Quick Line Art Coloring Tutorial

This quick tutorial, or I should say quick overview, will show you one of many methods used. And it's a new method I have been working with to achieve better understanding of colors and of the Photoshop program itself.


For years, I used a mouse to paint in Photoshop. However, I now have a Intuit Tablet. And it does make it a lot easier. If you don't have one, I recommend buying one. If you can't, it takes time to learn how to control the mouse and use the functions in Photoshop.

Let's get started!



First thing you need to do is find some clean and semi clean line art. Once you have your line art, open it in Photoshop. Once opened, you will want to use the Eraser tool to clean up all the white spaces from smudges and unneeded lines. Once done, you should have something close to line art that looks like this.




Once cleaned up, we need to make a working space. To do this, duplicate the current layer of line art, then select the bottom of the two layers. Then with the colors set to the default black/white, (in windows) press CTRL+DELETE. This will delete the line art on the bottom layer leaving it all white. Set the top layer to Multiply. When done, you should have something that looks like this. The bottom layer should be left set to Normal.


Now the fun begins. First thing you need to do is "block out all of the sections you plan to paint later. This is the most time consuming part. Especially if your piece has a lot of smaller sections. The best objective to this is to take your time and use the Lasso or the Polygonal Lasso tool. Trace or outline the part you are going to block. Once you have it, start painting the solid color.

It's okay to zoom way in. You want to get as close to perfect as you can. But it's okay to miss a spot here and there, as later on, it can be fixed.

I have a tendency to use monochromatic colors when blocking. However, once in awhile, I stray from that. What ever color you use for blocking is fine, as it will be your base color for the rest of the piece.

One shortcut you want to remember when blocking is the CTRL+H (hide for windows) It hides the "marching ant" of your outline so you have clear view of what your painting. Then when your section is done, CTRL+D to deselect.

Here you can see the outlined selection of just the skin. Though this image is further along than the basic blocking, you can see how each section will be different.



Once fully blocked, you should have an image that looks similar to this. You will notice some white spots. This is normal. The white spots are the sections behind the solid inks in the piece.

Doesn't look like a whole lot, but this is the basis for you final coloring.  Once you're blocking is done, you need to duplicate the layer and move it to the top of the layers list. Then disable its view by turning off the eye.

The reason for this is, when you start painting, your painting on top of your block. If you need to go back and select a specific area, you can use the Magic Wand to select the blocked color from the duplicate.




*Just remember, don't paint over the duplicate block.


Once you start painting, just like in school art class, start with the background first and work your way forward. Start with the dark colors and work your way forward. Unlike regular paints, with Photoshop, you can adjust your paint flow and with a tablet, you can adjust the pressure of that flow. And you can undo any mistakes.


Because your painting on the layer below the inked line art, the inks fill in the spaces and give your piece form. But it's your painting that give the piece life. Normally, I use the airbrush opacity at 30-50% and the flow at 50%.

Occasionally,  you will use the smudge tool at about 20-40% to fix small issues or to lightly blend hard lines where there need to be soft lines. When you're all done, If you hide your inked line art, you'll have something that looks similar to this.

Just remember, take your time. Don't be afraid to zoom way in and use low flow and opacity settings to build up what you want.


When you're all done, flatten your image and you're all set to go. With The inked line art over top of your newly painted piece, you will have a piece of artwork.

Remember, there is no right way or wrong way to paint line art. You have to find what works best for you. Don't be afraid to experiment with different styles.


Final Work: