Help me get better, please...

so here’s the deal guys and gals…i want to get better with my PS skills because i see the work posted and i’m totally blown away. there have been numerous tutorials on how to render something or how to color this, and they’re all great, but the one thing they all do is show the thought process and mindset of that particular artist. what i want to do is see how i can improve or better my process. so here’s what i decided…i’m going to post a step-by-step guide on how i go from a black and white and end up with a colored image. i know there are steps that are lacking and i may even be doing steps wrong, out of order, or even when i shouldn’t be doing them at all. please let me know what you feel could be done better, shouldn’t be done, or should be focused on.

step 1: open up an image (i chose one done with illustrator linework)

step 2: i unlock the background and rename it as “linework” layer

step 3: i make a new layer, title it “background”, fill it in all white and place it behind the “linework” layer.

step 4: i make various layers for the different colors/panels/parts of the shoe. these layers are set to “multiply” so that you can see the linework through it.

step 5: making sure to select the appropriate layer, i start coloring over the panels. my method is airbrush as opposed to using the paintbucket or selecting an area with the magic wand and then filling in the area. i find that those methods leave me with little spots of white. i know, i know, i could probably expand, contract and feather the selection area, but personally, it’s just easier for me to clean up where i color bleeds with the eraser tool.

step 6: okay, so after coloring and erasing to clean it all up, here’s what it looks like.

step 7: now i want to indicate where the light source is coming from and get some preliminary shadows in…

step 8: i create a new layer, title it “shadows”, set the it to “multiply” with an opacity of 50% then spray with an airbrush flow of 50%

step 9: it doesn’t look like much but next, i switch over to the “linework” layer, magicwand select the outside area, then switch back to the “shadows” layer and erase away.

step 10: another layer is made, titled “highlights” and then little details and, obviously, highlights, are put in. to get a a thin white or dark edge that gives volume, i switch to the “linework” layer, magic wand an area, then switch back to “highlights” and graze the edges with either white or black.

and so there we have it. that’s how i go about the process. i know, it’s sophomoric and that’s exactly why i posted it. i need to know how i can improve. what am i doing wrong? what steps am i missing? is there a better way of going about a particular step? any suggestions, help, guidance, direction or even ridicule would be appreciated…as long as it results in me being able to improve. thanks in advance.

Not bad… I like anyone that uses sophomoric in a sentence!

A quick way to improve would be to fix up your illustrator linework. Try drawing it in a more “ideal” way. Straighten out the kinks, smooth the lines, make them more elegant. Then vary the line weights. For example the cupsole stitch could be thicker, the rest could be much thinner, and try making all the linework about a 60% grey, this way it is less cartoony and pops through the black panels.

As for the rendering itself, I think you have a very good base. I would add some reflected light to the bottom of the upper were it meets the cupsole, to the heel to show it wrapping away a bit more, and to the collar. Adding some subtle textures will push it as well.

Take a breeze through coroflot and do a search for footwear, you will find lots of great examples to study.

Good stuff man.


if you place light (in fact you place shadow) forget that light always comes from the top.
highlight the areas closer to the viewer, which means: shadow also on top of the shoe. this will pop out your ´product´ even more.


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now just some color and effects…

and please don´t put shadow on all pieces- this will make it look like a collage