Coloring in Photoshop – Comics For Beginners Ep. 8



Transcript - Coloring in Photoshop

Welcome back for episode 8 in this series about making comics. In this episode, we’ll be talking about coloring in Photoshop. If you want to color your comics with markers, watercolors or even crayons, go right ahead. I would recommend, however, that you paint on a COPY or a print-out of your line art, so you don’t screw up your original.

When you’re coloring in Photoshop, the trick is to keep your line art clear, and use your colors help tell the story. Now, a perfect example would be Mike Mignola’s “Hellboy”, colored by Dave Stewart, or “Criminal”, colored by Val Staples.

Of course all this is a matter of taste. You might like other kinds of colors. Great. But I can’t tell you how to color every character in a gazillion different tones, except to tell you, that it probably takes a long time.

So, what to do?

First off, you have your line art. I’m old fashioned, so I still draw on paper and then scan it in. Sometimes I’ll have blue lines underneath my inks, like I talked about in episode 7, but those can be removed in Photoshop by adjusting the levels, or, if your scanner will allow you, just scan as bitmap and the blue will disappear. Make sure you scan in high resolution. If your page is done in oversize, 300 dpi should be enough. Less than 300 dpi is NEVER enough, especially line art has a tendency to get pixelated if it’s scanned in too low resolution.

Once you have your scanned pages, open them up in Photoshop. You might need to do a little clean up. I find there’s always little dots or grub from the scan. I tend to never zoom in more than 50% when I’m ding the clean up, to avoid needless work. If it’s not visible at 50% on your screen, it won’t be visible in print.

When you’ve got your clean line art, you need to make a separate layer for the colors. There are several way to go about it. My method is to convert my bitmap image to grayscale, then to rgb. I duplicate my background layer and set the layer mode to multiply. Then I click off the original background layer. I don’t delete it. Trust me, you WILL accidently paint in the wrong layer once in a while, so keep the original as a sort of backup.

Now you need to put in a new layer in normal mode for your colors. You put that under your background copy. This is a quick, basic way of getting ready to color. You can of course make as many new layers as you want. I sometimes make a new layer on top of my background layer or line art, where I put in special effects like bright lights and stuff like that. You’ll have to experiment yourself. Just remember always to make a new layer for those experiments and don’t forget to save your Photoshop file along the way.

In lesson 8 I’ll be talking a little bit about Actions in Photoshop, but let’s just skip that part for now…

My approach for coloring comics pages is this; I try to set a certain tone for every new setting. To help the reader understand what’s going on. Oh, this is inside the nightclub. Oh, now where outside, early morning. Stuff like that. I usually do just a flat color or a gradient on every picture, or even the whole page. Then in a separate layer, I put in the colors on characters and objects. I often set the opacity of that layer to 50-60%. That way, everything sort of takes on the color tone of the background, just as a background color is often visible in a painting.

Always remember foreground, middle ground and background. A lot of artists tone down the line art in the background, to get the reader to focus on the foreground, but I’d say that’s something for an advanced lesson. For now let’s just say you need your primary characters to stand out against the background, and there are many ways to do that. One way is to color them in a warmer tone than the background, that will make them appear closer. As long as they’re not painted in the same tone as your background, you’ll probably be fine. The stronger the line work, the easier it is to color.

When I do colors in Photoshop, I tend to drag my color palette over in the more grey areas, stay clear of primary colors. But that’s a matter of personal taste, of course, and it all depends on the story.

When you’re finished with a page, flatten all the layers and save it as an image file. Tiff format is the best, jpegs are fine for web and lower resolution copies, but for print always go with the tiff format. Also, you need to convert your colors mode to CMYK if it’s for print. RGB format gives you a little more room for effects when you’re coloring, but after that, CMYK would be the way to go, unless it’s for web use- More on this in episode 10.

First, let’s talk about stealing. See you in a bit in lesson 9.

6 Responses to “Coloring in Photoshop – Comics For Beginners Ep. 8”

  1. Amy Vander Vorste March 13, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

    I did pick up a few tricks on how to make your character stand, how to simplify my coloring a bit, and that I can cleanup my files at 50%. Thank you!

    • Palle Schmidt March 16, 2014 at 10:00 am #

      You’re welcome, Amy! And thanks for the iTunes review, I greatly appreciate it!

  2. rommel Fernandez March 16, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    Not sure where to put this question so I guess I will put it here since this awesome video has not comments.

    My question is about style – My style is kind of similar to yours, specially when I draw storyboards, of course you have a couple of more talent cells than me, but I was wondering if you think your style would could you work with mainstream comic book companies like Marvel and DC? I guess my question is do you think those companies would hire you based on your style. ( not talent because you are obviously over flowing with it )

    If you where asked to draw xmen for example, and they told you to make your art style look more “mainstream” could you or would you do it? Just curious about your thoughts on that.

    Also, the last 2 videos have comments blocked, even for ahem’ premium members like myself.

    • Palle Schmidt March 16, 2014 at 9:18 am #

      I’ll look into the blocked comments thing, that’s not on purpose 🙂

      Your question about style is interesting. As you can probably tell from the videos, I tend to adapt my style to the given project. Would I work in mainstream comics? Sure, if the project was right for me. I’m working on a monthly book from Boom! right now, a creator owned book called Thomas Alsop. There is a certain style of inked and crosshatched gorgeousness that I would resist getting into – because it simply takes me too long to draw that way! The style I’m working in on Alsop is painted art, something I find a lot more enjoyable and looser to work in. And I’m actually able to pull it off within the given time frame, which is perhaps the MOST important thing!

      For shorter projects or illustration gigs I often try out new styles or techniques. Would I adjust my style to fit the project? Absolutely, do it all the time. Would I draw in a style that felt wrong or hard for me? Probably not, because I would fail and not get hired again!

      Hope this answers your question.

      Thanks again.

  3. West June 15, 2017 at 10:28 pm #

    Please what version of photoshope did you make use of for that episode? And suggest me a good software for coloring my comics

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