photoshop creative

Colour your line art (part 1)

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
September 27, 2014

Incorporate hand-drawn sketches with the digital power of Photoshop to create stunning end results!

1. Set up your canvas

Make your sketch and scan it into your computer. Open it up in Photoshop and crop off any excess areas you don’t want, before adding a new layer in the Layers palette. Select the Brush tool (B) and go to Window>Brush Presets (in earlier versions, this is in the Brushes palette).

2. The Brush Presets palette

In Brush Presets you can see what the brush tips look like. If you want more options, click onto the top-right corner arrow. This opens a drop-down menu where other brush presets can be loaded up. We have used a Round Point Stiff brush.

3. Tool setup

Click on the Brush part of this palette to bring up the options. Click Transfer if using a pen and tablet and select Pen Pressure from the drop-down menu. We recommend using  Pen and tablet for greater control and better sketch effects.

4. Trace your subject

Make sure your Foreground colour swatch is set to black in the Toolbar. Working on your new transparent layer, begin to trace the edge of the animal. Using a graphics tablet will enable you to create simple, fluid lines and you can use it in the same way you would a normal pencil.

5. Add some colour

When you’re happy with your outline, add two new layers underneath this layer, filling the bottom one with white using the Paint Bucket (G). Switch to a Hard Round brush to add colour. Double-click onto the Foreground colour swatch in the Toolbar and choose your first hue.

6. Paint your subject

We’re using soft pastel colours for a feminine feel, but you can use any colour palette you like. If your outline edges all meet, you can use the Paint Bucket tool (G) for speed. If they don’t meet (like ours), then the Brush is the only way to do it.

7. Add a quirky effect

With your coloured layer complete, press Cmd/Ctrl+T, activating the Transform tool. Now, using the arrow keys on the keyboard, nudge this layer right and down a couple of times, offsetting the colour for a more childlike, illustrative effect.

8. Use the Eraser

Switch to the Eraser tool (E) at 100% Opacity and use the same brush tip that you used to paint the colour on your subject. Erase some areas around the edges, legs and arms to create more of a sketchy look.

9. Fur effects

Select the Brush tool with Foreground set to Black and Opacity at 50%. Add a new layer to the top of the Layers palette. Select a Round Blunt Medium Stiff brush tip and paint on some sketchy scribbles where the subject would be in shadow or in our case,  slightly fluffier.

10. Add in a white base

When finished, lower this layer’s Opacity to 20%. Hide the visible white layer by pressing the eye icon and add a new one underneath the colour layer, filling the subject’s shapes with white. Use the same brush you used to paint on the colour. Repeat this process for every object in your picture.

Click here for Part 2!