the color art
you slavishly copied my procedure in the previous chapter,
you now have in your possession a 1200 dpi line art bitmap
of the image you plan to color. Your aim is to create a lower
resolution (300 dpi) color art file that "registers" with
the higher resolution line art image. The two files will later
be combined on press.
forced by software bugs
to sidetrack my discussion with a minor but important technical
point. When you save your 1200 dpi line art file, check the
Canvas Size setting in Photoshop´s Image menu.
If your canvas size exceeds two decimal points, as it likely
does, you'll have to round it off. Photoshop has a little
known flaw where the file size is slightly altered when converted
to a lower-resolution colored image. If your "canvas" is "6.621
inches" wide, for instance, eliminate the thousandth decimal
place so it reads "6.62 inches." Photoshop will warn you that
"some clipping will occur," but the clipping is unnoticeable.
Just ignore the warning. If you fail to follow my advice your
black plate and color plate will be off-register (the
ink file won't align with the colored file). Your printed
art will look like an old issue of Disco Dazzler where
the colors don't fit inside the black lines.
know cartoonists that simply color the black line art on underlying
Photoshop layers. I don't like this method for two reasons.
First, the file size that sustains high resolution blacks
is enormous when colored, and second, the line art isn't separate
from the color art. It's all in one file, which means you
don't get the inky black outlines we love so much in comic
art. The black is instead assembled from other colors, so
it looks faded and amateurish. Believe me, you want to follow
these instructions. They're not as tedious as they sound.
your colors under your black lines.
the color art
flush up to the edge of
the black outline
(shown here in gray).
the color art under the edge of the black outline
by one or two pixels.
Trapping means fitting the lower resolution color file
so the colors spread by one or two pixels under the high resolution
outlines. The colors should not "butt" (fig 1). This
requires the following Photoshop procedure.
Make the color canvas.
The black line art file you made in the previous chapter is
a bitmap. Go to Image/Mode and convert it to Grayscale.
Repeat, converting it to CMYK color (this somehow
requires the intermediate step of changing it to grayscale).
In the Image menu, reduce the Image Size to
300 dpi. (Now might be a good time to double-check the Canvas
Size bug I mentioned earlier
while you're at it.) Save the new CMYK file under a different
name. This file will hold your color art.
2) Make a channel of your line art.
Highlight the "K" channel (black) in the Channels Palette.
Click your right mouse key and select Duplicate Channel.
Name the duplicate channel something like "Black Line." Now
select your entire image and, with all CMYK channels except
"Black Line" highlighted, delete the art in the other channels.
Your line art now resides in an alpha channel, an imaginary
dimension apart from the channels that store images for print.
Your actual canvas is empty, waiting to be colored.
3) Load your line art as a Selection.
From the Black Line channel, go to Select in
the top menu bar and choose Load Selection. Photoshop
will offer the art in Black Line. Check the little box labeled
Invert (if you leave this box unchecked you'll actually
load everything but your black line art). "Marching
ants" will appear, indicating that you've created a selection
of your line art. Selections allow you to change isolated
parts of a Photoshop image (your line art in this case).
You want to create a slightly thinner version of your black
line art. Because the outlines will be thinner, when you color
inside them the resulting colored areas will trap under your
real black outlines.
4) Make your blueline.
With your selection still active (the ants marching), highlight
the CMYK channels. From the Select menu, choose Modify
Selection. Contract the selection by one pixel.
Keep the selection active.
Change your foreground color in the Tools palette to
65% Cyan; 35% Magenta; and 25% Yellow.
From the Edit
menu, choose Fill and make sure it's set to Foreground
Color. The thinner version of your black line art will appear
in the muddy-purplish foreground color. This is the image you'll
Monitor is the Devil
if you perfectly calibrate your monitor
you absolutely must do
will be big differences between the
printed colors and the colors you
see on screen. You can't rely on the
colors as they appear on the monitor.
The only remedy is to buy a book that
shows printed colors accompanied by
their actual percentages of C, M,
Y and K. Then, no matter how flagrantly
the colors in the book differ from
the colors on your monitor, you must
absolutely commit to the book
versions. The best way to do this
is to make a palette of little swatches
or colored squares in Photoshop from
which you can "eyedropper" the colors.
It'll still be tricky because colors
look a lot darker with black outlines
than they look in the book. Colors
also change dramatically depending
on the size of the area they cover
or the other colors they abut. Paper
stock can sway colors. Ever notice
how old newsprint comics look so much
nicer than the glossy stuff of today?
Even the print run can matter. Once
a publisher mailed me complementary
copies of a comic I colored and I
was shocked by how saturated and dark
the colors appeared. I went into a
funk. I had tried to make the colors
muted and soft. Then I saw the book
on the newsstand and it looked fine.
It turned out the newsstand version
was from later in the print run, when
the inks had a chance to "settle."
The publisher had sent me the first
twenty copies that came off the press,
which get thrown out in (higher class)
So get a CMYK book. It won't be the
end-all, but it'll offer a little
guidance. Computer coloring is essentially
a blind process. Even with book in
hand you'll have to impose some guesswork
and some judgment. But what you see
on your monitor is least likely to
color book I use is part of a design
series that shows colors in combination,
so not only does it help spec out
colors, it helps create design schemes.
Ikuyoshi and Yumi Takahashi,
Designer´s Guide to Color 5,
Chronicle Books, San Francisco.
selections to help you color. Start by sectioning off the
first panel with the square marquee tool. Version 5.0 (and
above) of Photoshop also has a magnet selection tool that
follows outlines, even across gaps. This is valuable since,
unless you ink with an El Marko, the purplish guide you made
has areas where thinner lines disappear during the contracting.
Using the magic wand to select areas to color or simply pouring
from the paint bucket tool won't work unless the area is truly
contained by unbroken outlines. It's better to draw outlines
of colored areas with your pen palette and then fill them
with the paint bucket tool. Keep in mind that it doesn't matter
if you obliterate your muddy purplish line while you color.
You can replace it when you're finished by repeating Steps
3 and 4 above.
page: coloring tastefully