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Preparing pencil sketches using Channels in PhotoShop

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First off I’d like to start off with a quote from one of my instructors in college about working in Adobe PhotoShop. He said “There are a thousand ways to solve the same problem in PhotoShop”. This statement is 100% true. I know there are so many other ways to accomplish a nice clean line drawing but here is the way I’ve found that works best for my work flow.

When starting its best to understand how you work. For me, I do my pencil sketches with a blue non-photo reproducing colored pencil. It helps me get the gesture of the drawing down before going in with a pencil to tighten up my lines. Knowing that I scan my sketches in color (RGB) at 300 DPI or PPI. I know some artists also use red colored pencils for their under drawings and this process can also be done with a red colored pencil but for this tutorial I’m going to just concentrate on removing the blue line. Now that the sketch is scanned and saved to my computer, I open it in PhotoShop.

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Having started with a blue line I need to now remove it. I start by adjusting the hue/saturation (Image > Adjustments > hue/saturation) With the hue/saturation dialog panel up you will see a drop down menu set to “Master”. On the “Master” setting drop the saturation all the way down to -100. Then go to both the “Cyan” setting and “Blue” setting and adjust the brightness all the way up to +100. Now to adjust the levels of the drawing (Image > Adjustment > Levels) until the image looks right. One of the goals of this is to get a nice crisp white background.

To get the gray lines on their own layer there are many ways to do this. For instance, you could create a duplicate layer of your sketch and change the layer blend mode to “Multiply” and paint on a layer underneath. This way works fine but when I’m coloring I like to have control of all my lines and its hard when the drawing is surrounded by white. You will see why in a few steps. Continue reading