graffiti tracer (+ colour breakdown!)
or art school tracer, take your pick. c;
i get compliments on my colours a lot, and the big important secret here is literally just overlay layers. basically every time.

so first: a sketch. this one's super super quick and simple. i filled the background too to set the mood.

then: the original colours! i wanted this to be kinda dark and mysterious, so i tried to make these colours pretty analogous. but also: they're a tad dull.

(i realised, while drawing this, that the paint can on her gun says "WINSTON," which is Super cute)

first lighting step! i love lighting. so here's the red rim lighting i added on a whim (red + blue is always a fun combo), set to clipping mask so it only affects our lena c':

second step--and here's where more depth comes into play--gradient overlays! i just use a dark (purple here) and a light (pinkish red) and, in this case, a third light from her chronal accelerator. just a regular radial gradient set to a low opacity. this is how i cheat shading c;

another lighting step, that's actually just the first one but duplicated and not clipped, so you see some of it on the background. this was also a happy accident that reminded me of like, 80s hacker vibes, so i went for it.

levels! i use levels on Every piece i make. it really pushes everything just a little bit further, with minimal effort.

another overlay. i wasn't kidding. i wanted things darker so i just chose a medium dark grey (actually i colour picked from the outer background), set to overlay, set to 54% opacity.

one FINAL overlay--this time of a film texture from lost+taken, my favourite free texture site.

and that's it! literally just a bunch of overlays! i don't do this every time, but i figured this would be a fun one to go through. 

lemme know if you want more of this, or more process videos, or...whatever! i'm an open book! c;