Okay, that's a fairly inflammatory statement, allow me to qualify it a bit more: You should stop using the eye dropper tool in Photoshop for anything other than blending existing colours on the canvas. If you're laying down new tones and hues within your painting, you really need to step away from the eye dropper and resist the temptation to sample a vaguely suitable colour from your existing palette.
I found, whilst working on this Gil Elvgren study, that a lot of colour choices in darker areas of the painting (particularly with skin tones) were quite surprising. When analyzed however, they made perfect sense. This got me thinking about the way that I currently select and mix colours to apply in a painting, particularly when laying in shadow, as I tend to just eye drop an existing colour and reduce the value of it to make it darker. This can lead to quite lifeless and flat colours, which boarder on muddy soup - the digital painter's worst enemy.
By stepping away from the eye dropper and mixing a fresh hue on the colour picker, you slow the process down enough to carefully consider what it is you are looking to achieve and what influences you should take into consideration before you lay down any colour. For example, by slowing down and considering the colour choice more thoroughly, you may remember that there is a warmer light source that should be bouncing on that side of the face, rather than just a muted pink tone. Once you've picked, mixed and blocked your colour, you can go back to blending on canvas with the eye dropper, but when introducing a new tone I think it's really important to work a bit more traditionally, and mix by eye.
Now this isn't to say that you should be introducing lots of different hues into your painting, or that indeed you should be aiming for a rainbow effect of oversaturated tones. I do think, however, that you would be surprised at the range of differing hues within an image when you look closely.
My point is that the digital workflow allows for us to fly through stages of painting that a traditional artist would stop and consider (preparing paints of a palette, for example), and we need to make sure that during the process we do now allow ourselves to switch to autopilot over important decisions. The colour picker and eye dropper tools make it so easy to power on through to painting, that one of the most critical components of painting preparation gets overlooked.
My 2 cents anyhow. I found it to be quite a revelation this last week, and thought I'd share. Do you guys have any insights or tidbits on maintaining control of colour in paintings that you'd like to share? Comment below!
Labels: colour management, eyedropper tool, photoshop, tips, workflow