14 September 2008

Outline for Photoshop Coloring

Once you have decided what picture you want to color, retrace the image onto a clean piece of paper and carefully ink it. It usually helps to use big paper and thin pens, so you can get a really crisp, thin outline. If you mess up the inking, you can clean it up with whiteout or by fixing it in Photoshop. Erase any extra pencil lines and get the inked outline as clean as possible. Scan the outline and load it into Photoshop. Make sure your outline is in RGB mode before you continue. To put your outline in RGB mode, go to the Image menu on the top bar, then Mode, and RGB Color.

A lot of people like to keep the outline on the bottom of the picture, and then color on top using layers set to "Multiply". The major flaw in coloring this way is that you have no way to color the outline. Adding color to the outline can give your picture a nice touch. In order to do this, though, you have to make the outline transparent, which will allow you to color beneath it (just as if you put the outline on a sheet of transparency paper).

Before you do anything, though, adjust the brightness and contrast of your image until the white areas are pure white and the black lines are dark black, but not pixelly. If you aren't careful and adjust the contrast too much, you'll end up with a jagged outline, as in the picture to leftmost picture. You do not want an outline this jagged and ugly; you want it to be as smooth and crisp as possible, so be careful.

You will also want to go over sketchy areas, such as the eye in this picture, and clean up the lines a little bit. I'm usually not patient enough to do this too often, though. Once you shrink down the image, flaws in your outline won't be as noticeable, anyway.

Now, in order to make your freshly cleaned outline transparent, first select the entire canvas. Copy the entire outline, and paste it into a layer by itself as shown to the left. You will then have two copies of your outline: the background layer, and Layer 1. Delete the background layer, and create a new blank, pure white background by going to the Layers menu, then to New Background.

Next, go to the Channels menu on the floating layers window. Click the "Load Channel as Selection" button, which is the leftmost button that looks like a little dotted circle on the bottom of the menu. What this does is select all of the white areas on a picture, so you don't have to use the magic wand. Avoid using the magic wand at all costs! It can make some really sloppy selections. Anyway, after hitting the "Load Channel as Selection" button, all the white areas should be surrounded by dashed lines.

Make sure that Layer 1 is selected, and not the background layer, then hit delete. This will delete all white areas from the picture, leaving only the black outline. Deselect the image so that the dashed lines go away, leaving only the outline. You'll notice that the outline is a little faded, though. Don't worry, this is very easy to correct.

Set Layer 1 to "Preserve Transparency" by checking the box on the Layers menu, as shown at the left. This allows you to paint on top of the existing lines without coloring over them and messing them up. Its a very handy feature. Select a big paintbrush and paint over the entire picture with pure black. The outline should be back to its former darkened self.:)

There, now you have a clean, transparent outline ready to be colored underneath.


  1. Its fantastic......
    Its superb.........
    Keep it up.........
    Thanks a lot.......

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  2. I love the all the variation you can do with photoshop. There are websides which distort things how ever I found I side that presented a great houses and when visit the place I convenced me that was real. In fact I decided to approach the costa rica investment opportunities and buy a beautiful house there.