How I do/use Color Holds
alrighty, now to some actual techniques since I’m close to being caught up. With the methods I’ve shown you so far, you’ll have a lineart layer (black lineart on a transparency) and your bottom layer for coloring on. In the last few years with advancements of printing and computer coloring, color holding has become a very common practice, where the black lineart is colored to add depth to a picture. Generally by making the background elements a lighter color (receding from view) which is done superbly here. It is also used to make special effects such as Cyclop’s eye beam, Green Lantern’s contructs, etc. stand out and look unique.
I’ve always thought the reason for the popularity of it is because of works by Alphonse Mucha. Especially with fans of his work such as Adam Hughes really coming to light during the digital coloring age. But I digress.
Let’s use my recent OHOTMU Redux submission for She-Hulk. My original lineart for this was solid black 100%, but I colored in the lines below her eyes and her nose to make them not as prevalent.
Selection Tool Tips
Here’s a few guidelines on how to maximize the use of your selection tools. This may seem like a strange tutorial since it should be a no brainer, but there’s definitely some tricks worth knowing. Hopefully these will help speed up flatting time as well!
How to use a Channel instead of layers
Layers in photoshop are RAM hogs. You essentially are laying picture on top of picture on top of picture when you add layers. Sometimes it is necessary, but more often than not, you should be able to create all of you artwork using just one layer for your colors, and a channel for flats.
If you google “photoshop coloring tutorial” you will see tutorial after tutorial advising you make a background layer, a layer for…oh we’ll say Spider-man’s lineart, one for the blue in his costume, one for the red in his costume, one for the white eyes, one for the background, one for green in the green goblin, one for the purple in the green goblin….and then going back and rendering/shading EACH LAYER.
And there’s no need for this. Let me explain it to you this way. That’s like me writing this blog post but only doing the words that start with D, W, A and S first. Then, stopping to make each bolded, italicized, underlined version of those words an the fonts/size staring with D, W, A and S before moving on to F, G, U and P words and repeating my way through the alphabet.
Pretty silly right? It makes more sense just to type the whole thing out, type every word, save a rough draft either here or on a notepad, and then go back and make my changes or edits right?
If you can grasp this, then let’s make some art :D
Here’s an oddball one that comes up on occasion - there’s a little button at the bottom of the tool bar called “Quick Mask”. It throws red all over your picture and it’s function is not clearly defined.
Essentially, Quick Mask = Frisket.
Like you may have noticed before when experimenting with channels, the selections you make are actually channels added to the main ones temporarily. The Quick Mask is a visual selection tool, using only the black and white colors, but black is fill, white is cuts.
Using the Rogues picture, here’s an example of how you can use the Quick Mask to add effects. The top left is the picture in regular mode. The top-middle is when entering the quick mask mode, and filled with black (outputs as whatever your quick mask color is, generally red so you can see through it). The top right shows a selection being made…
Bottom left hand side is after the selection has been filled with white (or cut) and a gaussian blur has been applied. Exiting the quick mask mode and inverting our selection allows us to apply effects to every area but the middle part, in this case desaturation. On the bottom right is the same selection but with a texture overlay.
There a TON of cool effects you can apply using the quick mask, hopefully this will make sense and it’ll become something you can add to your toolbox!
This post is going to be HIGHLY subjective so I will not go into great detail with some of the recommendations or supply a tool file for download, but I just wanted to briefly speak about what tool settings I use in photoshop. Unless otherwise stated, the settings such as noise, shape dynamics are the default. I recommend trying them and out and saving them using the New Tool Preset if ya dig!
Here are a selection of Shortcut Keys for use in photoshop (some in Manga Studio) that i use on a near daily basis.
Ctrl+A Select all
[ and ] increases/decreases your brush size
Ctrl and + or - is zoom in or zoom out
Ctrl+F apply last filter
Ctrl+J create new layer via copy
hit / to make the layer lock transparency
Alt + Del - fill with foreground color
Alt+lasso click - When using the lasso tool, instead of going micron by micron and stressing about it, you can switch the setting to magnetic lasso by holding “alt” when clicking. That way you can go by points you click instead of developing carpal tunnel slowly selecting things.
Shift + lasso adds to a selection
alt + lasso (prior to selecting) will make it unselect or cut from a selection
D by itself reverts your color selection to black and white
Ctrl+N new image
Ctrl+Shift+N New Layer
Ctrl+E merge current layer with one below
Ctrl+Shift+E merge all visible layers (if your base layer is not called background you will have to manually flatten in the layers if saving as a JPG)
and of course
Ctrl+S to save
and my all time faves
Ctrl+Z to Undo
Ctrl+Y to Redo
I have my tablet’s (I use a Intuos btw) top button set to keystroke Ctrl+Z and the one below that to Ctrl+Y as a time saver. The front button on the stylus is set to erase which I find is very convenient.
MANUAL Lineart Action Creation *updated 06/04/12*
OK HOPEFULLY you won’t have to do this but if you have to create the lineart preparation macro from scratch, here’s how you do it. Note: This is for the LAYER based lineart method so if you prefer channels this won’t work for you. The goal of this is to end up with a lineart on a tranparent layer, that you can perform color holds on.
First and foremost is the lineart preparation. You’ll see methods or read about how the black lineart needs an undertrapping of gray so your colors will always line up and not have white creases touching the line art. This is crucial, and here’s a tip
This is the lineart Macro - copy, and in most modern versions of photoshop you can click and drag these to the action menu and it’ll self install! These were recorded using photoshop’s actions and saved as “lineart prep”. What this does is make a lineart layer w/the trap built in, on a transparent layer. 30 steps you can avoid by using a macro.
Note - in CS5 and some other versions the last 3 steps will say “action not available”. Just hit continue, skip these steps and you’ll get your lineart either way, but you will have to have to delete the spare black copy channel manually. Shouldn’t be a biggie!
I will put the step by step of this method next if you’d prefer not to trust a stranger online!
The “Junk Copy” step - first things first
Most versions of photoshop are not set up for print right out of the box. Since it works within a digital space it’s output will draw all 4 of the color range of CMYK on all channels, but for PURE black line art it can create either a muddled tone when mixed with color layers, or mess up the effectiveness of your selections.
This is a tip I was advised while working for a newspaper a few years back, and have seen in a few other books about photoshop. Some have a macro to do this but I’d prefer to not repost someone else’s tools. You only have to do this once unless you reinstall photoshop, change PC’s, etc. I recommend using a test image.
If you click on any channel of any image and look at the channel options. If the “selected areas” shows a black box and set at 100 % you can skip this.
Open a CYMK BMP with some black line art on it. Open your channels, and duplicate the black channel and name it Black Copy. On every channel except for the Black Copy - fill with white. Go to the black copy channel and select channel options. If Masked areas or Spot color is selected, change to Selected Areas.
Change the opacity to 100%, and click the color to bring up the color picker. MANUALLY change the CMYK settings to C-0 M-0 Y-0 AND K-100. Hit Ok. This next part will make no sense but hey it’s adobe. Save the document to your desktop as “JUNK COPY” and select TIFF as the format. Close photoshop, delete the junk copy from your desktop, and reopen photoshop. Make sure your channel selection has selected areas 100% black and you will NEVER have to do this again unless you change photoshop versions or computers.