Colouring Line Art

By Melissa Evans

STEP 3: Adding Depth and Highlights

Now that you have put in your base colours in, it’s time to add the shading and highlights. This is the most time consuming stage of the tutorial, but also the most rewarding. Shading, when done well, will transform the picture!

The shading technique that I will show you here is the similar to the colouring technique. We will use Photoshop’s Adjustment Layers to create the shadows and highlights. The main reason behind this technique is to maintain the ability to change the colour of any item in the image and still have the shading look correct.

a) Creating a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layers

Click on this icon Photoshop New Fill Layer at the bottom of your layer window and select Hue/Saturation…

First we are going to make a depth layer (ALWAYS CREATE YOUR SHADOWS FIRST AND HIGHLIGHTS SECOND), so drag the Saturation slider to the right, increasing the saturation and drag the Lightness slider to the left, decreasing the lightness. See image below. Click Ok.

You can see that the new adjustment layer looks very similar to a fill layer. Drag the new layer to be above the jeans layer. Rename the layer to something appropriate like “dark”.

Working on this new layer, take your Paint Bucket Tool (Photoshop Bucket Tool) and fill the layer black. The darkness disappears…just the same as a colour fill layer. Also note that you can adjust the hue/saturation layer by double clicking on the “layer thumbnail”.

b) Creating a Clipping Group

Hold down the ALT key and move the mouse between the two layers, and click when the cursor turns into a “double bubble”. See below.

The depth layer will slide to the right with an arrow pointing to the colour layer below it. See image below.You have now created a Clipping Group. This means that the shadows we create will only exist on the coloured area of the jeans…no need to worry about going over the lines.

*NOTE: Use Clipping Groups to add detail to items i.e. freckles to the skin, texture to the jean fabric etc.

c) Painting in the Shadow Regions

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

Use a soft brush with the opacity set to 20% and slowly build up the shadow areas. Try applying a slight blur to your depth layers to get smoother shading.

Filter>>Blur>>Gaussian Blur…

After you have finished shading an area, switch your active colour to black, use a soft brush and remove shadows from the outer edges of items…this simulates the effect of back light and will give your pic a more realistic look. See below.

Continue creating new depth layers for all your colour layers. Some areas that have a lot of shade values may require 2 or more adjustment layers…just stack ’em up!

d) Painting in the Highlights

As you may have guessed, this is the same process as creating the shadow regions. This time however when you create the adjustment layer, slide the saturation slider left, decreasing the saturation, and drag the lightness slider right, increasing the lightness. See below.

Obviously that exact values you use will depend on your image!

The images below show the layers I created for the shirt, and the order in which I created them.

e) A Tip for Adding Depth/Highlights to Shiny Objects

For items that are shiny, the shadow/highlights are more crisp and defined (rather than blended). A good example of such an area is the hair. See image below…

To create these areas use the Pen Tool. With the pen tool we will to create a path and then make it into selection to fill our highlight/depth layers.

Photoshop Pen Tool

Make sure the pen tool is set to create a Work Path.

Create a Path in Photoshop

Now to some-up how to use Photoshop’s pen tool in a few sentences isn’t easy…if you have never used the pen tool before, do the PEN TOOL TUTORIAL first.

If the shape of the shade/highlight area that you are going to draw is made up of straight lines it’s easy. Simply click on the extreme points of the desired shape. An anchor point is created with each click. See image below.

The path we create must be closed (like a circle) in order to make it into a selection. Once you have created your last anchor point simply click once more on the starting point (you will see a small circle indicating that the path will close).

Once you have created a path, right click on it and click make selection>>ok

Make sure you are on the appropriate depth/highlight layer and fill the selection white.

You may like a add a little faint blur to this layer to soften it, Filter>>Blur>>Gausian Blur…

All the time consuming work is now done! Don’t forget to Save!

Go have a cuppa before you start …
STEP 4: Colouring the line art