Creating a Clean Outline

Tools used:

Photoshop 7

WACOM Intuos 4x5 (1st edition)

There are many ways a clean outline can be derived using computer software, such as Photoshop, or using real media, such as ink. Hopefully, this tutorial will be useful for those who prefer ethier one. :3

If you prefer not to use a digital tablet to draw with, you can find the alternate version of the same tutorial here, although I would suggest to read both.


Starting Out (Drawing with a Tablet)

Probably the toughest part of drawing a picture is deciding what exactly to draw...I just start sketching (in Photoshop) until something vaguely resembles a possible picture:


Wow! Isn't it incredibly ugly? Not too fear though, the initial sketch should only be used as a template to get the general idea of the pose, and to check proportions.

Next, I create a new layer above the sketch, to refine the features. The underlying layer should be of low opacity so you can see your new sketch easier. I also like to change the color to blue for even more varience between the two layers. While drawing the second sketch, it's a good idea to flip the the sketch in the opposite direction once or twice; it's much easier to to find something wrong. Don't worry about adding too much detail:

Getting there....

Well, I guess it's gettting there...I can't see anything blatantly wrong, so I guess it's time to draw the finished outline. What I like to do now is enlarge the second sketch substantally to around 3500 pixels. The larger the outline, the better it looks when it's shrunken down to a viewable size (600-800 pixels). I also changed the color of the sketch to a light sky blue. I like to use a soft brush 5-9 pixels in width with 100% opacity and 80% flow for final inking.

*cheesy grin*

Here's the finished sketch. If you using Photoshop, you can simply delete the underlying sketch layer.

All cleaned up

Don't worry if the lines are wobbly at 3500 pixels, when you shrink it, it becomes much smoother. Time to add color :3


I then determined where my light source should be, which was from "our" left, and I also colored the outline:



Yes, I know the outling process is fairly tedious (for this picture, it probably took longer than the entire coloring process), however it pays off in the long run. I have drawn well over 200 finished pictures in the past four years, but only a few from the first two years still exist online. After examingly why I still (sort of) like the few remaining older pictures I have left, I realized that the outlines had remained strong, most from the result of cleaning them up a number of times before adding color. Hopefully someone might find this useful ^_^;


-Annie Navarro