Photoshop tutorial: Digital tricks for 'hand-drawn' colour

Gabz shows how easy it can be to brighten up a pencil artwork

Here Grzegorz Domaradzki – aka Gabz – details how to create an image with vivid colours from a pencil drawing. You’ll learn colouring and selecting techniques, how to use motion blur and other effects and finally how to use Adjustment layers.

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This is the third and last in our series of Masterclasses based on artworks from the latest Designers Against Child Slavery ( exhibition. Each work depicts one of three phases in the life of a child forced into the sex trade – either before, during or after their period of enslavement. Gabz’s contribution focuses on the first phase, which DACS terms ‘coercion’.

Time to complete

1 hour



Project Files

Files for this tutorial are downloadable from here.


Open dacs_drawing.jpg in Photoshop. Double-click on the Background layer to turn it into an ordinary layer (I named mine ‘Drawing OK’), change its blending mode to Multiply and hit OK. Create a new background layer behind it and fill it with grey (R 204, G 204, B 204). Using the Magic Wand tool (W), select the background, then invert the selection (Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I). and go to Select > Modify > Contract with a value of 1px. Create a new layer called ‘head’ below the drawing layer and fill it with red (R 225, G 61, B 61).

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The ‘head’ layer needs cleaning up, so zoom in and get rid of unwanted pixels using the Eraser tool (E) set to a hard brush. Also use the Lasso tool (L) to draw a shape of the girl’s torso in a new layer called ‘torso’, and fill the selection with the same red as before.

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Make a new layer above the background layer. Apply a radial gradient to the top left as shown with a lemon yellow (R 251, G 238, B 40). Using the Lasso tool, draw a white stripe on the torso to suggest the arm of the top she is wearing. Fill the selection with the background colour.

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Create another new layer. Using the same lemon yellow, create a radial gradient to add some light to the girl’s face. Apply a clipping mask using the ‘head’ layer to avoid it extending outside the girl.

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At this point I felt the composition was too dark, so I duplicated the drawing layer and applied a Hue/Saturation adjustment (Cmd/Ctrl + U), ticking Colorize and using settings of Hue 0, Saturation 20 and Lightness 30.


The crows play an important symbolic role in the image and need to stand out. I selected them roughly using the Lasso tool in the ‘Drawing OK’ layer and created a new layer out of the selection (Cmd/Ctrl + J) at the top of the layer stack. I set the opacity to 70% and, using a soft brush and a Layer Mask, I removed all areas except for the crows, giving them stronger feel.

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I want the artwork to be distressed – both in terms of what it reflects, and literally. Open dacs_extra_blacks.jpg from the Project Files, hit Select > Color Range… and pick the white background with the Fuzziness set to 200.

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Hit Cmd/Ctrl + Shift + I to select the inverse and copy and paste it into a new layer. Then place the main black shape over the girl’s forehead at the top of the layer stack.


I like adding motion-blurred elements when I’m close to finishing a project. To do this, create a new layer on the top of the layer stack and make some streaks using a graphics tablet and a hard brush, using the grey and red of the artwork. Now apply a Motion Blur filter, using 90° for the angle and 999 pixels (the maximum) for the distance.

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For the final touch, create a new Hue/Saturation adjustment layer with Colorize ticked and use Hue 221, Saturation 53, Lightness 0. Select the Eraser tool, set to a soft brush, and remove most of this layer, erasing it least at the bottom and in the area of the girl’s hair to shift the red more towards pink.

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Born in 1979 in Poznaundefined, Poland, Grzegorz Domaradzki studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in his hometown and graduated with a Master’s degree in Graphic Arts and Drawing. He worked as an illustrator and graphic designer for a few years before turning freelance.  He specialises in everything from portraiture to snowboard art, which he creates in pencil, ink, paint (watercolour, oil and acrylic) and vectors.

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