Tutorial: Adding Texture and Colour to Hand Drawn Illustrations in Photoshop

This tutorial gives a simple, quick overview of digital colouring techniques for beginners. There are many ways to get the job done, but this is my process for completing small illustrations.

  1. Get drawing! I’m making an illustration based on a weekly prompt for class. This one is a rollerskating cat. Decide what you will draw and what you will use to draw it. Pencil, pen or fineliners will all do.

Screen Shot 2016-11-11 at 2.56.52 PM.png2. Scan the drawing at a high resolution (I usually go for about 600 dpi) and drag your image into Photoshop. Duplicate your background layer and give it a name you will understand, I named mine drawing. Go to select>colour range and sample the white background and slide the fuzziness to around 100 and press okay. Hit the delete key to delete the background.


3. Create a new layer of white beneath your drawing layer using the rectangle tool (U). Erase any unwanted lines, dust or imperfections with the eraser tool (E). If your illustration isn’t dark enough then duplicate the layer and change the blending mode to multiply. After that you can highlight both layers, right click and select merge layers. Repeat this process until the illustration is dark enough for your liking.

screen-shot-2016-11-11-at-3-01-03-pm4. Adding texture to your illustration can give it more life and make it feel more natural. I scanned an interesting piece of cardstock at 600 dpi and placed it over my drawing. Tons of textures are also available for free online. Switch your blending mode to multiply and then lock the layer.

5. Create a new layer underneath your drawing layer and name it colours. Select the Lasso tool (L) and use it to trace around the area that you want to apply colour to. change your foreground colour to your desired colour and hit alt+delete to fill the area. To adjust your colours hit command+u which brings up the hue/saturation/brightness menu. Adjust the sliders until you’ve reached your desired effect. I changed the opacity of my colour layer to  70% so that more of the texture would show through. Repeat this step until you’ve covered your illustration sufficiently. Feel free to add highlights and shadows to your illustrations on separate layers.

6. At this point your illustration may be looking close to done. There are plenty of resources out there that offer up more specific techniques for illustrating in Photoshop. Consider checking out these tutorials to learn more:




I hope this helped for anyone who was curious about where to start when colouring drawings in photoshop!

Thanks for reading!



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