Tool experiments

Now we have pixelshaded pants. Pixelshading is when you use only the pencil to paint on the colors one by one. If you like the look of you pants you can leave it at that and continue to pixelshade the rest of the doll.
You can also choose to play around with some tools which will give you: toolshading, ta-daa! Or really a combination of pixel- and toolshading to be precise ;)

The advantage of pixelshading is that you'll only use a limited number of colors... even if you use 10 or 12 colors in each palette you will probaly not use more than the 256 color that the gif format allows for. And thus you will have little or no color loss on the finished doll.
Toolshading on the other hand can give a very smooth look and create fantastic effects but will also leave you with an insane amount of unique colors used. Usually you will be able to get them into a decent 256 color gif without too much quality loss, but sometimes the infamous gif monster will eat a lot of your shading.

These steps are totally optional, but I just wanted to show you some of the neat tricks that's in the toolbox... so, toolshading it is:
First thing I'll do is go over the pants with a smudge brush. For backup reasons I copy the Pants layer and hide the copy before I start to play around, that way I can always regret my experiments.
The smudge tool I use with these settings:
tut image
The trick is not to distort the pixelshading, but to go along the lines in short strokes to smudge the colors together. Do not overdo it, a little bit of blending is enough. And use a small brush and do more strokes rather than a huge brush that will turn everything into the same color (=boring and dull).
With the smudge tool you can also drag shadows or highlights out. Play around with this tool on differrent settings, it's really very cool.
Here's how my quickly smudged pants look:
tut imagetut image
On to the dodge/burn tool: A quick example with different settings:
tut imagetut image

Using first the burn tool and then the dodge tool on the smudged pants (these settings:)
tut imagetut image
gave me this result (the pants outline was darkened a bit to match):
tut imagetut image

Trying out the blur tool: These are my settings:
tut image
I go over the pixelshaded pants with a big brush in long strokes.
This is a very fast technique, it took me 10 seconds to get to this:
tut imagetut image

A fast and easy (and lazy?) alternative to the dodge/burn method is to increase the contrast on the pixelshaded pants, decrease the saturation and use a gaussian blur filter. Very nice if you're lazy and it gives a smoother look than dodge/burn in my opinion. Here's how I did using the pixelshaded pants as a base:
Layer -> Colours -> Brightness-Contrast...
tut image
Layer -> Colours -> Hue-Saturation...
tut image
Filters -> Blur -> Gaussian Blur...
tut image
This will be the result:
tut image

Comparing the results and the number of unique colors on the pants layer:
#1tut image #2tut image #3 tut image #4tut image#5 tut image

#1: pixelshading - 6 colors
#2: smudging - 245 colors
#3: blurring - 175 colors
#4: smudging+dodge/burn - 759 colors
#5: adjust contrast and sat + gauss blur- 282 colors

Play around with these tools on different settings to see what they can do.
Note: remember to keep the transparency locked while using these tools and filters. Otherwise the edges will blur too and make and ugly transparent gif in the end :-S

>>> next page, Drawing and shading the shirt >>>