

To express this visually, I want to explain what each one does. Lets break down the default mode, Hue:

In hue mode you are controlling the spectrum of color with the Color Slider. Once you pick a pure color from the spectrum, your Color Field controls the brightness from top to bottom and the hue saturation from left to right. The top right color is the pure color which is a value of 255. When we are looking at pure Red, R is at 255 while both the G (green) and the B(blue) will display values of 0. Pure white is always all three colors at 255, and black is all of the colors at 0. 

Put your color picker at pure red, and then move your cursor around in the window while looking at the values. You will notice that the G and B values are remaining the same (give or take 1) as you change the red. 

The two next modes are saturation and brightness, which apply themselves to the color slider.
Looking at the two of these should start to explain how the picker is truly functioning. I personally don't use either of these modes very often, but I find myself clicking over when color I already have picked isn't dark enough, and I need to better see both its brightness and saturation so I don't muddy my colors.


Under the hue, saturation and brightness options are RGB mode buttons, which I use a great deal. Much like H/S/B this will apply your selected color to the Color Slider. If you are used to mixing colors with paint, this wont exactly replicate that, but if you get used to this mode you might find it slightly easier to find colors you want.

Heres how the mode works:
Red will be 255 across the entire color field, and can only be adjusted by the slider in Red mode.

Here in red mode, you can now work with green and blue and modify your colors based on that. I find this the most convenient way to deal with "This color I just put down is not quite blue enough." Working in the color field gives you a larger plain to work with the spectrum than have every color laid out in the slider. If you are particular with your colors, its worth your time to give the RGB modes a shot.

 The modes to the left of H/S/B are "Lab Color". Lab color is supposed to approximate human vision. L is for luminance (light) while A controls how red or green a color is, and B controls how blue or yellow a color is. This mode, admittedly, is too odd for me to use while painting, but perhaps you will find them intriguing. Heres the picker in Luminance mode:

This is cooooonfusing

That.... is probably not a good way to chart it out. I will spend some more time with it and try and explain it again later. Soon, I will add some visual examples that practically apply the different color pickers in painting situations.

On to Part 2!


Continuing to work on landcapes and cities, they are staying relatively simple as I just figure out how to even process what a city looks like when I try to draw them. I've been trying to expand my knowledge of landscape artists and speed painters outside of Craig Mullins and dudes who worked on StarWars. Now with Animation Backgrounds on hiatus, I've been mostly using DA. Check out my collections over there if you are looking for some random eye candy.



Did a little fanart for MSPA Better known as MS Paint Adventures, a comic by Andrew Hussie. Its latest iteration, "Home Stuck" has exploded the fandom that the site has. Andrew builds a world that really reminds me of being 13 and seems to have captured a captive audience of actual teenagers. 

Personally, I've been trying to figure out how and why. Creating something that is worthy of being obsessed over is not as easy as people tend to think. Plenty of comics start out with huge epic worlds in mind, but never get very far by ways of story telling, a good readership base, and a long lasting impact. Homestuck is doing all of these things relatively effectively, if its rapidly growing deviant art groups are any indication.

 For me, Homestuck has alot of the little parts of being a 13 year old gamer, in the beginning. Stuck at home, its snowing, talking my friends on IM to try and get them into some random game. Its set up perfectly, with the well crafted  "Pesterchum" logs really hitting the beats of instant messaging. With its adventure game elements, the story manages to pull those gaming tropes out into the characters reality. Its gone from being a skynet version of The Sims, to a Final Fantasy destiny killing epic. His characters all have obsessions, which we cling to desperately while trying to figure out our identity in those early teen years, and they are slowly evolving and growing with each kid.

So, part of Homestuck's effectiveness is coming from careful observation. For me, its nostalgia. For some kids, its probably even more true to their reality now than it was for me 9 years ago. I think the other factor is how Andrew creates rules for his worlds and not just complexity. You can see this in how Homestuck has really grown from what he learned in the previous story archs. The inventory systems that the kids use to carry around their stuff are convoluted math problems, to set the tone for how the worlds and timelines would eventually be jumbled together. His slow build helps ease the reader into what is now a crazy little universe.

I love the comic, though I miss the less log intensive beginning acts. If you havent read it, its worth taking some time to start reading, and see if you don't get sucked in.