Add Vibrant Color to Line Art with Adobe Photoshop

October 11, 2019 0 By Peter Engel

Hello, I’m Helen Bradley. Welcome to this
video tutorial. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how to color line art in Photoshop.
Before we get started with this tutorial I just want to show you my new book which is
57 Secrets for Working Smarter in Photoshop. There’s heaps of secrets here both for graphic
designers as well as for photographers. And you can find the book on and it’s
also available in the iTunes store. Look out below in the description area here for this
video as there’s a link there for that book. Now let’s get back to our project and what
I’m going to do is show you how you can color a piece of line art like this very, very easily.
Now I’m going to start out here and just recolor the pink flower because the process is pretty
much the same for all the other pieces of the art. The first thing I’m going to do is
to add a new layer to the document and I’m going to click and select a pink or red color
that I want to use for this particular flower. Now I’m going to make it a bit redder this
time so I’ll click on the red color and click Ok. And then I’m going to select a brush and
what I want here is a sort of soft edge brush. It doesn’t really matter what size it is because
I can resize it on the fly. With this layer selected I’m going to start painting on the
layer and all I’m looking to do is to paint over the areas where I want the color to be.
And I can shrink the brush down a little bit if I need to get into the edges. Now I’m not
being terribly fussy about how I’m painting because it’s really easy to clean up the mess
later on. And I just want the color to go pretty much over the area that I want the
leaves or the petals of this flower to be. Now right now in painting over the petals
I’ve lost the detail in the petals. There was a lot of line art detail here which is
gone. Now we can get that back by just changing the blend mode of this layer. And you can
run down the blend modes and have a look and see which one would be best. I think Darken
is the best one to use here but you could go through and see if there is something else
that would give you a better effect. So I’m going to settle on Darken. You’ll see that
most of these blend modes actually just give you colored pixels in the flower or the Difference
and Exclusion ones will invert the color so they’re not the ones to use. But I’m just
going to run back up and we’re just going to choose Darken here. Now at this point the
red color is just on this layer. So if we wanted to we could just grab an eraser brush
and just go around and clean up the edges if we want to clean them up. If we go too
far we just go and reselect our brush and brush those in. But you can decide just how
much work you want to do with that. I kind of like the edges not to be perfect on the
flowers that I recolor. So let’s go to the next step. The next step is to add a little
bit more detail into the flower because it’s going to have a bit more darks and lights
in it and for this I’m going to use the Dodge and Burn tools. They’re here in the toolbar
and there’s a Dodge tool and a Burn tool. Burn makes things darker and Dodge makes them
lighter so I’m going to start with the Burn tool. I’m going to select midtones because
that’s about where that red is and I’m going to set a reasonably high exposure. You typically
wouldn’t use an exposure value quite this high for working with this tool. But for this
where we’re using it to color we can be a bit heavy with our exposure. So what I’m going
to do now is to just color over those areas in the flower that I want to be a little bit
darker in color. So I may want it a little bit darker towards the center of the flower
and perhaps here where the leaves or the petals are overlapping each other there would be
a little bit of a darker color at the very edge of the petal that is being overlapped.
So we could just darken those edges a little bit just by running over them with this Burn
tool and then perhaps some little bits around the edges of the flower, perhaps the flower
petal, perhaps on the outside edge. But you can decide exactly which areas that you want
to darken a little bit. And the opposite of burning is dodging and Dodge allows you to
lighten areas of the image or lighten the pixels. So once I’ve finished burning in here
I’m just going to switch to the Dodge tool. And here’s the Dodge tool. So we’re still
working in these reds. We haven’t changed the red. All we’re doing is lightening and
darkening this area just using a brush. So I’ve got quite a high exposure where. We’re
again on midtones because this red color is pretty much in the midtones of the image.
It’s not a really light color. It’s not a really dark color. And now I’m going to add
a little bit of highlighting using this Dodge tool where the flower petals are bending.
So they’re bending in the middle here so I’m just going to paint on a little bit of lightening.
In a minute we can have a look and see exactly the effect. But this saves you from having
to sample and resample different colors because you’re actually painting in the same tonal
range but you can get some really nice effects by just painting on the shadows and highlights
using the Dodge and Burn tool. So now I’m just going to turn this off. And what was
a solid red layer you can see is now lights and darks and it’s got tones in it. And that
is then blended with the underlying black and white line art to give you a look of some
colored line art. And I just did exactly the same thing with the green leaves. I did the
orange center of the flower this way although it would probably be better if that was on
top. And perhaps if I used say Multiply blend mode for that it might give me a better result.
And this is the yellow for the middle of the flower. So that’s a really fun way of coloring
line art in Photoshop using just a single color and then adding the highlights and shadows
using Dodge and Burn. I’m Helen Bradley. Thank you for joining me for this video tutorial.
Look out for more of my tutorials on this YouTube channel. And please consider subscribing
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Lightroom, Illustrator and a whole lot more.