tools & tutorials

People have approached me with the same questions concerning my digital workflow, so I tried to slap together a few tutorials and provide you with a few (hopefully) handy tools for Photoshop. Please bear in mind, though, that all of the following can be done in multiple ways, so these are not the only proper paths to the desired outcome. These are simply knacks or methods I've learned over time (mostly through the hard way), and find useful myself.

I've saved all of the following procedures as Photoshop Actions behind quick keys to speed up the workflow and automatize what I can. You'll find my personal package for 2 € from the link on the right. Once I get the tutorials ready, you'll be able to learn the ropes here and record the actions yourself (and fine-tune them to your liking), though.

So, what's in the box:

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red out

Typically, I sketch with red pencil and ink over the artwork with pen and ink (ok, sometimes I use a light table, but that depends on the piece and purpose). I scan my original in color, 600 dpi minimum, and open the image in Photoshop. I then use Hue/Saturation to get rid of the red pencil in total, leaving me with only the inks. I then add a little contrast to get rid of most of the dust and specks, but the action ends here, so I am able to do the final tweaking by hand. 

Quick key CMND+F9

blue out

In case blue is more you, I created an action for all you guys, who'd rather sketch with a blue pencil instead (I switched over to red myself mainly because I noticed my scanner left more crap in the picture after I cleared the blue and cyan channels). In any case, same logic as above. Hue/Saturation and a slight Levels boost.

Quick key SHIFT+F9

convert to bitmap

I usually save the image into three files: the original flat version (which I can always access later), a layered file (with all the colors and whatnot available) and the final flat file for the client/print/purpose. If I'm dealing with black & white line-work, I first convert the scanned and cleaned image from RGB to grayscale, Threshold it, and then convert to bitmap for saving.

Quick key CMND+F8

extract grayscale

This is a little trickier than the Extract linework method, involving Alpha Channels and such, but in short this action separates a grayscale image on its own layer for coloring. This grants me the option to paint/color underneath the grayscale image and edit the color of the original linework. I'll go through this thoroughly once I get the tutorials up.

Quick key CMND+F7

extract linework

After I've saved the bitmap file, I save the image again in another folder reserved for the layered versions. I convert the image into grayscale, select the line-work, convert to CMYK and then fill it on a new layer. All flat colors, margins and such go underneath the linework layer. Having the linework on a separate layer also gives me the opportunity to color the linework to my liking.

Quick key CMND+F6

expand fill

This is another action I find handy, as sometimes the paint bucket fill just doesn't do the trick. This action expands a selection by two pixels and fills it. I've found this a lifesaver when working on flats and with slightly coarse or blurry brushes.

Quick key CMND+F1