Black and white linework is always nice, but sometimes a bit of color is needed to add a pinch of visual flavor to your delicious illustration soufflé . (Hooray cooking metaphors!) Let’s get into it and show you how to color linework in Photoshop.
I’ll be using the heroic imagery of this guy doing a Shoryuken. (I drew him at of the Cleveland Drink and Draws, a social meet up for artists, illustrators and doodlers to hang out, drink some beer and draw cool shit.) As you can see, it’s just a graphite pencil drawing, so while the majority of it is linework, there are some tonal gradations.
The first thing to do is to darken the drawing in the Levels settings (Image > Adjustments > Levels). Just don’t make it so dark that you’re losing detail. This will help in selecting the values of the drawing.
Next, open your Channels palette and hold down CTRL (or Command) and click on the RGB layer. If you’re in CYMK color mode, click the CYMK layer. Notice that the everything around the drawing is now selected, but it’s the drawing itself we want selected. Go ahead and simply inverse the selection via Select > Inverse (Shift + CTRL + I).
With the drawing selected, create a Layer Mask by clicking its icon, which is next to the Layer Style (fx) icon in the Layers Palette. You’ll notice that all of the white disappears.
Choose a your favorite color, select the Brush Tool (B) and color over your drawing. Because the Layer Mask is activated, it will only affect that which was selected (the drawing).
I went ahead and added a few more elements: a radial background using a vector from one of the Arsenal vector packs, a faint texture layer and the word “WIN.” And listen, if you don’t think you can do this, remember to tell yourself: SURE YOU CAN! (Shoryuken.) Get it!?
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. That joke isn’t even original and rather old. But oh well. Hooray puns!
Tune in again next time! (“Next time” meaning a week from now.)