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Painting a Line Drawing with PSP
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Painting a Line Drawing in PSP
Created by: Rosebear

This tutorial shows how to paint a line drawing and give it dimension by adding shading with our airbrush tool. The download file contains the images needed to complete this tutorial.

To paint a black and white line drawing from the very beginning would take more time than we have in class. At the end of this lesson you will find the steps needed to color a line drawing.

We will begin this lesson with the colors already in the drawing.

Open and use the colored image 'bear-wrking.psp' for this lesson.

Duplicate it by pressing [shift] + [d] to preserve the original. Close the original.

(Note: The original line drawing '/tutorial/html/tutbasic/bear_lines.gif' (shown above) is also included so you can try your hand at working from scratch.)

Also open the color palette 'Irish Bear Palette.psp' for this lesson. The palette is set up so that the color chosen for shading is directly beneath the main color.

Select your Airbrush tool with the following settings. These will remain the same throughout the lesson. The only thing we will change is the size.

  • Shape = Round
  • Size = 50
  • Hardness = 0
  • Opacity = 65
  • Step = 25
  • Density = 25

Click on the Magic Wand tool on your tool bar.

  • Match Mode = RGB Value
  • Tolerance = 10
  • Feather = 0

Click on the top of the hat to select it, and make a new layer named "hat top."

Select the Brown for the Hat Shadow (Dark Brown beneath the Hat Brown). Use the Dropper Tool and set Foreground To Dark Brown (left click).

Click on the Airbrush tool and shade the edges of the bear's hat. Let the "paint" build up a little more beneath the shamrock. Notice how the shamrock isn't being painted at all?

Apply Gaussian Blur:
Effects || Blur || Gaussian Blur with Radius = 8.00;
Click "Ok"

If there is enough shading to suit you, deselect. If not repeat the step. Remember, Undo is your friend!

Repeat this process for the brim of the hat.

  • Highlight the Merged Layer
  • Use the Magic Wand and Select the Brim
  • Create a New Layer, name it 'Brim'
  • Use the Air Brush with the Same Dark Brown
  • Use Effects || Blur || Gaussian Blur with same values
  • Use [Control] + [Z] (Undo) until you have what you like
  • Deselect: [Control] + [D]

Repeat the process for the face of the bear. Let the paint build up a little extra where the bear's face would have a shadow from his hat.

  • Highlight the Merged Layer
  • Use the Magic Wand and Select the Face
  • Create a New Layer, name it 'Face'
  • Use the Dropper Tool and select the Face Shadow from the Irish Bear Palette
  • Use the Air Brush and paint the shadow, more under the brim
  • Use Effects || Blur || Gaussian Blur with same values
  • Use [Control] + [Z] (Undo) until you have what you like
  • Deselect: [Control] + [D]

Continue selecting areas from the "Merged" layer, making new layers and shading the bear.  Take care that you don't select portions which are too close to one another at one time. For example, don't shade the arms of the jacket at the same time you're shading the body of the jacket. You need that separation so that you can apply shading that looks natural.

When you're working on smaller areas you may wish to change the size of the airbrush. Working on the shamrock I found a size 20 brush was much easier control. All other settings remain the same.

Just use these general steps to shade each area.

  • Highlight the Merged Layer
  • Use the Magic Wand and Select the Area Wanted
  • Create a New Layer and Labeled it with name of that area
  • Use the Dropper Tool and select the Shadow for that Area from the Irish Bear Palette
  • Use the Air Brush and paint the shadow
  • Blur with Gaussian Blur
  • Use [Control] + [z] (Undo) until you have what you like
  • Deselect: [Control] + [D]
  • Then repeat for another Area

When you have completely shaded the bear, Merge the visible layers. This will maintain a transparent background for you.

Click on the "New Layer"  icon in your layer palette to create a new layer, name it "background" and drag it to the bottom in your layer palette with the mouse.

Save your Image as a PSP file to preserve your work.

Then, Turn Off that Background Layer by clicking on the eyeglasses in the layer palette. Highlight the top Layer.

Go to Image || Resize and reduce the image to 50% of the original size. The default settings are fine. Make sure that Resize All Layers is checked.

Click on Effects || Sharpen || Sharpen to make the image more clear again after reducing it.

And here's our bear! Choose a background color or image of that you like and flood fill the "background" layer. I used a simple white background here. Then save your image for use on a web page or in email.

Beginning from Scratch.

To begin from scratch with a line drawing, make sure that you are using 16 million colors by clicking Colors || Increase Color Depth || 16 Million (24 bit).

Either Select a Line Drawing image you like or create one using the Draw Tool with the Freehand Option.

Make sure in the Layer Palette that the Layer is a Layer and not a Background. You want a transparent layer visible behind the line drawing. If you are going to use a Line Drawing Image, Open a new canvas with a transparent background and then paste the line drawing as a New Layer.

Rename this layer Drawing.

Next, Working from the drawing layer, you will be selecting each individual area for coloration. Click in an area on the drawing to select it.

Click on the new layer icon in the icon palette. Name the layer according to the area you have selected, as you did when you were shading.

Expand the selection by clicking on Selection || Modify || Expand. The Expand Selection box will pop up. Expand Selection by 1 pixel, and click "Ok."

Flood fill your selection in it's new layer with the color of your choice or one of the palette colors provided. Deselect.

To fill more than one area with the same color, such as the bear's paws and face, using the Magic Wand on the drawing layer, click in one area to select it, then hold down the [Shift] key and click in another area to ADD it to your original selection. When you flood fill any of the selection, the entire selection will be painted at the same time!


Repeat these steps for each area until the image is completely colored. Take care to always select on the drawing layer and fill on a new layer.

When you have completely painted the entire image, use the Magic Wand to select the area outside of the drawing and delete the background so that you have a transparent background you can flood fill as you choose.

That brings us almost to where we began this lesson. At this point you may merge your layers as I did, maintaining the drawing layer as a separate layer (make it invisible by clicking on the little glasses on that layer in the Layer Palette before you Merge ||  Merge Visible Layers or you can work from your existing layers.

You can also shade your layers as you flood fill them. You follow the same procedure. You want to keep the area selected from flood fill until the shading is finished.


Working on a line drawing of your own is a lot of fun. Choosing the colors is very easy. After you have chosen the base color to use to fill the selection, open the color palette again and choose a darker shade of the same color for shading. Experiment until you achieve the effect you want.

Have fun -- Rosebear --