Hello guys, since a lot of people are asking I decided to write a small tutorial on how to recolor a manga, and in our specific case - JoJo. First, a disclaimer: I am self taught on Photoshop, I will show you how I
work, but that doesn't mean that this is the only way to do it. I'm sure there are faster or better ways. If someone wants to join the discussion and give further heads up in the comments, please do as advices on how to improve or how to make things simpler are always welcome. Lastly, since english is not my native language, please bear with me and sorry for grammar mistakes you might read ahead. Happy reading!
Things I will use in this tutorial:
- Photoshop CS4 Lite - I've been using this software for years now, it's so quick and portable with its small size, it always came in handy. We will use CS4 basic brushes and tools, so there's no need for addons. I can't give you a link for Photoshop, since it's not a freeware. On a completely unrelated note, some people love to go fishing near torrents. I guess you could use Gimp or similar softwares if you don't have Photoshop, but I never used those so I will stick with PS for this tutorial.
- Page 39 of the 3rd volume of Vento Aureo - we're in Episode 5 so no spoilers if you're an anime-only watcher (you should read the manga, though). We'll recolor the leftmost panel, the one with Abbacchio.
Let's get started! First thing we're going to do, is importing our panel in Photoshop. To have the best resolution possible, it's better to save it on your desktop first, and importing it later through File>Open or CTRL+O. Now that we have our two pages in front of us, we can crop the panel that we want to recolor. On your left, there are some tools. By default, you should be on the Selection Tool (I think it's Marquee on the english version, shortcut: M. I'm going to call it Selection Tool). We're going to select the one below that, Lasso tool (L). If you right click on Lasso tool, three more tools will appear: Normal, Magnetic and Polygonal Lasso.
We'll be using Polygonal Lasso most of the time. Note: my screens are in italian, but the position and the hotkeys should be the same, at least on CS4. If you're having problems in your version, please refer to this
command translation page.
With our Polygonal Lasso tool selected, mark an area that selects only our panel, like I did in this screenshot
: it's only important that you do it correctly in the image area: when working outside the image area (in this case, outside the pages), Lasso and Selection tools will automatically catch the border. Now, right click on your selection and select "Layer via Copy". Apparently, we did nothing. But here are layers: on the right side of Photoshop, we have our Layers list. We have Background and Layer 1. If we click on the eye area of Background... ta-da! Now, we only have Abbacchio's panel and a grey chessboard pattern. This pattern means Transparency in Photoshop. If you pick the Eraser tool from your tool list on the left, you'll see what I mean. Your work area should look like this now.
You'll notice that our work area right now is definitely too big. Select Rectangular Marquee Tool, or Selection Tool how I like to call it (M), and get only Abbacchio's panel starting from the top. Now, from the top dropdown menu click on Image and select "Crop". Now, our work area has been resized to our selection. We want to get rid of that Transparency below our Layer, so we're going to fill if with our Paint Bucket tool (G). To pick a color (default is White, with Black as a second), click on the squares at the end of your tool list. Clicking on the small icon above the squares switches the color, which might come in handy once you're started.
This is very important
: We don't want our Layer 1 to be modified in any way, we want to keep it clean and always have a copy of it in case we f*ck up or just for reference. Besides, the way I work, you will use the following command a lot: we're going to Duplicate our level. To duplicate Layer 1, select it (should be selected already, but if it's not, click on it) and hit Ctrl+J (or right click and select Duplicate Layer from the menu). You now have a Layer 2 which is an exact copy of Layer 1. For starting, duplicate Layer 1 about... 5 times, and only make one visible. Our Layer list should now look like this
. I've renamed Layer 1 to "BASE", so I know which one is our OG Layer. To rename a Layer, right click on it and select "Layer Properties".
We can finally start recoloring!
There isn't an order, you can work the way you prefer. I like to start with the small features like Eyes or Hair, but no one is forcing you to. You can start from the Skin, or the Background. For this tutorial, I'll start with the Eyes. Important Note
: There are two ways to recolor. The one that I will show in this tutorial is the one that works best for me, I find it easier, and makes heavy use of the Eraser and Magic Eraser tool. Alternatively, you can do everything in one Layer and use Brush tool only. That's up to you, really.
Let's start with Abbacchio's left Eye (so, the one on your right.) Pick the Magic Eraser tool (right click Eraser, E) and you'll notice some options right below the top menu. Tolerance, Anti-Alias, Continuous and All Layers (might be different in your version of course, can't find the right translation for this one). Make sure that All Layers (the last one) is not ticked, and tick the other two. I had Tolerance set to 44 for this one, which was perfect, so write 44 on that box. Magic Eraser Tool automatically erases the color that you click on from the Layer in a certain area, in our case: White from Abbacchio's eye.
Select your Layer (make sure it is selected, because otherwise you'll have an error box popping up) and click on Abbacchio's eye. Should be transparent now. Do that for the other Eye as well. We're lucky, we don't even have yo adjust our Tolerance! If Tolerance is too high, Magic Eraser usually bypasses some borders and hits another area. You can test by setting it to 144 for example... it will delete Abbacchio's face, haha. If you don't like Magic Eraser, you can just use the normal Eraser tool, but it will take you some time (it will be necessary at some point, by the way, so have a look at it. It works the same way as Brush tool, which I will explain in the next section.)
If you made a mistake, you can CTRL+Z. If you did several mistakes, ALT+CTRL+Z. To make your mistake again, SHIFT+CTRL+Z. (They're all under Edit menu).
Now, to give those eyes a color, we need to make a new layer first. To make a new layer, hit the second-from-right button below the Layer list.
Drag this layer below the other one and pick a Brush (B). If you hover your mouse pointer over Abbacchio's face you'll see a cirle (I think it's the default one. If not, right click and select "Basic Brushes" from the Brush list). Right click and select Size and Shape. I usually work with round brushes, so stick with Basic Brushes for now. You'll notice that Basic Brushes are either "solid" or "gradient". Use both depending on the situation, there isn't a specific rule for this one, just go for the one that works best for you in that moment. You will need to use Gradient at some point, to give shadows and lights after you gave a solid color, but let's save it for later. I'd say that we can use a solid one for the eyes. You can use Abbacchio's standard color scheme, or literally any other color that you want. Let's say that you want to give him a classic look. Pick a good shade of violet (click on the squares in the tool box, remember?) and... there we go! If you notice imperfections, like the small white dot in Abbacchio's left eye, use the Eraser tool, Zoom (Alt+Mouse Wheel or Z) and remove it - just remember to select the other layer again, or you'll delete your violet.
I know it may sound difficult and complicated if you never tried it, but that's about it, really! We got the Eyes done, let's move on to Hair. Magic Eraser won't work well with this one, because Araki didn't separate the hair from the rest of the face in this panel. It will work in some areas if you set Tolerance to 1, but you will need to use the normal Eraser tool and be patient here. For large areas, it's best to make a new layer and make it all red, green or literally any very flashy color, so what you erase becomes red/green/whatever and you can actually see what you're doing (Paint Bucket Tool). You can use other layers if you want to be sure, but you'll have to erase some parts of the layers to give the correct color only in one part. If you put a layer on top of the other one, it will override it unless it's not transparent. Just leave the BASE one, and duplicate it every now and then if you need it. Same goes with New Layers where you put colors: try not to mix them! Use one for the eyes, one for the hair, one for the skin... rename them with Layer Properties, so it stays nice and organized, and you know where to look at if there's a mistake.
Once you get how Layers work, it's really straight forward. It's time consuming, but I find it really relaxing. Try using solid colors only at first, like I did in this
panel. On some small panels, it can have a very good effect!
Start slowly, step by step. With time, you could try giving a gradient, for a light or a shadow. Follow the drawing, and figure out how to use light and darkness! When you feel ready, try to apply a filter or a texture! Like all things, it takes some trial and error, time, practice, and knowing how to google.
That's all for a very basic tutorial. Hope you had a good read, I'm looking forward to your recolors! Cherry on the cake, here's Abbacchio with Kakyoin's color scheme
- I know, restofthefuckingowl
but still, ciao!