Coloring comics : Pretty AND Efficient way !


How ? Is it even possible ? Maybe that's what you thought while reading the title !

As comic artists, we want our comic to look pretty, but at the same time, we don't want to spend too much time on it since there are so many panels to colorize ! ...

In this tutorial, I'll try to give you some tips to get pretty panels done in a short amount of time !
If you're a beginner, I'll also help you not to do the same mistakes as I did while moving from illustrations to comics ... Of course, I'm still learning myself :)

0. Character Sheet and Color Set !

First thing, you should make sure that you choosed specific colors for each of your characters ! I usually do this kind of sheets.

But most importantly, you have to create a color set for each character ! It will be pretty useful later on. I'll be using those two sets in this tutorial.

1. Base Colors

Let's begin with base colors !
Here's the scene I'll be using for this tutorial !

Concerning efficiency, the key word is probably ... Organisation !

1. Create folders for each character ( name the folders by the character's name )

2. Create a different layer for each part of the character ( skin, hair, hoodie ... )

TIP : I usually write the layer's name in uppercase, it makes it easier and faster to read.
It's important to name each layer and to create folders, since if you have a lot of
characters, you might get lost since there will be so many layers !
It'll be even messier when adding backgrounds and effects.

3. Start applying base colors !

Let's save some time with two quick tips !

The first concerns your way of filling the hair :

Here is the tool I am talking about ! You can get it from CSP Assets.

Second tip concerns the order in which you color your comic.

In fact, we're only working with few panels right now. But when you have a whole chapter to colorize, I recommand you not to color each panel one by one.
Instead, color everything that has the same color and is on the same layer :

This way, you avoid switching from colors and layers all the time !

Base colors : Done !

2. Shading

When you're working on an illustration, you usually try to do something as pretty and detailled as possible.
But the same doesn't apply to comics !

Ask yourself :

As you can see, the amount of details depends on the scene you're drawing !

For example, in a funny scene, using airbrush on the hair and on the cheek and lips is enough for me.

TIP : Don't try to paint each panel perfectly ! Especially if it's your first comic, you might want every single drawing to look beautiful ... But you will loose your time ! Only important scenes are worth detailled shading !

Then, let's learn how to shade a comic efficiently !

As for the base colors, we will proceed by painting a specific part ( the girl's skin, the boy's hair ... ) at the same time, on each panel of the episode.
Let's start for example with our female lead's hair !

2.1 Hair

As you can see, I only shaded her hair.

TIP : It's even more important to proceed this way for shading instead of painting each panel separately ! You will finish the chapter way faster, since you don't have to change from brushes, colors and layers all the time.

Of course, this is only a personal way of drawing the hair. You should find your own simplified way ! But you have to find an easier and faster way than when doing illustrations.

TIP : You can find many brushes to draw beautiful highlights on CSP Assets !
It will save you some time for your comic !
Here's the one I used in this tutorial ( Number 2 ) :

2.2 Simplify your artstyle !

1. The G-Pen Rule

When I started doing comics, I was always doing such complex shadings, especially for clothes ... I used to use watercolor-type brushes, which makes you want to do something detailled when you use them !

So, to avoid loosing time and to simplify my artstyle to make it more suitable for comics, I started to use ... The G-Pen ! Like, everytime.

In fact, you can't draw too much details with the G-pen, or it might end up looking pretty weird.
This is how I use it ...

For clothes :

As you can see, I barely made any shadow for the suit, and none on the tie. You have to keep it simple !!

I usually organise my layers this way :
The one at the very top is for the light. I set it on " Screen ", and adjust the opacity for it not to look too bright.
The second one is for shading. I set it on " Multiply ".

For the skin :

I usually organise my layers this way :
The one at the very top is for shading, I set it on " Multiply ".
The second one is for the blushing effect. I use the airbrush tool.

Of course, the use of the G-Pen is only an advice for people who always do too much details like me. But it all depends on your artstyle ! Use the brush you feel at ease with !

2. Number of shades

For efficient shading, I only use a single hue to shade.
Restraining the number of shades you're using is a good way to simplify your artstyle.
It also allows you not to spend too much time on shading.

I'll only use two different shades if :

1. The scene is important and the panel is big, I want it to look outstanding.
2. I want to create a specific mood with light effects ( please see the example here ).

I wanted to get a " dramatic " effect, so I used two different colors to shade the hair. It gives a side/backlight effect.

3. Lazy shading

After spending hours, maybe days on colorizing your comic, you might feel lazy ...
And let me tell you something. It's completely okay !

Here are some efficient tips. You can also use them when you want a different effect, or when you feel that your way of shading is too repetitive.

1. Using gradients !

I created a gradient on the sweatshirt with the gradient tool. Then, I added some sparkles for it to look like a sky with stars.
It took me less than a minute, and no shading !

2. Screen mode

Some panels might not be important, or might be portraying a character a bit far away.
For those kind of panels, clipping a layer on "Screen " mode on top of the base colors, and drawing light with it should do the job !

On this example, I didn't shaded the boy's suit. I only added light on the top.
In fact, he is not what I want the readers to focus on. I want them to focus on the girl's reaction. If I colorize the boy in a too detailled way, it might confuse the reader on what to pay attention to.
Always take the scene in consideration !!

2.3. Making your shading look elaborated when it's not

There are some tips that will give you prettier panels without spending more time on them !

1. You can use the soft eraser to soften the edge of your shadows, and to make it looks as if you made a gradient and used different shade ! The drawing will look more elaborated.
Here is a little before / after !

2. Add patterns ! Choose a pattern, and clip the pattern's layer on the clothes .
Then set the layer on " Multiply " and lower its opacity.

( Both patterns can be find in All Materials > Color Pattern > Pattern )

Shading : Done !

3. Backgrounds ...

Yeah ... Since I'm here today to share some tips on how to color comics, we have to talk about how to color backgrounds too !

But since I know many of us don't really like this part, I'll give you advices on ... How not to draw them ! Actually, when drawing comics, most of the panels don't have real backgrounds. Espacially for the " Manwha " comic type.

1. Create a background folder.
Place the folder at the bottom ( under every single other layer ).

Create one layer for each panel's background, and fill the space where the background will be added ( here in red ) on each of those layers. Each layer have to correspond to one panel's background.

TIP : To avoid unwanted gaps, use the filling tool from earlier !

3.1 Backgrounds from materials

1. Choose a background in the material section.

TIP : If you can't find any suitable for the scene you're painting, you can go to Clip Studio Assets and download new backgrounds !

2. Clip the background on the layer corresponding to the panel's background you want to modify.

For example, I want to do the background for the fourth panel.

3.2 Background with brushes

On some panels, using brushes can be enough to get a cool background !
Especially for funny scenes. Or even to give a different feeling, as if the character was in his own world. It can also makes the reader focus more on the character ...
Remember ? You always have to consider the scene and the moment you're drawing !
Let me give you an example !

Here, drawing some effects with a brush instead of painting a landscape gives a romantic vibe. It also notice the reader that he has to focus on the character and her emotions.

I used this brush :

This time, the stars give a cute vibe ! Instead of the dramatic vibe we got earlier.

Here is the brush I used :

While using brushes like this, I recommand that you pick a color from the character's hair or eyes. It'll fit the character better.
For example, I used purple for the girl and yellow for the boy, according to their hair colors.

BEGINNERS TIP : To do this, all you have to do is to :
Go to the " Backgrounds " folder > Select the layer of the background you want to modify > Lock transparent pixels > Color it into white > Add effects with brushes !

3.3 Backgrounds with 3D Material

1. Choose a 3D background from materials.

TIP : There again, you can download new ones on CSP Assets ... But you can also create your own 3D backgrounds !

2. Clip this background on one of the backgrounds layer.
For example, I would like to add the 3D background as the background of my third panel.

3. Add a sky in the back

4. Select the layer of the 3D background.
- Create a selection from this layer ( Layer > Selection from layer > Create selection ).
- Copy / Paste the sky and put the copy layer above the 3D background.
- Set the copy layer on " Overlay ".
- Deselect.

Backgrounds : Done !

4. Finishing and effects

But ... Isn't something off ? The characters aren't blending well with the backgrounds.

We will fix this with some finishing tips, that will make our panels pretty ! Without spending time or efforts.

4.1 Blending the characters in the background

1. Create new layers and clip them on your character's folders.

2. With the airbrush tool, pick colors from the background. Fill your characters with these colors on the layers you just created. Choose a light source, and put lighter colors on the side where the light is coming. ( On the example, the light comes from the left ).

3. Set those layers on " Multiply ". Adjust the opacity to your liking.

4. Erase some parts of those layers on the side of the lightsource.

5. Add some sparkles to unify your characters and background.

TIP : As you can see, I used lighter colors on the girl to make her look more outstanding. I also put an higher opacity for the multiply layer above the boy. It makes him look less visible. There again, think about what you want your reader to focus on !

4.2 Lightning

While making comics, you don't have enough of time to come up with an elaborated lightning.

Here is what I usually do :

1. Create a layer above the lineart layer.
2. Set it on " Add ( glow ) ".
3. Take the airbrush tool. Choose a pretty color from the background and spray it where there should be light.
Lower the opacity.

You can also be more original, and use a special brush ! For example, this triangle brush :

Otherwise, you can add sunlight with the default brush Pentagonal "soft " ( Decoration > Effects ). What you choose mostly depends on the mood you want to set in a perticular scene of your comic.

Effects : Done !

Here is the final result :

Finally ! We finished coloring our comic. Now I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial and learned some new tips !

Final TIP : It's okay if your drawings aren't perfect. It's okay for it to look bad, especially if you're a beginner. By reading professional's webcomics, you will see some flaws too ! Drawing a comic is a complex work that needs lot of passion. You should always compare yourself to your past self, and not to other people. Fighting !


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