Learn Digital Color with Photoshop
4.6 (687 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
3,856 students enrolled

Learn Digital Color with Photoshop

Learn coloring from a professional colorist!
4.6 (687 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
3,856 students enrolled
Last updated 3/2019
English [Auto], Portuguese [Auto], 1 more
  • Spanish [Auto]
Current price: $34.99 Original price: $49.99 Discount: 30% off
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This course includes
  • 3.5 hours on-demand video
  • 1 article
  • 6 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Set up line art for coloring
  • Pick colors that work well
  • Flat pages quickly and easily
  • Render light and shadow with several different techniques.
  • Change the color of line art
  • Add special effects and textures
  • Build a solid portfolio
  • Some familiarity with Photoshop (not much required)
  • Photoshop (The presets require CS6 or higher. If you have an older version, the manual settings are also provided.)
  • A digital drawing tablet is highly recommended.

Are you looking to learn the art of comic book coloring and learn the secrets, tips, and tricks that can make coloring comics a fun hobby, a part­-time job, or maybe even a career? This beginner course is great place to start!

This course will teach you the basics of comic book coloring with Photoshop - setting up your tools, flatting, rendering, & special effects. 

What is a colorist? After the penciller completes the line­art (and many times an inker finishes the pencils with ink), the art is passed to the colorist (or "color artist" as it's sometimes called). Colorists, like all comic book creators, can work from anywhere in the world. I've worked with artists and writers the world over right from my home office. The Internet makes it easy to connect with collaborators worldwide.

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, setting the final look of the page, and helping to move the story along with color.

Course materials will include:

  • Black and white line art from professional comic book penciller Max Dunbar to color along with the lecture videos.

  • Downloadable Photoshop presets (version CS6 or CC only)

    • 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 the instructor uses them for his published work.

  • 3.5 hours of instructional videos featuring real-time coloring by professional comic book colorist K Michael Russell

By the end of this course, you’ll have learned the skills required to use Photoshop as a tool to create stunning colored comic book pages, manga, web-comics, or comic strips.

The instructor, K. Michael Russell, is a colorist currently working for Image Comics & Top Cow. 

Note that this course was recorded in 2014 and could be considered "version 1.0" of my coloring courses. My course "A Pro's Guide to Digital Comic Book Coloring" is version 2.0.

Who this course is for:
  • This course is designed for anyone interested in learning how to color comic art with Photoshop
Course content
Expand all 16 lectures 03:16:31
+ The Basics
4 lectures 56:45

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

Preview 01:40

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.

If the presets aren't compatible with your version of Photoshop, here are all of the settings for the main tools: 

***NOTE: If my presets installed correctly, you won’t need this information.***

Here are the settings for the main tools if you have an older version of Photoshop, and can’t install the included presets.

You can save these as tool presets, and that's what I use throughout the lessons. Here’s some info on saving tool presets, but let me know if you need more help in the discussion section.


I use this brush often (Click download on the top right): http://knockwurst.deviantart.com/art/My-Brushes-340091024
Again, this is already in my presets if they worked.


Feather: 0px

Anti-alias OFF

Magic Wand:

Sample size: Point Sample

Tolerance: 0

Anti-alias, Contiguous, Sample all layers: ALL UNCHECKED

Main rendering brush: (Called SOTO BRUSH in my presets)

Normal mode (just the big soft standard PS brush)

100% Opacity

50% Flow

Shape Dynamics, Transfer, Noise, Smoothing: ALL CHECKED

(In Hard Light or Normal, these settings are the same. In Color Dodge mode, I change the opacity to about 15%)

Bucket tool:

Normal Mode

100% Opacity

Tolerance 0

Anti-alias, Contiguous, Sample all layers: ALL UNCHECKED

If you have other questions, feel free to use the discussion section to ask, and I’ll reply there.


Setting Up Your Photoshop Workspace & KMR's Presets Installation

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.

Preview 05:47

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.

Preview 41:03
Pop Quiz!
3 questions
+ Coloring Like A Pro!
4 lectures 50:15

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.

Rendering Techniques & Styles Part 1: Cel-shading

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.

Rendering Techniques & Styles Part 2: Cut and grad

"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!

Rendering Techniques & Styles Part 3: Painterly + using multiple light sources

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!

Recap! Rendering examples & samples of what's coming next!
Pop Quiz!
3 questions
+ Advanced Coloring Techniques
5 lectures 01:07:59

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".

Color Holds (coloring the ink lines)

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

Preview 13:16

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.

Creating atmosphere & mood

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!

Common Errors & How To Avoid Them
Pop Quiz!
3 questions
+ Putting Your Colors To Work!
3 lectures 21:31

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.

Preparing Your Colored Pages For Print & Web Use

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.

The Business of Being A Colorist

if you enjoyed this course, I have a more in-depth course availabe with 10 hours of total content. See this lecture for details and discount information.

Bonus lecture - more content