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Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Aaron Bieber, I'm 18 years old (at least I am while writing this, it's October, 1999). I am currently majoring in Graphic Design at a local college here in Connecticut, USA. My intention in this article is to explain how to create a chroma-cell or animation cell effect in a drawing by using Photoshop 5.0 and some simple techniques. This is by no means the end all be all of photoshop coloring tutorials, however, I hope to introduce some solid techniques that will help you to do other coloring procedures in Photoshop and get good results.
Anyway, let's move on. I'm going to use one of the pieces in my Elfwood gallery to demonstrate my chroma-cell technique. I will show you the entire procedure, from scan to completion. Many of the procedures I follow could be done a different way, and I try to note that for you.
Step 1: Acquisition
The most important part of course is the drawing itself. I created a pretty rough pencil sketch, and scanned it into Photoshop using my UMAX Astra 1220S flatbed scanner at 300 dpi in grayscale (B/W Photo) mode. Make sure after you scan to put the image back in RGB mode. (Image | Mode | RGB)
As you can see, this is just a pencil sketch I scanned from a piece of xerographic (plain inkjet) paper on which it was drawn. One of the keys to getting good line quality from a scan is 1. the drawing is clear to begin with, and 2. use the Brightness/Contrast control in Photoshop (Image | Adjust | Brightness/Contrast...). Increase the brightness until most of the superfluous and unnecessary lines disappear, then increase the contrast to whatever level you're comfortable with. The idea is to isolate only the good lines, and keep them sharp and visible.
Step 2: Tracing
The next step is to trace over the lines in Photoshop. This is HIGHLY recommended, although quite painstaking. I use a Wacom ArtZ II 12x12 graphics tablet to do my tracing, which takes some of the stress out of it, however it is still no easy job. This process is the KEY to making a clean and crisp final product.
Personally, I invert my pencil drawing and draw the outline on a new layer in red. This helps me to see what the pencil lines look like but also to improvise, as you will see I have done.
You will notice first off that I have done some improvisation on the hair, I decided to make it stick up more. This is legal at this stage, remember, you're the artist. Otherwise, I've traced over my previous lines pretty well, trying to make the lines as smooth as possible.
For my brush settings, I use a 2 pixel 100% hardness brush with a spacing of 1 percent of the diameter. Here is what the dialog should look like:
Now let's get on with it....
Step 3: Moving on to color
In order to change your red outline to a nice black one, select the layer on which your outline is and click 'Preserve transparency'. Then press D followed by Alt-Delete. D sets your colors to default, black foreground, white background, and Alt-Delete fills the current layer with the foreground color (black).
Step 4: Coloration
Now comes the fun part. This is where all of your artistic technique will come into play, and it's the part I find the most fun. Each color has at least two layers, sometimes three, and in some cases even four. It depends on how far you want to take it. At the most basic level a color will have a 'base color' layer, and either a 'highlight' layer or a 'shadow' layer. Sometimes you will have base color, highlight, shadow, additional level of highlight, and specular for metal. This is quite extreme, the most layers I have used in this image is three per color. Each color has a base, highlight and shadow.
Let's begin with the hair color. I first began by filling the hair region with the 'base' purple color. Create a new layer, name it 'hair color' or something else appropriate by double clicking the layer in the layers pallette. Now make sure this layer is below the outline, it will make things easier. Some people say to use the magic wand. This is against my beliefs entirely. By using the magic wand, you do not select the entire region, as the wand is confused by the anti-aliasing of your clean airbrush lines. It yields a much better result to color the region by hand using the paintbrush or airbrush with hard edged brushes. I usually choose the smallest hard edge brush from the default brushes pallette and use the [ and ] keys to move left and right among the different sized brushes.
Once the base color is laid in, the highlight color is added. Create a new layer which is above the base color layer and name it 'hair highlight' or something similar. I use my tablet to improvise and edit the highlight shape on-screen, as I find it to be the easiest way. If you find another way to do it, by all means, do it that way. You have the option of pen paths or using the original scanned outline as a guide by hiding the base hair color layer. In any case, choose a direction for the light to be coming from (I use top left mostly), and keep your highlights and shadows consistant.
Obviously the shadow is next, follow the same procedure as the highlight.
Here are some helpful graphics:
Here is the relationship between the hair color and outline layers as described above:
Notice how the shadow helps to give depth to the underside of the bangs and the back part visible under the chin. This attention to the effects of light and shadow give a real bold three-dimensional look to a drawing. This basic procedure is repeated over and over (and over) until all the regions of the outline have been filled. What you get will hopefully look something like this:
I hope you enjoyed reading this little foray into the world of Photoshop and fake chroma-cells ;) It took me several attempts to get this basic procedure worked out and I highly recommend fooling around with your own techniques and procedures until you find one that gives you the results you want. I can ALWAYS be contacted via e.mail, I don't mind answering specific questions or helping people out with Photoshop difficulties or what have you. Feel free to drop me a line, Aaron Bieber.
Inside Adobe Photoshop 5.5 In Inside Adobe Photoshop 5.5, Gary Bouton's learning methodology is set up to give you hands-on experience with Photoshop's features, using either the imagery created in the book or the user's own. Gary goes well beyond simply reviewing the features and grounds his readers in the most practical and useful aspects of Photoshop-the real-world uses of this powerful program-before delving into the more complex, arcane, or esoteric uses of the program. Each chapter includes a balance of textual... read more
Adobe Photoshop 5.5 Classroom in a Book Designed to instruct you on the variety of tools available in Adobe Photoshop 5.5 that will help you produce sophisticated graphics for the Web and print. Each lesson provides step-by-step instructions for creating a specific project. Softcover. CD-ROM included.
Omg! This is exactly what I have been looking for....I understand how to use layers but I never know what to really name them and when I ask people they go, "I name them whatever I feel like" or, "I don’t really name them at all". This tutorial is great! Thanks a lot for taking the time out to make it. I shall now color away~! Thank u!
20 Feb 2008
wow this is old....cause the author is now 27 years old!!1
hi..i just want to thank you for this tutorial..it helps me a lot in my project.. we were required to use photoshop to render our work and i had no idea how to use it.. but thanks to this, i managed to do it..thanks again..
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