Introduction: Coloring, Shading, and Effects in Photoshop

Picture of Coloring, Shading, and Effects in Photoshop

A lot of beginner Photoshoppers have a tough time figuring out how to color their artwork. This is one method (out of many) for coloring that I employ.

I draw my lineart traditionally, and scan it in using my 3-in-1 printer. Freshly scanned in, and you can see the mistakes and plenty of other stuff I don't want to have!

Step 1: Cleaning It Up!

Picture of Cleaning It Up!

To get rid of weird discoloration from the scanner, or ghost images of previous drawings like in my scan, go to Image -> levels. I use the eyedropper tool (located to the right of the graph), to pick my black and white colors. You can play around with how much you want your levels to change, depending on how good your scan is. For example, I push my lead extremely hard, so my lines are dark and anything I erase is usually still visible. So, my levels are often extremely edited, like you can see in the second image. Typically, I move my white slider to the bottom of the right hill, and my black slider right far enough to ensure my lines are indeed black.

Step 2: Getting Rid of Ghosts and Bad Lines

Picture of Getting Rid of Ghosts and Bad Lines

Even though Levels has gotten rid of most of the discoloration, there's usually a few lines and "ghost images" still visible. To fix this, I use the Brush tool and, if you have one, a tablet. I use a Wacom Intous, which are pretty cheap and not fancy at all. As a left-handed artist, its easier to use the brush tool with my left hand pen then a right-hand mouse. The brush tool is a default from the top row, with the hardness set to 0%. You can mess around with the hardness to what you prefer. The brush mode is Dissolve (located right of the Brush Box), which helps simulate a pencil texture. I vary between using Opacity or Size pen pressure, which are located in the top bar (the circle with a pen touching it).

***Ignore my counting system, the Instructables Steps and the steps inside the images may differ, as I'm also uploading these instructions to another site.

Step 3: Coloring

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Having a new layer set to Multiply means the black lineart will stay black, and you can color "on top" of the black without having to worry about being exact.

***Ignore my counting system, the Instructables Steps and the steps inside the images may differ, as I'm also uploading these instructions to another site.

Step 4: Shading

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Multiply is great for maintaining the colors of the Color Layer underneath. Without having to switch to different colors, your gray color will automatically act as a darker color of whatever is underneath. I shade in a hard-edge style, but if you'd like to blend the colors, just use a different hardness on your brush and use opacity pen pressures.

***Ignore my counting system, the Instructables Steps and the steps inside the images may differ, as I'm also uploading these instructions to another site.

Step 5: Highlights

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For highlights, I use a softer brush and a more general light. I select the color layer because I use the softer brush on the edges of the artwork, and the selection helps to prevent color from leaving the artwork and spilling onto the background, which could be problematic if you decide to color the background. As with Multiply, Overlay does a nice job of preserving the colors underneath, and saves you time from switching to different tones. If Overlay doesn't suit your tastes, feel free to mess around with other Layer Blending Modes and their opacities.

***Ignore my counting system, the Instructables Steps and the steps inside the images may differ, as I'm also uploading these instructions to another site.

Step 6: Effects

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Effects are where your imagination can go wild! Color Dodge is an interesting Blending Mode, and I'd recommend messing around with other colors besides Warm Yellow, and other Blending Modes and their opacities!

Keep that selection up from the previous step to ensure your effects aren't going outside the artwork.

***Ignore my counting system, the Instructables Steps and the steps inside the images may differ, as I'm also uploading these instructions to another site.

Step 7: Getting Rid of White Space

Picture of Getting Rid of White Space

If you'd like to put a background on your artwork (or add a shadow, like we'll do in the next step), getting rid of the blank white space around your artwork from the scanning process is crucial. Expand Selection is an easy way to grab any extra white pixels that the selection missed (common problem in low resolution scans), but it may take some of your linework from the Scan Layer. That's why I used such a small amount of expand, but mess around with how much you need. Especially with pencil, sometimes white spots stay no matter how much expanding you do, and in that case you'll have to manually go in and erase and re-line as needed.

***Ignore my counting system, the Instructables Steps and the steps inside the images may differ, as I'm also uploading these instructions to another site.

Step 8: Simple Shadow

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A shadow can ground a creature or character, and doesn't even have to be that complicated. I just use a simple, dark gray circle, but feel free to mess around with shapes, opacity, Layer Styles (double click on the layer), and other neat tricks.

***Ignore my counting system, the Instructables Steps and the steps inside the images may differ, as I'm also uploading these instructions to another site.

Step 9: Finished (?)

Picture of Finished (?)

This is where I usually finish my own quick pieces, but nothing solidifies a method like practice! And nothing beats messing around with all the tools in Photoshop. Go back to any of the previous steps and use a different Blending Mode, a different brush, or add a bunch of color layers. Double-click on layers to open up Layer Styles, and mess around with all of those too!

I hope you found this short tutorial helpful, now go out there and color the world!!!

***Ignore my counting system, the Instructables Steps and the steps inside the images may differ, as I'm also uploading these instructions to another site.

Comments

stolie32 (author)2015-10-20

awesome work

seamster (author)2015-10-20

These are really great instructions! I'm very impressed with the character too.

Fantastic work, all around :)

ViperiumPrime (author)seamster2015-10-20

Thank you! Glad it can help :D

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Bio: Studying Graphic Design and Electronic Arts I use Adobe cloud for Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and other programs. I have a Wacom Intous Tablet, and a ... More »
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