Tutorial | How to colour an ink drawing in Photoshop

By heather at 1:32 am on Monday, February 15, 2010

heather castles hera baby clothes illustration red polka dot dress

I just finished this illustration for my diary of Hera’s stuff, and thought I’d share the simple technique I use for colouring pen illustrations in Photoshop. Clicking on the images below will bring up a close-up image.
heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 1 | Open the scan of your drawing in Photoshop, and create two new layers below it. One will be your background colour (I’ve used white here), and the other will be for painting in the colours of your drawing.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 2 | Adjust the brightness and contrast until the paper is as white as possible.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 3 | Select the background of the sketch with the magic wand tool, and delete it. Make sure all little bits of paper speckle are removed so the colour comes out nice and clean.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 4 | Set the drawing layer to Multiply. This will allow the colours below to show through your drawing, and make the pen work come out nice and dark as it multiplies over the colours below.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 5 | Use the magic wand tool to select the background of the sketch. Then invert the selection so that you have only the drawing selected. Feather the edges of the selection (Menu Bar > Select > Feather.) Click on the blank layer below the sketch (multiply) layer and fill the entire sketch with a predominant colour.

heather castles tutorial pen illustration digital colour

Step 6 | From here in, apply colour to this colouring layer whichever way you feel comfortable. Applying colour on its own layer(s) makes it easy to adjust the colours later while keeping your drawing in its original condition.I use a combination of the paintbrush and the magic wand / lassoo tools to select areas from the sketch and fill with colour. You can experiment and go as elaborate as you want with colour, shade and textures.

Filed under: work in progress, illustrations, tutorials

4 Comments »

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Comment by Keya

February 20, 2010 @ 1:24 pm

I really like your methods. The tutorial is very helpful! Thanks!

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Comment by margie

November 28, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

Thanks for the info, very helpful. I went to school for fine art back in 1994 - things have changed soooo much since then - I am definetly behind and enjoy your website. What kind/version of photoshop do you use?

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Comment by Shari

August 6, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

Thanks for the tutorial. How do you keep lines beautifull black. I tried your tutorial but the lines are faden.
Bye the way, love your style.

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Comment by Karen

June 2, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

Thank you for the wonderful tutorial. I learned some “good stuff”!!!

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