In this tutorial I will attempt to guide you through how I get my line work ready for adding colour. I will assume you know how to use your scanner and get it into PhotoShop. I’m using PhotoShop CS so all menus and methods are specific for that package but you should be able to transfer this method to most packages (with the exception of MS Paint…… stop using MS paint PLEASE there is far better FREE stuff out there, you don’t need to use it at all)
OK here we go….
1: The raw scan
Ok Place your image in your scanner and scan the image, taking care to make sure you are scanning in GreyScale
mode. On the default settings for greyscale you should end up with something like this
2: Convert to RGB
In Photoshop you need to change the image format of the image from Greyscale
. Do this by selecting Image/Mode/RGB
from the main menu.
Why scan in Greyscale only to instantly change to RGB (colour) in Photoshop? If you had scanned the image in colour then the lines would have not been 100% black and white. This would in turn make cleaning them up more tricky. When you convert to RGB no colour is added to the lines and so you preserve lines of a grey scale nature.
Next you need to perform a global adjustment on the lines to make the whites whiter and the blacks blacker. Open up the Levels dialogue Image/Adjustments/Levels
This should open a box that looks like this
Highlighted in green you should see a small black triangle and a small white one too. These represent the Black and white points of you image.
The box above these triangles contains the analysis of how much of each shade you have in your image. As you can se we have a lot of white in the image (the tall black spike) but as this spike extends to the left of the white point marker you know that there is also a lot of very light grey in there as well. What we need to do is slide the white point marker to the left till it sits at the point where the tall spike flattens out. Lke so.
What this has done is told Photoshop to treat the light greys as 100% white, and cleans up the vast proportion of the image. Next we need to move on to the lines.
You could stop here, as grey lines can create a nice soft image but for this tutorial we are going to take the line work to black. We can start this by shifting the black point (the black triangle) to the point where the majority of the greys in the lines become black. Like so.
Don’t move the black point too far to the right as doing so can make the lines too harsh and that just looks ugly.
When you are happy with the settings press OK
to apply them to the image.
4: The Clean Up
Next we move on to the clean up. Right off the bat I will tell you this is not a quick job and it will pay massive dividends to take care and time on this part, as this will be the final line work for your image so it pays to make it and clean and solid as possible.
As you can see in the previous image pencil doesn’t distribute itself evenly and you will end up with areas like the eyes and ear that seem patchy and not fully solid.
Unless you like this look (a valid choice) you will need to use the brush tool to clean the image up. Using black to paint and white to ‘erase’ go over the lines to clean them up and make them strong, solid and smooth. Don’t be afraid of getting in real close (use the zoom tool) as this will make cleaning up tricky areas far easier.
In areas like the eye where clean lines really improve the image you can re-draw them using shapes and such to create the perfect lines (here I uses several layers and the ellipse selection tool to make a new eye)
In the end you should end up with a nice clean solid image like so
To be honest I ended up going over 100% of the lines in this image. But that’s the trouble when you come direct from the pencil. You could create an inked version of the image on nice white, smooth Bristol board but this doesn’t save the work you need to pencil. It simply transfers the same job to a paper solution rather than a computer solution. In truth though it is nice to have an nice piece if inked art you can hold in your hands you can generally do a far more accurate job of tidying the line art in the computer.
As I said before, and I repeat it here because it need repeating. The clean up WILL take you a long time if done with care and attention. Don’t let your need for results push you into rushing the clean up as effort here will result in a far better picture.
5: Make the white transparent
Ok now we have are shiny, crisp line art and you want to start colouring.
Copy the line art to a new layer and delete the background.
Change the layer property for this layer to Multiply
. I wont bother with what this technically does but for us the important thing is that it makes the layer behave like a clear cell with the line work on it (the white becomes transparent)
Add a new, empty layer and drag it below the layer with your line work on it.
6: Paint the colour.
You have now prepped your pencil scan ready for you to add colour.
Making sure you have the empty layer selected paint some colour across your image. If you correctly set Multiply
on the line art layer the colour should neatly show up behind your lines. Like so.
Have fun :D
Now as a coda I will add that there other options to getting strong, crisp, solid line work ready for colour. They include
!: Inking the image on paper:
2: Tracing the lines out on a second layer in photo shop (you don’t have to erase any noise or temporary lines as you only trace what you want)
3: Use Paths and shapes to create a new set of lines: (creates VERY clean lines, can take time, needs practice)