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- Photoshop Tutorials - Coloring a Pencil Sketch in Photoshop - By: Kyle Peatt

Coloring a Pencil Sketch - How to color a scanned sketch.

Programs shown: Adobe Photoshop 7.0, Macromedia FlashMX (note: You should be able to do this tutorial with any image-editing program that supports layers - You can opt the step with FlashMX out if you are willing to suffer a slight loss in quality.)

I wrote this tutorial mainly for people who want to do their own comic art, be it for a webcomic or otherwise. The drawing that we're using for this practice is an original work so, if you have to, practice with it, but if you want to upload it anywhere please give credit to the original artist, Martin Sykes, and myself, Kyle Peatt. Now that that's over with, I guess the best way to get started is to start so here we go.

First of all you need a drawing (I'm starting from a scanned/non-inked sketch). If your drawing is inked already then the beginning process is a little different but not so much that you should need to skip any steps.

- Step 1
Take the image into Photoshop. Go up to 'Image > Adjustments > Levels' (or you can hit Ctl-L). Once there, click the auto button. That helped us out, now we need to tweak the levels by hand to get rid of all the annoying excess. The settings shown should be close to what you'll use with a lot of your sketches, but keep in mind that it will never be exactly the same. Once you're done hit OK.
- Step 2
To save RAM you might want to save what you have so far and shut down Photoshop. Boot up FlashMX. Paste the picture in your clipboard onto the canvas. Now you're going to want to change the canvas size to match the picture. To do this go to the Properties window and click the Size button. You'll want to match "Content" so click the button.
From there you'll want to double click on the picture so that it is highlighted in grey then go up to 'Modify > Trace Bitmap' The settings I have the best luck with are:

Color Threshold: 100
Minimum Area: 10 pixels
Curve Fit: Normal
Corner Threshold: Normal

Now you should erase any excess lines that you do not want and any garbage pixels that are left over. You can also touch up the drawing if there are any holes to facilitate coloring later. Export by going to 'File > Export Image' and choosing a maximum quality jpg or png. You can designate the size as whatever you want, but in my opinion the larger the better. When you're done you should have something that looks like it was inked, and not drawn with a pencil.

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- Step 3
Close down Flash and open up Photoshop again. Open your file and we can start with the coloring process. If you didn't fill in the holes in Flash you'll have to take a black brush and do that now. Once you're done with that, take the Magic Wand (W) and turn anti-aliasing off. Holding the shift key, select all the area that isn't part of your drawing. Then hit Ctl-Shift-I to inverse your selection. Cut the selected area (Ctl-X) and open a new layer. Paste your drawing into this layer and delete the layer labelled background. Label your current layer "Main Drawing" and create a new layer over top of it. Label this layer "Color." You'll want to set the blending of this layer to Multiply. This will make it so you can draw directly over top of the original drawing without having to worry about coloring over your lines. With the "Color" layer selected hold control and click the layer labelled "Main Drawing." This will make it so you won't accidentally draw outside the outer lines thereby making it easier on us. You can now select an anti-aliased brush (I normally use a circular size 13) and select your colors. It's handy to have two colors selected (Front and Back) and switch between them by pressing X. Now you're ready to start coloring. When I color characters this way I always try to give them slightly different skin colors - it lets your viewers distinguish between characters a lot easier. It takes a bit of practice, and you may need to zoom in for the close parts but you should be able to come up with something that looks a lot like this.
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