Manga colorisation tutorial – Part 2 : How to do pretty line-art

Note : This is the translation and improvement of the second part of a french tutorial I wrote in May 2008. You can download the original one here.


For this tutorial, you’ll need to have basic knowledge on how to use the pen tool as well as a good understanding of how layers works in Photoshop.

Your pen tool must be set up like this

A smooth line-art is a big part of what makes a good colorisation. This time your scan quality doesn’t matter because we’re going to redraw all the lines!

For this tutorial, the exemple will be Kaguro from Kekkaishi !

Preparing the process

Open your document. If needed, switch it to RGB color mode (Image > Mode > RGB colors).

Create 2 layers :
– A completely white one, placed under your scan layer.
– An empty one : let’s call it “line”. It will come on top of your “scan” layer.

Tip : You can lock layers you’re not using to prevent any mistakes. Just click on the black padlock.

This is how your layer panel should look like !

Draw the lines

Select the line scan. Now, use your pen tool and create a path by following the lines.

If you can’t see the path created by the pen tool well enough, you can reduce the opacity of your “scan” layer.

When you’re done, select the brush tool and take the 1px basic brush. Switch back to the pen tool, right click on your drawing and choose “Stroke path”.

Some tips :
– Make breaks while using the pen tools. Check often if your lines are correct by stroking the path.
– Usually, I draw 1px line for everything. But you can draw 2px outlines and 1px inlines to give more volume to your line-art.
– You can simulate the pressure. If you do that, stroke path twice : one time 3px basic brush pressure simulation, second time 1px basic brush no simulation.
– Color your line-art by pressing the pixel transparent locker.

Click the first locker to color your line-art
The final line-art !

 This method is not specially faster than the previous one. It really depends on the original drawing.

Have fun with the colors now !

Final colorisation !