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Submitted on
June 26
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How to 'Proofread' your Art

Thu Jun 26, 2014, 2:43 PM by meiyue:iconmeiyue:

Community Week

Ever feel like there's something wrong with your art, but you just can't identify what?

Here are some surprisingly simple tricks that you should do throughout painting that will help you easily 'proof read' your art for mistakes and issues:

Check your values

If you're painting a picture in colour, this technique is really helpful. Values are important in a painting to give a 3-D feel and to make the painting not feel flat. 'Value' is how light or dark a colour is. It's often hard to tell the value of a colour as colours can easily trick your eyes into thinking they're lighter or darker than they actually are.

For example, take a look at these two colours:

Which is darker? The blue probably appears to be. However, when we make the image greyscale (take away the colours), you'll see that the values of the colours are almost identical. 

Oh noes! :noes: How do I prevent myself from being tricked? Check your values often. Here's how you do it: 

For digital painting in Photoshop:

On your layers bar, click the circle with a black half and a white half..
Then click Hue/Saturation and turn the saturation down to -100:
Click 'OK' and toggle it on and off by using the eye next to the layer:

For traditional art:

Close your eyes halfway and look at your painting/drawing.

Image courtesy of

What this will do is make you see half blindly, which will make your picture blurry, getting rid of all the details. With the details out of the way, you'll be able to see the general values on your canvas/paper. Actually you can even do this for the image of the yellow and blue above (if you squeeze your eyes tight enough).

Look at your picture from far away

This allows you to see the picture overall without getting distracted by details. It'll give you a good idea of your range of values and you'll be able to spot anatomy issues/proportion errors more easily. For digital art, zoom out often and look at the thumbnail of the picture. For traditional art, well, just put it in the front of the room and move to the back of the room xD.

Do the flip check

This is extremely helpful for spotting anatomy/proportion issues. When we stare at a painting for too long, our eyes, due to human nature, will automatically adapt to imperfections and errors, making them harder to see. Flipping the image will disorient our minds (yes, we want that! :iconwooooplz:), and mistakes will appear again.

For digital painting in Photoshop:
Go to Image, then rotate canvas, then flip image horizontal.

For traditional art:
Use a mirror! Artists have been doing this since the renaissance. 

Try it with your own paintings and see if you can spot any errors!

Take breaks

When you sit and paint for a long time in one session, it's easy to get short tempered. You may be tired and need a break, but you're so close to finishing your painting, so you keep painting to get it finished already. This happens to me a lot. It makes me impatient and not pay attention to my painting. You don't want that (well, you shouldn't)! So relax! Take a break! It doesn't matter if you're close to finishing, you can always come back and finish it after. Go eat some ice cream and come back to your painting with a fresh eye, and renewed patience. 

Also, when you think you're done your painting, don't upload it right away. Go do something else for a bit, and come back and look at your painting with a fresh eye. The longer you look away, the better.

Add a finishing touch to your work

(the below is only for digital painting in Photoshop)

Use colour balance:
This will intensify some colours, and well, you can play with it yourself to see the magics! :la:
Go to the black and white circle (see above). Then click 'Color Balance' and play around with the slides. 

Bump up your saturation:
It'll make your image more vivid and bright! :D
Go to the black and white circle (see above). Then click Hue/Saturation. Turn up the 'Saturation' bar up as much as you'd like.

Add more contrast in values:
This is the lazy way (because we love lazy! :iconyeahplz:) to add more values to your painting.
Go to the black and white circle (see above). Then click 'Levels'. Drag the white and black arrows inwards to raise overall contrast of values. You can also just make your image lighter or darker.

I like to do all the above for the 'finishing touches' to every one of my works. It really makes the image feel more polished :D

I hope this helps! Good luck, everyone! :D

Written for projecteducate!

Next community week is in September, you guys should share something :la:
Add a Comment:
chocominty Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2014  Hobbyist
The tip about values is very helpful! I think a lot of the time my shading ends up flat and almost like it wasn't shaded at all... I tried to use more contrasting colors to shade in my more recent works (like using a green brush to shade a yellow-orange scarf), which sort of helped, but sometimes it's not enough and I'm painting over and over the area to make it darker xD 
meiyue Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014  Student General Artist
Glad it is :D. Colours that look very different can have similar values, so using contrasting colours doesnt really help :P
YeliMoon Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much!! I'll use these the next time i draw something :-D
meiyue Featured By Owner Jul 21, 2014  Student General Artist
Pleasure, glad you find it useful :la:
Crimson-Dragon-King Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014
meiyue Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Student General Artist
Thank you! :) 
Crimson-Dragon-King Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014
Your Welcome! :)
rangerbowhunter Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Student General Artist
I will have to try some of these! This is so helpful! Thanks so much!! La la la la 
meiyue Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Student General Artist
Awesome :la:. Pleasure! :heart:
R-E-T95 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This is very helpful. It can actually be applied to other mediums too.
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