Colouring Line Art

By Melissa Evans

STEP 2: Adding Colour

Now that your have separated your line art in STEP 1, it’s time to colour with Photoshop…

I love colouring in Photoshop. I used to experience extreme anxiety colouring my line art when I used pens or paint…every colour choice could be a mistake that would ruin my picture, and I may have to start over again from the beginning.

Using fill layers is the best way to colour if you are indecisive about your colour palette. So let’s begin this tutorial and see how it works…

a) Creating a Fill Layer

Click on this icon Photoshop New Fill Layer at the bottom of your “Layer” window and select Solid Colour…

New Fill Layer Solid Colour

Select a colour in the Colour Picker dialogue box. Click OK.

Photoshop Colour Picker

The new fill layer created will appear in your layer window.

Colouring Line Art Photoshop Tutorial 8

Rename this layer to the item that you intend to colour. For example, I will name this layer “skin”.The picture is now totally coloured with the colour of my fill layer “skin”.

Note for Photoshop CS5 Users

Fill Layer Photoshop CS5
To change the colour of this layer you will click on the “layer thumbnail” marked with a 1 in the image above. To change where this colour appears on your canvas, click on the “layer mask thumbnail” marked with a 2 in the image above, then using white with your paint brush tool, paint on your canvas where the colour is to appear and paint with black to erase the colour.

Error message: “The fill for this layer must be rasterized before proceeding. It will no longer be editable as a fill. Rasterize the fill?” If this message appears, you’ve made a mistake. Select “No” and click on the “layer mask thumbnail” in your active layer before editing this layer.

Working on this new layer, take your Paint Bucket Tool (Photoshop Bucket Tool) and fill the layer black. The colour disappears…this is because the colour will only show up where there is white on this layer. (Photoshop CS5 users, click on the “layer mask thumbnail” marked with a 2 in the image above, BEFORE you click on your canvas with the paint bucket tool)

Now change the active colour to white. Get your Paint Brush Tool (Photoshop Brush Tool) and start painting where you want to the colour to appear.

Use a hard brush with the opacity set to 100%. Make sure that you zoom in when colouring, so that it is nice and tidy!

Colouring Line Art Photoshop Tutorial 10

*NOTE: To make colouring faster, click on your “line art” layer, and use the Magic Wand Tool (Magic Wand Photoshop Tool) to select the area that you wish to colour. Then click on the new fill layer, grab the Paint Bucket Tool and fill white…FAST!

b) Creating MORE Fill Layers

Repeat the above step creating a new fill layer for each colour/item in your picture.

Colouring with Photoshop Tutorial 11

Turn off the visibility of the “white backing” layer (click the eye icon) when you are shading a layer with a colour close to white. See above image. Now you know what the “blue backing” layer is for.

Make sure all your new fill layers are positioned below your “line art” layer and that you name each layer appropriately.

If you have multiple layers for a single item, you can organise them into a folder (known as a set). To create a new set, simply click this icon (Photoshop Set) at the bottom of the layers window. Place layers into a set by click dragging them onto the set. To rename a set is the same process as renaming a layer.

The image above shows all the fill layers I used and how I organised them. It may take a while to create all your fill layers, so remember to Save regularly!

c) Versatility of the Fill Layer

This is my favourite part…

At any time if you are unhappy with a colour that you have chosen, simply double click on the Layer Thumbnail (as shown above) and re-select a colour. Now you have the ability to change the colour of his hair for example, to a whole new colour in a second flat!! Indecisive picture colourers of the world unite and cheer!!!

If you are working commercially, this technique is great for your client too. Imagine how impressed they will be when you can deliver all the colour changes that they require in seconds!

Finally don’t forget to Save!

Congratulations, you now ready for …
STEP 3: Adding Depth and Highlights >>