Video: Making non-photo blue pencils in Photoshop

August 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Podcasts

I talk a lot on the Art & Story podcasts about how I don’t like to use a lightbox. It’s yet another piece of equipment to keep around in the studio, it only serves one purpose, and I’ve yet to use one that feels sturdy and resilient. I much prefer drawing on my stable and solid art desk.

Yet many of my peers say how they prefer to use the lightbox to convert their graphite pencils into non-photo blue lines. They put a piece of bristol over top of the graphite pencils and trace it out (refining as they go) with non-photo blue pencil.

But there are more problems that come with that method beyond my dislike of the lightbox itself. What if you want to collaborate with another artist across the country? Even if you’re the one using the pencils, what if you mess up in the inking stage? Then you have to break out the lightbox and start all over again!

Call me lazy, but I like to pencil once and leave the opportunity open to ink as many times as possible. So I scan everything I draw and convert it to non-photo blue lines with Adobe Photoshop. I use Utrecht bristol, which is perfect for running through my inkjet printer. Now if I mess up at the inking stage I just print out another copy and start over. This is a terrific method for making minor changes at the pencils stage as well. I’ll make a few alterations in Photoshop and print it out for inks. Saved my bacon on many a deadline. It also means you’ll have two versions of the original artwork to sell at conventions, if you decide to sell your art.

So I put this video tutorial together for those of you who want to ditch the lightbox. I’ve included a Photoshop Elements version of the tutorial in the second half, knowing that not everyone can afford a full version of Adobe Photoshop.


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