Photoshop Tips! Isolating Lineart

Hello! Here is a short tip detailing a technique to put scanned lineart on its own layer in Photoshop. As with most things in Photoshop, there are various ways to do this, but this is just one.

Start off with your lineart! This can be something you’ve scanned, or something you’ve simply drawn onto a white layer and want to move to its own layer so you can color under it. If your lines are pure black and white, you can simply select all the black and copy it to a new layer, but if you’ve got grays in there it’s not so simple.

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I am using Photoshop CS6, but this should work in any version that includes the Channels palette. Go to the Channels palette, hold Ctrl (Command on a Mac), and click the thumbnail of the RGB Channel (or CMYK if that’s the color mode you are using).

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This selects all the white/gray areas of the image. The lighter a pixel is, the more opaque its selection is; darker areas will be more transparent. However, this is the opposite of what we want, so go to the Select menu and choose “Inverse” (or press Shift + Ctrl + I).

Now we have the black areas selected. Go back to the Layers palette, make a new layer, and fill the selection with black (you can press Alt + Backspace to do this quickly). Now you can replace the original layer or fill it with white or do whatever you want to do with it. Your lineart is on its own layer with no pesky white background to block out your colors.

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What’s the advantage to doing it this way rather than duplicating your original layer and setting it to Multiply? For one thing, you can now lock the transparency of your lineart and do color holds (the fancy term for coloring your lineart). I’m sure there are other benefits. Who knows!

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 Join us next time on Photoshop Tips where I’ll reveal the secret menu option that draws comics for you. 

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    Need to try this sometime soon!
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