Tutorial: Coloring Line Art in Photoshop

Hey, guys! Because I only have one class on Tuesdays, I found some free time to be creative again. ; ) This a quick tutorial on how to color line art in Adobe Photoshop. Because I used to be such a huge fan of anime and the lolita style, I’ll be using this lovely line art by ririlemone from DeviantArt. She is infinitely more talented than I am, so I don’t claim to be an expert on anything. This is just something I do as a hobby, and coloring in Photoshop is not limited to my method. : ) As you read through this, keep in mind that clicking on an image will enlarge it. I highly recommend this, as you can see the fine details much better!

1) Open your image in Photoshop. For best results, the image should be in black and white, and the lines must be dark and clean. Double click the layer it’s on, and click OK. Now set the layer to “Multiply”. From this point on, this layer must be on top of any new layer you create.

2) Create a new layer. Make sure it is underneath the original layer. You will be using a different layer for every different color you use. For now, just stick to the base colors. We will worry about shading later.

3) Select the Paintbrush Tool. Set it to 100% hardness, and a size that will make filling in the lines easy for you. Choose a color, and proceed to filling in the lines on your new layer. Don’t worry about being neat – we can always clean it up later. Repeat this step on a new layer every time you’re using a different color.

4) When you think you’re ready to clean up the lines, select the layer which you want to clean up. Now select the Polygonal Lasso Tool, which should be in the dropdown of the Lasso Tool. Zoom into your image, and select the colors that go outside of the lines. Press “Backspace” on your keyboard to erase it. Repeat as many times as necessary. This may become tedious, but you will get faster as you go on.

5) After you’re done filling in the lines and cleaning up everything you don’t like, you may want to add a color background. This can be done easily by creating a new layer, placing it beneath every other layer, and using the Paintbucket Tool to fill the background in with your color of choice. This is what your image should look like at this point:

6) Now that we have the base colors done, we can move on to shading. Create a new group. From now on, all your new layers will go into this group. Make sure your group is beneath the original lineart, but above your base colors.

7) Once again, you will use a new layer for every different color of shading you use. This time, we will be using the Polygonal Lasso Tool to draw shapes that look like shadows. In order to do this, select a slightly darker shade of the color you’re drawing on as your background color, not your foreground color. This can be double checked at the bottom of your toolbar – the upper left square is your foreground color, and the bottom right square is your background color.

8) Using the Polygonal Lasso Tool, select the area that you want to shade, then hit “ctrl + backspace” on your keyboard. This will fill in the area with your background color. Repeat as necessary. Try to make the shading look as realistic as possible, and take light source into account.

9) When all your shading is done, don’t forget that you can individually select each layer and play around with the hue or lightness using Selective Color or Replace Color. These are found under Image > Adjustments. This is especially useful when something looks too dark or out-of-place.

10) When everything looks just the way you want, you can always spice up your background by downloading custom Brushes. In this case, I downloaded a lace brush set on DeviantArt, and applied it to my background. It really makes a difference. ; ) Once you’re done, save your work as a .jpeg or.png in the highest quality possible. Now sit back and admire your work! I highly encourage you all to click on my finished work below. I even impressed myself. XD

Hints & Tips:
-Save your work OFTEN in the .psd format.
-The “crtl+z” keyboard shortcut for “undo” is a life-saver.
-Take the color scheme into account. Do your colors clash?
-If the line art isn’t yours, give credit to the artist!
-Be patient. This one took me over 3 hours to finish.

I hope this tutorial was helpful to many of you. Maybe it even inspired you to be creative, as well. If you have any questions, or want more in-depth instructions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment here or e-mail me! On a final note, I’ll leave you guys with the Victorian-esque rings I found on LuLu*s that inspired the color scheme I used here. Until next time! :D


6 responses to “Tutorial: Coloring Line Art in Photoshop

  1. Pingback: Tutorial: Coloring Line Art in Photoshop | My (Life)Style

  2. So pretty! Nice Job :-)

  3. If you want to add even more depth to your colorings, add an even deeper/darker layer in places (such as the hair). So there’s the base brown, darker, then darkest brown. Then after that, add highlights (light brown). This can apply to clothing too, if you are careful no to make everything look mega shiny. :O
    shit i did ages ago —->http://Beautifully–Chaotic.deviantart.com/art/HEY-GAIZ-IMMA-MERMAIDZ-91483446?q=gallery%3ABeautifully–Chaotic%2F888152&qo=6

    and if you have a tablet and pen/ get one, you could maybe draw some hair-like things in there (using all the colors in the depth spectrum).

    older shit —->http://Beautifully–Chaotic.deviantart.com/art/Yes-Boss-78364077?q=&qo=

    I think you could do very well with some highlights and accents where a light source would hit it. :) you have an eye for color and shadow.

    • Thanks! I don’t do this kind of thing often – I think the last time I did was in high school. o_o And I really do want to experiment with shine and highlights, but I’m always afraid of overdoing it and making it look “stereotypically anime”. Haha. I’ll keep that in mind for next time, though! Despite not having a tablet, I think my mouse can suffice. My laptop’s touchpad would be a nightmare to use, however. x_x

      And I miss your art – do you still draw?

  4. Doodle in my notebook mostly. D:
    I really havent had the time to draw (for a long time already;;) and I think Ive lost some of the skills I had.

    You shouldnt be afraid to experiment, though, it’ll definitely add another dimension to the work instead of looking a little flat. And I know plenty of people that get along fine with just a mouse. :3

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