Creating outlines in Photoshop

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Some of you have asked me how I make my line art. Here is a simple lesson about how I actually do them … in the style of JUU-YUKI! You can apply this lesson in almost all programs. (Photoshop, Sai, Open Canvas, etc.). For this tutorial I will use Sai and a tablet.

Note translator: Dear users of the site, for convenience, some screenshots from this lesson have been replaced with screenshots from the program Photoshop.

Author’s note: I recommend using the tablet, since it allows you to create different variations of lines.

Please note that all that I will talk about in the lesson, my own tricks, I have never taken lessons in creating contours. I am not a professional, so my recommendations may not be ideal. Read this lesson at your own risk.

Now, I hope you already know all the tools. And you know how to work with basic tools: pen (pen) pencil (pencil) brush (brush) and eraser (eraser). Your tablet should also have the pen pressure feature activated. Those who use Photoshop, go here to activate it:

You need to choose a tool Brush (Brush) or press the B key.

Now click on the small square in the settings panel or click on the panel. Brushes (Brushes) (approx. per. you can also use the key F5 to call this menu).
Now go to parameter Shape dynamics (Shape Dynamics) and opposite the parameter Control (control) select Pen pressure (pen pressure).
Now we are ready to draw the contours.

You must first have a rough draft. Here is my. I know it’s dirty. To see the lines better, we need to slightly reduce Opacity (Opacity) outline. How much to reduce Opacity (Opacity), decide for yourself.

Note: To get a nice and neat outline, I work on a large canvas. The larger the canvas, the better. When I made this sketch, its resolution was 3400х4000px.
After that, we need to create a new transparent layer above the draft. Here we will draw our outline. The layers palette should look like this:

Now we start to outline contours. The brush that you use may be of various sizes, but please, within reason. At the moment, the contours should not be clear. We just need to get rid of this terrible outline. I got rid of this dirt.

Once you have drawn rough outlines, you can get rid of your sketch. I usually do not save my sketches, but this time I just hide it. After you hide / delete the sketch, we will only have the outline.
Now you need to use the tool Eraser (Eraser) (note the size of my brush). Make sure the brush is not too big, otherwise you will not be able to work with the details.

Follow the direction of the hair and erase the extra lines that you do not need. At this stage you can change the thickness of each strand using the tool. Eraser (Eraser).
Here are a few more screenshots with my completed contours. Since you are working on a large canvas as you approach, the lines will be perfect.

Do the same for all parts, including the clothes and the background (if you have them). Yes, it takes a lot of time, I also spend a lot of time creating contours, but it will pay off, believe me. After you do everything, you should have something like this:

I still have with myself this terrible sketch, because I have not yet fully described the rest of the image, but you must have clean and ready the entire image, without an outline.

Do not be afraid to reduce the image and watch how you did it. It will look better after reduction.

Sometimes it is better to use several layers with contours to streamline work. For example, a separate layer for hair, separate for clothes, etc. I am personally very lazy to use separate layers in this work, so I did everything on one layer.

Additionally:
This is an additional step, but it remains at your discretion; if you want, do so, if you don’t, don’t. I usually always take this extra step because it gives depth to my contours.
Create a transparent layer above the layer with your outline. We have finished work on the contour, so do not dare touch it. This extra step should be completely done on the separate layer that we just created.

For all strands that are in contact with each other, it is necessary to make the lines thicker. Here is an example:

Also have an idea for yourself where the light source is located. If the hero is closer to the light on the right side, the left side should have greater depth.
Merge all layers so that they form a single line drawing. And here is the last reception for today. Your canvas should be about 3000px in size. Reduce it to 1000px and your lines will be perfect as ever.

So, after we spent more than 6 hours on creating a line drawing, it was finally completed. TA-dah! Pat yourself on the back and go eat cookies for such painstaking work.

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial. I apologize if there are lexical mistakes in the lesson and for if my ability to explain is not the best, as well as for those moments that were not clear enough. Have a nice day!

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