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How to master digital coloring techniques in Photoshop

How to master digital coloring techniques in Photoshop

Adobe Photoshop is a very flexible program. You can use Photoshop to do many things, such as edit photos, create digital artwork, graphic design, the Internet, and even edit videos. If you want to learn how to master digital coloring, Photoshop can also help you.

There are many good reasons to learn this technique with Photoshop. Users can try many different variations, easily correct mistakes, and effortlessly create multiple versions of the same drawing.


There are three ways to create a rough drawing to practice your digital coloring skills:

1. Vectorize an available drawing

If you are more comfortable drawing on paper, do this, then scan the image and open it in Photoshop.

The page needs to be lightened and the lines darkened. The best way to do this in Photoshop is to use the Levels tool. Go to Image> Adjustments> Levels or use the Ctrl / Cmd + L shortcut.

Drag the dark marker from left to right to darken the lines, and hold down the left marker to lighten the page. Readers can look in other YouTube guides for tips and tricks on scanning drawings in Photoshop.

2. Creative Commons Images

If you just want to practice, readers can use Creative Commons images found online. There are many sites with rough drawings that you can use for free, such as Pixabay.com.

If you find online adult coloring books, you can also practice coloring in Photoshop in a huge photo gallery.

3. Create digital drawings.

If you have a graphics tablet, such as a Wacom tablet or even an iPad Pro, you can draw a digital image from start to finish.

If you’re just starting out, readers can refer to courses on how to improve your digital art techniques.

Draw correctly along the lines.

Now you have an image you want to color. The most important tip to learn in Digital Coloring is how Photoshop can prevent outline coloring.

First, open the image in Photoshop, create a new layer by choosing “Layer”>”New Layer” or using the Ctrl / Cmd + N key combination.

If the image is a background layer, it will be locked (that is, you can’t color it). Go to Windows> Layers to open the Layer panel. If you see the lock icon next to the image layer, it is locked in place.

Click the lock icon to unlock it, and drag layer 1 below the image.

Select the layer containing the image and set the blending mode in the Layers panel to Multiply. This will ensure that the color you added to layer 1 is displayed.

Select the Magic Wand Tool (shortcut W) and make sure that the layer containing the image is still selected. In the image used as an example from Pixabay, the author clicked the Magic Wand Tool on the white background around the skull.

This selects the entire image except the skull. Go to Select> Inverse or use the keyboard shortcut Shift + Ctrl / Cmd + I. This inverts the selection, so that your entire image is now selected.

At this point, select the Brush tool (shortcut B), select layer 1 and start coloring, and users will see that the color matches the drawing lines. But take one more step to make sure that you don’t need to repeat the steps above so that the color doesn’t go beyond the lines.

Select both layers and press Ctrl / Cmd + G to group them together. Make sure that you select the whole group and create a mask by clicking the “Mask” icon in the Layers panel or by choosing Layer>Layer Mask>Show Selection.

The “Layers” panel will be similar to the following. The background will be black, and the area containing the image will be white.

Now select the “Brush” tool, choose a color, and start painting on layer 1. Can’t paint anything but the original version.

You can also get creative with the brushes to make the colors look more realistic. There are some pretty useful options in the program, but you can always install more brushes in Photoshop.

How to avoid mistakes?

If you want to use multiple colors in an image, enlarge the image. Expand the different areas to provide more control without allowing colors to overlap. You can also increase and decrease the size of the brush with the [ (decrease) and ] (increase) shortcut.

More importantly, users should create a separate layer for each color used. Create additional layers with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl / Cmd + N.

That way, if you make a mistake and want to remove brushes, you can use the History Brush tool (Y shortcut) without worrying about accidentally removing too much detail. You can also remove the entire layer without affecting other colors.

If you want to avoid overlapping colors entirely, you can use many selection tools. The “Quick Selection” tool and the “Magic Wand” tool (using the same W shortcut) are useful for quick selections if the image has lines and clear parts. Just make sure that you have a layer containing the image selected when using these tools.

Otherwise, you’ll have to make the selection manually using Polygonal Lasso (shortcut L).

Note. To make multiple selections in different parts of the image, hold down the Shift key on your keyboard and click the area you want to select.

Adding shadow to the image

If you want to add depth and shading to your image, it’s best to create additional layers for shadows to easily remove unnecessary extra detail.

Select the colored layer to add shadow and create a new layer using the Ctrl / Cmd + N key combination. This way, a new layer will be created just above this layer.

Use the “Pipette” tool (shortcut I) to select the color in the image for which you want to add the shadow, and open the color palette. (You can also open the Color panel for faster access by choosing Window > Color.)

Users can then choose a darker or lighter color than the original color. Choose where to place the shadow to make the image look as natural as possible.

Multiple shades of the same color can be used to add depth to an image.

digital coloring

Add a background color

When coloring images, you can easily add a background color with a single click. Collapse the group with the image, mask, and color layers, then click anywhere in the Layers panel to deselect the group.

Create a new layer with the Ctrl / Cmd + N shortcut.

Select the color you want to add to the background and choose the Fill tool (shortcut G), then click anywhere in the background to colorize it.

You can also consider creating a template in Photoshop for later use.

Quick color change

After coloring, you can quickly change colors using one of the following two methods. Note that you can change all colors at once or one color at a time.

To change the color of an entire image once, click “Picture”> “Adjust”> “Hue/Saturation” or use the Ctrl / Cmd + U shortcut. If necessary, adjust the three sliders to change the appearance of the image. Hue will change the actual color, Saturation will change the color intensity, and Brightness will make the image color lighter or darker.

If you want to change a particular color of the image, click Select > Color Range. This will open the control panel and activate the eyedropper. Use the eyedropper tool to select the color you want to change. All parts of the image with that color are highlighted in the control panel.

Note. You can select more than one color at a time by clicking the “Pipette” button with the plus sign next to the Color Range control panel.

Click OK, and any part of the image containing that color will now be selected. Use the Brush or Fill tool to change the color.

If you don’t want to pay a monthly fee to use Photoshop, readers may want to consider alternatives to Photoshop, but won’t necessarily find powerful tools similar to those in Photoshop.

If you want to create a drawing from start to finish on your computer and are looking for a more advanced coloring process, you can use MS Paint to draw. GIMP also has some useful features to think about.

Also, if coloring is just for fun, you won’t even need a computer. Instead, consider a coloring app on your iPhone or iPad.