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.)
Positive and Negative Space in Illustrator
We all know that Illustrator is great for creating dynamic linework and wonderful shapes, but what about creating lines WITH shapes? You know, positive and negative space? Get what I’m saying? Picking up what I’m putting down? Smelling what I’m stepping in? If you’re still unsure, no problem. I’ll walk you through it, and by the end you will have another method to illustration in your repertoire.
Does this little guy look familiar?
Yep! He’s the mini version of the cosmic robot Buddha illustration I did for Weapons of Mass Creation Fest 6. This little dude also was featured on the WMC Fest 6 kid’s shirt.
Anyways, let’s get into it.
Pasted in the Illustrator artboard is the original sketch for my illustration. From this I outlined and created silhouetted shapes…
This layer is named “Positive 1” (as it says in the Layers Palette).
Next, a new layer was created (Negative 1). In this layer, I created the white (negative) shapes by using my original sketch as reference. It is at this point that the linework becomes defined.
My third layer (“Positive 2”) contains the last set of positive (black) shapes that sit on the white (in Negative 1 layer*).
*In my opinion, Negative 1 layer should actually only be named “Negative,” since there is not a “Negative 2” layer.
First making sure that my layers are unlocked and visible, I then select all my shapes, then copy and paste it all into a new layer (“Grouped”).
With everything selected, I use Pathfinder > Divide. This breaks down everything into separate shapes according to the intersecting edges.
By first ungrouping my illustration, I can now use the magic wand to select all the positive (black) shapes. I copy that, delete my all of my previous work, then do a Paste in Place, leaving only the positive shapes.
Your Fill will indicate that this has been done correctly if everything that is selected has black fill. No white (negative) shapes remain.
So why bother with this approach?
Honestly, it’s just matter of preference. For some illustrations, I’d rather just do the linework, yet there are some instances where it is easier for me to break it down (and build it up) through positive and negative space. I have also found that this approach enables me to translate my original line weights. The point is there are many ways to skin a cat. (Man…that’s a horrible expression. Skin a cat? Who does that? I don’t even…) Anyways, this is just another method of creating linework in Illustrator. In fact, I used this method a lot in creating the Iconic Cleveland Vector Pack.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Now go out and draw some cool shit.