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How to Color a Hand Drawn Picture in Photoshop

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This is an easy way to scan or take a photo of line art, adjust the picture, and color it. Once the image has been scanned or photographed, the first step is to open the image in Photoshop. Sometimes if the drawing is taken from a sketchbook, the image with be darker than you would like. One way to make the image clearer is to adjust the levels.

Import The Scanned Image into Photoshop

To the right-bottom of the Photoshop window there is a layer menu. Highlight the layer with your original image, and click on the level adjustment button. This creates a new layer and brings up a new window. In this window, you can change the white and black levels to make the picture more clear. I like to drag the white adjuster (the drag key on the right side) and bring it to over to where the white levels drop off. I then drag the black drag key (to the right) and pull it in to where the black level picks up. The black adjustment isn’t usually as drastic, so you just have to adjust it until you have something you want to work with. The gray drag key located in between the white and black drag keys can also be adjusted until you get a result you like.

Adjust the Black and White Levels of the Image in Photoshop

When you have an image that brings out the black lines the way you want, the next step is to make that layer Multiply. In essence, the Multiply adjustment makes any white in the layer transparent, while keeping the black intact. The more white, the more transparent – this is why adjusting the levels to make the lines more clear is important; it makes the colors you will be putting on more clear.

Make the Image Multilayer in Photoshop

Make sure you have selected the original layer with the line art, and go up to the drop menu that should say Normal on it. Click on it to open the menu and select the Multiply option.

Multiply the Layers of the Image in Photoshop

With the layer in Multiply mode, you can go ahead and create a new layer that will be for your colors. Make sure this new layer is below the line art layer. If it isn’t, simply drag and drop the layer until it is below it. As you can see with the big pink paint line, the lines are visible while the color comes through.

Create a New Layer for Colors

You can choose to color the image entirely in one layer, or use several layers. The hierarchy of layers will apply when coloring, so if you want a color below another color – like the blue to show up over the red – just make sure the blue layer is listed before the red one in the layers menu.

Use layers of colors to finish the image

All the layers below the original line art will show through, so you can add as many layers as you like.

Hand Drawn Captain America Colored in Photoshop