Scanning your pencil pictures of cartoon characters into Photoshop

which-pencil-for-sketchingVery often the first pencil sketch of a cartoon is the best version you produce and I have often ruined the cartoon when inking in either make a mistake or accidentally spill ink or slop half a cup of coffee over the drawing.

For those of you not familiar with Adobe’s suite of fantastic graphic software Photoshop is a great way of converting your fresh and original pencil artwork and converting it to an ink finish.  

This can either be used as the finished ink drawing before shading or colour is applies or you can use it just like a template to ink over to create a better finish.  The layers feature in Photoshop allows you to improve and enhance your original without affecting the pencil sketch.

Either way you never lose your original pictures as you have the pencil sketch and the Photoshop version which can be used over and over again.

This is only one tiny fraction of what Photoshop can do for your pictures of cartoon characters as it can also colour, crop, resize, add text and do a million other jobs.   I thought it was a handy first step to preserve your initial artwork.  I saw this short video tutorial by and it shows exactly what you need to do to scan in your pencil drawing, clean up marks, resize and convert to ink in a few simple steps.

The files you create in Photoshop can then be saved for future projects so that you will always have an electronic archive record of all your pictures of cartoon characters.  

This is also very useful as you will quickly build up a portfolio of work that can be used to show potential customers and is really handy as reference for future projects.  I have a huge collection of files and will often dip in and use part of a cartoon in another drawing – it makes practical sense to recycle your artwork and can save many hours of work.

Preserving your pictures of cartoons and cartoon characters is well worth the investment of Photoshop.  Photoshop Elements 14   (PS14) which is a much cheaper option to the full version of Photoshop.

PS14 has all the features you will need as a cartoonist to improve your existing sketches, add color and shading plus the luxury of creating industry standard lettering with a substantial fonts library.  No need for hand written captions and  speech balloons as PS14 handles this in its stride.

I use the full Photoshop CS6, which costs roughly 10x the cost of PS14 (depending in which part of the globe you live). To be honest there are very few features I use in the full CS6 version for my cartoon work and if you are on a limited budget it’s a no brainer – buy PS14.  I would only recommend getting the upgrade when you are more experienced and actually need the advanced features that CS6 and future versions have to offer.