Learn Comic Book Coloring in Photoshop

Learn to use Photoshop to color comic books in this comprehensive course from professional colorist K Michael Russell
  • Lectures 15
  • Video 4 Hours
  • Skill level all level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion

How taking a course works


Find online courses made by experts from around the world.


Take your courses with you and learn anywhere, anytime.


Learn and practice real-world skills and achieve your goals.

Course Description

Learn the skills and Photoshop coloring techniques to create stunning comic book color art with tips, tricks, Photoshop secrets, and more from an industry professional colorist.

If you are looking to master the art of comic book coloring and obtain the skills that can make coloring comics a fun hobby, a part-time gig, or even a career, this course is for you.

Hi, my name is K Michael Russell, and I'm a comic book color artist (or "colorist" for short). My aim with this course is to make the most comprehensive and affordable learning resource for colorists of all skill levels.

Whether you are a beginner needing “Coloring 101” or you want to learn some new techniques to improve your speed or quality, there’s something here for everybody.

  • “Thanks for this. I've been teaching myself to draw and recently digitally color as well through YouTube videos, and this is one of the most useful, simple and direct tutorials out there.” - a comment from a former student on one of my previous online tutorials.

What is a colorist? After the penciller completes the line-art, and sometimes an inker finishes the pencilled pages with ink, the art is passed to the colorist. Colorists, like most comic book creators, can work from anywhere in the world. I've worked with artists and writers worldwide right from my home office. The Internet makes it easy to connect with collaborators across the globe.

Colorists are the cinematographers of the comic book world. The pencillers are the directors--setting up shots, creating the camera angles, shooting the action. Colorists are lighting the scenes, creating atmosphere, and helping to move the story along with color.

The comics industry needs more colorists right now. I know editors that are constantly looking for them. Check out this recent tweet from Dynamite Entertainment editor Nate Cosby: https://twitter.com/NateCosBOOM/status/471825392228392960

So here are the details...

The course will include:

  • Black and white line art from professional comic book penciller Max Dunbar to color along with the lecture videos.
  • Pre-flatted art for coloring practice
  • Downloadable Photoshop presets like:
    • Color profiles to ensure proper color reproduction for web and print use.
    • Photoshop Actions to automate certain aspects of the coloring process.
    • Color swatches: A palette of preset colors--exactly as I use in my published work.

Each lecture covers a different step in the coloring process. I'll walk you through each step of the process in real time.

Once the basics have been outlined, and we've learned all the steps to creating beautiful finished pages, I'll talk about some ways to build your portfolio using some of the art we've created in the course, how to get noticed, and find that first coloring gig! Check the course goals and objectives for more details.

By the end of this course, you’ll have learned the skills required to master Photoshop as a tool to color gorgeous comic book pages, strips, or pinup art. So, if you want to learn how to become a comic book colorist, this is a great place to begin your journey!


Here are a few more comments from some of my previous tutorial videos:

  • “Amazing dude! I've been using Photoshop for about seven years, and this blows me away. Great stuff! I hope i can become this good!”
  • “It´s amazing what you are doing, seriously.”
  • “Love these videos keep it up man...inspiring!”

What are the requirements?

  • a PC or Mac computer
  • a digital drawing tablet is encouraged (e.g. Wacom Intuos). Some claim to color with computer mice, but a tablet will make things much easier. They start at less than $100.
  • Photoshop or a similar program. This course will only reference Photoshop.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Over 15 lectures and 3.5 hours of content!
  • Learn how to set up pages of black and white line art for coloring.
  • Learn how to use the tools of the trade. No more fiddling with brush and tool settings. You'll be able to download all of my Photoshop presets for color settings, brushes, tool presets, actions, and color swatches.
  • Learn to use Photoshop Actions to automate some processes to increase your speed, efficiency, and productivity.
  • Learn how to flat, the first step in coloring comics. Most professional colorists actually hire people just for this stage of the process
  • Learn how to choose optimal lighting and shadow colors to make your pages really pop, and prevent your colors from printing too dark.
  • Learn how to render. You'll learn how to color with light and shadow in a variety of styles (classic "cut and grad", painterly, cel-shaded)
  • Learn how to change the color of the line-art itself for visual effect using what colorists call "color holds".
  • Learn how to use textures to add depth, detail, and interest to your colors.
  • Learn the secrets to creating special effects that make lights that really shine!
  • Learn how to add depth to your panels using atmospheric perspective.
  • Learn how to prepare your work for print or web step-by-step. We'll demystify CMYK and RGB.
  • Learn advanced coloring concepts like plane separation, creating atmosphere & mood, and how to avoid common coloring mistakes.
  • Learn how to build an impressive portfolio using colored pages you created in this course!
  • Learn tips to using social media, online forums, and (for some) conventions to find that first coloring gig!
  • Learn about the business of being a colorist with some tips for success.

What is the target audience?

  • Anyone who wants to the learn the comic book coloring techniques needed to become a professional colorist.
  • Previous experience with Photoshop is not required, but a basic knowledge of it helps.


Section 1: The Basics

A quick introduction with sample of the type of content you will see later in the course.


Let's get the technical stuff out of the way! In this lecture, we'll optimize Photoshop for coloring and set up your menus. (Feel free to use your own setup if you are comfortable! There's no "right" way.Check the supplemental material for downloadable presets for brushes, tools, color profiles, swatches, etc.


In this lecture, I'll show you how to set up pencilled or inked pages for coloring in Photoshop--an important first step! Make sure any art you decide to import and color is at least 300 dpi if you ever want to print it.


This lecture covers how to pick base colors to avoid "muddy" pages in print, flatting and the tools involved, and a bit of color theory terminology.

Pop Quiz!
3 questions
Section 2: Coloring Like A Pro!

Cel-shading style... for all you anime and cartoon colorists! Check the Supplemental files for the pre-flatted PSD file used in this lecture, some extra line-art from artist Max Dunbar, and a great resource for learning about color theory and lighting.


In this lecture, we'll talk about how to render using the "cut and grad" style--one of the most popular coloring styles. Check the Supplemental Files for a real-time video featuring me coloring a page from Hack/Slash #1 using this style.


"Painterly" style! And some tips on multiple light sources. Check the supplemental section for links to some of my favorite digital painters--lots of education there!


We take a look at a few of my pages from actual projects that feature techniques we've covered, and we also look ahead at some examples of what you'll be learning in the next section: Advanced Coloring Techniques!

Pop Quiz!
3 questions
Section 3: Advanced Coloring Techniques

Here I'll show you how to change the color of the line art for use with SFX or atmospheric perspective. The industry term is "color holds".


Special effects! It's one of the most fun parts of coloring comics... making fires glow, lightning strike, and explosions explode off the page.


In this lecture, we'll be discussing how to add interest and hint at detail with textures.


In this lecture, we'll cover several concepts that help with storytelling as a colorist using several of the techniques we've already discussed plus a few new ones.


In this lecture, we'll discuss a few common errors that I often see from new colorists--some of the same mistakes I made when I first started!

Pop Quiz!
3 questions
Section 4: Putting Your Colors To Work!

In this lecture, I'll cover how to export the hi-res CMYK tiff files required (generally) for print use and how to create web-ready versions as well.


In this lecture, I'll discuss several aspects of the business of being a colorist -- building a portfolio, using social media and Internet forums to find your first gig, and what you can expect from your first coloring job.

Instructor Biography

K Michael Russell , Professional Colorist (HACK/SLASH, JUDGE DREDD)

K Michael Russell has been working professionally as a comic book colorist since 2011. He recently completed Judge Dredd #26 for IDW comics and the mini-series Hack/Slash: Son of Samhain for Image Comics--the publisher of critically acclaimed titles like The Walking Dead, Saga, and Chew. He is currently working on a Nailbiter+Hack/Slash crossover for Image.

Other recent work includes In The Dark: A Horror Anthology and Imaginary Drugs for IDW, Liberator for Black Mask Studios, Steampunk Originals for Arcana, along with many other independent and small press publishers.

He works from his home in Long Beach, Mississippi. He is happily married with two cats.

Image Comics
IDW Publishing
Black Mask Studios
Wagon Wheel Comics
Marv Entertainment
Pistol-Whip Press
Digital Webbing Presents


Average Rating
  1. 5 Stars
  2. 4 Stars
  3. 3 Stars
  4. 2 Stars
  5. 1 Stars
    • Laura Cooper

    What's an insightful and easy way to learn photoshop? Watching a pro.

    This has been super helpful to me. I've been wanting to use photoshop with some level of skill greater than a 4 year old. These lessons have been super helpful- the only problem, I guess, would be the time description. Yeah there are only 4 hours worth of videos- but I've spent almost 4 hours already stopping the videos and practicing myself. I'm only on lecture 5! Also- I really wish the tests were more thorough. The information is so helpful I wish I could remember every word.... The video quality has been great- but it might be better on a larger monitor. I can't see the tiny icons as well with my 13 inch. Either way- I'm so glad I'm taking this course. My coloring skills have improved drastically. I would still be playing around on youtube looking for scattered info if it wasn't for this course.

    • Kassi Mulligan


    I found it really engaging and I learnt of a lot of new techniques that I wouldn't have discovered anywhere else. :) My artwork is more cartoonish because I'm an animator, but I was always found it hard to decide how to paint my final products. Thanks to this course, I found a simple and effective way. Thankyou

    • Justin Decker

    Well Done

    I enjoyed the course and learned a lot. I've become a much better colorist and gained valuable knowledge about using different tools in Photoshop to create interesting effects.

    • James Powell

    Great beginner level course

    I just finished this course, and I'm excited to start coloring. Russell does a great shop of explaining the basics, as well as some of the more advanced steps of coloring comics. It seems to me that I now have everything I need to get coloring, all I need is the experience to begin improving on skills. This course is well worth the money. I recommend it to anyone who's interested in coloring comics. Even if you want to know how it's done and have no interest in actually doing it yourself.

    • Russell Rogers

    This instructor is legit.

    I'm 78% finished with this course (at this point) and I can attest to this instructor's authenticity as a real comic book colorist. His instructions are easy to follow, his tips on where to learn Color Theory and getting into the business are great, and to make the course even better he provides you with Photoshop presets (Actions, Brushes, Swatches) so you can immediately get started with his lessons. FYI, as of right now this course does not cover drawing techniques/penciling/inking (not that it states that anyhow), but according the instructor he will look into adding any topics that reviewers wish to see. So if you are interested in getting into the comic book industry at all; look no further than this course. (To Mr. K. Micheal Russell - I realize that just creating flats and coloring comic art is a lot to learn/practice as it is, but I was hoping if you could add any good information about inking/penciling/drawing that you --or other people you know in the industry-- might be able to share. Anyhow, I loved the course and I'm thrilled about going over the lessons again as I practice coloring.)

Show more reviews

What you get with this course

30 day money back guarantee

Lifetime access

Available on desktop, iOS and Android

Certificate of completion

Join the biggest student community


Hours of video content


Course enrollment



Ready to start learning?
Preview this course