Monday, June 16, 2014

Wicked Women - More Editing in Photoshop

First, thank you all for putting up with me and thank you all for the kind thoughts!  I'm sorry I didn't post anything last week.  My husband and I bought our first car in 8 years.  We bought it on Saturday, visited friends on Sunday, and my husband drove it to Boston for work on Monday...where he got in a 4 car accident on the highway.  It's been a crazy week and we almost have it all sorted out.

And today I'm trying to get back to normal....

Today is another installment of working with Photoshop.  Last week I went through how to edit the paper doll base and this week I'm going to go through how I edit an outfit. I like to edit the paper doll base first and then edit all of the outfits.  I do this to ensure proper fit for all of the outfits and, sometimes, I need the doll for edits on the outfits.

I chose to work with my Queen of Hearts painting for this week's lesson.  It was by far the most difficult of the outfits to paint.  I made several mistakes (which I'll be sharing) and, as a result, it's one of the more complicated paintings to edit.  Mistakes are not a bad thing and I often share my mistakes as part of the learning process.  Sometimes mistakes can be fixed, like on this painting, and sometimes it's better to just cut & run!  I started a little one-page watercolor paper doll a couple of weeks ago and I just could not get it right.  The tracing was bad, the colors were off, and then my youngest son decided he wanted to paint on my page, too.  I probably could have fixed it in Photoshop but it was better to scrap it and start over.  This Queen of Hearts painting very nearly ended up scrapped, too.

So here's how I screwed it up...and how I fixed it.
Here's the unedited painting.  I highlighted some of the mistakes that I'll be fixing.

1. The pearls.  These pearls are terrible! These are just one reason I nearly scrapped this.
2. Low-contrast black.  Black is a tough color in watercolors.  It's either too light or too dark.  I need to correct the contrast here.
3. The underskirt.  This is the biggest mistake on the painting.  I painted to roses first and then tried to add shadows in long brushstrokes...and smeared all of the red roses! That's why the skirt is a gold color.  I initially wanted it to be white but settled on gold.

Those are the big things I'll tackle.

As with the previous lesson, the first thing I want to do is erase the background.  You might be wondering what the deal is with the circle in the top corner.  That is a pearl I painted to replace the terrible pearls.  I copy & pasted that to a new layer, then eliminated the background much the same way I did in the previous lesson.

Before completely erasing the background, I placed the tabs to hold the outfit onto the doll.  I drew tabs but decided to use Photoshop to create clean, crisp tabs instead.

To make the tab, I created a new layer, selected the rectangle selection tool, and filled it with a color.  I chose a light grey but it doesn't really matter.  In the Layers menu, select Layer Styles>Stroke and add an inner stroke of whatever size you want.  I like to give the tabs an inner stroke so that the corners remain square.  I then use this (or the rasterized/flattened image) as the tab on the doll.

So here's the outfit with the tabs placed, all on one layer.  The outfit with the background removed is on one layer.  There's a crazy bright color on the bottom layer - it helps me remove the background.  And then there's the replacement pearl on its own layer.

Next up is the most tedious part.  I'm going to replace all of the pearls with my substitute pearl.  This part also requires some organization.  I like to take it one chunk at a time.

I copied my replacement pearl onto its own layer.  I edited the pearl (highlights & shadows) and applied a stroke using Layer Styles.  The stroke I had painted on the pearl wasn't thick enough and it needs to be in order to match the rest of the style of the image.  Now it's just copying and arranging the pearls.  I work in small sections so that I can keep track of the copies of copies of copies....

All of the pearls are placed.  I merged all of the pearl layers together.  They didn't fit perfectly over the previous pearls and that's fine.  I'll fix that once all of the pearls are placed.

Here are all of the new pearls, in merged and named layers.  I could have made a brush like Liana's or not painted the pearls at all.  There are a lot of options to consider in subsequent projects.  For this one, I thought this would work best.

Now I'll clean around the new pearls using the cloning tool, primarily.  The above image is the cleaned-up section on the crown.  I'll do this to every area around the pearls.
While cleaning up the pearls, I also fixed any other errors I came across and increased the contrast in the black tones.

Last up, check the fit on the doll base.

Here's an example of poor fit.  This is next to the collar, on the left side.  The skin tone on the left image is the doll showing under the outfit.  I used the clone tool and corrected it on the right image.  Even though I fit the drawings to the doll, there are still a few instances like this on every doll.  I hated having an ill-fitting outfit on my paper dolls as a kid, so I really look for it now in my own art!

A before-and-after.  Again, I tried to keep the edits subtle where possible.  Even the bigger changes need to look like they were always there.

Some of the outfits had bigger edits than others.  Most of them involved some or all of the things I went over in this lesson.  I have found that pre-fitting the drawings saves me a ton of time at the editing stage and I strongly encourage it.

All of the hard work is done!  Time to start putting together the book!


  1. The design of her neckruff is just inspired. I love it.

    1. I saw it on Pinterest, honestly, and decided it would be perfect. Pinterest has really changed the way I research my projects - it doesn't get any easier! Research is helping me make better paper dolls, I think, and growing as an artist is always the overarching goal.