PLAYING WITH LIGHTING & NEONS! | Digitally Painting Neon Lights in Adobe Fresco & Photoshop


Welcome to the video. I am very flattered to be the spotlighted artist this month on the Adobe drawing Instagram page. They requested that I create a self-portrait for them using their software. So. Let’s get started ♪ For this particular illustration, I’m going to be using fresco for the blunt of the work and then
I’m going to use Photoshop for some final touch-ups I’m creating
this illustration specifically to post to Instagram. So I’m going to start it off with a new square document I’m gonna quickly just go right in and start drawing the head I’ve already created a few thumbnails off-screen so I knew a vague idea of what I want this illustration to look like. So it just comes down to… Translating it onto a brand new piece of paper or in this case, digital canvas. I’ve been using Adobe products for it feels like [Laughs] My whole life Okay, it was probably more like eight years. So not my whole life but like 31% of it. So
I’m very thankful for Adobe for sponsoring today’s video. Something
I’ve been doing to simplify my character illustrations at the beginning first stages, is to draw them with their eyes closed. I find doing this is really, really helpful because not only like I said, it simplifies what the eyes are going to look like, but it helps me line them up because if the eyes are just lines, It’s easier to figure out if one eye is too high, one eye is too far away, It’s just – It really keeps me from over complicating it. Then once I’m happy I just open the eyes up. [Laughs] Something really cool about working digitally is the ability to move a sketch anywhere on the page. Since for this drawing, I still wanted
to maintain the square dimensions of the canvas, and also explore the character’s pose, all I had to do is simply move the drawing upwards on the page Draw everything in and then move the sketch back down and crop out the parts of the character that I didn’t necessarily need. This really helps the pose be a little bit more believable. I really like sketching with the pencil brush, It’s just a lot of fun. I do see that vibe of drawing traditionally, with the convenience of drawing digitally. When sketching, I like to move around the character and now
I have basically the structure of the character done, I can go in and tweak different elements, adjust the size of different facial features and try to make it look like me I did take some liberties and I chose to make the character look a little bit more cute versus a little bit more like me, but I did show the finished illustration to my little brother and I said who do you think this is? and he said “Is that you?” So there were some battles won here. Now
I mentioned earlier that I had made some thumbnails. Prepping for this self-portrait and I came
up with a pretty clear idea that I felt represented me and also gave me the ability to practice drawing something that heavily revolved around the idea of light I’m very, very inspired by a comic cover actually drawn by Adam Hughes where he drew a character being backlit by some neon lights I’m using my logo from my YouTube channel [Laughs] As a base for the neons that will be back-lighting me. Art is a lot of trial and error and doing the same thing over and over and over again until hopefully it looks good at the end and this illustration was no exception. I use the sketch layer as experimentation to see how to draw things that light up basically. Since [Chuckles] I don’t have any experience with this. You can see I use the bright saturated pink for the background and a much darker De-saturated, almost purple for the character or me. I guess it’s me. Then
I switched from the pencil brush to the hard round brush and I set the smoothing up to I think almost 90 and I started tracing the outlines of my logo This
is gonna help make my logo look more like a neon light having this smoothing up this high, does slow the brush down a little bit. It drags a little behind the pencil as you may notice but it really gives that appearance of a neon and it looks less hand-drawn while still being hand-drawn So it works really perfectly for this. My first attempt at making it look like it was glowing was just to use white with a soft round brush and just paint over the neon. This does look bright, but it really doesn’t look like actual neons So I had to find a nice reference photo and figure out what I was doing wrong. But before I did that, I practiced back lighting the character. So what I did was actually locked the transparent pixels on the sketch layer and used that same white color with the soft brush and painted over the line art, making it look like the character has light hitting it all from behind. Then I took almost the same color as the background like that really saturated magenta pink and colored with that same soft round brush around the character and while I would consider it looking good enough for like a sketch, this definitely wasn’t going to be a way that I could get
away with when it came to like finishing the illustration. This time, actually just using and drawing the light around the character and I could add a little like hair fly-aways that were lighting up as well. This gave me a lot more freedom and control over how I wanted the back-lighting to look. Then I took that saturated pink color and also colored around the edges to make it look like the actual color of the neons was reflecting on the character and this is what my sketch layer looked like and I felt pretty confident to move on to adding in the line art and hopefully after that, being able to color and back-light the character in a realistic way. It’s always important to flip the canvas when you’re drawing digitally, if there was way to do it traditionally I would do it too. But sometimes you forget so I like to make sure that I always flip the canvas when it comes into moving from like a sketch layer to the next
sketch layer or from sketch layer to the line art layer So I lower the opacity of the entire sketch layer, flip the canvas and start adding in the line art For line art, I like to use the hard round brush. It’s just what I use in Photoshop and it’s nice that it’s also in Fresco, So I can kind of maintain my style of drawing in a different art program. The line art layer can be really tricky because you’re coming from a sketch that has a lot of extra lines flying here and there and everywhere, and it makes your character look a lot more fluid and then when you move on to the line art, you have to choose your favorite lines. And when you do that, you’re kind of ignoring some of the fluidity. So when you’re done the character can look really stiff. it’s definitely something you have to just play with and figure out what works and what doesn’t and when I had finished my first pass at the line art, it really didn’t work for me. So I did it again and then this is what it looked like. In comparison, it’s just a little bit softer, and the face is a little bit friendlier and less plastic, I don’t know [Laughs] When I flip the canvas back, I can tell that yeah, I like this a lot better. [Laughs] I’ve already added a solid color behind the liner on a separate layer and then this is where I’m going to be adding in my color. The
way that I’m going to get this character to look back-lit is by making them de-saturated and dark and you can see I’m adding in colors right now and they’re pretty vibrant I decided to color in the character… Vibrant. [Laughs] And then I’m going to tweak it later to make it darker and less saturated, once I know what colors are going where and how I’m going to shade it and everything like that A good tip for helping the line art look a little bit softer and less harsh is also to lock the transparent pixels and just color over it with a color that complements whatever color is within that line art. So right now I’m coloring in all of the lines that go over any skin sections and I’m making them a little bit more saturated so they complement the skin tone that I’ve chose. I really like the way this looks and I think it really calms down the line art. [Laughs] Especially
if you like to add a lot of detail around the face. For freckles, I tried altering a brush so that it was very speckly and like scattered so that
it would draw freckles as I just swept across the cheeks, but I wasn’t able to get it as sparse as I needed, So I elected to just draw in each freckle individually This was a little bit tedious but it gave me a lot of control and I was able to put in a few familiar freckles that I see every time I look in the mirror I have quite a few of these little fellas. So it was nice to just turn on some music chill out and then [Mouth pop] Use a bunch of pointillism on my face. I also
added some subtle like blush and shading to the face I didn’t want to go too crazy on this because obviously the lighting is all gonna be coming from behind Which means the front of the face is going to be pretty Flat looking. So I didn’t want to go overboard. I just did enough to the point where I was like, this is really fun. [Laughs] Which meant a decent amount of blush, a little bit of rosy nose. I went a little crazy with like, The shimmery shininess of my face, like look at the tip of my nose. What am I doing? but don’t worry, I don’t think this is a problem by the end of the drawing. then I just colored in my hair and
also added a little bit of highlight to the outside edges like it’s being back-lit but this ended up being pretty pointless when I move on to the next step. Fresco doesn’t have any color balance or color adjustment tools. Which I use on the regular in Photoshop. So I had to try and find my own way to adjust the color. The way I did this was by duplicating the color layer, locking the transparent pixels, coloring it in with a very de-saturated dark purple, adding this layer above the color layer and the line art layer, setting it to multiply and then adjusting the opacity until the character looked very dark and not well lit at all. This was something else that took a lot of trial and error I took the eraser tool, set it to a light flow I think and then added highlights to the character by erasing from this multiply layer. Again, keeping in mind that the character is going to be back-lit. So there’s not going to be a lot of light hitting the face unless it is like refracted light from off of something else the next step to further back-light this character was to draw in that white, super bright light that’s just smacking into the back of my head and illuminating every little baby hair and every little edge of the back of my head and paint it in white. At first, I couldn’t really see what I was doing unless I was drawing directly over like my head. So I added in a vector layer behind everything that was a dark purple and then I was able to see exactly what was going on [Laughs] and
it really helped visualize what I wanted for this drawing and oh, I got so excited. [Laughs] I’m like, I think this is working! [Excited gulp] I think my favorite part was definitely adding in flyaways I don’t know, it just added this realistic element to my cartoony illustration and might have went a little overboard but I have no regrets. Now as much as I love this harsh bright rim lighting, the actual neon lights are going to be casting pink light onto my character, so I’m gonna need to emphasize that in some way. So I changed my brush to the soft round brush. Changed it to a pretty bright saturated pink color and
began kind of at first just going around the rim lighting. Trying to figure out what looked good, what didn’t What looked realistic,what didn’t and what just wasn’t gonna work at all. I definitely, at first, went a little too crazy on this [Laughs] Just because I was, like I said experimenting and trying to figure out what worked, but I definitely find like a happy place Eventually. Not entirely sure how to improve upon that, at this point in time, I moved on to working on the background. Grabbing the hard round brush, turning the smoothing all the way up, almost all the way up. I repeated
the same way I did the neon for the sketch layer. This time with a thinner brush. I thought it would look a little bit more realistic. I definitely took my time with this. I wanted it to look… Smooth and less hand-drawn but not like printed either. I think I definitely found exactly what I was looking for. Then I actually duplicated that layer, locked the transparent pixels, colored it in black and moved it slightly down into the right to add a little bit of a shadow. This just helped me visualize that this is a 3D object, and not a drawing on the wall behind her, even though you really don’t end up seeing this at all by
the time I’m done adding in all the brightness and lights So I grabbed a super awesome bright pink color and the soft round brush with a very nice flow and started coloring in behind the white neon layer. I also made another layer above the neon light layer and drew in that with pink and set that to screen to add like a really cool glowing effect. Then I just had to repeat this for every letter on the neon behind my character. If I were to do this in Photoshop, I would have just taken that neon layer and added an outer glow effect, and I don’t think it would have looked quite as realistic as this ends up looking by the end but it would have been a million times faster. But I’m kind of glad that I had this opportunity to actually sit down and try in paint light instead of just using a couple buttons in Photoshop, you know. Which
don’t get me wrong, I love my layer styles. [Laughs] I wouldn’t give them up for the world. But it was also cool to try something different and actually know that I have the ability to do this. so if I ever needed to try and paint light, that could be maybe the next step and I would have some knowledge of how to do that to a certain extent. [Chuckles] Then it was time to actually color in the background. So I… Darkened it up, made it all almost black behind the lights then I took that same pink color and softly added a gradient behind the character, furthering that glowing idea, making everything just look bright and saturated and fun and by making the edges darker, it made the center look even brighter just by contrast Then I also just went in and added little bright sections to the neon just to make it look like there’s
parts of the neon that are operating a little bit brighter Maybe they’re about to burst. Who knows! Just making it look more organic and less copy-paste. Taking a step back and looking at it. The character still felt separated from the background Obviously, I don’t want the colors to be exactly the same She’s being back-lit not front-lit, but she just felt… Separate. What worked the best was I took that soft round brush at a very large size with the saturated pink. I colored over like the side of her face that would be the most lit, set that to screen and whoa it just, I don’t know, it just did something super magical and made me very very happy and it made the character look like she was actually being illuminated by these pink neons and [Excited squeal] I was just so happy about it. And
it definitely helped like bring her into the environment At this point I was feeling pretty happy with everything I think I had reached like the limit of what I could make in this program So I like to do my little guilty pleasure, [Giggles] watch the speed paint at the end that fresco automatically generates and just relive those memories Just watch it happen. [Laughs] I love this full feature ’cause it’s just, I don’t know, when you finish drawing, all you can see is the finished result But then when you watch the process playback, you remember all those different decisions you made as you made them, you can see that first attempt at line art and how it didn’t quite look right, but how I kind of conquered it eventually with my second pass at the line art. Which you can see here because I forgot to film it but, Fresco remembers. Oh and you can relive just how long it took to draw each and every freckle [Giggles] I did after
that end up making some final little tweaks in Fresco Then finally exporting it as a PSD Opening it up in Photoshop and just doing those like final little bits and bobs that I couldn’t quite do in fresco and also using my color balance tools to tweak, tweaky [Laughs] and make the colors really pop. This is what the finished drawing looked like Which you can see a better look over on the Adobe drawing Instagram page. I’m quite happy with the way this turned out, It was a really fun experiment in practicing lighting and rim lighting and things like that and something
I’d definitely like to explore further in the future. Thank you guys for watching. I hope you enjoyed diving into my digital process while I created my self-portrait. Another big Thanks to Adobe for sponsoring the video. I’ll see you guys all next week and I hope you have a delicious evening full of waffles. Bye! ♪

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