A few posts ago I shared an illustration of a female fighter I was in the middle of. In this post I’d like to show how the pencil drawing turned out, then give a couple of tips on how to color a pencil drawing in Photoshop for a nice cartoony result.

Starting with the finished, shaded pencil drawing, use the magnetic lasso tool to mask off the character you wish to color.  Go to “Select>Save Selection” so you can easily retrieve your mask if you accidentally de-select it. For more precise control I sometimes make a separate mask for each color, but on this drawing I simply masked off the outline and carefully colored the interior colors. Here is the fully shaded illustrating with the selection mask applied.


An optional step to create a nicer gradient in the shading and fade some of the sharper pencil lines is to apply a blur filter. Duplicate the layer to preserve the original image. At this point I also painted everything outside the mask white (not mandatory, but I like the cleanness). Now, with you pencil drawing selected, go to “Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur” and apply with a radius of 1 to 2. This not only smudges your pencil lines, it helps take out any white area left in the drawing. Pure white won’t apply tone to the color layer and will remain pure white in the final illustration.

Now create a new layer and change the layer type to “Color.” As you apply your color to this layer, the blurred pencil drawing will create the tone. In areas where the color isn’t as saturated as I’d like, or in places I need some more shading, I use the burn tool on the blurred layer. Here is what the color layer looks like alone and with the values applied with the blurred layer. Notice that the values in the “color” layer are much more saturated than on the combined illustration. Keep this in mind when you are shading your illustration with pencil before scanning it into Photoshop.












And here is the final version. I’m really looking forward to putting this on the character sheets. I’ll post the other classes as I finish them. In the mean time, please feel free to ask questions or share your own work in the comments section.