Zarosaki Tutorial: Coloring Manga the Reaver Way!

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Hello everybody. I'm here to teach you how to colour a manga page, the Reaver way! I'm Reaver Reload and am part of the Zarosaki Naruto Colour Chapter project, and we are ALWAYS looking for fresh talent! So if you think you can help out after this tutorial, don't hesitate to drop into us on IRC at #zarosaki on Moving on, what we will do today is turn..


into this.

I 'm only going to do one panel to make my job easier (and explaining a lot easier.) I'll be doing page 5 from chapter 239.

However, there are a few basics to cover before we dive straight into colouring. This will make the whole process much faster when you need to colour on your own, and help you understand Photoshop better.

First of all, open up the page you want to colour. (Its a good idea to do the same page I did, if you want to follow the tutorial step-by-step.) However, some of you may already know how to colour and just want some tips or pointers.

Ok, now we have our standard Photoshop window, everything's there. I've labelled a few important tools which you'll be using often.
Click here to open the screenshot in a new window.


Now, first things first. You should always do this when opening a new manga page. Image > Mode > RGB Colour.


Notice how it was on "Indexed Colour". It is important to change it to RGB so you have full access to colours, and many options such as Duplicate Layer, which we will now do. In the Layers palette, right click on the Background layer and select "Duplicate Layer."


There should now be a "Background Copy" layer.


Now, with this layer, we want to set the Blending mode to Multiply. Click on the little dropdown menu in the Layers palette with the "Background Copy" layer highlighted, and set the mode to Multiply as shown.


What multiply does is that it removes all the white pixels from the layer, and leaves only the black. This helps you greatly, as you can be as messy as you like and not worry about ruining the lineart. (Remember that Background Copy layer should be the ONLY layer with Multiply.) Lets try it out, shall we? Create a new layer with the New Layer button at the bottom of the Layers window.


There should now be a layer "sandwiched" between the Background and Background Copy layers.


This is how you should structure your layers. Now grab the Brush tool and just select a random colour and doodle across the page on Layer 1.

Bam! Notice how the colour shows through the white parts, but stays behind the black parts. This helps your colouring speed greatly. Don't you just love Photoshop? Your probably wondering how to colour the black parts, but don't worry, we will cover that later on.

Now that we've got the basic colouring section down, its time to tell you about the essential shortcuts which will improve your speed tremendously. Note that some of the Alt / Ctrl / Shift commands are swapped around on Macs.

Holding down the Spacebar at any time on the canvas will turn into a little hand icon - this little baby will help you "drag" the canvas around to the point you want it. Just hold down Spacebar and use the mouse to drag the canvas around to where you want to go, this helps you greatly when you are zoomed in doing the fine details and want to move around easily. You can also access the Hand tool manually from the toolbar on the left.

Alt + Backspace / Delete - This will instantly fill any selections you have active with the active colour. We will be using this shortly a fair bit in the main tutorial.

When you are using the brush tool, and it is the active tool, you can use Alt + Mouse 1 to quickly sample a colour from anywhere. This helps with shading and highlights greatly, as well as filling in missed spots. You will notice that your cursor changes to the Eyedropper tool, which you can select manually from the toolbar on the left.

Pressing Tab will hide and un-hide the toolbars. This helps when you want to get into the corners without much fuss. (Sometimes, it is not uncommon to get stuck when using the Text tool with the toolbars hidden. In which case press ESC which will de-activate the current text.)

Pressing E selects the Eraser tool.

Pressing B selects the Brush tool.

Pressing [ and ] at any time with either the Eraser or Brush tool will increase or decrease the size of the brush / eraser. This helps get into those nooks and crannies when needed, and also fill larger areas when required.

Pressing Ctrl and + zooms in.

Pressing Ctrl and - zooms out.

Image > Adjust > Hue + Saturation (may vary between versions of Photoshop) can help you quickly change the colours of a selection or layer. Tick the Colourize box if you are not getting the desired results. Another extremely helpful tool.

Holding down Shift with the Magic Wand / Lasso / Selection tools will add an extra selection to your current selection.

Holding down Alt with the Magic Wand / Lasso / Selection tools will remove an area from your current selection.

It is important to have a hard edged brush, and not a soft edged brush. The first brush in the dropdown list of Photoshop brushes will suffice. Soft edged brushes do not have as solid an effect as hard edged brushes, resulting in a faded / flat look.

Lock Transparent Pixels - VERY important! This will improve your speed in ways you can't imagine. When activated, this allows you to shade and highlight your colours at will, and be as messy as you like without worrying about spilling outside of the lines. We will now go a bit more into the effects of Lock Transparent Pixels, a tool of great importance.


Okay, now for an essential tool which I can't live without. You can find this tool in the Layers palette, circled below. But don't click it yet, we need to have something first.


Delete the Layer 1 from earlier, and make a new layer. This layer will be called Layer 1 also. On this layer, lets grab the Brush Tool again (B) and select a nice yellow colour. Draw a smudge on Yondaime's hair (it doesn't matter about tidyness, we're merely demonstrating the effects of Lock Transparent Pixels.) Remember to keep the colour layers between the Background + Background Copy layers.

Now, with Layer 1 selected, press the Lock Transparent Pixels box shown earlier. You will see a little Lock icon appear next to your Layer 1.


Now, pick a fairly dark yellow colour and with the brush tool, be as messy as you like. Notice how the new colours stay within the previous yellow colour, and refuse to go anywhere else.

Just remember to un-tick the Lock Transparent Pixels box when you want to add more colours onto the layer, otherwise you won't be able to add more colours elsewhere. It's a good habit to get into of un-ticking the Lock Transparent Pixels box after you're finished with an area.

Also important, remember not to use the Eraser tool on a layer with Lock Transparent Pixels active. Your background colour of choice will show through.


Its time to start colouring now. First of all, lets get rid of that messy Layer 1 from before. Create a new layer in its place, and double click on the text to rename it. Name this layer "Hair."


Now, select the Magic Wand tool from the left toolbar. Then, select one of the Background layers. With the Magic Wand, select the blank spaces of Yondaime's hair. Remember to hold down Shift or Alt to add / subtract areas. You should now have all his hair selected. Don't forget his eyebrows like I did when I took these screenshots.


Now, select the Hair layer again. With your selection still active, and a nice yellow colour chosen, press Alt + Delete or Alt + Backspace. This will fill your current selection with the colour you have chosen. Notice how the colour stays within the Magic Wand selections.

Deselect the selection by clicking anywhere outside the selection with a selection tool. (Or right click - deselect.) You will notice that not all the hair areas got filled, and there may have been a few splashes onto areas which shouldn't have his hair colour.

Notice the mistakes across the Jounin vest and the unfilled spaces on the sharp tips of his hair. These are fixed very easily. With the Eraser tool (E) simply remove the spilled colours on his Jounin vest. Remember you can adjust the size of the brush and eraser tool easily with the [ and ] buttons.
Then, with the Brush tool, resize it to a nice small one, and fill in all the blank spaces that the Magic Wand missed. Typically, these spaces missed will be very sharp or very fine edges, so always look at the face or hair or corners for blank spots. (Remember that you can easily sample from his hair colour with Alt + Mouse 1 with the brush tool active.) Your Yondaime should now look like this.

You can see how the colours are starting to take shape. Its time to use the Lock Transparent Pixels tool. With the Hair layer active, tick the Lock Transparent Pixels button. Now, with the Brush tool, select a darker yellow colour, and move onto the next stage of this tutorial, Lightsources!

Its always important to determine the lightsource before you begin shading. For example, in this Yondaime picture, lets say the light source is coming from the right. So, we should shade accordingly.

Okay, with your darker yellow colour brush, and the Lock Transparent Pixels on the hair, its time to shade! Remember with hair, to keep the spikes in your shades as well. Remember to increase and decrease the brush size with the [ and ] buttons. Lets shade all the left sides of Yondaime's hair first. (Note: Remember you can quickly change colours using the Alt + Mouse1 if you make any mistakes.) Your hair should now be shaded, try to keep the leftmost side of his hair in shadows. (Or wherever you chose the lightsource to be.) It should look something along the lines of this.

Now its time to improve the already good looking hair even more with highlights. We'll bring out those little fine details with a small brush tool and a slightly brigher colour than the base hair colour. Highlights are just generally where the light would hit the raised areas the most. Hair can be a little bit tricky to do. Its merely a matter of good judgement and insight. Simply use the same techniques for the shading, but do it only on the non-shaded areas. Minimal amounts are best, or else we'll end up with someone who looks like they are wearing sunscreen. I have highlighted along the spikes of his hair with a small size brush tool and brought out a larger area closer to the lightsource. And your hair is now done.

Right, its time to move onto the next stage, colouring the skin. Hopefully, you should be able to go straight ahead and colour it using the previous method. Magic Wand the blank areas with the Background Layer selected, then create a new layer called Skin and use the Alt + Delete / Alt + Backspace method to fill the selection with a nice skin colour.

Remember the utmost importance of keeping the Background and Background Copy layers free of colours. Always make sure your colours are on layers between the two. Or else you're setting yourself up for a lot of problems.
So, you should notice how the skin splashes out onto the eye, and doesnt fill up most of the detailed areas. Its time to fix those again with the help of the Eraser tool (E) and the Brush tool (B). Remember to zoom in and get those little details.
Now, Yondaime's skin should be filled in properly.

Again, tick the Lock Transparent Pixels button with the Skin layer active. Pick a darker skin colour, with a decent sized brush and start colouring closest to the hair, remembering to keep the lightsource in mind. Nothing would look stranger than the left side of his hair shaded, with the right side of his face in darkness. Tricky areas are the cheek / nose areas. Remember that these characters are only 2 dimensional images of an imaginary 3 dimensional person, so shade the cheek areas with a roundness to them, and the nose area with a Nike-logo style shape. Skin can never be overlooked, our eyes are drawn immediately to the facial area. So spend a little bit more time on bringing out the details.

Now for the highlights, remember to give the cheeks a very subtle tint in a crescent moon shape, along with the tip of the nose and the bottom or top lip. Remember to avoid a colour which would make it look like Yondaime is wearing sunscreen! Of course, the shape the highlights and shading takes will depend on the facial position and the lightsource you decided upon. You may even decide to add a darker colour to his ear area, to help define that area a little more.

Starting to take shape now, so lets bring out his clothes using the same methods we used for the skin and hair. I chose a nice pale green for the Jounin vest that he wears. You may need to use the brush tool to fill in the bits on the inside of his vest near his hair. Little tricky parts like these are best done with a brush tool, avoid the magic wand. A little note; you may find that the magic wand selects areas you don't want as a result of a non-closed area, such as an un-joined line somewhere. Best way to combat this is to either draw the line in yourself on the Background Copy layer, and select from there, or use the Brush tool to colour as normal. Always remember to keep the lightsource in mind when colouring clothes, however they tend to bend the lightsource rules a lot, leaving more room for improvisation. Always remember to bring out the creases and folds in the clothing with a nice shadow or highlight. It doesn't hurt to be generous with the highlights, either. I've given Yondaime an extra shade on his back and on the insides of his vest.

Now a lot of people would be tempted to leave it right here, but there's still the background, eyes, forehead protector, and his clothes. So it would be time to move onto explaining how to colour solid black areas.

There are two methods of colouring solid black areas. They are both relatively simple, and both involve the Magic Wand tool. I'll describe both methods, since they both have their merits.

Method 1:
With the Background Copy layer selected, and the Magic Wand tool active, Magic Wand the black areas.

Then, go to Select > Modify > Contract.


You should now be looking at the dialogue box below. Give it a value of 2 pixels.


You should now be looking at the dialogue box below. Give it a value of 2 pixels.


Now, with the Background Copy layer still active, simply press Delete. You have now deleted the black areas that have to be coloured, but leaving a nice line that looks as if Kishimoto himself drew it. You won't notice the results until you doodle a colour underneath it or magic wand the areas in the Background Copy layer. Lets put another layer underneath the Background Copy layer, and call it Extras. Going back to the Background Copy layer, magic wand the black areas and fill them on the Extras layer using the same techniques from the skin, hair, and vest layers. Bam! They now appear.

However, notice the amount of mess that sometime using this technique creates. You may have to zoom in and correct the details manually with the brush tool, however it may not be necessary in most cases. The reason the above happens is due to different black values in the image. Sometimes filling it repeatedly or deleting the area repeatedly can stop this, but only marginally.

Method 2:
For my preferred method, we follow the same first steps in Method 1.
With the Background Copy layer selected, and the Magic Wand tool active, Magic Wand the black areas.

Then, go to Select > Modify > Contract.


You should now be looking at the dialogue box below. Give it a value of 2 pixels.


Notice how your selection has suddenly shrunk 2 pixels all around.


Now, create a layer ABOVE the Background Copy layer. This will prevent you from destroying the original lineart and helps you have greater control over images with a larger, darker area. You can simply subtract the unwanted areas with the eraser tool, however using method 1 the lineart has been 'damaged'. This way, it leaves the original lineart intact. Once you've filled the top layer, use the same Lock Transparent Pixels method to shade and highlight normally. (I called this layer Overlay)

And here is the image with the correct colours.

Now that we know how to colour black areas, lets move onto the forehead protector. Its very basic, really. However, there is a more advanced way of colouring forehead protectors, which you can find in my advanced tutorial. With your forehead protector, simply remember shading and highlights. Go for a smooth metallic effect. I did this on a layer called "Extras."


Now, for the eyes, which can truly bring out the brilliance of the character.

Okay, we know that Yondaime has deep blue eyes, just like Naruto. So we want to make a layer under all the others called "Eyes." Now fill in the eyes on this layer with a nice brilliant blue.


They look good, but they're a bit flat. Lets bring them out and give them a nice shine. Create a layer ABOVE the Background Copy layer and call it "Eyes 2".


Now, make sure white is your active colour. Select the Brush tool. Increase / decrease the size using [ and ] buttons to a nice small circle and slowly draw in a white dot on his eye, overlapping the lineart on the inner eye only.


Now add another circle somewhere else in the eye, this time make it smaller. You may even decide to draw a small rounded line. I ended up with the following: 


Hurrah! Your Yondaime is now complete. 

But there's still the nagging issue of that sky, those rocks, grass, trees, and mountains. Those can be coloured simply with the same methods used for above, just remember to try and keep your colours to separate layers. However, there are some tricks to make the backgrounds look more realistic, and add that little touch.

Now remember, if you want any help with these tutorials, don't hesitate to join #zarosaki on IRC at, we would love to see you there.

- Reaver Reload


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