Tutorial – Limitations

A tutorial for a design I created recently for a competition on Threadless. I’m working in Photoshop CS6 – so if you’re using another program you may need to use slightly different tools.

For this one, I started out with a very light, rough pencil sketch on good quality smooth A3 paper. I inked directly over it with a black pen (Sakura Micron, 05 thickness). I sometimes use tracing paper instead, but that’s more fiddly and I’m kind of lazy.

Scanned the image using a flatbed scanner (Epson V330 Photo) – ideally you want a scanner that will let you preview your scan, let you adjust levels and so on to get nice lines and eliminate grey noise – but you can try and clean up in photoshop/gimp instead using the levels tools. This is the scanned image, with some levels adjustments to get rid of any grey. Using the brush I then manually adjusted any lines I wasn’t happy with, or where I had made any mistakes while inking.


For this design, the black lines aren’t actually going to print. I selected the full outline of the image (clicking outside the image area with magic wand) and filled that area with light grey on a separate, lower layer. If the selection is too big/small you can either change the tolerance in the magic wand’s settings, or go to Select – Modify – Contract and reduce the size of the selection by a pixel or two.

You can then use the layer with your black lines on to punch some holes in the colour layer – hold control (or command key) and click on the picture next to the linework layer – this will select all of the linework at once. If you then select the layer with the block colour and press backspace (or maybe delete?) the selected areas will be deleted from the block of colour. If you then give the image a black background, you get the following:


Finally, I added a little halftone texture – Alvarejo’s tutorial is great for how to do this. I think Gimp can do a similar thing using the ‘newsprint’ setting, though I haven’t used it lately.

And you’re done. Feel free to leave comments or ask questions if you’re interested.