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Coloring a Sketch or Line Drawing with Adobe Photoshop
How to color your sketches with Photoshop
By Bill Nagel

This may seem like a simple subject for a tutorial but the tricks used here can be used in many other places. This tutorial will be detailing: Layer Modes, Layer Masks, and Layer Sets



1. Scan image and clean it up in Photoshop. Basic clean-up can be accomplished by increasing the contrast and using desaturate to remove colors.
2. Double click on the Background layer to make it Layer 0
3. Change the layer mode to Multiply (this makes all of the white areas transparent)
4. Create a layer and place it behind Layer 0 (layer 0 should always be on top)
5. Color in the sky on this new layer. Don't worry about coloring in the lines, everything else will built up on this
6. Color in the pavement on a new layer (each new element should be a new layer). Just make sure it does not go past the top of the store walls.
Note: I like to use gradients to add a little depth

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

7. Color in the tree. Once again don't worry about being inside the lines. We will clean this up using a layer mask.
8. Click on the layer mask and, using a black paintbrush, color over the area you do not want to see. (Using the "\" quick key will will highlight the layer mask, turning it red)

Fig. 7

Fig. 8
9. Click on the layer (not the layer mask) to draw the shading of the tree.
Note: I use the layer mask here so i can shade the tree without out worrying about the shape of the tree. I can also use the paint bucket to change the color of the tree with out creating a hard, pixaly edge. (see fig. 6a and 6b)

Fig. 9a (painted with mask

Fig. 9b (Painted without mask)
10. Next you want to color the walls of the building. Once again I will use a layer mask. Create a new layer, Select all of the areas of the walls you want to color
A layer mask is used here so we can later change the color of the entire building with out problems

Fig. 10

Fig. 10a (colored again)
11. Next you want to color in the glass, awning and sidewalk.
Create a new layer for each new color and place the layer behind the building layer, This will enable you to color faster without worrying about coloring over something else.
12. Next draw the frames of the window, This layer can be on top of the building layer

Fig. 11

Fig. 12

13. Next you want to add the interior of the building. For this drawing we need three new layers, shelves, ads, and lights. All of these layers should be behind the building layer but in front of the glass layer. The lights layer should be on the bottom followed by the shelves, followed by the ads.
I like a little bit of the blue of the windows to show through so I add a transparency to all the of these interior layers.
14. Create a layer set for the interior layers.
If you simply changed the transparency of each layer to 30% then you would see each layer through the other. But, if you create a layer set and then change the transparency on that to 30%, you will not have this problem (fig 14a and 14b). Notice how you can see through the adds

Fig 14a (transparency to layer set)

Fig. 14b (transparency to layers)
15. Next add the miscellaneous items like the stains, words, grass, and mailbox
16. Next add a layer to the top of your drawing called shadow, turn this layer to 30% and draw in the shadows how you think they should be.
17. The next thing I want to do add a little depth to the image. I do this by selecting the entire building and creating a new layer above everything else. Then I use the gradient tool to Create a gradient across the entire building.
18. Change to transparency of this new layer to 20%

Fig. 17

Fig. 18
19. Now your done, all you have to do is play around with the colors until you get something you like. Or you can a car or people or whatever you like.

fig. 19 (Click to enlarge

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