Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tutorial: Customizing PNG Clipart - A Photoshop How-To

There is a lot of really great clipart out there for free or can be purchased! I even have some in my own Etsy Shop! My own clipart is designed to be easy to customize. I do provide several different color options for each element in my premade clipart packs, but I know that for me personally, I would like to have the freedom to make purchased clipart work for ANY project I might have in the future. This is why I decided to include the transparent .PNG lineart in my clipart packs. Check this out:

The thing that is really exciting about having the lineart files with no background is that it gives you a lot of freedom. You can easily fill the lines in with any color of your choice and even change the color of the lineart itself. This makes it easy to get a perfectly matching bow for your cute blog graphic, invitation, etc. 

I'm going to show you my favorite ways to do this in Photoshop and then I will make a separate post for using GIMP for anyone who doesn't own Photoshop. :)

I am using Photoshop CS3 for this tutorial, but this technique should work for any version of PS you may currently be using.

We'll start with the clipart element you'd like to customize.

(I added a white background layer to make the bow easier to see.) First I'll show you how I add color to my lineart.

I always keep my lineart and colors on separate layers. Create a layer below the layer your lineart is on and call it "color". (Or whatever you want. Some of my layer names get kind of crazy when I've got more than 20.)

Now, I actually fill color in like a coloring book with my tablet and neatly color inside the lines, but since I know most of you probably don't have tablets, I'll show you how I did in my pre-tablet days. Select the Polygonal Lasso Tool from the toolbar. The hotkey for this is "L". If your lasso button looks different, simply right click on the button and select the Polygonal one from the drop-down menu.

Trace the linart (around the outside edge) with the Polygonal Lasso Tool. I did mine in two sections, but you can trace the whole thing at once. 

Once you have made your selection, select the Paint Bucket Tool from the toolbar. I think the default for this button is the Gradient Tool, so you will have to right click on the button to have the option of using the Paint Bucket Tool. Click inside your selection with the Paint Bucket Tool and VIOLA! A newly colored clipart.

And if you can imagine in, coloring the lineart is even easier. Make sure your lineart layer is selected. 

Now, for one of my very favorite (and most used) tools in Photoshop.

You see that teeny tiny checkered box in the layers window? That is the "Lock Transparent Pixels" button and it's seriously one of the most important tools I use for creating digital art. What this will do is make it so that the only thing you can make changes to on this layer are pixels which are NOT transparent. So, since my lineart is the only thing drawn on this layer, the lineart is the only thing which can be altered. So, I dare you to click on it. 

Once you have clicked that button to activate the "Lock Transparent Pixels" all you have to do is fill your layer with your desired color. I use the hotkey "Shift + Backspace" (Foreground Color, Normal, 100%) to fill, but the clicking on the lineart with the Paint Bucket Tool works, too. 

If you look at the clipart pack that this bow comes in, you may notice that I combine both these techniques for a softer look. I love using colored lineart in my artwork and you'll see it in almost everything I do, even my big, complicated illustrations.

Now, go. Use your new Photoshop knowledge and make something fabulous.

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