E01LastFirst – Exercise One: Starting your Digital Painting


Go online using google images or Bing or Yahoo! search and look for a simple cartoon drawing done only in lines and black and white (see below). On the left side of the search engine in Google, choose a larger image size (see image below).

Once you have found a good image, click on it to see the full size image, then right click it with your mouse and Save As  temporarily to the desktop of your computer.

Now open Adobe Photoshop, finding it in the multimedia folder on the desktop of your computer. Once Photoshop is open, choose file- open (Want to practice the quick-keys? – press Control + O) and open the cartoon drawing you just downloaded.

Make sure it only a line drawing – no color or shading!

Once you have opened your cartoon image in Photoshop, click on the words “back ground” in the layers palette to unlock the layer. Re-name it “Line Art” and change the layer mode from normal (see below) to multiply.

Click on the new layer button in the bottom right side of the layers palette and create a new layer- call it back gound and fill it with white by choosing Edit – Fill – Choose Color.

Now use the navigator to zoom in (Z button for the Zoom tool) and check all the lines for breaks. Use the pencil or brush tool (just press the B button or select it from the tools palette) to fix all breaks! Any gap in your lines will make your job harder, so zoom in using Control and the + sign or the Zoom Tool, holding them down at the same time.

Also use the Eraser Tool (E) to remove any extra scratches or lines that may be left over from the drawing. Grey marks or smudges should be carefully erased. Leave only the solid black lines.

Choose one part of the drawing, and use the Magic Wand Tool (W), which you can find near the top of the Toolbar. Set the tolerance low and begin to select all the white empty parts of the section you have chosen. Notice the image below, some of the green pixels have been selected- the lighter green pixels. If you need to select all the green pixels, set the tolerance higher to gather more different types of pixels. If you only want a specific group of pixels, set the tolerance lower.

Set the tolerance higher to get all the green parts!

Hold down the Shift key when using the Magic wand Tool to add to your selection. Hold down the Alt key to take away from your selection. Make sure that you are only selecting the empty white areas between the black lines, not the lines themselves. Once your selection is complete, we will save it. Go to the top menu, click on Selection, scroll down and click Save Selection. make sure you title it what it is- if I am selecting and saving the selection for hands, call the selection “Hands” and make sure it is a new channel.

Now find the new layer button on the bottom right side of the layers palette, click on it and create a new layer, then double click the letters that say “layer 1” (or whatever number the new layer is), and change the layer’s name to the name of your selection.

If the selection was called “Hands”, then the layer will be named “Hands” as well.

Making sure that this new layer is selected you will now load the selection for “Hands” and choose a color to fill it so that this painted section is on its own layer. Be careful not to paint all your color onto the original drawing layer!

Now go through your drawing and paint each section on its own layer. Name each layer for what it is to keep your layers palette organized.

Finished painting each layer? Don’t forget to change the layer mode on your original drawing to “Multiply” and move it to the very top of the layers palette.

Here is the Tool Bar:

Remember, there are more tools hidden underneath the one you click on!

Summary of tools you need to know so far by the end of this exercise:

  • Magic Wand Tool (W) – Quick Selection Tool is hidden underneath
  • Brush Tool (B) – pencil is underneath
  • Eraser Tool (E)
  • Zoom Tool (Z) or use Navigator Window

The line art before painting.

Exercise Two: Now choose a more difficult version of some comic book line art, something with more lines and selections. Download your new line art and Open it in Photoshop, then save it as E02LastFirst.psd


Every time you finish with the Paint Bucket Tool, click on the small icon near the top of your layers palette to Lock the transparency ( see above).


Now switch to the Brush Tool, lower your Opacity and Flow to around 50% each (see above) and begin to shade the drawing!

E02Part Finished

Here is a partially completed painting with the legs and boots painted using the Brush Tool.

A good shaded drawing will have highlights, midtones, and dark shadows.



The finished work of art!

Save this new Photoshop image as E02LastFirstA.psd and make sure that the format is a PhotoShopDocument (.psd).

Want to learn how to reverse this process? To turn a photo into a line drawing? Try the tutorial here…


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