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April 9, 2010
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So, now that I have a line I can be fairly settled with, its time to color. There are a lot of ways to approach this, but one of my favorites is to separate the ink layer and paint layer. This is my formula - it is for Apple computers, but I'm sure it works just as well for any Photoshop version. If you have better ways of doing this, by all means post a link to your particular formulas. I love learning different ways of doing these things.

These are the first steps. Next post will have the others.


Scan image at 300 DPI or higher in GREYSCALE mode. If the image is in color, you should convert it to GREYSCALE before proceeding

Optional step. You need a clean line against a white background. Pull down from IMAGE (top menu) and select ADJUST, then click on BRIGHTNESS/CONTRAST. Use the sliders to sharpen and define the line without losing too much of the look if it is a pencil drawing. Click OK when you are happy with the line work.

This is your big chance to perfect your drawing before getting into a mess later. Using PAINTBRUSH or ERASER tool, erase anything that you don’t want or add anything that is missing. Adjusting lines will not work well after this point.

Before proceeding, flatten your image. Label this single, remaining layer BACKGROUND.

Find the LAYERS box in the lower right of your screen. Click on the little black arrow in the upper right hand corner of the box, this will show a menu. Click on DUPLICATE LAYER… A box will appear and ask you what you want to name this layer, label it INK then click OK.

Be sure the INK layer is above the BACKGROUND layer.

Select the INK layer. Pull down from SELECT (top menu) and click on COLOR RANGE below it. The COLOR RANGE box will appear and a SAMPLED COLORS indicator will be apparent. Your cursor will now look like a eye dropper - use it to click once on any area that is clean white space: do not click on the line work. A little preview window will give you a rough idea which lines have been recognized. Now notice the FUZZINESS slider. Slide it back and forth till you are happy with the image in the preview window. (I usually slide it all the way to the right - Fuzziness 200) Click OK.

NOTE: After clicking OK in the last step, the lines on your drawing should now be stripey and moving - these will be the ink lines that float above the paint layer of your picture.

Go back to the LAYERS box and repeat the procedure in step 4. (The INK layer in the box should be highlighted before you click on DUPLICATE LAYER). When the box comes up and asks for a new name, label this one PAINT.

Now you have several different layers in the LAYERS box. You can click and drag them around to put different ones on top. It is necessary to keep the INK layer on top, then the PAINT layer under it, followed by the BACKGROUND layer that is left.

Highlight the INK layer in the LAYERS box and push the DELETE button on your keyboard. This deletes the white areas from the INK layer. I don’t know why but it does.

Notice the little human eyes to the left of each of the layers in the layers box. Click on the ones next to BACKGROUND and PAINT to make them disappear, leaving the only remaining eye visible next to INK. This gives you a weird gray checkerboard pattern on your image, this is correct at this point, it also reveals how your final line is going to look.

Go back to the LAYERS box, and with the INK layer highlighted, repeat the procedure in step 4 yet again, this time labeling this one CONTROL. Remember to keep the layers arranged with INK on top followed by PAINT then CONTROL and finally BACKGROUND on the bottom.

Now, while the CONTROL layer is highlighted, set your color palette to PURE WHITE. Choose the PAINTBUCKET from the picture menu, position it over any blank white space on the drawing. Click the PAINTBUCKET into any blank, white spaces. This should eradicate the little checkerboard pattern. Inevitably, the paint won't flow into every nook and cranny on the drawing, so use a big brush to wipe the whole thing thoroughly. Be sure no gray checkerboard is left.
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Boom4Box Featured By Owner Oct 8, 2012  Hobbyist Interface Designer
VitaminPK Featured By Owner Sep 26, 2011
This is amazing and has been very helpful. I would pay for a video tutorial of this process. Side note- You should make a font out of your handwriting, but I'm sure you've heard someone tell you that before.
Snigom Featured By Owner Sep 8, 2011  Professional Traditional Artist
There is another way to separate your ink from the page very quickly with little to no fuss.

1) Once scanned in, go into channels.
2) click the Circle icon at the bottom of the channels window. This will select your entire image.
3) Go back to layers and create a new layer.
4) Reverse the selection (Ctr+Shift+I)
5) Fill the layer with black.

Done. Now your inked image is off the paper in less than 3 minutes. :)
binaryrebel Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Here's a method for separating the lines from the background. It's called luminosity masking. You'll be able to select the blacks from the whites while preserving the transparency in the grays. You'll basically have the same result as with your color range step, but with better accuracy, as you'll get exactly what you see.

Here's how:
1. For this example I assume you have one layer with the B&W line drawing on it. The drawing is cleaned and adjusted with contrast, as you described.
2. Go to the Channels tab and Ctrl-click (or Option-click or so on mac) on the layer-thumbnail. There's only one layer in grayscale mode. You'll now see marching ants around the white parts in the drawing. Photoshop selected all the luminous parts, with varying dagree in the gray parts.
3. Inverse the selection. Now the line art is selected.
4. Go back to your normal layers and create 2 new ones. Now the fun part. Get the bucketfill tool, select the color black, and click somewhere inside the selection.
5. Lastly, deselect and fill the second layer completely with white. Delete the very first layer if you wish.

The lines are now separated from the background :)
Please ask if you have any questions!
womball Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2011
How are you getting such clean lines in photoshops though? Brush tool with a steady hand?
InnerBushman Featured By Owner Apr 5, 2011
For separating inks from colors and background i use GIMP's "Color to alpha" tool from "Colors" menu. You simply pick a layer, run the tool and pick a color that has to vanish. Since it's all B&W (grayscale) i pick white and the result is all that was black to stay. There is a slight opacity in the picture in places where the color was not perfectly black (gray is transparent) but i find it useful when i color "shaded" pictures ;]

Other technique i like to use recently is "Trace Bitmap" from "Inkscape vector graphics editor". Again, you select the bitmap (can be .jpeg .png .bmp etc) and run the tool. There are lot's of adjustments you can use for better results. You can perform that in color, gray scale or B&W for one color lines. The result can be exported to transparent .png or other formats.

Hope you find those methods any useful ;]
deepakvk Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
nice line art !!!!!
Arahiriel Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010  Professional General Artist
I love to see your whole process on this picture! :) Separating the lines is always a very important step. Thanks for sharing your way. I found also an informative tutorial about separating lines – it’s here: [link]
I tried this 2 times now and it worked great. :)
gabfury Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2010
Yeah, I usually either set the ink to multiply or do the channels method to get just the black... so fast and easy that way.

Beautiful work, btw... so glad you're continuing the tutorial! :)
TeapotMysteries Featured By Owner May 9, 2010  Professional General Artist
Hello you have been featured here [link]
please FAV the news and take a look at the new group :iconcraftychallenges:
A place to stay crafty. its a lot of fun!
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