photoshop creative

How to colour line art in Photoshop, part 1

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by The Photoshop Creative Team
June 10, 2014

Become a Brush tool master and colour in pre-made vectors for an Eastern-inspired painting

Download all the files you’ll need for this tutorial


Open up a new PSD file with the following settings: 245mm x 310mm, RGB and Resolution: 300 dpi. Open up the ‘Dragon lines.eps’ file (when the rasterise EPS format dialogue box appears, click okay) alongside your canvas.


Press Cmd/Ctrl+A to Select All of the canvas (because the background is transparent you will only copy the line work). Press Cmd/Ctrl+C to copy it and close the file. Press Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+V to paste the lines into your image.


Paste in ‘Textured paper.jpg’ beneath the line work, duplicate the layer (press Cmd/Ctrl+J) and increase the saturation by pressing (Cmd/Ctrl+U). Move the Saturation slider right to +75 (in the Hue/saturation dialog box), Click OK and set the blending mode to Multiply at 73% Opacity.


Create a new layer between the paper texture layers (Cmd/Ctrl+Shift+N). Select the Brush tool (press B) use a hard edged brush to colour the Dragon. To replicate the ancient oriental feel, we’ve used mostly desaturated colours, but with strong reds and blacks.


Click on the lock transparency icon (the small chessboard in the Layers palette). With the layer’s transparency locked you can paint only on existing pixels, so there’s no need to worry about painting over the lines; you will just recolour the existing lines.


To add to the oriental feel, open up ‘Kanji.jpg’ and ‘Free_Dragon_Tattoo_01.eps’ (kindly supplied by Vector Cliparts) and use the Lasso tool (press L) to select the kanji symbols. Copy and paste them into your artwork, and set the layer’s blending mode to Multiply.


Use a colour with the following values: red: 137, Green: 118, blue. Create a new layer to paint your shading on; Set the mode to Linear Burn and Opacity to 65%. Check the ‘use previous layer to create clipping mask’ and click OK.


Using an airbrush to apply shading with just this colour; using a Linear Burn layer makes the colour react with the flat colour layer underneath it so you don’t have to worry about picking appropriate colours to shade with.


Select the Freehand Lasso tool (press L) and set it to ‘add to selection’ (in the Options bar). Draw a selection around both areas of smoke and then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur, set the Radius to 8.2 pixels – click OK.


Press Cmd/Ctrl+D to deselect the smoke lines and draw a new Lasso selection around the fire, this time applying a Gaussian Blur of 3.8 pixels and click OK.

Continue to part 2…