Ask one hundred digital artists how they color their comics and you’re likely to get one hundred different approaches. Based on a Twitter conversation I had with Tom Brazelton earlier this week, I decided to document my coloring workflow using Photoshop CS5.5.
First I make sure to keep my inks on a separate layer. I always color on a new layer underneath the “inks” layer to preserve the line quality of my inks. I also have the Anti-alias, Contiguous, and Sample All Layers options checked.
Next I use the Magic Wand tool in Photoshop to select areas of my drawing that I would like to color. For the Magic Wand tool, I use a tolerance value of 95. The number isn’t important as much as the reasoning behind the number. Simply put: the higher value of the tolerance, the more coarse the selection, meaning that the more pixels you’ll be able to select within a defined Magic Wand selection.
I first start in by coloring using a darker shade of the actual colors I plan on using.
Once all the dark shade colors have been applied, I duplicate the layer (Command-J) and use the Hue / Saturation Tool (Command-U) to adjust the lightness and saturation values.
This new color layer (light_colors) is a lighter shade of the base (darker) colors I started off with. (See below.)
Now I have two layers of colors. To make the shading appear, I use the Eraser tool to remove areas of the light_colors layer to reveal the darker colors that reside in the dark_colors layer.
Lastly, I select the inks layer and apply a Color Overlay effect, making the ink color slightly reddish (off black), warming up the overall ink color. Below is the final image.
Questions? Comments? Want to share your own digital coloring technique? Add your input in the comments below!