Coloring with Photoshop


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Coloring with Photoshop is really quite easy - all you need is some good line drawings and the willingness to learn how to take advantage of the power of the Photoshop brush dynamics.

They're the key, you know - the brush dynamics (F5) - especially when you have a Wacom Bamboo or Wacom Intuos pen tablet installed on your computer.  Your tablet can actually be an older Wacom product like the Bamboo Fun or an earlier Intuos.  

The version of your tablet doesn't matter - what matters is that the tablet drivers tell Photoshop that a pressure sensitive device is installed which opens up those really effective brush dynamics.

With the brush dynamics you can change the opacity and size as well as adding jitter to your brush strokes which does all kinds of really neat things with your artwork.

In addition to the brush dynamics, your choice of a brush will also have an effect on your project. 

It's easy to go with a round, soft brush but there really isn't much fun in that.  Photoshop includes some great brushes and there are thousands and thousands of places on-line where you can download interesting and unique brushes.

If you are a creative type you can also make your own brushes right in Photoshop.  

This tutorial will concentrate on the most useful brush dynamics to use when adding colour to a piece of line art - like this one ...


coloring butterfly


This great line drawing that was downloaded from Color You Own is a good example of what the brush dynamics can do.

Before I fully understood how to use the dynamics I would have painted this in solid colors using a soft round brush - it would look OK but would lack this more dynamic appearance.

Brush Dynamics

According to the Adobe Help files ...

"The Brushes palette provides many options for adding dynamic (or changing) elements to preset brush tips. For example, you can set options that vary the size, colour, and opacity of brush marks over the course of a stroke."

There's a Brushes Palette tutorial on my site.  The information you will find there will be repeated here plus there is information here that goes beyond the basics.

The brush dynamics are controlled in the Brushes Palette (F5) and it is included with all versions of Photoshop as far back as version 5  This means you don't need to have the latest and greatest version of Photoshop to colour with some really neat effects.

The two controls that create the biggest change with pressure when colouring line art are Opacity and Other Dynamics.

coloring butterfly detailThese are the two dynamics that created the colourfulful butterfly wings and the apparent shadings in the lilly pad and the water ....

Opacity
is self explanatory - the harder the pen is pressed onto the tablet the darker the stroke up to the opacity set in the options bar.

Color Dynamics - with light pen pressure the Background colour flows and as the pen is pressed harder onto the tablet the colour starts to blend into the Foreground colour.

Within Other Dynamics there are a lot of different controls called Jitter.  


Jitter


Everything that follows is based on a Wacom graphics tablet being installed (with the drivers, of course) on a computer.

Jitter is the amount of randomness in a brush stroke based on pen pressure.  At 0% the strokes are not at all random and at 100% they are completely random.  

Foreground/Background Jitter

At the top of the palette is Foreground/Background Jitter in Color Dynamics..  

coloring fore/back jitter coloring fore/back jitter 100%
Foreground/Background Jitter at 0% Foreground/Background Jitter at 100%

The difference in the strokes is easy to see.  With no jitter (0%) the paint changes smoothly from the background colour to the foreground colour as more pressure is applied - there coloring wingsis no randomness at all.

With the Foreground/Background Jitter at 100% the maximum amount of randomness is introduced and with full pressure on the pen the paint flows non-uniformly.  This creates a bit of texture in the brush stroke or a bit of chaos if you like.

Here is an example of Foreground/Background Jitter.  The wing on the left of the Butterfly has the setting at 100% and the wing on the right has the setting set at 0%.  The left wing has more texture than the right which is more appealing.

If this is the only thing you modify when you are colouring some line art it is an improvement over a solid colour.

Hue Jitter

Hue Jitter introduces randomness in the hues of the foreground/background colours

coloring hue jitter at 0% coloring hue jitter 100%
Hue Jitter at 0% Hue Jitter at 100%


coloring hue jitter example
The two examples above still have the Foreground/Background Jitter at 100%.  

The difference between 0% hue Jitter on the right wing and 100% Hue Jitter on the left wing is easy to see.  Hue Jitter introduces a lot of randomness, doesn't it?

Incidentally, the foreground and background colours are colors foreground and background



Saturation Jitter

Saturation Jitter introduces randomness into the saturation of the paint stroke.  This dynamic is more subtle than Hue Jitter.

coloring saturation jitter coloring saturation jitter 100
Saturation Jitter at 1% Saturation Jitter at 100%


coloring saturation jitter wingsHere is out little butterfly once again.  The left wing was painted with Foreground/Background Jitter at 100%, Hue Jitter at 100% and Saturation Jitter at 1%.

The right wing was painted with Foreground/Background Jitter at 100%, Hue Jitter at 100% and Saturation Jitter at 100%.

The right wing is more saturated with colour than the left wing. Of course, all of the settings can be modified between their minimum setting and their maximum setting.




Brightness Jitter

The last jitter is Brightness Jitter which introduces some randomness into the brightness of each brush stroke.

coloring brightness jitter at 0% coloring brightness jitter at 100%
Brightness Jitter at 0% Brightness Jitter at 100%

coloring brightness jitter wings
This jitter certainly darkens thing up in a dramatic way, doesn't it?  

Depending on the artwork being coloured the Brightness Jitter may need to be much lower than 100% as it is here.

It is also necessary to point out that all of the Jitters are at their maximum at this point.  In most cases they will be set at less than 100% for each of them.




Purity

color purityWhen the Purity slider is set to -100% the resulting paint stroke is a greyscale version of the foreground and background colours.  

At +100% the paint stroke is in full colour.  The three strokes in the sample are -100% on the top, 0% in the middle and +100% on the bottom.


Those are the most interesting and useful Jitter adjustments available when you are using Photoshop with a Bamboo or Intuos tablet installed on your computer.  All of these samples were done with an Intuos4 Medium tablet.


An Example


Here is another really nice piece of line art from Color Your Own.

coloring fairy queen


So - let's colour this line art starting with the wolf but first some suggestions ...

  • Don't be too concerned if you go outside of the lines of the line art.  When you are finished painting simply grab the eraser, zoom in tight and erase anything outside of the lines.

  • It really is advisable to create a new layer (and name it) for each element you are colouring. When you have completed an area (like the wolf in this case) change the Blend Mode of the layer to Multiply to add some punch to the layer - it brings out the line art.

  • Make a note of the foreground and background colours for each element just in case you want to go back and do some additional painting.

Wolf

colorizing wolfThese are the settings for the wolf:

Other Dynamics and Color Dynamics were both activated in the brushes palette.

Foreground colour RGB 113, 85, 50.
Background colour RGB 247, 221, 43.
Eye is deep blue but hard to see.

Color Dynamics adjustments ...

Foreground/Background Jitter - 100%
Hue Jitter - 0%
Saturation Jitter - 0%
Brightness Jitter - 49%
Purity - +100%


Getting the wolf just the way I wanted was really a matter of trial and error.

Fairy Queen's Dress

Here are the settings for the Fairy Queen's Dress:

coloring dressOther Dynamics and Color Dynamics were both activated in the brushes palette.

Foreground colour RGB 96, 127, 243
Background colour RGB 174, 159, 248


Color Dynamics Adjustments

Foreground/Background Jitter - 100%
Hue Jitter - 7%
Saturation Jitter - 0%
Brightness Jitter - 0%
Purity - +95%


Other Dynamics (Opacity) Adjustments

Opacity Jitter - 100%
Flow Jitter - 100%





Fairy Queen's Hair

Here are the settings for the Fairy Queen's Hair:coloring hair

Other Dynamics and Color Dynamics were both activated in the brushes palette.

Foreground colour RGB 239, 233, 197
Background colour RGB 250, 244, 153

Color Dynamics Adjustments

Foreground/Background Jitter - 100%
Hue Jitter - 0%
Saturation Jitter - 38%
Brightness Jitter - 0%
Purity - +95%

Other Dynamics (Opacity) Adjustments

Opacity Jitter - 100%
Flow Jitter - 100%




Fairy Queen's Steed

coloring horseHere are the settings for the Fairy Queen's Steed:

Other Dynamics and Color Dynamics were both activated in the brushes palette.

Foreground colour RGB 158, 115, 69
Background colour RGB 90, 42, 2

Color Dynamics Adjustments

Foreground/Background Jitter - 100%
Hue Jitter - 0%
Saturation Jitter - 15%
Brightness Jitter - 100%
Purity - +35%

Other Dynamics (Opacity) Adjustments

Opacity Jitter - 100%
Flow Jitter - 100%

The Steed's mane was Yellow with no colour Dynamics (it was unchecked) and the bridle and saddle are Purple with no Color Dynamics.




Tree and Leaves

coloring treeThe settings for the leaves:

Other Dynamics and Color Dynamics were both activated in the brushes palette.

Foreground colour RGB 47, 107, 3
Background colour RGB 50, 141, 18

Color Dynamics Adjustments

Foreground/Background Jitter - 100%
Hue Jitter - 47%
Saturation Jitter - 38%
Brightness Jitter - 10%
Purity - +95%

The settings for the tree branch:

Other Dynamics and Color Dynamics were both activated in the brushes palette.  The tree trunk may appear kind of strange with all of those colours but hey - how often do you see a Fairy Queen petting a wolf while she holds her horse?  

Foreground colour RGB 0, 0, 0
Background colour RGB 183, 164, 2

Color Dynamics Adjustments

Foreground/Background Jitter - 100%
Hue Jitter - 47%
Saturation Jitter - 38%
Brightness Jitter - 89%
Purity - +95%

Other Dynamics (Opacity) Adjustments for both the leaves and the tree trunk are the same.

Opacity Jitter - 100%
Flow Jitter - 100%


Fairy Queen's Skin and Tiara
coloring fairy queen
The tiara and arm bands are bright red with no brush dynamics and the skin tone is 

RGB 237, 207, 148.







The Final Image


Here is the final image after doing the colouring.  Each section was on its own layer so the final image contained 7 layers.


coloring final queen


This was a fun project and if you love colouring then you will really enjoy digital colouring with Photoshop.

So - being a fan of the Wacom tablets and having fun with this project I just had to do some additional work with the line art

Two earth tones were selected and Color Dynamics was selected to add the look of the ground to the lower half of the image

Some sky tones were added with two different shades of blue as the foreground and background colours and the Color Dynamics selected.

Here is the end result.


coloring final image


How about adding a gradient as the background?  The gradient is the very bottom layer so some changes had to be made to the original image.  

Any part of the art work that was not coloured was removed.  I used the Magic Wand to select the white portion and then hit the Delete key.  Areas that were not picked up by the Magic Wand were removed with the Eraser (actually, you could remove all of the white background with the eraser if that proves to be easier).

Here is the coloured artwork with a gradient ...


coloring fairy with gradient


The only thing that is missing in the project is a nice frame - that is the topic for another tutorial.

The Video



Brushes II - The Video





Page Links


Brush Dynamics

Jitter


An Example


The Final Image


The Video









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