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This tutorial is to show you how to colour your drawings in either Photoshop (used by Silver Huskey and myself) or Paintshop Pro (cheaper alternative used by many), we will show you how to go from this:
A simple drawing in a sketch pad

to this:
A fully digitally coloured piece of art

What this tutorial won't do is show you everything I do as I don't want to give away all my secrets. It also will leave room for you to experiment with your own style. Confident? I hope so.

Step 1:

The first thing to do is to clean up you image and get it onto your computer. This can be done a number of ways, some people will ink the image with a pen and rub out the pencil lines, and then scan the image onto their computer. If you do this, remember to make sure the ink is very dry before you use an eraser on it as it will smudge. Other people may scan in the drawing rough and colour over it but you can experiment and work out what is best for you. Either way you want to be left with a clean image that looks like this:

IMPORTANT - Make sure that your image has no broken lines or gaps or you will have trouble later.

Step 2:

Open your image up either Photoshop or Paintshop Pro and get to the layers box (Photoshop Layers or PSP Layers). If you are unsure about why we use layers, hopefully you will understand by the end of this, but in short layers are used so you can add effects, colours, etc over your drawing with out it interfering with other aspects of it. There should already be one layer there and is probably called something like "background" as a default. This layer is locked and we need to unlock it, in Photoshop right click this layer and duplicate it, then delete the original. In Paint Shop Pro, right click it and click on "promote to layer". Then rename the layer as "Outlines" by right clicking it and clicking on "Properties" (in Photoshop) or "Rename" (in PSP).

Step 3:

You need to create 6 new layers and in order from the bottom up call them: Backgound, (Outlines is here), Flood fills, Shading, Highlights, Lights and finally Shadows. It should look something like this:


Step 4:

Now we have everything set up, the real art can begin! Select the "Outline" layer and using the magic wand tool (Photoshop or PSP) select the area you wish to colour first. This tool should then put a section box/outline inside the desired area. If it selects outside the area, then there is a gap in the outline and you need to find it and close it up using the pencil too (N.B. make sure you close the gap on the Outline layer). When you have the area selected, click on the "Flood fill" layer and choose your colour from the colour box and use the paint bucket tool (Photoshop or PSP) to fill the area with that colour. Repeat this for all areas in the image but don't do the background yet. Remeber to make sure that all your colouring is done one the "Flood Fill" layer! Then you should have something that looks like this:


Step 5:

Your drawing is probably looking pretty cool now, but there is still quite a long way to go. The next layer up is the "Shading" layer. The coloured image looks good but is a bit flat, it needs more life adding which is what the next layers are for. Like before, click on the Outline layer and use the magicwand tool to select the part you want to work on. the click on the Shading layer and select the Spray Paint tool (Photoshop or PSP). Then you need to select a colour that is similar but darker. Fluke's fur here will change in shade depending on e.g. where on his body it is or how dense his fur is. You need to reflect this with a darker colour. Using the spray paint tool, apply this colour on the Shading layer. Remember to play with the tool settings here to get a nice blend, you can change the hardness, opacity, density, etc until you find a nice effect. Don't be shy with this tool, the more detail the better! Fluke now looks like he has more life to him


Step 6:

This step is moving along to the Highlights. This is the same principle as the Shading but it is to bring out the lighter areas in your picture. As before, select the Outlines layer and click in the area you want to work on using the magicwand, then select the Highlights layer. However this time you need to select a lighter shade and using the Spray paint tool (with the same settings as you used before) add the highlights to where ever you feel is necessary.


Step 7:

The next step to take is to add some light into the picture. Work out which direction you want the light to come from, then by selecting the area with the magic wand to work in as before, click on the Lights layer and use the spray paint to put the light on all the places you think it would touch. You can play with some default effects here installed on the program already, try changing the hues or looking in artistic or lighting effects. Your drawing and Fluke are probably looking pretty cool by now, and not long to go!


Step 8:

This is the last step for Fluke himself, but we aren't finished yet! Still got more to do after this! The last layer to use on Fluke here is the Shadow layer. As in the previous steps, use the magic wand tool on the Outline layer to select the area to work in, click on the Shadow layer and using a dark shade, use the Spray Paint tool to add the shadows in on the body. Remember the shadow will be the opposite points to where the light hits, you won't have shadow and light in the same place, that's impossible. As in the Light step, play around with this, have some fun with it. Use effects if you want to and play around with settings until it looks right. Now Fluke himself is just about finished and we can leave him alone for a bit


Step 9:

OK I bet you are thinking he has forgotten the background! Nope not yet anyway. This is an easy and quick way to make a drawing look really cool. Use the magic wand tool and select the area OUTSIDE the character on the Outline layer. Then press the Delete key on your keyboard. This deletes the area around your character and exposes the background layer. Now select the Background layer. A good quick way to put a background in is to use the Gradient tool. In photoshop it is easy to get, simply right click the Paint bucket tool and select the gradient option. Then you can play around with the settings at the top of the screen (here) but with PSP it is a bit long winded. On the colour box, you should see a little triangle, you need to carefully click it (it can be a bit hard to hit) and then that calls up a box with 4 options in (here). The gradient is the second, and when you click it, if you click in the colour box, you will call up the gradient settings (here). With both Photoshop and PSP play with the gradient settings, choose the colours you want, have fun with it and apply it. If you don't like it, simply undo (press control+Z) and do it again. I added this gradient to the Fluke pic:


Now you don't need to do a gradient at all if you don't want, it is just quick and easy. You could draw a background of paste a photo in there instead. The possibilities are endless, it is just a case of seeing what works for you just remember to save your work so you can undo any major mistakes and always use the undo button when necessary. To finish off my picture, I made Fluke a bit darker (as it is night time), added some stars and to make it more believable, put some breath in the cold air around his muzzle. Little touches like that make it more realistic and impress really easily.


Step 10:

Sign your work!!

Finally I hope this tutorial has been of help to you, please show me any work that you do using this as it took me ages to write and create! I am very interested in seeing how it has helped, and I will post your artwork on the site if you want.


Balto the Lead Dog

The LoneWolf27

Margaret Falk


Balto is property of MCA and Universal studios. I do not claim any rights to Balto, nor do I say that he or any of the other characters are my own. I do however say that Fluke is totally original and my property ©Acanis2000-Forever. Do not use him with out my permission. All items on this page, unless otherwise stated all belong to me so don't use them on your own site without my permission.