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Fantasy Art Tutorials in the FARP Section

Layering in Photoshop

By :-) Liz Chesterman

This technique should work in Photoshop versions from at least 4 and up. 

So you have some line art and you want to layer it, or in other words, have the lines by themselves on one layer so you can put colors underneath. With this technique if you want to color your lines or play with them in some manner without interfering with any othe rpart of your image. Should your line art not be as contrasted as you like, check out Image -> Adjust -> Levels and play with the sliders until you you get the amount of contrast you like.

The anime caricature is Taylor Hord, fellow Elfwood artist.

Anyhow, here's my ready-to-layer line art. Head on over to the Channels pallet. Both greyscale and RGB work for this. Just remember, don't flatten when you change to RGB mode later if you started in Greyscale.

Anyway, hit the little dotted circle on your channels pallet, which will select the white parts of your image fully, the grey parts partially, and the black parts not at all.


Hit the little dotted circle on your channels pallet, which will select the white parts of your image fully, the grey parts partially, and the black parts not at all.


Going from

<=- to -=>

you only have to hit Ctrl/Cloverleaf+Shift+I
Select -> Inverse.

Now your blacks are fully selected, your greys still partially, and your whites not at all.


On your Layers pallet, hit the little button that looks like a piece of paper with a folded corner. This makes a new layer. (Or Layer - New -> Layer, or Ctrl/Cloverleaf+Shift+N, Enter.)

You will be put on the new layer automatically. (Note: Your document's bottom layer is probably 'Background,' not 'Layer 1.') If your default colors aren't already black on white, then hit D on your keyboard, then X to switch them.


Now, Ctrl/Cloverleaf+Backspace will fill black in all your fully selected areas, grey in partially, whites not at all. (See the correlation?)

You can deselect, then go back to your background layer, hit X again to switch your colors back, and Ctrl/Cloverleaf+Backspace to clear your background with white, or any other color of your choice. (Whatever color is in your bottom color box will be the fill color.)


If you like, go back to your layer with the lines and rename it 'lines' or whatnot, and hit the Lock / Preserve Transparency box.

This means anything on the layer is locked so you cannot make new marks; only work with what is there. (Thi is what makes it easy to color the lines later.)

You're all set now. Just add another new layer above your background and below your lines, and you can start coloring.

FARP Article Guestbook

24 Jul 200545 Joiku <perhospaimen@hot...com>
Hi! I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for making this so simple and clear. Now I finally figured out how to color a handmade lineart. Searched throught a bunch of tutorials but didn't understand a bit of them. I'm glad you made this. Again, thanks! *heart*
6 Oct 2006:-) Marika Viklund
Oooh! I think I almost understood it! Now goin' to check if I can do this in PS 9! Arrgh... I have never used Photoshop before at all! It's so complicated, so thank you! This is very helpful! 2
27 Apr 200745 Anonymous
If I can answer a few people's questions...

- Photoshop Elements (at least my version) does not have a channels palette, sadly. This technique only works in real photoshop.

- Using 'multiply' works fine, but it means you can only really have one layer for your colours. This technique is great because you can have multiple opaque colour layers overlapping each other underneath your lines

- To add a layer 'above your background and below your lines,' click on the background layer and then create a new layer (shift-control-n)

- I believe that only Mac keyboards have the 'cloverleaf' key. If you're using a PC, just use select-inverse.

... And that's all I've got for the moment.
9 Apr 2008:-) Ryan Corwin Costal
what the heck is clover leaf?
10 Dec 2008:-) Rebecca Marie Methven
I know how to create a new layer and all but I’m having trouble with the colors, I have Photoshop Elements 7.0 so it’s similar, but I can’t get black to work out in my layer, it comes out a VERY light gray, anyone know how to fix this??
13 Jan 200945 Anon.
Cloverleaf is the windows symbol button on your keypad. 12
29 Jan 2009:-) Pia ´goldfingered fighter´Jander
I’m not sure if I’m smart or everyone else dumb, but I love it.
Thanks. It helped me alot 2
17 Mar 2010:-) Hayley M Lazo
Ooh, I never realized that you could use channels to make a selection. Nifty! I find it simpler (and this works for ANY Photoshop) to move the sketch (white b/g and all) to a new layer and just use the background eraser to eliminate the pure white. And it always helps to fiddle with the lightness (CTRL L) to make a sketch darker first.

So ’cloverleaf’ is another word for the ’command’ key on Macs. The symbol kinda looks like a cloverleaf or celtic knot.

And be sure to change the image mode to RBG color if you’re going to add color.
25 Feb 2011:-) Claudio Ranieri
Always something usefull in these tutorials, and the ease of it all thanks again
19 Sep 201145 BOB CHEEASE
brilliant work my dear!
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