Using a Midtone Background in Digital Painting

A common mistake that beginners would make is to
start on a white background. We’re so used to start on white–a white piece of
paper, a white canvas –so what’s wrong with white? Well first of all, a white background is
really intimidating. Any mark that you will do would be really apparent, and any mistake that you will do will stick out. It can be really frustrating. More importantly, the value that you have on a background will have an impact on the value that you would paint on the
background. Let’s have a look at an example. So as you can see on my canvas right now, I have a circle filled with dark gray. Now, the circle seems really dark and it’s
especially because of the white background. If I switch it to black–suddenly
that same circle of dark gray seems lighter! Even though it’s the same color. Now this illusion is even
more apparent here. Here we have three different backgrounds: black, grey, and white; with three circles. If we look at the circle on the black background, it
seems to be much lighter than the one on the white background, even though it’s
the same color. So rather than start with a white or a black background, I usually use a midtone background, which is the grey in the middle. The midtone background will help you get your value from the start, and it’s going to be easier for you. To change
your background to midtone, you simply have to double click on the color here, and for the H, S, B you simply have to put 0, 0, and 50%. Click OK, and now
you can fill your background with grey. Now let’s have a look at this effect on a real
painting. This is a piece that I created a while ago and as you can see on the
midtone background, like it is right now, the highlights are really bright, and the shadow
on his face is really dark. Everything seems to be really balanced. But if I switch it to black, all of the sudden, his face seems to be a little bit more flat. And the highlights
are really bright, but we’re losing the hair, and the subtlety of the background
seems to be really bright suddenly. And if I switch it to white, well, everything
seems to be a darker now. And we’re losing a little bit of the highlights even though it’s there, because the hair here makes it apparent. Everything here seems to be a
lot more flat. And the subtlety of the background just disappeared. But on the gray background, everything seems to be a lot more balanced. Now this is not a law, you
don’t have to do this, but it willhelp you get your value right in the quickest amount of time when you start your painting. In Photoshop, one of the quickest ways to get some basic marks on background just disappeared. This is as easy as dragging and dropping files into your canvas. I’m gonna start with a
midtone background as I explained in the previous video. Here I also have a
texture opened in Phothoshop. I put some info on how to find texture, as well as a link
to this exact one, in the notes below the video. It is always easier to start in
black and white so first thing you’re going to do is to change this to grayscale by going
under Image, and Mode, then Grayscale. Simply click Discard. Using your moving tool, you can simply click and
drag it onto a canvas. From here, press Command+T on a Mac or CTRL+T on a PC and by holding SHIFT
you can change the size of it, keeping it proportional. Rotate it, let it fill your canvas, and when you are happy with the
result simply press Enter. From here, we’re gonna simply change the
Mode by clicking here on Multiply. Multiply will automatically make
disappear all the white. If you are happy with the result, start drawing. Otherwise, you
can also change the opacity of it to make it less apparent. And once you like
it, start drawing!

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