Preview of Final Results

For this project, you’ll need:

  • An image inked in black
  • A scanner
  • A Wacom tablet
  • Some artistic understanding
  • And a lot of patience

Part 1 – Prep

First let’s draw an image and ink it with black ink. Although you can use a quill, a thin ball-point pen will suffice. Then we’ll scan the image and import it into Photoshop.

As you can see, the scanner caught all sorts of detail in paper texture that we don’t want—all we want is black outline of the image. So first, duplicate this image so it’ll be on a separate layer and fill (G) the background layer in with white (#FFFFFF).

Next, we’ll be making the gray paper texture of this image disappear. Make sure the layer with the outline on it is selected and go to Image->Adjustments->Levels… In the window that will appear, choose the rightmost of the three eyedroppers. With this eyedropper, hold down the shift key and click on every shade of gray in the image that you want to turn to white. This eyedropper will lighten the same shade of every color you choose throughout the image. Press OK.

Now we have a crisp, clean line drawing to start filling in with color!


Part 2 – Subject

Since we’ll be creating our colors on different layers (it would be way too difficult to shade in a bunch of colors on a single layer), we want all of the white in our outline to be transparent. By setting the Blending Mode to Multiply, all of the white in the image will disappear, leaving only the black, just like that!

Now first, let’s fill the entire image in with the colors that we later shade and add depth to so we can get an idea of how the colors will work out together in the end. We’ll make quite a few layers to keep different sections of the image apart so we will be able to easily shade in every section without disturbing the colors around it. Since the clothing our two subjects are wearing are quite detailed and will be very colourful, we will have to use quite a number of layers. Also, make sure the layers make sense. For example, we want the clothes and the hair to be in front of the body rather than behind it.