photoshop creative

Add depth to inked artwork

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 2, 2016

Give life to your black-and-white line work by adding colour and depth in Photoshop


1. Create basic line work


Begin by creating guides in your PSD to help you with the composition. Source for reference images and place them in for a quick collage. Next, use a Hard Round Pressure Size brush to begin drawing on a new layer above.

2. Decide on your lighting


Introduce highlights and shadows to the otherwise flat image. We wanted the light to be at the top right so that it cast a shadow onto the character’s face. Fill a 40% Opacity black layer as a base, and work out the direction of the light on a new layer.

3. Quickly sketch


With a white Hard Round brush, quickly go over the areas where you think the light is going to affect, and roughly block them out as a guide. Because it is a basic step, it is now easier to concentrate on the details.

4. Refine the sketch


On a new layer, continue to work out a more refined definition on the Remove highlights highlight areas. Open the layer styles, set the Color Overlay to Red to make the areas you’re working on obvious. When you are done, turn them off to see how it looks as white highlights.

5. Remove highlights


You’ve managed to complete the progressive steps earlier and finished blocking out a refined highlighted area. Take a break and view it with fresh eyes. Using the Eraser tool, we’ve removed some highlights from the daisy flower on the right to break up the monotony.

6. Start pathing


Next create a new folder named Highlights and begin pathing using the Pen tool. Alt/Option-click on the point to convert it into a corner point. You can fine-tune the points by clicking Command/ Control on the path, on the point, or on the bézier handles to control your adjustments.

7. Continue pathing


With your highlight paths completed, you can start blocking out the rest of the elements. Create a Colour folder and begin pathing. Combine paths by selecting layers with the same colour together and click Cmd/Ctrl+E. This will merge the layers into a new vector path.

8. Use transparencies


Setting your Highlights folder’s blending mode to Soft Light will automatically create a lighter tone of the base colour beneath it. To make the wings of the bees a little translucent, reduce the Opacity of the wings paths to 80%. You can now add in more details for the hair.

9. Introduce background textures


Create a Background folder, fill a new colour layer. Drag in ink textures. Resize them accordingly and set their blending mode to Soft Light. Lay the ink layers alternately to achieve interesting blends, for example INK_01 layer is black, INK_02 is white.

10. Add foreground textures


Select the Colour folder, duplicate it by clicking Cmd/Ctrl+J, merge it by clicking Cmd/Ctrl+E. Make the layer a selection by Cmd/Ctrl and clicking on the layer thumbnail. Create a new folder named Textures, and apply the selection as a mask. Repeat texturing within this folder.

11. Add noisess_colour-line-work_step_11_add-noise

Fill a new layer with white. Go to Filter>Noise>Add Noise. Set the Amount to 400%, check Monochromatic. Set layer blending mode to Screen, Opacity: 50%. Right-click on the layer and go to Blending Options. Play with the Blend If sliders to affect only the lighter parts of the image.

12. Add more noise


Repeat the process, this time we are only going to affect the noise on the darker parts of the image. Set layer blending mode to Color Burn, with layer Opacity at 20%. Click Alt/Option and drag one of the sliders’ handles to split the sliders as shown in the screenshot.

13. Make colour adjustments


Photo Filters help unify colours in your image. First add a Warming Filter (85), and a Cooling Filter (80) at 50% layer Opacity. Add red to shadows and yellow to highlights by using a Selective Color adjustment. Finally, add a Hue and Saturation layer to play around with the desired look.

14. Enhance the details


We’re going to give the image more detail by adding a mid-tone for the hair to create even more depth to the image. Start by using a black Hard Round Pressure Opacity brush and set the layer to Soft Light. Check out our Expert Tip on creating great hair.

15. Create hair ink splashes


Drag in an ink splash texture and set to Soft Light. Mask it using the hair path you’ve already created. Duplicate and invert the white ink splash. Unlink the mask, move the ink splash to the darker part of the hair. Relink the layer mask.

16. Make a custom brush


Create a new square document. Set the size to 250px wide. Using a Hard Round brush, put in some dots of different sizes. Click Cmd/Ctrl+A to select all and go to Edit>Define Brush Preset. Give it a name and you have your own dot brush.

17. Adjust brush settings


Set the Brush Tip Shape Angle to -143%, Spacing: 5%. Check Shape Dynamics and set Size Jitter to 73%, Angle Jitter to 55%. Check Scattering and set Scatter to 215%, Count: 1. Brush in the shadowed areas and use the Eraser tool to erase away unwanted parts.

18. Add light dots


Set the black dots layer blending mode to Soft Light and do the same for the light areas, this time using a white brush colour. We’ve added some of these white dots to the orange peony as well as the blue butterfly wings.