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Colorizing B&W line art - How do?


What DOES my username mean...?
i'm one of those strange people who draw their stuff on paper first, scan, then "ink" on the computer; essentially drawing the same image twice. i used to outline my drawings in color, usually dark shades of whatever i would later color in. Because of my primitive technique, i kept running into issues with using the wrong colors on the line art, wanting to darken or soften the line art or having my colors bleed together by accident when using "multiple" layers. To avoid these issues, i thought, "screw that", and just outlined my stuff in black to be on the safe side but it just doesn't look as cool and soft as my old technique!!

How can i -if possible- color my line art AFTER THE FACT? i want to take already finished black & white lineart (with or without colored in cels on separate layers) and color it different colors at different sections without having to trace and line art all again. is there a way i can "colorize" my line art with a pen tool or something without colorizing the whole damn layer? There are images i want to redo with black lines on an otherwise transparent layer and some with opaque white. it all depends on which program i outlined my work in so i need methods that work for either or both types of layers.

i used to use Open Canvas for a similar effect when the layers worked differently in OC 1.1, which is what i preferred back in the day. Now i use OC 3.0 and Photoshop CS2. Paint.NET has a neat tool that has a "replace color" option but it looks hideous on sharp line art...

Any ideas?


I hope I understand you correctly...

Step 1: Get GIMP (it's free)
Step 2: Open your scanned image in GIMP
Step 3: Go to "Colors" at the top
Step 4: Go down to "Color To Alpha"
Step 5: Click "OK"
Step 6: Create another layer and slide it under that one
Step 7: Save as .PSD or whatever so you can colour in another program :)

If you want to alter the tone/colour of your lineart, maybe do that^ and then edit the colour of the line layer in Photoshop? (I'm not sure how that tool works, I'm sure its among Colour Balance or something)


Well-Known Member
Pretty easy, really.

(going with Photoshop, here)
That little checkerboard icon that is circled is a lock transparency button. Every layer that you add in a document is a transparent layer, with whatever pixels you add to it. Activating that button allows you to only affect the pixels without adding any new marks to the spaces you haven't drawn on. I use it all the time to re-color my stuff into black from whatever color I use for initial sketching.