I’m warning you ahead of time, this tutorial will probably only do you any good if you have Photoshop, or some program capable of manipulating channels. It’s not difficult, but I’m going to proceed as if you have some knowledge of the program as well.
As you know, some people have a unique style to their art, and love to color with CG. However, if you have a particularly sketchy style, it can be difficult to get into all the nooks and crannies that stray pixels can hide. Scanned images always seems to have a white background, and it can be just as hard trying to track down and eliminate all that white sometimes.
Well, this tutorial is here to give you a way around that. It’s fairly simple to do. All you need (aside from appropriate software), is a black and white image. Even if it’s just pencil, this can work for you. You might have to adjust and darken your lines, if you sketch really light. I’m not going to get into how to do that in this tutorial.
First off, select your image. Our volunteer today is Mixik, my beloved little bunny boy. Long story, don’t ask.
As you can see, black and white image, complete with solid white background. Somewhat messy, still loaded with construction lines (note face), it’s a good candidate for this process.
First thing you want to do at this point is select everything in that background layer. The whole thing. Immediately after that, copy the entire layer. From here, you’re going to go over to Channels.
Depending on the mode you’re in (I tend to work in RGB) you’ll note all your typical channels. Leave them alone. Create a new channel, and paste that whole layer you copied into that channel. Once it’s copied, you’re going to invert the colors. Note below, you should get effect like in the second image.
Once finished here, you can return to Layers. Once here, hide your background layer. It’s so much easier to see what happens next when you do. Ah, yeah, create a new layer as well.
From here, you’re going to go up to the Select menu, and choose Load Selection.
You should get a new tab that looks like this:
Whatever you happened to name your channel (default Alpha 1) is the channel you want to select as in above. Hit okay, and you’ll find running ants scurrying about in the general shape of everything that was white in your channel. From here you can just fill the selection, and you should get a nice copy of your lines.
Relatively nice, anyway. If the artwork isn’t completely clean, the lines can bleed a bit, and might require a bit of additional cleanup. However, I find this to be so much better than trying to hunt out individual pixels before I even begin coloring. From here, you can just use your new line are layer as a template. My preferred method is to use layers underneath this, and just “color inside the lines”. It’s effective, quicker than my preferred method of line art…
And the best part, it can save that usually rather unique line art quality, and still have cool CG effects.
The image wasn’t colored all that in depth, but hopefully it’ll give you an idea of what I’m talking about.
No, go forth and make great works… or… something.