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Colored Background Tutorial: Bump In The Night

Welcome to my third tutorial, as requested by Amanda. This tutorial will be focusing on using a black background as an integral part of the wallpaper. This tutorial was originally requested for another wallpaper, which I unfortunately lost when my computer crashed, so I made a different one, using the same idea, although it can be applied to anything! Here is the wallpaper I will be using for this tutorial:

Two other wallpaper that illustrate the idea of this tutorial very well also are:


Now because this is going to be talking about coloring and the background, I'll be starting with my beginning canvas once I've chosen the images, blended and tweaked the contrasts to where I would like them for this wallpaper. Now, I tend to get long-winded and crazy with my explanations but since this isn't too long, you shouldn't suffer horribly. If I could use footnotes without being obnoxious, I definitely would, alas, I'll compensate by avoiding repetition in any of the steps as much as possible. This was created using Paint Shop Pro X and it should translate easily enough. This tutorial was created for people with a basic knowledge of their art program, you don't need to be any sort of expert to get through this.

Remember, this is merely a tutorial! The idea behind all fanart is experimentation to find your own style and ideas.

Please use this as a guide and credit Primordial Souls if using. Thanks!

Special Note: All images are hosted on my site because hotlinking is of the bad. Please don't do it to me. :)

Step One: Canvas!

This is going to be a simple couple piece for Spike and Drusilla, created solely for this tutorial. I just wanted to show how to achieve the coloring and applying it to your piece. You can refer to my other tutorials for a more detailed rundown of how to begin a wallpaper. The images I used are from the wonderful Jenni-Lou of Daydreaming, who usually always finds the awesomest (yeah, it's a word) high quality images to be used in fanart.

You might be asking yourself, "Wow, Bre, you do know that Spike and Drusilla aren't albinos..." Yes, thank you. I did up the contrast quite a bit on these two because I knew what I was going to be doing with the wallpaper. It's no secret that I like darker wallpapers as far as coloring and the lighter your beginning images, the more you can see them and the more relevance they have in the final product. You'll see what I mean by the end.

It may be noted that this tutorial is familiar to this tutorial, but with a different goal, and that one can be referenced for a different ending color.

Step Two: Colour!

So, color and me? We have a pretty special love affair. At least, I think so! Throughout my fanart career, it's become increasingly more apparent that the coloring tells the entire story. For instance, if you were making a rather sad and melancholy piece, you would want to use such colors as the blues, the darker greens, etc. If you were making a depressing New Moon Bella piece, you wouldn't want to use bright pink to show how sad she is after Edward leaves. It ruins the entire mood.

An important note is that I use solid colors. I don't like gradients. Very rarely do I used gradients, and if I do, it's usually a very basic one. Also, a new layer is required for every color that you add into the wallpaper.

Color #27383f set to blend mode Overlay, opacity at 100%:

Color #e7deb3 set to blend mode Soft Light, opacity at 100%:

Color #310503 set to blend mode Lighten, opacity at 50%:

This is an important step to get your not-so-black background. As you can see in this step, I've made it red. The color really does not matter in the least. You could use orange, green, purple, anything. What this step does is it brightens your normally boring background and it gives the entire canvas a bit more purpose, makes it look full. Play with opacity at this step to get the brightness you'd like, but keep in mind that it will vary as you continue to add color. Another benefit of keeping each color on its own layer is that you can go back and change the color/opacity/blend mode etc to what you'd like to see overall.

This is where your blending and masking/erasing from the beginning comes into play, also. When you add in that lightened layer, you can see everything that you missed at the beginning when you were originally pasting your images. This is a good place to go back to your first layers and erase those little parts you missed (i.e. corners, edges, etc) from your images. An example for this wall was I had originally missed a few edges in the Spike image on the very left and had to go back and get rid of those.

Color #000000 set to blend mode Normal, opacity at 100%. Whoa, Sally! I just blacked out my entire image! Alas, no. I like adding in this random (completely skippable step) layer of black to add a little more inkiness to the corners of my piece:

As you can see, I erased most of the layer using the Lasso tool, set to feather 200, just keeping a few little spots. This, for me, adds to the mood of the piece. Obviously, I'm arting a piece using some pretty dark characters, and this is what my mood was telling me to do. You don't have to add this in if you don't want to, but here's my product after that step:

Next - in my piece - I added in texture. Adding in textures can be done at any step of the process. My thought process was that I wasn't sure if I would want any texture yet, so I waited until later to see what it was turning into. At this point, I wanted something grungier to match the color, and added in two layers of textures from More Adventurous and Daydreaming:


Use this purple gradient set to blend mode Soft Light, opacity at 100%:

Fret not, the background will come back through more clearly later on. These previous steps are merely to amp up the images and give them a little more of that awesome oomph!

Color #27383f set to blend mode Soft Light, opacity at 100%:

At this point, I go to my layer palette and I right-click on one of the layers and choose Merge > Merge All (Flatten) to merge everything together. I copy that (now) one layer (Ctrl C) and hit my undo button (the fancy little backwards arrow) to bring back all of my layers. I then paste it as a new layer (Ctrl V):

I then play with the contrast and shadow a little more (as you can see it's much brighter). I then set the layer to blend mode Lighten, opacity at 30%:

Color #310503 set to blend mode Normal, opacity at 15%:

Color #27383f set to blend mode Soft Light, opacity at 75%:

And that is the end of the coloring.

Now, as you can see from the final product, the textures and images look as if they are blended into a dark blue background as opposed to the plain black. This not only, in my opinion, gives the piece something more to look at, but it creates a full look, it gives the background a little more purpose when it has color.

Important to remember! Your color will vary with each piece. For example, in this piece from "Seeing Red", I chose an overall orange effect (using a solid orange color for on the lighting layers as opposed to red, at a higher opacity). EXPERIMENTATION IS YOUR BEST FRIEND IN FANART!

A few notes in general:
-Always credit your resources!
-If you fancy, leave your signature somewhere on the piece, but try to place it where it can't be erased noticeably, or where it disrupts the overall piece.
-Remember to save a .pspimage or .psd of your wallpaper for at least a while because eight times out of ten, when you look back at your wallpaper, you notice that one little thing that you forgot to fix, or that little edge that needs to go, and this way, you can do that without having to recreate the entire thing.

And that's it! I hope this was helpful to some people, amusing to others, and overall interesting. Please remember that this is a guide, not permission to replicate this and call it your own. Only by experimenting and finding your 'thang' can you really find your groove. If you do use this tutorial, remember to credit Primordial Souls.

I would love to see what you've come up with, if you fancy sending it to me, either on the tagboard or not-so-snail mail. :D

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