Spotty & Eddie Visit PercÚ | How to digitally colour a pencil drawing

By heather at 6:07 pm on Friday, November 27, 2009

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

I’ve done this tutorial before, but wanted to show in a little more detail how easy it is to tint with colour a graphite pencil drawing in Photoshop. This example is from the children’s book I’m currently working on, Spotty & Eddie Visit PercÚ. (First off though I’ll apologize for my fluctuating spelling of the word “Colour.” Being Canadian that’s how we spell it… but Photoshop uses American spelling, but I just can’t help my English grammar sometimes!)

1) Scan the pencil drawing at 300dpi 100%. Then open in Photoshop, and resave as a PSD file.

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

2) In this sketch I want a pure white background. Instead of erasing the background, I used the magic wand to select the background, feathered the edges, and then on a new layer filled the selection with white. This leaves me the option to later change the white to a coloured background.

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

3) I use the Hue/Saturation option (Image>Adjust>Hue/Saturation) to colorize the entire sketch to set it to a sepia colour. This way if bits show through they’re nice and warm, unlike the cool gray colour of the pencil drawing.

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

4) I’m now ready to begin colouring! I create a new layer and set it to “Color.” Then I select the colour I want and paint away… in this drawing I’m using only about six or seven colours, but because of how this style works it seems like more. The example below shows before (Layer set to Normal) and after (Layer set to Color) what the blocks of colour look like… as you can see I am only blocking in plain colour. I don’t shade or mix colours much, I let the shading from my drawings show through.

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

Once you’ve blocked the area in with a colour, it’s easy to adjust the colour with the Hue/Saturation sliders.

TIP: Instead of carefully colouring in to the edges and going back to erase boo-boos, use the magic wand to select the negative space from the layer with the white background. Feather it, and then go back to your Color layer, and continue to colour sloppily away knowing your paint will stay within the selection lines.

Tip : Playing around with the opacity and order of the layers can achieve the effect of mixing colours. In the example below, the layer with the blue water is tinted a little so you can see the yellow star and green turtles through the water.

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

Another example of before and after applying a layer of colour… this time the yellow stripes.

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

Tip : Reds are very hard to achieve in this style… The darker you draw, the more pure the tinting colour will show in Photoshop. To get a pure red you need to initially draw that item very dark, which feels unnatural when you’re drawing everything tonal. To get around that, create a Color layer for the red as normal. Tthen I create a new Normal layer below the scanned drawing layer, and set the scanned drawing layer to Multiply. I then paint in the red on the layer BELOW the scanned drawing layer, and the multiplying effect darkens the drawing up enough to make the red bright. Playing around with the opacity of the layers helps achieve the colour you want.

Tip : Adding high lights is the last touch… working this way over a graphite drawing means the whites may not be pure white, so it’s good to give them a final boost at the end. Create a new layer for high lights, setting it to Soft Light if you wish for a light sheen, or Overlay if you want to obliterate the color below for a really white high light (such as reflections in the eyes.)

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

And voila, you’re all done!

spotty eddie visit percÚ rock quebec sketches children's book photoshop tutorial

Filed under: work in progress, illustrations, childrens books, tutorials, Spotty and Eddie

1 Comment »

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Comment by Ann-Mi

November 30, 2009 @ 4:01 am

What an easy-to-follow and informative tutorial! I’ve posted a link to your tutorial on my blog.
I love how your method lets you keep the hand-drawn feeling but at the same time creates such lively colors.

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