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~Making Aywas Colorations in Photoshop~
By Nyoko (#585)

Alright, the first thing you do is open up your PSD. I'll be using the Orimi for this tutorial.

After you've selected your pet of choice, you should make sure all your layers have transparency lock by checking if they have the little lock icons next to your layers. Most of the Aywas PSDs are already transparency locked on their layers, but quite a few of them aren't. If the base isn't already locked, just click the little checkerboard square above your layers. Do the same with your shading, highlight, and line layers too. If you don't lock your transparency before you lay your base color down, it'll give it this icky pixely halo around the pet, which can bring down the quality of an otherwise nice pet.

After you've locked your layers and picked out your base color, you'll move on to the markings--- but first I want to talk about some of Photoshop's wonderful, magical brushes.

Photoshop has a lot of brushes, some of them useful for making Aywas, many of them not. The three above are the only ones I use regularly---the default brush, the fuzzy brush, and the fade brush. Although brushes come in default sizes, you can edit the size yourself by using the master diameter slide above the brush selection.

The top red lines show how the brush looks with pen pressure (top) and without (bottom). Pen pressure can only be used if you have a digital drawing tablet. Pen pressure is helpful, but is not necessary for making good Aywa colorations. If you're using a mouse, you'll probably want to stick to using varying sizes of the middle fuzzy brush, as without pen pressure the default brush ends up being too blocky and bold, and the fade brush pretty much doesn't work.

After you've become familiar with your brushes, draw your markings however you'd like. I usually go for something more complicated than the Orimi above, but for the sake of the tutorial I'm keeping it more simple. You might want to put your markings on different layers (have a layer for the underbelly, a layer for spots, etc); while you don't have to, it will make one of the later steps much easier. After putting down the markings, sometimes you can just call it done and leave it as is and move on to coloring the lines. With some pets this looks fine. Pets with brighter and more saturated colors like our Orimi here, however, do not. The default shading makes it look gray and dusty. So what do we do about it? Color the shading!

Coloring the shading is often overlooked, but it's actually one of the most important steps. With the right colors in shading, you can really bring out the colors or the mood in your custom. The way I pick colors for shading is that I use the eye dropper tool to select the base color of the pet and then nudge the color slider on the side to give you a slightly different hue. For example, if I'm coloring with red I'll shade with a purplish and highlight with an orange color, if I'm coloring green I'll shade with a dark teal and highlight with a chartreuse/yellow-green, etc. Afterwards, I then select a brightness/saturation somewhere within the red circles highlighted above. (the blue example is for shadows, the yellow for highlights) If the color of shading doesn't look good on your pet, keep adjusting the colors. Often it takes me a couple tries to pick out the right color for my shading. Just take your time.

Keep in mind that the shading color you use for the base won't always work with the markings. With this Orimi, the color I had used to shade the green looked weird and muddy on the yellow, so to fix it I colored the shadows that hovered on the yellow markings with an orange color.

Now we come to coloring the line art. This is something a lot of people overlook. I've noticed many people just paint bucketing the lines black or gray and calling it done. DO NOT DO THIS! The color of your lines can make or break a pet. Look above at my two Orimis. The left one has black lines, while the one on the right has colored lines. The one with the black line art looks kind of unfinished, while the one with colored line art looks more complete.

Colored line art is what will really tie your pet together. Some of the colorations I've done for the site I've thought "aww, this isn't turning out right, maybe I should just scrap it and start over" whilst working on it, only for everything to come together once I colored the lines! To color your line art, use a similar method to how you selected the shadow color. Select the darkest shadow on your pet with the eye dropper, make it slightly darker, and change the hue a bit. Don't make it too much darker, or it will 'break up' the pet too much like black line art does. Now, we're done, right? Well, yeah, you can be, but there's one more step I like to take with my pet colorations and customs.

(no fade / darker fade / darker and lighter fade)

I like to add a bit of fade to my pets' base colors and their markings---sort of like extra highlights and shadows. It helps break up the monotony and aid in the illusion of depth. Remember when I told you to put your markings on different layers? This is why. Transparency lock your marking layers before moving on.

For darker fades, you want to pick a color similar to the colors of your pet's shadows, but a bit lighter and closer to your base color. Then you take your fuzzy brush and add fades around your shadows. Do the same with light fades, only with darker versions of your highlights. Light fades can take a little more thought than the dark ones though---a lot of Aywas don't have real highlights, just backlighting. For these pets, look at where the shadows fall to figure out where to place your highlights. After you put your fades down, look over at your pet for any errors you made. Did you forget to color something? Are the lines too dark or too light with your new fades? Think you did a marking too lazily and need to redraw it? Make a quick adjustment and...

You're done!