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In this Photoshop for Designers course, Nigel French focuses on the tools and features in Photoshop designed for choosing, applying, and editing color. The course looks at concepts such as the color wheel and color harmonies as well as the practicalities of using the Color Picker, leveraging the power of color channels, and the characteristics of different color modes in Photoshop. The course includes exercises on correcting color, enhancing color, shifting and replacing colors, working with spot color channels, hand coloring black and white images, and designing with a reduced color palette.
Here we're going to see how we can turn this piece of line art into a piece of colored line art, very easy and very effective and pleasing technique. So this is our starting point. Firstly, if you've scanned this, or if you've inherited this from somebody else, maybe it's in the Grayscale Blend Mode, in which case it needs to be converted to RGB or CMYK. Possibly it's even in the Bitmap Blend Mode, in which case you'll need to convert to Grayscale and then to RGB or CMYK. Step number one here is, we need to clean up the outline.
If you've scanned a pencil sketch, this is particularly appropriate, you're going to find that you have dark and light gray lines and you want to simplify the line. We don't have too much of that going on, but the black outline is not really 100% black and the white area is not 100% white either. We can confirm that with our Info panel, if we move over the area of the petals. We're not seeing 255, 255, 255 for our Red, Green, and Blue values, which would indicate pure white.
Nor are we seeing for our outline, 0, 0, 0 which, would indicate pure black. So I am going to go to a Levels adjustment, and I'm going to bring my Black point towards the center, darkening up the outline, and I'm going to bring my White point towards the center, forcing the light grays to white. And we can just confirm that with our Info panel where we see the before and after colors. Very good! We may also need to do a little bit of repair on the outline, as we need to do right here.
Before I do that, I am going to merge the result of my adjustment applied to the Background layer, I'm going to merge into one layer, Command+Option+Shift+E, and then I'm going to turn off Background and Levels. We may never need those again, they're just there in case we do. So now everything is happening on Layer 1, and I'm going to rename this outline. I'm going to switch to my Brush tool by pressing B, change my Brush Blend Mode to Overlay, my Foreground Color to Black, and then I'm going to paint over that outline.
And you can see that darkens it up. Remember, what Overlay does is if it is darker than 50%, it will be affected by painting in black. If it's lighter than 50%, you can lighten it up further by painting in white. You may notice that when you look very closely, we see some color fringing on the outline. Obviously we don't want that, so another step is to desaturate the outline, like so. Our line art is now ready to be painted.
And to paint it, we are going to add the color on separate layers. So I'm going to add a layer beneath the Outline layer. I'm going to hold down the Command key, click on Create New Layer, and I could just paint this. I could just get my paint brush and start painting and that will work fine, and that's what we're going to do for the areas of smaller detail. But for the petals, for the larger area, I'm going to select it using my Selection tools, Quick Selection or Magic Wand. I'm going to use the Magic Wand in this case. And rather than select the petals, I'm going to select the background, and I'm turning off Anti-alias and I'm also turning on Contiguous.
So I want my selection to go all the way up to that black outline, so that now when I inverse it, I have a selection that includes that black outline. And that's important, because the black outline, when it sits on top of the painted area, will overwhelm it, and we want to make sure that we don't have any misregistration problems of the color going almost up to the outline but not quite. Now, I do have more selection there than I need, so I'm just going to choose my Polygonal Lasso tool here, hold down the Alt key, and get it nice and tight with that bit right there, surround that, and that's now removed from the selection. Okay.
I now need to just subtract this area in the center, and I think it's probably going to be just as easy to paint that out as using any other method. So I'm going to choose the color that I want to paint in, hold down Option or Alt and press the Delete key. And yes, we can see it there on the Layers panel, but no, no effect in the image itself. So I'm going to come to the Outline layer, and here's the most important part of this whole movie, and that is that, if you're working with line art and you want the lines to show through on top of the colors, use Multiply as your Blending Mode.
Multiply neutralizes the white, all we see are the black areas of the Outline layer. So I can now come into Layer 1, make sure you're on the right layer, and using my Eraser tool I can paint out the bits that I don't want. I'm not even going to do that yet. I'm just going to add another layer on top of Layer 1, and I'm going to choose my Brush tool and come and choose a color that I want to paint in. And that's just going to go right on top of the red.
We don't even need to delete the red. But I need to make sure my Blending Mode is set to Normal and not Overlay, because that's not going to work. So let me just go around these elements. I am working with a brush that is set to 100% Hardness by the way. I don't want to introduce any softening anti-alias lines to the edges. Where I've painted too much of that color, I can switch to my Eraser tool by pressing E. I'm using my Eraser in Pencil Mode, again, so that it is not anti-aliased.
Let's zoom in nice and tight so that we don't get any softening of edges. Just paint out those areas where I was a bit sloppy. And now another new layer, and basically repeat the whole process. Switch back to the Brush tool. And while it would be perfectly possible to select these by area using the Selection tools, I find for these areas of small detail it's more fun and just as quick, often quicker, to just paint them in by hand, especially if you have a tablet and stylus, which I don't at the moment.
I am just doing this with a mouse, but the mouse is perfectly up to the task for something simple like this. Again, you can fix up any areas where you went wrong using the Eraser. Now, all that remains to be done is for me to add the green of the stalk. I am not going to do that, but I am going to do this, just point out that once you have applied a color, it's very easy to change that color. If you need to paint more in that color, first of all, you might just want to turn off all other layers, Option+Click or Alt+Click on that layer, and then you can press I to go to your Eyedropper enabling you to sample that color and then go in and paint in that color.
Or if you just need to switch one color for another, make sure you're on the right layer, choose the color that you want to switch to, and let's go for a green there. And then the press Option+Shift+Delete or Alt+Shift+Delete, and that's what you'll get. And the reason that's working is that Option or Alt and Delete fills your layer with your Foreground Color. Holding down the Shift key is equivalent to clicking on this button to lock the Transparency.
I'm going to undo that, I don't like that as much. But very easy to switch your colors once they have been applied. So three points there. The first is that you need to take a little time to clean up your line art outline. The second is that you need to have the Outline layer above your color layers, and that it needs to be in the Multiply Blend Mode. And the third is that once applied, colors can easily be shifted or switched for other colors by locking the transparency of the layer and then filling that layer with another color.
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