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Coloring Tutorial!
cap, captain miss america
So I actually wrote out of a step-by-step of the last picture I colored in. It's pretty simple, and it's just covering one style of coloring, not the one that I use in my avatars. I am intending to get around to writing a step-by-step of how to do that style, too.

All the pictures except the eyeball closeups are shrunken, so you can click and enlarge if you need to see it bigger.

If anyone has feedback or questions or thinks there are things you need clarified, let me know and I will fix it.

Step 1 Scanning
Scan a drawing. Any drawing will do, really. To follow this tutorial, you'll want to scan it at 200 dpi and in grayscale.

The drawing here is a pretty simple one. You can color drawings that are much more shaded or detailed than this, if you like. However, the more shading you draw in ahead of time with your pencil, the less you will be shading in Photoshop-- or the more erasing on your original art. Either way. You're going to find the balance that works right for you, and sometimes the balance will be different for different pictures!

Step 2 Levels

Levels are a tool that determines the black-and-white balance of your image. You can bring them up by hitting Apple+L on Mac, or Ctrl+L on PC. For our purposes, the only things you need to care about are the little graph part of the levels control and the little eyedroppers.

Start by picking the eyedropper on the rightmost side-- the white one. Now click in the body of your image, in the white space around the picture. This will make all of your ground "true" white. Now take a good look at the picture. Does the ground (background) all look as white as you want it to be, or does it look pale gray? If it is still pale gray, click with the eyedropper until everything but smudges and stray lines are white. Those you'll take out with the eraser.

Now you'll notice that your outlines of your figure may have paled, too. Go to the graph and pick the leftmost slider-- the black one-- at the bottom of the graph, and pull it to the right until your lines are black enough for your liking.

Now you pretty much have black or dark gray outlines on a white background.

Step 3 Cleanup

Pick the eraser tool. In the top tool options strip, you will want to make sure your eraser is set to "Mode:Brush" and you want a medium-sized, hard-edged brush (I would suggest something between 19 and 45 pixels wide to start, but it depends on the size of your smudges and the proximity of them to the drawing). Make sure Opacity says 100% and Flow says 100%.

Now make sure that your background color is white-- You can do this by clicking the black-on-white squares beneath and to the left of your foreground and background colors in the toola palette.

Now, erase! If you need to change the size of your brush, that's cool too. Erase anything in the line art that you don't want in the final drawing.

As you can see from this drawing, I haven't cleaned it up painstakingly. You can spend hours getting your lines exactly perfect, but it also depends how much you want it to look like a pencil sketch and what the drawing is for.

Step 4 Preparing to color

Before you start coloring, there are a few things you need to check

--Change your "Image>>Mode" to RGB color. Do NOT flatten the picture when you do this!

--Now you want to go to the layer your picture is in, which is probably the background, and select all. That's Apple-A on mac and ctrl-A on PC. Now copy and paste (Apple/Ctrl C,V) so you have two layers both with your picture in it.

--Go to the upper layer with your picture, and you want to go to the drop down menu all the way at the top of the layers window, where it says "normal." Open it up and change it to say "multiply" Multiply is a setting where the colors on the layer are "multiplied" with the colors from the layer beneath it, so that only the darkest colors show on top. This way, your lines will show but the white part of your picture won't.

--Now, make another new layer. Put this new layer between your bottom outlines and your top outlines, and fill it with any color you like. White is fine, you will be changing this later if you want to. some people think it is easier to paint on top of a light color, others prefer painting on top of a dark color, so it is really up to you.

Note: Every time it says to make a new layer, make sure that your new layer is UNDERNEATH the line art. It will show through the line art, but the line art will not show through it.

There is no picture of this, because it looks exactly like what you already have!

Step 5 Flat Color

Flat color is the first step to coloring. You can just do flat colors and leave your picture like that-- Many beautiful pictures just use flat color.

There are a lot of ways to do flat color. Some people lay their colors down in channels; other people prefer to use masks. Some people just lay them down with a paint brush. Since this is a tutorial for beginners, I am going to go through this with two options-- both easy, but one may be easier than the other. One is going to make it easier to fix if you make a mistake, but the other is simpler to understand.

Option A: The Super Easy Way

Make a new layer. Now select the paint brush. Depending on the size of your picture, you can use a paintbrush of any size, but you will want one with hard edges. Again, make sure Opacity and Flow are both set to 100%.

Pick the color that is going to be used the most in your picture. In this picture, it's going to be the color of the girl's dress. Now paint! Pretend you are coloring like a coloring book, and try to keep it in the lines!

If you do go over lines, you can either undo it or change to the eraser and erase your mistakes. If you have very small details, you can magnify your picture and use a much smaller brush to get in tight corners (like wisps of hair)

Notice that I've gone over some smaller parts of the drawing. That's okay, because you're going to color over them.

Now make another new layer, and pick another color that you want to paint in. I'm going to paint the sash, just to show you what the outcome would be like.

Option B: The Slightly Harder but Easier to Edit Way

Make a new layer. Now select the geometric lasso-- this is the lasso that is pointy instead of round. Magnify your picture as much as you need to. Now pick a block of the picture that is going to be all the same color, and then trace it with the lasso. You do this by clicking the mouse each place where the outline changes direction.

Once you have the outline of the section you want to color selected, go to the place in the top menu that says "Layer" and pick "Add Layer Mask." You want to choose the "Reveal Selection" option. This will make a new layer.

You won't see anything yet, so now pick the color you want and go to the layer that you just made in the layers window. Make sure the rectangular outline is around the first rectangle in the layer reading left to right-- the one in line with all the others, not the second one that has the black and white picture in it.

Now click the paint bucket anywhere in the picture and it will fill in your outline!

Notice that I've gone over some smaller parts of the drawing. That's okay, because you're going to color over them.

Now make another new layer, and outline the next section you want to paint. I'm going to paint the sash, just to show you what the outcome would be like.

I'm going to just skip over coloring the rest of the picture. It will pretty much look the same either way.

Even if you use the second way, just paint in the facial features and any other really small details with the paintbrush. you can even do them all on one layer as long as they don't overlap. Don't paint the irids or pupils of the eyes yet because we're going to do that later.

Step 6 Shading

Like with flat colors, I am going to show you two ways to do shading. This way you can choose which one you like better. They're both about equally easy, so it's up to you which one you prefer.

You may not want to shade your picture at all-- it is really up to you. If you drew in a lot of pencil shading, you might want to just leave the nice pencil marks to shade the picture, or even if there's not a lot of shading, you might prefer the way flat colors look alone. So If you feel like your picture is nice and finished, you don't need to go on.

Before you start, pick a light direction. Usually when something is being lit, one light source is stronger than the other light sources in the area, which means that one side of the object is brighter and one side is darker. So if you decide the light is on the right, then the left side will be consistently darker, and vice versa. I'm going with lit on the right.

Option A: Dodge & Burn

The Dodge and Burn tools are tools that darken or lighten the color you've already put down on your picture. This can make it easier to control and match the colors, and it can give you more dramatic coloring results, but it also means you have to color right on your flat color, so if you make mistakes or decide you hate it, you have to recolor your layer. If you painted your flat color with the paint brush, this could mean redoing your flat color from scratch. So if you want to do this and you just painted your flats, you might want to duplicate your flat before you start.

The burn tool is for darkening things and the dodge tool is for lightening things. I like to put in the dark shadows first.

Start with the burn tool-- the one shaped like a hand-- on a low exposure percentage, like 20, a soft-edged brush around 100-150 depending on how big you want the shadows. I have mine set to 48. If you are shading light colors, set it to highlights, dark colors, set it to shadows. Just go fast and loose to start:

Then do the highlights with the dodge tool, same settings as your burn tool.

Now you can mix up the exposure and width of the tool to make the shadows and highlights more pronounced. Remember that shadows are rarely one tone throughout.

Here's an almost-finished version done with the dodge and burn style so you can see some of the different kinds of colors and effects you can get with it. It's pretty rough as I didn't want to spend too much time on it for the tutorial, but you can get the idea.

Option b: Paintbrush

Now we're going to paint it using the paintbrush tool instead.

This is, well, pretty much what it sounds like. This can be better because it's easier to fix and you can do it in a different layer. You can also get a lot more different variations in color than just darker and lighter than the colors you've already laid down. But it can be more difficult to get the colors right.

Like with the Dodge & Burn tool, I'm going to start with the shadows. You want the thicker brush, around 100-150 again, but you want it set to Opacity: 50% and Flow: 50%.

Now pick a color that is close to but somewhat darker than your flat. If you used the lasso way of making your flats, you can just paint directly on your flat color. If you painted it in with the brush, you should do the following:

1) Choose the Magic Wand.
2) Click on your flat.
3) Make a new layer.

Then you can paint in a separate layer but not go outside your flats.

After you've done that, pick a color a little lighter than your flat color and color the highlights.

Now you can mix up the exposure and width of the tool to make the shadows and highlights more pronounced. Remember that shadows are rarely one tone throughout.

Here's an almost-finished version done with the paintbrush style so you can see some of the different kinds of colors and effects you can get with it. It's pretty rough as I didn't want to spend too much time on it for the tutorial, but you can get the idea.

Of course, you can also mix up these two styles of shading. The Dodge & Burn style can get you some great, shiny colors for metallics and striated variation for shadows-inside-shadows, for example, and the Painting style can get you smooth, subtle shades for skin. Dodge and Burn are also great for adding a consistent overall highlight or shadow to an area with a lot of varied tones. I'm going to take the painted version and add in a little dodge and burn to it before we go on.

Step 7 Eyes!

This is obviously only important if you are drawing a person or an animal, but this is my method of coloring eyes. I pretty much do my eyes exactly the same way no matter what style artwork I am doing.

Start by making a new layer.

You're going to want to pump up the magnification for this.

You already have a nice, white sclera. That's the white of the eye. Now you want to paint the irids. That's the colored part of the eye. Do this by picking a hard brush and setting it to 100% opacity and 100% flow. The side of your brush will depend on the size of the eye.

If you have drawn the irids into the eye, you can either leave the pencil lines and find a circle about the right size, or you can erase them from the pencil part of the drawing and start from scratch. For this drawing, I'm going to fill in the circles I already drew. You might also want to go to your lineart layer and clean up any stray lines that are in the way of the eyes. Just use a very small eraser. 5 or 9 pixels wide with a hard-edged brush should be good.

Now just paint the center of the eye a color that is a little darker than what you want the final eyecolor to be.

Now pick a color that is somewhat lighter than the main color of the eye. If you want to make hazel or otherwise mixed-colored eyes, you can change to a totally different color, if not, keep within the range of similar colors.

Choose a hard-edged, 3-pixel brush (If your eye is really small, make it 1-pixel). You are just going to draw lines radiating out from the center of each iris. You can just make lines out or you can make a pattern like a zig-zag in a circle.

If you want really hazel eyes, you can go crazy and put in lots of colors or more shades of darks and lights at this point.

Now make a new layer.

Using the paintbrush tool, choose black. Now you're going to paint the pupils. You want to pick a brush somewhere between 1/2 and 2/3 of the size you used for the irids. So, let's say you used a 30 pixel brush for the irids, now you'll want one between 15 and 20 pixels now. Remember that the size of the pupil changes depending on mood and the amount of light in the room. When someone is really excited, active, or frightened, they will have a larger pupil than when they're tired. Pupils are big in the dark and small in bright lights. Also, you may want to just vary the size to make the pupil more visible if, say, you are using a darker color iris.

Actually drawing the pupil is easy. You will want to just click your paintbrush once in the center of each iris.

Now we are going to add the eye-lights. Eye-lights are the things that add depth and expression to eyes; they're the ambient light reflected off of the eye surface. In film and photography, the photographers will often have a special light just to do this.

Pick a small, hard-edged brush and make the color white. I usually use a five-pixel brush, but you can make it as small or as large as looks good. I used a nine-pixel one here. Now, click your paintbrush inside the pupil at the curve closest to your light source. So, here, where my light source is coming from the upper right, the eye lights go in the upper right part of the pupil.

Now make your paintbrush a teeny bit smaller, eg, go down one size from where you have it, and cross the pupil at about a 45 degree angle, and click your mouse again. This dot should actually go about halfway over the pupil and into the iris.

You can play around with the eye lights a bit, make them slightly transparent, add another one if the figure is in a very sunny place, or add in little reflections. But for now, I'm just going to show you what we've got for now:

Step 8 Cleaning Up

Using the stuff I've already gone through, just a few quick touch-ups, like a little shadow on the teeth and eyebrows, and erasing a few more pencil lines, and we're set!

Step 9 Background

Once you're gotten your figure all the way you want it, you can go back to that white layer you made way at the beginning. You can pretty much do whatever you want with it, fill it with a color, make it look like a scene, put a gradient in the background, or whatever. You can get as simple or as detailed as you like, pretty much. Generally, though, you want your background to be simpler than your figure.

And there! All done!

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I had no idea how to colour before you made this. Thanks!

I'm on a PC, and instead on Control P, we use Control V. Control P prints.

Actually, that's the same on Mac. Major typo. Thanks for pointing it out, I will fix!

And did you really have no idea how to color? How on earth did that happen? If I'd known I would have offered to color stuff for you in the past. If you ever want stuff colored, let me know.

Well, not in Photoshop. I've always made my dolls in Paint.

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