Sep 17, 2015

How to Color an Illustration in Photoshop

Anyone can be an illustrator in Photoshop! Learn How to Color an Illustration in Photoshop in today’s episode.

Start by downloading an image from a stock website like Fotolia, or scanning in your very own work! If you want to follow along with this episode, click HERE to purchase Fotolia’s pineapple.

Coloring in the lines

Let’s travel back in time to Coloring books and crayons….be sure to Color in those lines! To make this job much easier, use a Selection Tool to select just the Background of the illustration (this will depend on what type of image you have. If it makes more sense, feel free to select the illustration itself instead). Then, turn the selection into a Layer Mask. You will need to Invert the mask (Cmd/Ctrl + I) if you selected the Background originally. That mask will be applied to a group that holds all of your layers.

Now, when you paint on top of the image, you will only be able to color inside of the lines. Yay.

Time to have some fun! Select whatever color you want to start with and have at it! Your mask will restrict you to staying within the lines, but that can always be turned off. It’s also helpful to put each color you paint with on a different layer, so that you can go back in and edit them individually.

Highlight & Shade

Art tip #1: Figure out where the Light source is! We decided that on the pineapple, the Light/sun will be coming from the upper left corner. This means that the parts closest to that Angle will be the brightest and have highlights. It also means that Shadow would fall on the opposite side of the fruit. Highlights and Shadows will help to make your illustration look much more realistic.

We recommend using the color palette to use a darker version of your illustration Colors for the shading, and a lighter version for the Highlights. Using a dark color is much better than just using a grey or black.

Don’t Forget the Details

To add some really nice and subtle detail, we paint some reds and yellows over top of the pineapple and change the blending mode to Soft Light (this is on a New Layer). We do the same in the leaves of the fruit, and it makes the illustration much more interesting and dynamic!

Although we already painted in some general Highlights and shadows, some tiny little Strokes will add a nice effect too. We create a New Layer and Draw some tiny white highlights on the tops of the leaves and the round parts of the pineapple bumps. The same is done for the Shadows, by adding some Dark Strokes underneath the leaves and on the underside of the pineapple bumps.

That’s all there is to it! You can really have some fun with this technique, so don’t be afraid to experiment with crazy Colors and drawings!

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  • user image
    J. Gordon Betsill

    Aaron, I never find fault with your work, but, there is one tiny issue here that I would love to hear from you why you left the reflection of the upper lashes in the finished image. I was expecting you to get rid of the reflection but, horror of horrors, you didn’t. You normally explain your reasons for doing this or that which is often an education in itself.
    I am a huge fan of your work and I really don’t mean this to be disrespectful in any way.

    Many thanks,

  • user image

    This is Phlearn! I love this so much.
    I would love to learn from you how to do a hdr image ?

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    Carlos E. Read

    I would have liked it more if you added a SHADOW of the pinneapple on the background. But it was a fun tutorial, anyway! So, thanks!

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      Ramiro Lapico (the adobe guy)

      a shadow is easy just copy the pineapple and then put into a new layer. make it so the second pineapple is a siholuete (completely black) and then just adjust it so it is in perspective with the first pineapple. simple.

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    ben wright

    Thanks this is really handy and will help with my alevel grahics, please could you do more videos on illustration in the future, as this is the basis of my work. Please could you also potentially look more into the style shown by this artist Tim Dinter, as i am struggling to get the rough and sketch style on the image.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Color an Illustration in Photoshop

  • user image

    I found a line drawing in a yahoo search I would like to practice this on. But every time I try to select any color other than black or white. The color box turns to gray and will not allow to to change from that. any idea why. I am using PS 5

  • user image

    Even me understood this tutorial.Cool and simple.Afterall one just must remember,that all begins with LINES.

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Color an Illustration in Photoshop

  • user image

    This was really great! When I need to relax, I like to color mandalas in PScc, so learning how to shade will add depth to colors!

    Photoshop Tutorials: How to Color an Illustration in Photoshop

  • user image

    Oops! ‘Sorry about the horrid picture, folks. I guess I need to learn better how to place an avatar!! I thought is would automatically resize! “Those old people!”

  • user image

    I noticed the upper right hand side of the pineapple right below the leaf crown was not complete. Why did you not adjust the layer mask to include this?

  • user image

    I work with elements and in there I can’t make groups… also I tried it in CS6 and there it absolutely didn’t work for my linearts.. it just look terrible.. I just don’t understands what goes wrong.. (I mostly like to work with elements) my question is: how can I colour inside the lines easily? is there another way which also works for elements?