Nicholas Paufler (echofox@wingzero.net)
Wed, 27 Dec 2000 23:07:10 -0800


The last few models I've painted I've done in custom paintjobs. However, to
make sure that the color selections will look good togther, I've turned to
the old standby Photoshop to do some visualization work and get an idea as
to what the finished product will look like.
You can either use lineart or an actual photo of the model (which is best,
since you can get some shading involved), so depending on what you need,
I've grabbed Mark's drawings from Gundamproject, Burke's scans at the
mechadomain, and model box scans from Gundamshop. Once you've found the
image you want to use, save it and open it in Photoshop.
Here you've got all kinds of tools available to you, depending on how good a
job you want to do. If you just want to get a general idea of what it will
look like, you can omit the steps with regards to making selections of
certain areas.
Let's say that you've got a picture of the MG GP-01, and you want to know
how it would look in a GM style paintjob, with tan limbs and a red body. If
you want this to be perfect, select the lasso tool and draw all the way
around one of the legs, optionally creating an alpha channel if you want to
preserve the selection. You now have two main ways of recoloring it. The
first is to use the airbrush and switch it to "color" mode. While in this
mode, the airbrush will replace the color that you're painting over,
preserving the shading. This works reasonably well, but if you're trying to
paint a brighter color over a somewhat darker undercolor, it may look a
little odd. Now just airbrush over the color you want to replace, say,
changing the white legs to tan. If you didn't create the selection, try and
stay within the constraints of the limb, but if you move outside the lines a
little bit, no biggie. This is just to get an idea as to how it will look.
Your second option involves creating a multiply layer. To do this, create a
new layer and set its mode to "multiply". This mode is most often used by
people coloring lineart, since it multiplies the color in the current layer
by the color in the layers below it. Since most lineart is black lines on a
white background, the color fully overwrites the white, while the black
lines remain present, as does any lineart shading. We can use this method as
well, and simply do as above. If you want to, create a selection around the
area you want to be contrained to, and then just airbrush over the area.
Repeat as many times as neccesary to recolor your whole photo, and when
you're complete, you'll have a fairly convincing picture of what you're
model will look like in your proposed color scheme.
A few points of note:
1. It's hard to match colors when using these modes. If you choose a color
that looks like what you've got in your paintbottle, airbrushing it over a
multiply layer, or while set in color mode may not yield the color you
expect. If neccesary, adjust the lightness and darkness of the color you've
chosen to more accurately reflect the actual color of the paint as you
airbrush it on. It will take a little practice, but you should be able to
get the desired result.
2. Trying this technique on fairly dark colored models (say, the GM Quell or
Titans colored Mk.II) doesn't always work. The color set airbrush works okay
(although you will need to tweak your color selection), while the multiply
layer fails miserably (since only your highlights show up in the color
you've chosen).
3. You can use the paintbucket and other photoshop tools (especially if
you've cordoned off the area with a selection) to speed the process, but
make sure you're either on a multiply layer or are using the airbrush in
color mode ... just filling the area with a solid color blowing away the
shading and detail isn't helpful at all.
4. You can also paint on weathering, damage, etc, to try and get an idea on
where you should put such details on your model before doing it for real.
Photoshop has an undo button, your model doesn't.
5. This is almost certainly applicable to other programs like Paintshop pro.
The names may be different, but the capabilities should be there.

Hmm ... that should be about it. If you're familiar with Photoshop, this
quick guide should make a fair bit of sense, unfortunately, if you're a
newbie it probably won't help. However, if there's enough demand, I could
HTMLize this guide and provide screenshots, if enough of you were interested
in such a thing.
If anybody has any questions, feel free to ask.

---
Nicholas "Echo|Fox" Paufler
http://www.wingzero.net - Home of the High Quality Gundam Image Archive
"Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. Study hard. Be evil."
"Hail Eris. All hail Discordia!"

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