Some people have asked, “What is your process?”, and my answer is usually a confused jumble of “ink?” and “Photoshop?” which led a confused Army recruiter to thinking I did tattoos. I draw my comics on paper, but then scan and color them digitally, a hybrid process from my half-and-half degrees in graphic design and drawing.
Digitally coloring illustrations is something I had to glean over years of Google searches and Tumblr browsing, so I’d like to talk a little bit about it. The "How to Color Inked Line Art in Photoshop" by Matt Fox on DesignInstruct goes through the entire coloring process with detailed steps, and I'd definitely recommend giving it a look.
Here’s a sample page from The Girl Who Trod on a Loaf, with Inger studying a fateful stream in the woods.
1. Line Art: Actual physical media, scanner, Photoshop
My physical, on-paper, “original” artwork is done on Bristol board with Pigma pens. I scan them at 1000 dpi in grayscale, and adjust the Levels in Photoshop to isolate the black lines. Visit the Comic Tools blog by Matt Bernier for an excellent tutorial on scanning and editing ink line work in Photoshop.
2. Flats: Magic Lasso Tool, Paint Bucket Tool
Flats are weird, and the time it takes to make a scary-looking image like this is a little discouraging, but it saves time in the long run. The “flats” layer, which is made up of random colors, goes under the “color” layer in Photoshop. It allows me to select a block of color and fill it in on the “color” layer quickly and easily.
3. Colors: Magic Wand tool, Paint Bucket tool, Brush tool
Whew! Much better. Because of the “Flats” layer, I don’t have to color in each tree carefully with the brush tool, and if I decide to make all the trees one color and then change my mind, the “Flats” layer allows me to select them as separate objects.
The “overlay” layer is a paper texture I picked up off of lostandtaken.com, a library of free textures. The color of the paper warms up the other colors and smooths them together. I use the (lazy) Auto Tone tool to make the texture stand out a bit more, and adjust the Blend Mode and Opacity.
Have a great week!