Join Von Glitschka for an in-depth discussion in this video Highlight colors, part of Drawing Vector Graphics: Color and Detail.
You might have wondered in the last movie why I chose to cover shadow detailing first. I've just always found that working out my shading on an illustration first makes it easier for me to determine the best location for my highlights. It's certainly not mandatory. It's just how I creatively roll. And I found that adding highlights is a nice way to button up and finish an illustration project. So let's take a closer look at how to determine and use color in your illustrations highlights.
So now we're gonna focus on creating your color for highlights, your highlight color. And there's two ways that you can approach this. You can use a staunch white. Now, once again, and previously I showed you the shadow, we tried it with black. And now we're going to try it with white for the highlights. Now, you're gonna run into some of the same type of problems that we ran into with the black, and I think part of it has to do with the fact that technically black and white aren't part of the color wheel. They're not real colors, technically, but that said, everybody uses black, everybody uses white.
I'm just gonna show you how I think it works best to utilize white within the context of illustration's specifically the highlight color. So the way I've done it here, is you can see once again I have the base color of flesh established. I now wanna create a highlight color. And this top sphere here once again is just a gradient going from white. And that white is set at, if we look over here at the Transparency palette, it's set at 50% of that white color value, blending out to this case, to the flesh based color. And, this is the effect you get, that's what it looks like. And it doesn't look bad. And, I say it doesn't look bad because there is some forgiveness in terms of using white. The general rule of thumb, I think for this, is that the lighter the color, the lighter the base color that is, the more forgiving the use of white. And on flesh tones, I really don't have any problem using white, but on other colors, which I'm gonna show you shortly, I use the other approach. And that other approach is to take the base color. So this fill here represents the base color, which is this, the flesh. And I'm just gonna use a tint of that base color. So this is the same fill color as this flesh, but it is set up because once again, it's a global color, this is why I use global colors. It's set up as a 70% tint when you look in the Color panel over here, you can see that. And I've applied that to a linear gradient, and that blends from that 70% tint of the base color flesh to the base color itself, to create the highlight. And if you compare the top sphere here with the bottom sphere here, you can see the difference, in my opinion, on which one looks better.
The most drastic difference is obviously the shading. It just looks better using a darker tonal family. But I also prefer, for the most part, using tints to do the highlights instead of stark white. I feel it works better. It's more forgiving on a color like flesh, but let's take a look at another where it isn't as forgiving in my opinion, and that is like a color like this green. You can see up here, it just looks a little more forced. It doesn't look as nice.
The transition from that lighter color to the base color. Doesn't flow as well in my opinion and if you look on the bottom it looks far more natural. It doesn't look as mimiced I guess if you will. It's more subtle and it's more approach and more realistic in my opinion. Combine that once again with the darker tonal fanel, tonal color for shading and I think the overall effect looks really nice. If we go to red, this is, probably, the worst area to use white on, in my opinion. Because it tends to come off looking very pinkish. And I think when you use a tint, it already has red in it, so it comes off looking more authentic, in my opinion. We've all had clients that say, I don't want it pink can you make it a light red, but not pink? And that's really hard to do. Well this is one way you can kinda do that is by using a tint of the red rather than white on top of the red.
So, these are how you can approach your highlight color and use it with your base color. Now let's move back to our illustration. Where we have the base colors established. We have many of our shadow colors dropped in now. And now we're gonna apply some of the highlight colors we've established, and that's what's showing here. So if I toggle on and off here you can see how this starts to really bring it to life in terms of adding these highlights into this figure. And all these highlights are, if I zoom in like on his forehead, let's take a closer look at that.
You can see when I select this shape that, once again, the lighter the color, the more forgiving the use of white. So, in case of this illustration being the base color flesh tone of a lighter flesh, this one right here, showing the Swatches palette. I'm coloring this highlight shadow up here on the top of his forehead, is a white, and it's set for 30%. And so that's working, because the base color is a light color to begin with. Now, where I approach highlights a little differently is if I put a highlight on, let's say, his tongue, for example. I might use a lighter tint of that tongue color, just to pull that off more effectively. So, that's how you can apply highlight colors to your illustrations such as this.
Once again, this is somewhat of a truncated way of explaining this. When we get into the using gradient blends and blend modes it's really gonna come to life and make sense more there, because it drastically makes the difference between the effect of using white and a tint for the highlight colors. So, I used these shading and highlight methodologies on every illustration project I worked on, even though the style I work in may change from one client project to the next. The methodologies are timeless in terms of their applications and, and they definitely help me work out shadows and highlights and I think they'll help you as well.
- Choosing a style
- Establishing primary and secondary light sources
- How lighting affects color
- Working with the color wheel
- Building a global color wheel
- Creating emotion through color
- Using gradient blends
- Spit detailing
- Using custom brushes
- Rounding detail with the VectorScribe plugin
- Adding depth
- Finding inspiration