I had an urge to paint something so I took one of my drawings and did a quick color with Photoshop. This color paint took about 15 minutes to do. It goes pretty fast when you already have a fully rendered pencil sketch. There are many ways to add color in Photoshop, so I figure I’ll show you how I did it this time around.
The Photoshop tools are immense and powerful. If you are new to it, it will take you some serious time to learn it well. If you are somewhat familiar with it already, you will at some point find all the tools and options dizzying. But once you put in the time, you will eventually find a SIMPLE work-flow that works well for you. The following work-flow is what works for me when starting a painting.
Photoshop’s layers and layer blending modes are really powerful. It really is the very core of Photoshop. Without going into too much technical details, let me show you how I quickly painted the Catwoman using about 3 to 4 layers. You can click on the images to enlarge them.
Starting with the sketch, I placed a base layer underneath it. This base layer is the general color that is used most. In this case, it’s her skin tone. Change the sketch layer’s blending mode to multiply. Since the sketch layer is black and white, this will just add the darks into the base layer. On the base layer, I roughed in some highlights using the dodge tool. Then painted in with a brush some darker tones. You don’t have to go too dark since the darks from the sketch is being added on. That’s about it for the base layer. You can see it’s very simple, but the results are pretty good for quick coloring.
Now I’ve added another layer on top which is just a normal layer without any blending mode. This layer is where I add sharper highlights, deep shadows, actually, the whole kitchen sink. It’s whatever you want to change or add. This layer feels like you’re actually painting, because it’s manual freehand stuff. No special tricks here, just painting.
Lastly, I added another layer on top of everything. This is not shown in the second image but the results are already applied to the final image on the very top. To get rid of all the dark pencil sketches, I just duplicated the base layer and placed it on the very top layer and changed the blending mode to color. The color blending mode is similar to doing a semi-transparent wash over the image. This helps to get rid of the dull pencil greys in the painting.
So that is it. From here if I were to continue on painting, it would be mostly freehand painting over the existing layers. There are many tools when painting in Photoshop, and I will use them on the appropriate occasions, but I do like to keep it simple by just using a brush at varying opacity. Too many Photoshop effects will make your painting look very digital. Nothing wrong with that if that is your thing. I just prefer the painted look.
One final note. You see those black blotchy lines that is the result of drawing on very rough paper. You can easily get rid of them. In the sketch layer, use the smudge tool and wiggle it a little and the blotchiness will blend out. That is one very useful technique and it will work wonders if your sketch is very clean with smooth shadings to begin with. Here, with the Catwoman, it’s blotchy and it will require more work to blend it in.
Hope you find this helpful. I will post more as things come up. Thanks, -Wei