i shall try my best!
my layers for the Zipa/El Dorado environment layout [actually ALL my environments] are kind of a organized mess in that i use a shitton of layers and nest them into groups to avoid losing my place in the layers and losing my mind. my basic rule for the actual order of layers is background stuff on the bottom, midgound stuff toward the middle, and foreground stuff toward the top. although in this particular case it was easier for me to separate the elements into just 2 main groups, background and foreground [or in this case labeled “bg all” and “characters all”].
to create these groups in Photoshop, simply click the happy little folder icon on the bottom of the layers window-
you can see how deep this madness runs…
another thing i use a lot is something called “clipping masks” which basically means when you make a layer into a clipping mask, whatever you draw or paint will be “masked” by the last “parent” layer beneath it. er. that doesn’t really make much sense when you try to explain it in words does it? have a look at these-
it’s basically like using the “lock transparent pixels” feature except with multiple layers if that’s what you’re more used to [which is actually what i normally use for less complex pieces]-
you can access the clipping mask feature by right-clicking the layer you want to clip OR use the keyboard shortcut alt+ctrl+g [which i have set to one of my tablet’s express keys i use it so much lol]-
and if you’re more of a SAI user [which i actually use most of the time before jumping into PS to do finishing touches lmao] you’re in luck!
for characters, my layers are usually a lot more straight forward-
and for personal work my layer use is even more sparse-
and as for COLOR PICKING i think i’ve said before i am absolute trash when it comes to color, ESPECIALLY with environments. with characters color picking is a bit more practical and in the end just comes down to how you want the character to feel and common sense. environment layouts are a bit more complex in that they can have MULTIPLE subjects but they all have to harmonize with each other and look unified. so instead of torturing myself trying to pick color schemes by hand, i usually just dig through my many gigs of inspiration folders and pick out art or photos i dig or match the mood i’m trying to portray. for the Zipa/El Dorado layout, i ended up going with a photo i found on tumblr and ran it through Photoshop’s mosaic filter to make color picking easier [actually if you’re suck on picking color schemes for characters, trying this method can help too]-
and then i sorta relied on the fact that the red serpent being such a big part of the composition would compliment the greens… or something… i’m bad at color i just kinda throw it all at the wall and see what sticks tbh haha. after going through these steps of course. as for “color blending” i actually… don’t… ahaha. if i can’t get the color i want through reference i just mess around with the color picker or the HSB slider to adjust my color. did i mention i’m awful at actually doing the “painting” in digital painting?? haha.
THIS IS REALLY LONG I’M SORRY but i hope it helped somewhat. :’>
here’s some links: Zipa/El Dorado project, older!Ellie fanart, photo reference [i uh… actually can’t find the original source for the photo i used?? the only thing Google is giving me is reposts sorry :c]