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Video #13 - Coloring Cartoon Line Art in Photoshop

Some people use Photoshop channels to isolate the line work, making it easier to color only the lines. I have never really understood how to use channels. It's probably not very difficult, but I seem to have a mental block against it. Every time someone tries to explain channels to me, my eyes glaze over in my brain gets vapor lock.

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I have my own crazy system for isolating the line artwork: Use the magic wand tool to select the background (every thing that's not the line work)...
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...then use the invert command under the selection menu to invert the selection.

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Every thing that was selected is now not selected, and every thing that was not selected before is now selected. You know something is selected when it has those dashed lines moving around like marching ants.
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Now all of the line work is selected. Next, I use the eyedropper tool to sample the character's color off of the model sheets.
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When you're working on characters that have a consistent color design, you can't just guess at the color. It has to be perfectly on model 100% of the time.
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Now, when something has selection lines around it, that becomes the only area that can be worked on in Photoshop. If you paint over a selection, the paint will only stick to the area that is selected. So no matter how sloppy you are, it is impossible to color outside the lines when you're working on a selection. This is a great feature because it lets you color the line work really fast and loose, but it always looks perfect when you're done.
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The only dangerous thing about using selections is when you forget that something is still selected. If there is a small area on your canvas with a selection around it, you can't paint or draw or do anything else outside of that small selection area. This is one of the most common causes of "Total Photoshop Roadblock." Nothing seems to work anymore!
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So make sure to always deselect your selections after you're finished working on them. You can go to the Select menu and choose "Deselect," or the quicker ways to use the keyboard commands: Command+D on Macintosh, and Control+D on Windows.
next video coloring Spongebob digital painting tutorial video photoshop
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In case you missed them,
here is the COMPLETE list of all eleven
Adobe Illustrator
Cartoon Inking tutorial videos:
smaller YouTube version below:

...and of course the completed Nick Mag cover art is at:
SpongeBob and Patrick Blowing Bubble Gum Nick Magazine Cover art by Sherm Cohen
http://cartoonsnap.blogspot.com/2009/02/painting-process-spongebob-cover-art.html
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UPDATE: "Anonymous" left this super comment about this post:

"something you might find useful: There's a checkered button above the layer box, and when you click on it it locks all the transparent pixels, which allows you to paint the lines without going out of bounds without having to select everything."
Well, I tried it, and it works beautifully! In fact, it also solves that antialiasing problem, which means that working with antialiased line art will work after all! When I get a chance, I'll go back and put that info into the video ^_^
I love it when you guys share your tips!

7 comments:

Thunderrobot said...

I never knew about the 3x3 average setting. That's wonderful for reference images with JPEG compression on them. Thanks!

Tanya said...

Heh, I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one confused by channels. I figured them out once and haven't been able to figure them out again since. But at least now I can finally put the magic wand tool to good use (never really got the hang of it before). It's kind of funny, but I think our brains might function in a similar way. :o

I'm excited that we're getting into the coloring now; can't wait for the next one!

Anonymous said...

something you might find useful: There's a checkered button above the layer box, and when you click on it it locks all the transparent pixels, which allows you to paint the lines without going out of bounds without having to select everything.

Sherm said...

Hi Anonymous...that checkered button sounds like a GREAT feature...I can't wait to try it out. Thanks for the tip!

Sherm said...

Hi Tanya...so glad to hear that you found that one helpful. Check out "Anonymous"'s tip about the checkered button...sounds even easier!

Anonymous said...

I've been loving these videos. I have to ask, is there a reason you paint over the lines with the brush instead of just filling the selection with the foreground color?

Sherm said...

Hi Anonymous...good question! I use the brush because the lines are different colors. If I used the paintbucket, it would color every line the same. I suppose I could use the paint bucket along with some more precise selections...I'll try it on my next illustration job! Thanks!