Flatting is a very important but sometimes tedious part of digital coloring. Its the part where the colorist lays in the basic colors for composing the image. When I flat, I look for colors that divide the shapes of the picture plane for maximum ease in deciphering the main subject. What does that mean? Make sure the colors you choose for your image define the spaces that make up that image AND make sure those colors do it clearly. Many times, beginning colorists choose colors because they like them. Which is fine. But do they go together? That isn’t necessarily going to make your image readable to the viewer. Choose a small palette of colors and don’t choose anything too clashing (unless, of course, that IS the look you’re going for!)
I’m currently coloring a new Star Wars print for the Tucson Comic Con, Rey. Her costume in the movie has very similar values and tones. Her skin tone is also very similar to the tones of her costume. So we have a lot of similarity.
For the readability of the image, I flatted it using contrasting values since the colors are really too similar. For example, the staff, belt, shoes and hair are darker values. The pants, shirt, and coverings as well as the skin tone are lighter. This variation of lights and darks helps to break up the space. I don’t have large variations in the colors: ochre to burnt umber. But luckily, the yellow-orange like color of the covering is a close complimentary color of the background (blue) so it works. Remember, you don’t need a large palette to make your image effective.
Also, don’t be afraid to use shortcuts when needed. I didn’t bother rendering the sky or the sand. For the sky I used an image file and for the sand I also used a file but this time for texture. Time-savers are NOT cheating. They are time savers!
Finally, keep in mind that you will be rendering OVER the flats so you may not even see them in the finished artwork! If you look in any gallery on this site, you’ll notice that in my chibi style I pretty much DID use the flatted color and added very simple highlights and shadows. NO MAS! In the new art, I’m going for a more rendered look to update my stock.